pg-06-hj_december_2016by LISA KINDEL 

Hopefully, you’ve polished off all your Thanksgiving leftovers and ready to start the 2016 holiday season. This December promises to be as exciting and entertaining as holiday seasons’ past with new shows, new markets, new services.

The season kicks off on Dec. 1 with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra presenting their annual Christmas rock opera, Ghosts of Christmas Past. Spokesman Paul O’Neill says the new show is an “experiment” and “has new artists, new special effects and lots of surprises in store.”

Another option on the First is a drive through the Kentucky Horse Park for their annual Southern Lights Holiday Festival that is open now. Pack the car and gaze at three miles of light sculptures and characters, telling a story sure to put any Grinch in the holiday spirit. The festival includes an exotic petting zoo and local craft market. From Hamburg, take the Newtown Pike exit and make a left to Ironworks Pike to KHP for a shorter drive this year.  The drive opens at 5:30 nightly until Dec. 24.

Also, happening at the Horse Park Alltech Arena, the Junior League celebrates the holidays with their Holly Day Market. Katherine Wade, Holly Day Market Chair says “In its 10 years the Holly Day Market has continued to grow and draw both merchants and shoppers from near and far. We are proud of the quality and variety of merchants the Market has to offer.”

A new offering at Holly Day Market is individual tables for vendors to sell their wares.

“Those have been a big hit and I’m looking forward to seeing how they add to the Market as a whole” Wade says. Holly Day Market starts 10 a.m., Dec. 2 till 6 p.m., with same hours Saturday and Sunday, open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

For a local artist market, check out the Lexington Art League Black Friday Art Sale at the Loudon House. Pro Tip: it does not happen on Black Friday. This annual sale brings together some of Lexington’s most influential artists. Food trucks will serve up their specials during the sale on Dec. 2 from 7 to 10 p.m. and Dec. 3 from 2 to 7 p.m.

For a more historical holiday event, enjoy the Holiday Market on Saturday, Dec. 3 for A Kentucky Christmas at Ashland.  That evening, Ashland illuminates into a Christmas village with candlelight tours of the house and lighted grounds.

Executive Director James Clark says “This year we will have 21 Kentucky Proud producers and Kentucky artisans, five more than last year.  We will also have six Kentucky authors on hand for book signings throughout the day. The Living Arts and Science Center will host a family activities tent. In addition, we will be offering Williamsburg Wreath (made with magnolia leaves) demonstrations and workshops – kits will be available for purchase. Lastly, Lexington artist, Monica Pipia will be our featured fine-art artist – her works will be on view in the Keeper’s Cottage.”

Downtown Lexington kicks off the holiday season on Tuesday, Dec. 6 at 7 p.m. on Main Street for the annual Lexington Christmas Parade.

Lexington Singers will perform the perennial Baroque favorite Handel’s Messiah at Singletary Center for the Arts. The performance brings the musicians on stage for this live performance on Dec. 9 at 7:30 p.m. Metropolitan Opera tenor Gregory Turay will guest solo.

Lexington Ballet performs Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker beginning Dec. 10 through the 18 at the Lexington Opera House. Under the artistic direction of Luis Dominguez, this production is a must see on your holiday bucket list.

Beginning the first weekend of December through Dec. 11, Waveland State Historic Site brings Dicken’s Victorian classic to life in a room to room special adaption of “A Christmas Carol.”

Lexington Children’s Theater offers a completely different holiday program of Alice in Wonderland adapted by Robin Hill on Dec. 11, 17 and 18.

EKU Center for the Arts offers a new twist on an old favorite: Rankin & Bass’ Christmas classic, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical on Dec. 16 at 7 p.m. Sing along with Rudolph, Hermey the Elf, Clarice and all their friends as they come to life on stage.

Singletary Center for the Arts offers another version of the timeless Nutcracker by the Moscow Ballet. Their Great Russian Nutcracker tells the tale of Masha in the “Land of Peace and Harmony” with grand artistic sets.

The Lexington Opera House presents Chip Reid’s Mannheim Steamroller Christmas on Dec. 22 at 7pm.

The Lyric Theatre and Cultural Center will show Christmas classics Home Alone and The Preacher’s Wife on Friday, Dec. 16, starting at 6:30 p.m. for Holiday Film Night. On Dec. 26, the Lyric hosts their fifth annual Kwanzaa Celebration. The event is open to all.

Donald Mason, Lyric Theatre director says “The Lyric is a special place for people of all cultures to enjoy holiday events. Families have rented the facility for holiday dinners, people have experienced entertainment of all types and the community has learned what Kwanzaa means to so many. This year, we will be providing our guests for Kwanzaa starter kits to share with your family and friends.” The celebration starts at 7 p.m.

Whether you’re looking for traditional, avant-garde, spiritual or My Old Kentucky Home, the spirit of the holiday season shines brightly around the Bluegrass.

This article also appears on page 6 of the December 2016 printed edition of the Hamburg Journal. For more Hamburg area news, subscribe to the Hamburg Journal weekly digital newsletter.