Holiday lights brighten the sky at Horse Park


Horse Park’s ‘Southern Lights’ draws more than 100,000 visitors per year

Angelea Holder

Once a year there comes a time when hearts of all ages can be young again, when laughter waits just below the surface to burst forth and wonder radiates from the most jaded of eyes. 

The Kentucky Horse Park shares this wondrous season with its 23rd annual display of Southern Lights Spectacular Sights on Holiday Nights. The spectacle features thousands of twinkling lights displaying unique themes from Kentucky’s famous thoroughbreds streaking towards the finish line to “Star Wars.”

Southern Lights is designed to represent what Kentucky’s famous bluegrass region has to offer in southern hospitality and holiday cheer. The Kentucky Horse Park Foundation is proud to announce that it has been designated a top 20 event by the Southeast Tourism Society, according to Chris Nentwick, database manager at the Kentucky Horse Park Foundation.

“It’s a great place to take a little finals break and do something different for the holiday,” said Laura Klumb, Kentucky Horse Park Foundation executive director.

This year’s Southern Lights, presented and sponsored by Toyota Motor Manufacturing of Kentucky, features new displays and old favorites to delight. Much-loved nursery rhymes and carols are brought to mind by glimpses of Humpty-Dumpty, the rocking horse, the little drummer boy and the seemingly endless “12 Days of Christmas.” The displays pique the fantasies of every age along the trail.

“We always try and change up the lights in play,” Klumb said. “This year we have a brand-new display that is The Hall of Champion Horses that have lived here at the Kentucky Horse Park so that’s kind of our new display.”

Visitors, after they tour through the driving route, can leave their cars in the appointed parking lot and begin the non-driving portion of Southern Lights that features the Kentucky Horse Park Gift Shop, holiday craft merchants, an exotic petting zoo, camel rides and photos with Santa. Visitors can also pay extra for feed to give to the locally-owned kangaroos and zebras in the petting zoo.

“We don’t have any discounts available but what I would tell the students is it is only 15 dollars a car-load if you come on Monday through Thursday nights,” Klumb said. “You can save money that way plus it pays for everybody in the car. It is 25 dollars on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, still very reasonable.”

Every Thursday during Southern Lights, the first 50 cars in-line receive a complimentary beverage, courtesy of Coca Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated. On Dec. 13 and 19, admission will be free to active duty and veteran military personnel who show military I.D. at the admission gate. The Southern Lights driving route is open from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. nightly and the Holiday Festival attractions will be open every night except from Dec. 24 to Dec. 31.