print email
Find A Hotel
Find A Car
Find A Flight
Call (800) 871-6430

Featured Events


7th Annual Lexington Fest-of-Ales

The 7th Annual Lexington Fest of Ales will feature 200 craft beers from around the US and... more

Free Friday Night Concert Series "Summer

Enjoy CoraLee & the Townies!  Grab those lawn chairs and come enjoy the music... more

Bluegrass Archery Tournament

Yourth 10 + and adults are invited to compete in the inaugural Bluegrass Archery... more

Bluegrass Farmers' Market, Inc.

The Bluegrass Farmers' Market is the largest 100% homegrown/produced farmers' market... more

The Red Mile 2015 Standardbred Meet

The First part of the racing meet features the Kentucky Sire Stakes racing series... more

Tunes in the Vines

Featuring:  D Jay Rice!  Bring excitement to your Sunday and meet your friends... more

Red Barn Radio

Featuring:  Joe LaMay & Sherri Reese & Friends  Enjoy traditional... more

Thursday Night Live

Featuring Big Black Cadillac!  Beverages, food from local restaurants and great... more

Kentucky Cork & Tap

Featuring Kentucky wineries and vineyards, local beers from Lexington's own breweries,... more

Lexington Roots & Heritage Festival

Honoring the Past.  Celebrating the Present.  Embracing the future.  Enjoy... more

Renfro Valley Entertainment Center

Featuring:  Special Guest, Gene Watson!  Enjoy great classic country, southern... more


Enjoy an astromomy presentation and view the night sky through a variety of... more

The Art Museum at the University of Kentucky

Wayne Koestenbaum:  Unfamiliar Grammer, Paintings from 2010-2015.  Bottoms... more

Waveland Art Fair

Featuring Kentucky artists offering fine handmade crafts in a uniquely historic... more

Tunes in the Vines

Featuring:  Jeff Barnes Duo!  Bring excitement to your Sunday and meet your... more

Keeneland September Yearling Sales

This sale attracts buyers from all over the world.  Spectators welcome!... more

Jefferson Street Soiree

The Jefferson Street Soiree is back after the success of its inaugural year and is sure... more

Red Barn Radio

Featuring:  Alex Smith!  Enjoy traditional Bluegrass and Bluegrass Gospel with... more

Thursday Night Live

Featuring Girls Guns & Glory!  Beverages, food from local restaurants and... more

Festival Latino de Lexington

Friday night is tropical night and will include authentic Latino foods, fireworks... more

Jim Belushi & the Board of Comedy

An alumnus of Saturday Night Live and Chicago’s famed Second City, Jim Belushi... more

Renfro Valley Entertainment Center

Featuring:  Special Guests, Joey and Rory!  Enjoy great classic country,... more

Tunes in the Vines

Featuring:  Beyond Apple!  Bring excitement to your Sunday and meet your... more

Red Barn Radio

Featuring:  Mountain Music Ambassadors!  Enjoy traditional Bluegrass and... more

Thursday Night Live

Featuring The Barrows!  Beverages, food from local restaurants and great music by... more

Anderson County Burgoo Festival

Lots of burgoo, music, entertainment and vendors of all kinds.    Held in... more

Renfro Valley Entertainment Center

Featuring:  Special Guest, Mickey Gilley!  Enjoy great classic country,... more

Troubadour Concert Series - Exile in The

Enjoy Kentucky's legendary rock and country heroes, EXILE, for a full concert inside the... more

Tunes in the Vines

Featuring:  The Habit!  Bring excitement to your Sunday and meet your friends... more

The Red Mile 2015 Grand Circuit

The Grand Circuit is the elite in Standardbred Racing such as the Kentucky Futurity,... more

35th Annual Festival of the Horse

Exhibits, concessions, parades, carnival, arts and crafts and 5K run. ... more

Thursday Night Live

Featuring Five Below Band!  Beverages, food from local restaurants and great music... more

A Night Celebrating The Lyric

Help celebrate the 5th Anniversary of The Lyric Theatre & Cultural Arts Center!... more

Keeneland Thoroughbred Racing

No racing on Mondays or Tuesdays. See live Thoroughbred racing at the most elegant race... more

Renfro Valley Entertainment Center

Featuring:  Special Guest, Jimmy Fortune!  Enjoy great classic country,... more

Perryville Battlefield Commemoration

Battle re-enactments, living history, parade, food and crafts.... more

Renfro Valley Entertainment Center

Featuring:  Special Guest, Bobby Bare!  Enjoy great classic country, southern... more

The Bourbon Social/Bourbon Brunch

Located in the heart of downtown Lexington at the Bodley Bullock House, enjoy a Kentucky... more

The Raven 10K Trail Run

Join the Friends of Raven Run and Lexington Park and Recreation for the inaugural 10 K... more

Tunes in the Vines

Featuring:  Midlife Harmony!  Bring excitement to your Sunday and meet your... more

The Bourbon Social/VIP Progressive Dinner

This exclusive dinner will only support 50 guests.  Five groups of ten, start times... more

The Bourbon Social/Beer, Bourbon & Bacon

Enjoy an eclectic menu and pairing in the historic gardens and lawns of Ashland, The... more

Thursday Night Live

Featuring Blind Corn Liquor Pickets!  Beverages, food from local restaurants and... more

Renfro Valley Entertainment Center

Featuring:  Special Guest, Will Reynolds!  Enjoy great classic country,... more

The Bourbon Social/Keeneland Tailgate

Enjoy the traditional Keeneland Tailgate in a format unlike any other.  In a private... more

The Bourbon Social/VIP Pre Event & Cocktail

The Celebrity Guest Chef Ed Lee will create Kentucky Proud hors d'oeuvres alongside a... more

Kentucky Guild of Artists & Craftsmen Fall Fair

The Kentucky Guild of Artists and Craftsmen’s Fall Fair is an event you cannot... more

Renfro Valley Entertainment Center

Featuring:  Special Guest, Marty Stuart & Connie Smith!  Enjoy great... more

The Bourbon Social/Main Event

The 2015 Main Event is an event not to miss!  The celebration will host the best of... more

The Bourbon Social/Seminar Series

The 2015 seminar series will host 6 classes teaching, tasting and talking all things... more

The Bourbon Social/Distillery Brunch

Located in the heart of the Jim Beam Distillery, guests will enjoy a Kentucky themed menu... more

Tunes in the Vines

Featuring:  Keeton Zane Hilton!  Bring excitement to your Sunday and meet your... more

Parson Dance Company

Exuberant. Virtuosic. Sensual. These words barely begin to describe the Parsons Dance... more

Thursday Night Live

Featuring The Twiggenbury's!  Beverages, food from local restaurants and great... more

Liberty Hall - Our Beloved Ghost Tour

Liberty Hall is famous for its Gray Lady and other ghosts said to haunt the house and... more

Renfro Valley Entertainment Center

Featuring:  Special Guest, IIIrd Tyme Out!  Enjoy great classic country,... more

The Bourbon Chase

An overnight relay adventure.  Teams of runners cover 200 miles of scenic byways... more

The Camp Nelson Ghost Hunting Experience

This fundraising event will lead you on an actual ghost hunt on the Camp Nelson Civil War... more

Renfro Valley Entertainment Center

Featuring:  Special Guest, Ronnie Dailey & Vincent!  Enjoy great classic... more

Tunes in the Vines

Featuring:  The Twiggenburys.  Bring excitement to your Sunday and meet your... more

Thursday Night Live

Featuring Tony and the Tanlines!  Beverages, food from local restaurants and great... more

7th Annual Kentucky Proud Incredible Food Show

Featuring Celebrity Chef Carla Hall.  Now in its seventh year, the Incredible Food... more

Breeders’ Cup Festival Week

Come experience a multi-venue festival spotlighting live music, art, food and other... more

Renfro Valley Entertainment Center

Featuring:  Special Guest, Tanya Tucker!  Enjoy great classic country, southern... more

Alltech National Horse Show

The National Horse Show is America’s oldest indoor horse show, firmly established... more

CP National Horse Show

A week-long championship event held indoors at the Alltech Arena, Featuring... more


Join Transylvania University for their 5th Annual event as they light hundreds of jack... more

Liberty Hall - Our Beloved Ghost Tour

Liberty Hall is famous for its Gray Lady and other ghosts said to haunt the house and... more

Ice Skating in Triangle Park

Tis the season for ice skating!  Enjoy 90 minutes on the ice!  Monday-Friday 4... more

Visiting WinStar Farm

by Margaret, Horse Blogger

HORSES, HORSES This is a great time of year to visit a horse farmand WinStar is a great farm to visit!

The farm itself is impressive, and you'll have some pretty scenery onthe drive there. When you ...


Horses and Dogs

by Margaret, Horse Blogger

HORSES, HORSES Things have gone to the dogs this week at the Kentucky Horse Park. Of course there are still plenty of horses of various breeds to see (don't missthe Breeds Barn show),but just now ...


Camp Nelson

by Stuart, History Blogger

One of Kentucky's most unique--and important--Civil War sites is located just south of Lexington in Jessamine County.

Camp Nelson, established in 1863 on the Kentucky River, was founded as a supply ...


Western Dreamer

by Margaret, Horse Blogger

HORSES HORSES Standardbred pacer Western Dreamer is one of a special group of horses at the Kentucky Horse Park.

The Bay gelding--barn name Dreamer--is one of theretired champions in the Horse Park's ...


Lots of Ponies

by Margaret, Horse Blogger

HORSES, HORSES Ponies are taking plenty of jumps this week atthe Kentucky Horse Park. They and their riders are participatingin the U.S. Equestrian Federation Pony Finals Championships.

Pony Finals ...


Historic Churches

Historic Sites, Diversity of Denominations and a Heritage of Worship Reflect Importance of Religion in the Bluegrass

A pioneer minister is attributed with saying that "Heaven must be a Kentucky kind of place." Such rhetoric aside, Bluegrass Kentuckians have always had their sights firmly set on the real thing.

PDF Box Religion has played a central and cherished role in Bluegrass life beginning with the arrival of the first settlers in the late 1700s. Some scholars contend that, except for the Mormon expansion into Utah, no other region in America was settled with the level of religious fervor of early Kentucky.

In fact, what has been called "the most important religious gathering in all of American history" - the Great Revival of 1801, which led to the formation of the Christian Church and Church of Christ denominations - took place at Cane Ridge, a short drive north of downtown Lexington. Thousands of Christians visit the Cane Ridge Shrine each year.

Another Lexington-area attraction important in American religious history is Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill. Pleasant Hill is the nation's largest restored Shaker community.

Lexington's present-day churches include congregations whose histories go back to the region's chearliest settlement days, as well as some of the largest congregations in Kentucky. Today, fast-growing Lexington combines longstanding religious traditions with a growing religious diversity.

More than 50 denominations and religious groups are represented in the hundreds of churches in the Lexington area. As you might expect in the Southern "Bible Belt," Baptists are the largest group. But there also are Catholic and Hindu, Methodist and Mormon, Mennonite and Chinese Christian congregations.

Religion plays an important role in the region's educational heritage. The area is home to top-ranked Christian liberal arts colleges and seminaries.

Many area churches have strong musical traditions, with choirs and singing groups that perform regionally and nationally. ICHTHUS, America's longest-running Christian music festival, was held annually in nearby Wilmore for over 40 years. In 2014, it moved to the Kentucky Horse Park.

Whether you are looking for a welcoming place at which to worship; are planning a religious convention or meeting; are interested in religious history; or simply enjoy admiring the architecture of churches old and new, you'll find plenty of points of inspiration in Lexington and the Bluegrass.

Bluegrass Note: Lexington's central location, flexible meeting facilities, affordable accommodations and family atmosphere make it a popular place for religious meetings, conferences and conventions. Rupp Arena and the adjacent convention center in downtown Lexington have hosted many religious groups including The Worldwide Church of God, The National Missionary Convention, the Evangelical Free Church of America and the interdenominational Time Out for Women Conference and The Franklin Graham Festival.

A Shrine to Christian History

Each year, more than 15,000 visitors from around the world come to see Cane Ridge Shrine, probably the most famous "frontier church" in America, and the birthplace of religious denominations that today have more than five million followers in the United States. The large log meeting house, located on KY 537 in Bourbon County, north of Lexington, was built in 1791 to serve a Presbyterian congregation. At 30-by-50 feet, it is thought to be the largest one-room log structure in the nation. But the most important reason for Cane Ridge's attraction is what happened there in 1801.

The Great Revival of 1801 at Cane Ridge attracted an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 people. For a week, 25 to 30 Presbyterian, Methodist and Baptist ministers preached from wagon beds and tree stumps, inspiring thousands to emotional professions of faith. The event established the tradition of camp-meeting revivals in America. Even more importantly, it led to a new denomination at Cane Ridge under Rev. Barton Stone.

In 1832, in Lexington, Stone's "Christian" movement merged with the Disciples of Christ, creating what is now the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

Modern-day Christians come to Cane Ridge to learn about and celebrate church history. In 1954, the meeting house was enshrined in a building of local limestone. Medallions in the windows depict some of the important events in the Christian Church. Inside is the restored meeting house along with a museum of church and pioneer history.

For Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) congregations, a service, reunion or other event at the shrine has special meaning, and many groups plan activities at Cane Ridge, especially during summer months.

Independent and group visitors also are welcome. Cane Ridge is open for tours April through October, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. Groups larger than a carload should call first. Admission is free, with donations encouraged.

Reservations for group meetings, services, weddings or other events are taken on a first-come, first-serve basis after January 1 of the event year. Every year the shrine hosts Cane Ridge Day with picnics, music and guest preachers. For more information or to schedule a visit or event at Cane Ridge call (859) 987-5350.

Bluegrass Note: Only two pioneer log meeting houses survive in the Bluegrass, Cane Ridge in Bourbon County, and Old Mud Meeting House near Harrodsburg in Mercer County. The first Dutch Reformed Church west of the Alleghenies, Old Mud was built in 1800. Its name reflects its construction: framing of sturdy oaken timbers and walls filled with mud mixed with straw and sticks. Old Mud is located on Dry Branch Road off US68 south of Harrodsburg; arrange a guided tour through the Harrodsburg Historical Society. (859) 734-5985.

A Community Built on Faith

One of the best known attractions in the Lexington area reflects a fascinating chapter of Kentucky and American religious history. Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, southwest of Lexington, is the largest restored Shaker village in the United States, and is a monument to the 19th-century members of the Society of Believers who strived to create a heaven on earth. It stands on a fertile rise overlooking the Kentucky River.

As followers of a charismatic woman named Ann Lee, whom they believed to be the Second Coming of Christ in female form, Shakers were committed to celibacy, pacifism, equality, shared labor and common property. Everyday endeavors were viewed as acts of devotion, and, consequently, the name Shaker came to mean quality in everything they produced - furniture to cattle.

At its zenith around 1830, when the population reached 500, Pleasant Hill was the third largest of 18 Shaker communities in the United States. Although no Shakers have lived at Pleasant Hill since the early 1920s, today visitors can experience aspects of Shaker life, work, music and worship through interpretive exhibits and events. There are 34 restored buildings on 2,800 acres. Shaker Village is open year-round, with riverboat excursions offered spring through fall. Admission charged. Meeting facilities available. For information call (859) 734-5411 or toll free, (800) 734-5611.

Bluegrass Note: Bishop Francis Asbury was among those attending the first Methodist Conference west of the Alleghenies, held in Lexington in 1790 at Masterson's Station, the home of Richard Masterson, a Methodist settler from Virginia. A historic marker notes the site along what is now Leestown Pike.

Faith and Education

Visit college campuses in the Bluegrass, and you'll discover not only historic buildings and scenic campuses, but strong religious traditions.

  • Georgetown College, north of Lexington in Georgetown, was the first Baptist college west of the Alleghenies, and the sixth Baptist college organized in the United States. Officially chartered in 1829, its heritage goes back to 1787 when Elijah Craig, a Baptist minister and businessman from Virginia, opened a classical academy in Georgetown.
  • Transylvania University in Lexington, the oldest college west of the Allegheny mountains is a liberal arts school consistently ranked among the top private colleges in the South, is affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Famous alumni include Jefferson Davis, Cassius Clay and Stephen Austin. Also affiliated with the Christian Church is Midway College, a private liberal arts college for women about 15 miles west of Lexington.
  • Centre College in Danville, south of Lexington, is another highly acclaimed liberal arts institution (it's Kentucky's leading producer of Rhodes Scholars). Centre was founded in 1819 by Presbyterian pioneers and maintains a covenant relationship with the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A.
  • Asbury University in Wilmore, south of Lexington, was founded in 1890 by Methodist evangelist John Wesley Hughes. Its library includes papers of notable alumni including Ford Philpot. Asbury was the site of a famous revival of modern times. During "the spontaneous revival of 1970," a campus prayer meeting erupted into a weeklong worship that inspired student evangelical revivals across America. Asbury is also the only school approved by The Salvation Army for its leaders' education.
  • Originally affiliated with Asbury University but a separate institution since 1931 is Asbury Theological Seminary, also located in Wilmore. Alumni of this interdenominational graduate school of theology serve in more than 80 denominations in over 57 countries, but its firmly Methodist roots are reflected in the statue of Methodist founder John Wesley that stands at the center of its lovely campus.
  • Lexington Theological Seminary, 230 Lexington Green Circle, is the oldest ministerial school of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). The school was founded in 1865 as the College of the Bible. (It was originally part of Kentucky University, the forerunner of the University of Kentucky.)

Bluegrass Note: Lexingtonians enjoy celebrating Easter at sunrise services amid the floral gardens at Lexington Cemetery. In 1998, five churches (Main Street Baptist Church, First Baptist Church, Maxwell Street Presbyterian Church, The Salvation Army and Calvary Baptist Church) held Easter services there....Since 1992, the drive-through Nativity at South Elkhorn Christian Church, 4343 Harrodsburg Rd., has been a Christmas season traffic-stopper. More than 200 church members participate in the program's 11 scenes set along a candlelit route. For more information about the hundreds of special services, concerts and events sponsored by Lexington churches throughout the year, check the Saturday religion page in the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Sanctuaries Old and New, Large and Small

Gothic to contemporary, historic to modern - Lexingtonians' enthusiasm for religion takes many beautiful forms. To see for yourself, stroll or drive along almost any road in Lexington. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

In downtown Lexington:

  • Historic Pleasant Green Missionary Baptist Church, 540 W. Maxwell St., is the fourth oldest African-American Baptist church in America. Founded in 1790, the church has been at its present location since 1822. Today there are more than 1,800 members. Sunday worship is at 9:30 a.m. (859) 254-7387.
  • A bronze plaque marks the pew of 19th-century statesman and Senator Henry Clay at Christ Church Episcopal Cathedral, 166 Market St. The church's congregation dates to 1795; parts of the building date to the 1840s. Today, membership is more than 1,600. The church's well-known choir program follows English tradition in affiliation with the Royal School of Church Music. Sunday services are at 7:30 and 11:00 a.m. (859) 254-4497.
  • First Presbyterian Church at 174 N. Mill St., is another historic Lexington congregation which met at various locations beginning in 1784. The Gothic-style nucleus of its present building was built in 1872, designed by popular 19th-century Lexington architect Cincinnatus Shryock, who was a church member. Today the church has more than 700 members. Sunday services are at 8:45 a.m. and 11 a.m. (859) 252-1919.
  • Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), 205 E. Short St., is a descendant of the Cane Ridge Church, and of the Hill Street Christian Church in which Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) denomination was unified in 1832. The Romanesque-style church was built in 1894 and serves a congregation of some 2,000 members. Sunday services are at 8:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. (859) 233-1551.
  • Founded in 1789, the congregation of First United Methodist Church enjoys a proud heritage as the oldest Methodist church in Lexington. They have worshiped at 200 West High Street since 1840, and in the current building with its impressive facade since 1909. Sunday services are at 8:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. (859) 233-0545.
  • Calvary Baptist Church, 150 E. High St., is a Southern Baptist Church founded in 1875. The church has some 2,300 members and seven ministers, with a large college ministry and exceptional music program. Its Sanctuary Choir has performed throughout the South. Sunday services are at 8:30 and 11 a.m. with a college service at 10:50 a.m. (859) 254-3491
  • If you are looking for a Latin Mass in Lexington, go to St. Peters Catholic Church at 135 Barr Street, at 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday at 7:00 a.m. or Saturday at 8:00 a.m. (859) 252-7551.

Bluegrass Note: Religious musical traditions in the Bluegrass range from spirituals to contemporary rock. The Jimtown Male Choir from Jimtown Baptist Church, 2231 Jimtown Lane. (606-299-1944), has performed spirituals throughout the region for more than 40 years. The longest running Christian music festival in the U.S., the ICHTHUS festival will be held at the Kentucky Horse Park in 2014.. Begun as a Christian alternative to Woodstock in 1970, this three-day outdoor festival attracts top Christian performers - and some 15,000 fans each year.

Beyond downtown:

  • The Cathedral of Christ the King, 299 Colony Blvd., is the central church of the Catholic Diocese of Lexington. Built in 1945, the contemporary architecture features polished white Bedford stone in the shape of a Latin cross, with breathtaking stained glass windows. The church was designated a cathedral when the Lexington diocese was formally established in 1988. Daily Mass is at 8:00 a.m. or 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Call for weekend service times. Tours of the building can be arranged by appointment.(859) 268-2861.
  • With facilities encompassing more than 22 acres and membership of more than 4,000, "church" hardly describes Immanuel Baptist Church, 3100 Tates Creek Road. Begun in 1909, with nine members, the church now serves more than 4,000, with services in Japanese as well as English, and an acclaimed choir and their Recreational Outreach Center. There are Sunday services at 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. (The late morning service is shown on WLEX-TV.) There is also a Sunday service at 5:30 p.m. (859) 685-3200.
  • Porter Memorial Baptist Church, 4300 Nicholasville Road, is another large church (2,800 plus members) with humble beginnings. It began in the early 1900s when a Lexington woman and her daughter began conducting Sunday School in their home. Later, J.W. Porter, pastor of First Baptist, assisted the church in formally organizing. Sunday services are 10:45 a.m. and 5:30 pm. (859) 272-3441.
  • The oldest Jewish synagogue in Lexington, Temple Adath Israel, 124 N. Ashland Ave., was established in 1904. Serving more than 350 families, Adath Israel is affiliated with the reform branch of Judaism and focuses on social justice and community programs. Friday services are at 7 p.m. (859) 269-2979.
  • Since its founding in 1956, Southland Christian Church, 5001 Harrodsburg Road, has become one of the largest churches in Central Kentucky - around 11,000 people usually attend the four Sunday services at the Harrodsburg and Richmond Road campuses. Three services are offered on Sundays. Call for more information: (859) 224-1600.
  • A large semicircular sanctuary is a distinguishing feature of Southern Hills United Methodist Church, 2356 Harrodsburg Road. This 2,500-plus member church, built in 1960, includes a gymnasium complex and sponsors many leisure ministry activities. Sunday services are at 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. (859) 277-6176.

Charming and historic rural churches dot the countryside around Lexington:

  • Walnut Hill Church, in Lexington/Fayette County, is the oldest standing Presbyterian Church in Kentucky. It now operates as an ecumenical church. This 40 by 50 stone structure was built in 1801 on land donated by Mary Todd Lincoln's grandfather. (859) 263-5304.
  • Just a few miles west of Lexington, off US 60 is the Pisgah Presbyterian Church. The Pisgah congregation, organized in 1784,was the first Presbyterian church west of the Alleghenies. The stone building dates to 1812, with pioneers and Revolutionary War vets buried in the adjacent cemetery. (859) 873-4161.
  • Old Stone Meeting House in rural Clark County, east of Lexington, is the oldest constituted Baptist Church in Kentucky. Old Stone was founded in 1785 by one of the "traveling Baptist churches" from Virginia. Daniel Boone and his family are thought to have attended services here. Today the church is home to Providence Baptist. (859) 745-2663.

For a more comprehensive listing of churches by denomination contact the Lexington Visitors Center at 800-845-3959.

By Teresa Day, a freelance travel writer based in Georgetown, KY
updated June 2015
Top of Page