Bardstown has a mission to bring the community and visitors together, and this small town’s Main Street is where the happenings all take place. Several events are held throughout the year in this historic town, one of them being Light Up Bardstown.
Settled in 1780, this inviting destination allows you to step back in time. Just under 200 buildings found here are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A restaurant, tavern, and bed and breakfast are now running in a former stagecoach stop first erected in 1779.
So, put Bardstown on your list of places to visit. Be part of the holiday magic that finds its way here early in the Christmas season. The main focus of the event is the lighting up of the town’s Christmas tree. Other fun things to do include listening to music and sipping hot cocoa. The kids will enjoy the face painting and of course, the appearance of Santa.
Kentucky is a state steeped in history. Bardstown has its own portion of that, with the My Old Kentucky Home State Park. The Rowan plantation home is open to visitors interested in touring this estate built in 1812. Other attractions for those who love to learn about the past include the Old County Jail, The General Hal Moore Military Museum, and the Civil War Museum.
Admission to Light Up Bardstown is free of charge. The only cost is enthusiasm, and that will be easy to come by as you watch the tall Christmas tree, lamppost wreaths, stars, and reindeer light up. Plan on arriving at the beginning of the event and stay for the duration.
Routes US-62 and US-150 head into Bardstown. You will be driving through rural areas, so be on the lookout for animals crossing the road and kids riding bikes for fresh air. As you approach Bardstown, keep an eye out for signage or ask a friendly local for directions to the tree lighting. GoKY will alert you to traffic conditions and weather-related stoppages as you travel through the state.
Parking is a premium in Bardstown. So you will want to arrive in town early in the day before festivities start. Spend time exploring Main Street and do a little shopping or dine out before the crowds arrive for the lighting of the tree.
Taking the bus or metro system is not an option in Bardstown. Voted as “One of the Best 100 Small Towns in America,” this unique location aims to keep the quaint atmosphere by offering tours and transportation via taxis and tour vehicles only. If you have a chance, the carriage tour is a fun way to see the sights.
Winter camping at Light Up Bardstown is not possible, but there are a few nearby options sure to please. Head to Taylorsville, Elizabethtown, and Willisburg as possibilities. Whether you are looking for a full amenity RV park or a quiet lakeside spot, you will find it in the areas surrounding the town. However, do call ahead to ensure the place you favor is open in the winter.
A few state park campgrounds offer winter camping, and one of the best for cave exploration is Carter Caves State Resort Park near Grayson. Columbus-Belmont State Park in Columbus is part of the National Scenic Byway. Although it is open year-round, there may not be water at all sites due to the drop in temperatures below the freezing point.
Light Up Bardstown is easily accessible by wheelchair, stroller, or kiddie wagon, but make sure that those touring via these methods are bundled up if the weather is cold. Wear warm and comfortable shoes. The celebrations take place in two locations in town, so be prepared to walk from one to the other.
Dress in layers when out and about in the variable temperatures of fall and winter. It’s easy to strip off a layer if needed and better to be a little warm, rather than cold. Hats and mitts are a must, and a festive scarf to round out your outfit is perfect. Don't be afraid to include your silliest Christmas hat to keep the kids entertained as you await the lights.
Prep the RV for cold temperatures by checking the insulation to see if more is required. Pack duct tape, clamps, and hoses for water and sewer hookups. Consider a heated hose to ensure you have a constant water supply. Insulated curtains, kept closed at night, help to keep the interior cozy. Add a few extra blankets to your bedding supplies. Bring along flashlights, extra batteries, and a small battery-powered radio in case you lose power.
A carbon monoxide detector is a must for the motorhome. With the use of propane for cooking and heating, the detection of noxious fumes is a safety necessity. Dress the kids appropriately for outdoor play with shirts that wick away moisture underneath their snowsuits. Lip balm, sunscreen, and moisture cream are essentials for hiking, sledding, and outdoor exploration.
Winter camping means delicious, hearty meals like lasagna, scalloped potato and ham casserole, and lentil soup. Consider filling the Airstream refrigerator with pre-prepared meals so that you can enjoy more time in the crisp winter air and less in front of the stove. A good supply of kitchen clean-up items makes for an easy end to the meal. Have the kids do the dishes while the adults get the campfire ready.
Bardstown has an eclectic restaurant scene. Cozy pubs, tempting bakeries, unique dining venues, and a host of local flavors are all wrapped up into one fantastic dining scene. Take a leisurely walk through this historic town and pick a spot to discover.
The town shops will stay open late on the eve of Light Up Bardstown. Head to the Fun Christmas Corner first for cookies and cocoa, and then venture over to Center Plaza for the lighting ceremony. Afterward, hit the shops to purchase original gifts for under your Christmas tree.
Whenever you leave your Class A for an outing, close the blinds and lock the doors. Park under a light so that your motorhome is not a temptation to would-be thieves. Keep your RV in tip-top shape to avoid a breakdown in a deserted area, and always carry a cellphone.
Pack the RV for all weather eventualities. Bring plenty of warm blankets for everyone and stock the fridge with extra food in case you have to stay put for a few days, especially if the weather report is calling for inclement weather. Stay toasty and warm in your home on wheels, reading a good book. Leave for your next destination when the weather (and roads) clear.
A well-stocked first-aid kit is just as essential in the fall or winter as it is in summer. Sure, you do not need bug spray any longer, but sunscreen is a year-round must. Moisturizer for chapped cheeks is essential. Bandaids, gauze, tape, scissors, pain relief, and peroxide are other items to keep on hand. Medical care and pharmacy services are available within a 10-minute drive of downtown.