There’s no horsing around when it comes to choosing where to hold your next meeting. The Horse Capital of the World, Lexington, Kentucky, possesses a unique mixture of history, beauty and modern amenities that will thrill any group. The best part: You won’t have to pony up big-city bucks for a grand time.
“It's always so special to see people who've never been to Kentucky or visited Lexington have their eyes opened to what an exciting, beautiful and hospitable place we call home,” said Jen Rogers, Director of Administration at the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center, who has hosted board meetings, large conventions and everything in between in Lexington. “There's so much to experience here that you truly can't get anywhere else, and we love to share it with the world.”
Read on to learn why you should saddle up for the ride of a lifetime planning your event here.
Central Bank Center
Associations, trade shows, corporate groups and others are likely to make Central Bank Center their stable—and for good reason. First opened in 1976, this downtown Lexington venue has been the cornerstone of memorable events for years. A major renovation and expansion is nearing completion, which will ensure that remains the case for decades more.
When finalized in Spring 2022, the Central Bank Center will feature:
• 200,000 square feet of flexible convention and event space
• 44,000 square feet of club and flexible space
• 100,000 square feet of exhibition space with four halls
• 29,000 square feet of meeting space with 16 rooms
• 24,300 square feet of ballroom space with three rooms
• State-of-the-art technical capabilities
It will also be home to the 22,000-seat Rupp Arena, home to the famed Kentucky Wildcats, and be connected to two hotels that have a combined 30,000 square feet of meeting space and 5 hotels within walking distance to the Central Bank Center. Additionally, 11 convention-friendly hotels are located within a 15-minute drive of downtown Lexington. Almost all of the convention hotels offer free parking for convention attendees, and many have free airport shuttle service.
Lexington can be a one-stop shop if you want it to be. But with so much else to explore, attendees are surely going to be hot to trot, especially after being cooped up for so long.
Once you settle into town, you're never more than 10 minutes from breathtaking rolling hills, fence-lined pastures and more than 450 horse farms. The community takes pride in being the center of the thoroughbred breeding universe and being home to the Kentucky Horse Park and historic Keeneland racecourse.
A day at the races may be out of the question for some groups, but these famed facilities are open year-round for iconic private events that give attendees a true sense of place.
Get the best of both the landscape and 50 breeds of horses at Kentucky Horse Park. Spread across 1,200 acres of lush pastures are a myriad event venues ideal for intimate C-suite functions, all the way to receptions and galas for thousands of attendees at the Alltech Arena. Tours are available and there are six breakout meeting rooms to facilitate smaller functions and networking events.
Keeneland’s historic grounds provide multiple options for planners as well. Among its 10 venues are:
• The historic Keene Place mansion, ideal for a private dinner for small groups
• The Entertainment Center that holds 450 attendees
• The Sales Arena, where millions of dollars’ worth of horses are sold every year, will be a value-added proposition for 600-person conferences
Fasig-Tipton, a renowned horse auction facility, surprises with its transformation into an elegant event venue. Complete with a tree-lined drive, marble-floored entryway, domed ceiling and parquet floors, the facilities are ideal for receptions, business dinners and annual meetings. Consider sprucing up a charitable function/auction at the facility, which has room for up to 750 attendees in its iconic Sales Arena.
Home of Good Cheers
Woodford Reserve Distillery
In and around Lexington you can explore old warehouses where row upon row of charred-oak bourbon barrels stretch into the horizon, waiting for their chance to shine. Groups can take a tour and see how America’s only native spirit is made, then grab a stool at one of the many world-class bourbon and cocktail bars around town. Spoiler alert: Lexington isn’t known as the best place to grab a drink in America for nothing.
There’s no need to choose just one watering hole. 903 Venues, located downtown in a historic bourbon warehouse in the heart of Lexington’s historic Distillery District, combine to offer four indoor venues and one outdoor site that total 50,000 square feet of bourbon-themed meeting space.
Add another level of flavor at Castle & Key, located in the historic Old Taylor Distillery just outside Frankfort. With beautifully landscaped grounds and sunken gardens surrounding a building that looks like a limestone castle, your attendees will feel like royalty. An on-site trail showcases a variety of herbs and botanicals used in gin, along with stunning trees, plants and flowers.
Kentucky Castle, once a lavish private residence, is now home to special events held throughout the year including bourbon tastings and a dinner theater. The Parlor is well-suited for a VIP meal while the Greenhouse hosts up to 300 at an upscale corporate event.
Live the History
The Carrick House
As the first part of Kentucky to be settled, Central Kentucky represents the beginning of the American West, and was home to prominent individuals of 18th and 19th century American history. There’s no shortage of stories to relive in Lexington and across the Bluegrass State, so take a walk back in time through notable Civil War battlefields, homes of prominent historical figures, preserved architectural treasures and much more.
Located within an easy walk of downtown hotels, the Carrick House is an 1809 Greek Revival home designed by architect Gideon Shryock that corporate groups will swoon over. The original house—a beautiful and historic Southern mansion—can accommodate up to 150 guests cocktail style, 50 for a seated function and 80 guests banquet style. The Grand Ballroom addition holds 500. Make sure to use the rooftop garden and patio—ideal for the fresh air attendees will desire.
Located in the heart of downtown in Lexington's newly renovated historic courthouse, Limestone Hall shows off with its stunning view of the courthouse’s restored dome, studded with twinkling lights. The venue offers multiple event rooms that can accommodate up to 750 guests. With an on-site catering kitchen, this is a great spot to combine Lexington’s rich history with plenty of modern touches.
Originally built in 1886, the restored Lexington Opera House adds a touch of old-world glamour to any event. In addition to the auditorium—which seats about 1,000—the Opera House offers a variety of smaller spaces, including lobbies, galleries and Pardy’s Pub in the lower level.
Just 45 minutes from Lexington, Shaker Village combines impeccable service with a tranquil setting ideal for a memorable off-site excursion. Located within a 3,000-acre nature preserve, Shaker Village’s restored historic buildings are well-suited for events with up to 200 attendees. The venue has been used for community meetings since 1805.
Bringing It All Together
Dudley's On Short
Lexington has all the ingredients for your next meeting, including our farm-to-table restaurants, easy access from the airport and proximity of venues. The history blends into the present, offering your group a future event that will achieve your goals.
Just ask Cheri Tolle, Administrative Director at the University of Kentucky Healthcare.
“I have hosted professional meetings in Lexington for over 30 years, from as few as 10 to as many as 300 people. Whether the audience is local, state, regional or national—there's something for everyone in our city! The size and location provide great value for budget-conscious meeting planners, and the climate offers year-round accessibility. Skip the big cities with their big price tags and come enjoy Lexington's gracious hospitality”