There is something enchanting about the warm glow of Christmas lights lining rooftops, spiraling around porch columns, and shimmering through neighborhood windows.
They fill our heads with heartfelt memories, laughter, and that unavoidable dose of family craziness to keep us on our toes. We like to think there’s nowhere else in Kentucky that does Christmas quite like Prestonsburg.
Each holiday season, the town is host to upward of 45,000 visitors who make their way to Archer Park for the annual Christmas lights display.
The countdown to Christmas is on
Prestonsburg Parks and Recreation Department employees begin preparations early in the year, building most of the displays themselves and planning out themes and ideas. In September, they get to work executing the layout of light exhibits, from the “spinning” drive-thru arch and the Christmas tree to the festive walkways and buildings on site. An infinite amount of lights are examined daily to make sure they are in working order and ready for their holiday debut. Parks employees stay busy monitoring lights to see if they burn out, which is a crucial part of their job, as well as the ever-constant assembling of new displays.
Thanksgiving evening, the community gathers to watch as the Christmas lights come alive for the first time, officially jump-starting the holiday season.
How best to enjoy the display
From Thanksgiving until New Year’s Day, the lights come on when the sun goes down, approximately 6:00 p.m., and stay lit until 10:00 p.m. daily. On busy weekends, there is a line of cars that can sometimes stretch for over a mile to the Mountain Arts Center. Visitors don’t seem to mind and know it will be worth the wait. So, put on your favorite holiday music, and drive into a winter wonderland!
When weather permits, walking on foot through the park has its advantages, too. So, park your car and take your time, or, for the ultimate experience, take an eastern Kentucky-style sleigh ride. Children of all ages can take part in the fun at the carnival on site, which is complete with kiddie rides, games, and food vendors for your funnel cake fix. The carnial is open Tuesday-Friday from 5pm-Close and Saturday-Sunday beginning at 2pm. Masks must be worn while attending the carnival. In addition, hand sanitizers are provided, and all rides are cleaned after ever ride. Get your picture taken with famous Christmas characters like Rudolph, The Grinch and Frosty the Snowman, who appear every Friday and Saturday night. And, the biggest holiday celebrity of them all, Santa Claus, comes out to greet everyone and listen to Christmas wishes from 6-8 p.m. each Saturday.
Make your own ornament in memory of the special person in your life who served their community and country. Hang the ornament near light displays honoring coal miners, firefighters, police officers and veterans.
Did you know this event is FREE? Yes, free! The Prestonsburg Parks & Recreation Department welcomes donations to help with the cost of the event, but there is no charge to enjoy these holiday creations.
The Star City also rings in the New Year at Archer Park with local musicians and our own unique countdown, as the Prestonsburg Star rises over the crowd at midnight. During the rest of the year, Archer Park is a gathering place for families and visitors, with several pavilions to reserve for events, a playground, indoor skating rink and a fountain and flag tribute honoring Floyd County veterans.
Happy Holidays from all of us here in Prestonsburg. We look forward to celebrating this special season with you!
If you go
The Archer Park Christmas Lights Display is located at 66 Archer Park Road in Prestonsburg. The lights come on at sundown and stay on until 10:00 p.m. Make an evening of it and have dinner from one of our outstanding local restaurants, or shop at one of our downtown boutiques!