Southern Lights Holiday Festival Returns to the Bluegrass

Credit: KHB Photo by James Shambu The Festival of Lights at the Kentucky Horse park is not to be missed this winter.

The 23


annual Southern Lights holiday festival, presented by Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky Inc., returns to the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Nov. 18-Dec. 31. A holiday tradition for many families, more than 125,000 individuals in more than 30,000 vehicles attend Southern Lights annually from Kentucky and beyond, making Southern Lights a premier holiday event in the region and nation. 

Families delight in the holiday driving tour that take them on a journey through dazzling lighted arches and by colorful, often “moving,” lighted forms featuring a wide variety of holiday, equine-themed and pop culture iconic displays such as “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” the Keeneland race track, the spires of Churchill Downs, “Star Wars,” Cinderella and much more. A new display this year features a “Stable of Champions” of 6 famous Thoroughbred horses connected to the Kentucky Horse Park including Man o’ War, Cigar, John Henry, Da Hoss, Funny Cide and Go for Gin.

Following the driving tour, visitors are encouraged to park their vehicles and walk into the park’s main campus to visit the Holiday Festival attractions. This non-driving portion of Southern Lights features the Kentucky Horse Park Gift Shop, holiday craft merchants, seasonal entertainment, an exotic petting zoo, pony and camel rides, the Mini Train Express, model train and dollhouse displays, and photos with Santa. The Bit & Bridle Restaurant will serve holiday fare as will other food vendors, including Original Kettle Corn and Bluegrass Concessions.

The Southern Lights driving route is open 5:30-10 p.m. nightly. The Holiday Festival attractions will be open every night except Nov. 24 and Dec. 24-31. Guests are encouraged to take advantage of shorter lines and lower prices by visiting Southern Lights Monday through Thursday evenings, and by visiting early in the season. 

The cost per passenger car (up to 7 passengers) is $15 Monday through Thursday evenings, and $25 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. The cost for an extended van, RV or limousine (up to 15 passengers) is $35, a minibus (up to 25 passengers) is $60, a school bus is $75 and a motorcoach is $125. Companies and organizations may pre-purchase discounted admission tickets to Southern Lights by contacting the Kentucky Horse Park Foundation in advance. No discounts will be available at the admission gate. 

All proceeds from Southern Lights support the Kentucky Horse Park Foundation. The 2016 Southern Lights Shining Star Presenting Sponsor is Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky Inc.; the Holly & Ivy Sponsor is Kerr Brothers Funeral Home; the Ribbons & Bows Sponsors are Central Bank, Central Equipment, Kentucky Utilities and Outdoor Lighting Perspectives; and the Thirsty Thursday Sponsor is Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated.

Breyer Nights, with giveaways by Breyer Model Horses, will be Monday-Thursday, Nov. 28-Dec. 1; on Wednesday, Dec. 7, Toyota Motor Manufacturing will be providing free admission to the first 50 cars in line; there will be two Military Nights this year, Tuesday, Dec. 13 and Monday, Dec. 19, allowing all active and retired military and their families one free car admission by showing a military I.D. at the gate; and Thirsty Thursdays, with giveaways from the Coca Cola Bottling Company, will be every Thursday night during Southern Lights.

Information on Southern Lights may be obtained by contacting the KHP Foundation at 859-255-5727 or at, or by visiting or

Insider Tip: Out-of-town visitors should use Interstate 75, Exit 115 (Newtown Pike) instead of Exit 120 (Iron Works Pike) to access the Southern Lights entrance at the Kentucky Horse Park Campground from the east to help avoid congestion from the interstate to the west and a left-hand turn across traffic into the park.

Editor’s Note: Some electronic map services available on Apple and Android mobile and auto GPS devices are not providing accurate directions to the Kentucky Horse Park. We recommend that guests input directions to the KHP Campground, the entrance to Southern Lights, at 3785 Campground Road, Lexington, KY 40511. Additionally, we recommend that visitors use home computers to access a mapping service for directions, use the directions provided on the KHP website, (available in the widget on the right-hand side under Address or at, follow the brown highway signs or call ahead to double-check their route.

The Kentucky Horse Park Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, fulfills its mission to enhance, expand and improve the Kentucky Horse Park by fundraising within the private sector. This partnership between private donors and the support of the Commonwealth of Kentucky is what has enabled the incredible success of the Kentucky Horse Park. Since its inception in 1985, the KHP Foundation has raised more than $30 million, which has funded critical improvements such as new facilities, research projects, new horses, landscaping ventures, and much more.

The Kentucky Horse Park is a working horse farm/theme park and equine competition facility dedicated to man’s relationship with the horse. The park is an agency of the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet that showcases the many equestrian breeds and disciplines of the American horse industry, and hosts a number of high profile horse shows and special events each year attracting visitors, competitors and horses from across the United States and all around the world. The park is home to the International Museum of the Horse, a Smithsonian Affiliate, dedicated to exploring the history of horses and their impact on human civilization, as well as the National Horse Center, comprising national, regional and state equine organizations and associations. Information about the park’s programs and activities may be found online at, and on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, and Periscope.






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