Some woods possess secret magic. Like enchanted fairytale forests, they beckon visitors into whimsical worlds not found in the stark light of day.
At the Winter Woods Spectacular in Louisville, Kentucky, frosty nights give way to 500 Christmas trees dotting a quarter-mile stretch of path in Iroquois Park. The scent of evergreen wafts in the air. Dangling from branches are millions of twinkly lights. Illuminated stained glass displays of holiday stories sit among the path, from “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” to new classics like “Elf.”
Keeping with the tradition of winter wonderlands and fairytale forests, the event transports guests past a giant gingerbread house and a snow castle ruled by a mysterious ice queen. A choir of penguins at the end of the road squawks “Silent Night” — or, at least, they did last year. No one knows what the magic hidden among these winter woods will reveal this year.
“Folks are really looking for unique immersive experiences,” says Brooke Pardue, president and CEO of Parks Alliance of Louisville, the organization that oversees the Winter Woods Spectacular. “The sights and smells of the holidays are so important, and we try to do things a little bit different every year.”
This season marks the fourth year of the event, but the first that it will be a walk-thru instead of a drive-thru. Gaining in popularity, the event warranted the transformation that would offer guests more time wandering the woods, looking for all kinds of holiday magic.
There is something for everyone, from classic poetry evocative of winter’s beauty to Bavarian villages and Santa’s workshop.
The event benefits the work of the Parks Alliance, which supports Louisville’s more than 120 public parks and community centers.
“In recent years, there has been a renewed interest in the value of public parks,” she says. “They improve our emotional and mental wellbeing and the environment — they are critical public infrastructure that traditionally has not seen appropriate funding.”
So arrive dressed in your best Christmas pajamas or ugliest holiday sweaters and support the woods. Just remember, the event will run snow, rain, or shine.
WHEN YOU GO
Winter Woods Spectacular
4800 New Cut Road, Louisville, KY
Opens daily at 6 p.m. Nov. 25, 2022-Jan. 1, 2023
Admission: $15 for adults, $12 for seniors aged 65 and older, $10 for children, free for children age 2 and younger
PHOTO PROVIDED BY WINTER WOODS SPECTACULAR