Skip to site content
Group Travel Leader Group Travel Leader Group Travel Leader

Get in the Christmas spirit at the Galt House


Although many people consider mid-November to be too early to usher in the Christmas season, it was impossible to be bah-humbug after my wife, Marcheta, and I attended a media weekend Nov. 15-17 in conjunction with the opening of Christmas at the Galt House Hotel in downtown Louisville, Ky.

Brightly colored larger-than-life luminaries created by talented Chinese artisans, restored vintage department store window displays, amusing animated stuffed animals, creative gingerbread houses, lessons in making paper snowflakes, a holiday dinner show with a talented cast of young singers belting out holiday favorites and even hotel bellmen dancing in toy soldier outfits made it hard not to catch the Christmas spirit.

Although Christmas at the Galt House Hotel has many features geared toward children, including an Express Kiddie Train in Candy Cane Forest and a Santa cam that allows parents to download videos of their kids talking with Santa, there is plenty for adults to enjoy and be amazed by. The signature feature of Christmas at the Galt House, an American Bus Association Top 100 Event in North America for groups, is KaLightoscope with its large luminaries that take you on a visit to the North Pole, where Santa is getting ready for the big night. When KaLightoscope debuted four years ago, it was the first time Chinese luminaries had been displayed in the United States on this scale and the first time luminaries had been used to create a non-Chinese Western theme.

Made with wire frames covered with silk and satins in bright reds, blues, yellows, whites, oranges, lavenders and greens and lit from within, the luminaries are an impressive display of craftsmanship and fun to boot. There is a candy house large enough to walk through, Santa frolicking on a snowboard, snowmen dancing on a frozen pond, giant-size toys and Santa and his reindeer flying overhead. The final scene is a Nativity rendered as a stain-glass window.

A new feature this year that was a hit at the media weekend is Santa’s sleigh in front of a green screen that allows you to download a video of yourself driving the sleigh over scenes from around Louisville and share it on social media.

One of our favorites was the window displays from the former Stewart Dry Goods Company store in downtown Louisville that were restored by Lou Nasti of Brooklyn, N.Y., who had helped make them in the 1960s. Marcheta and I have fond memories of standing in front of the windows at Christmas time when we were kids.

Candy Cane Forest also features 100 animated characters that are fun for all ages.

Another new feature this year is the dancing Toy Soldier Bellmen, who will perform at 5:00 p.m. each day in the Suite Tower lobby from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve. After their dance, the bellmen will turn a page in a Countdown to Christmas book. They did a rehearsal in front of a large crowd on Saturday.

Christmas at the Galt House Hotel runs through Jan. 1, closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas. The Colors of the Season Holiday Dinner Show runs through Dec. 14, with evening shows on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and matinees on Dec. 7 and Dec. 12. It is also closed on Thanksgiving.