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Lexington in Kentucky.
Lexington is the second-largest city in Kentucky and the 63rd largest in the US. Known as the "Thoroughbred City" and the "Horse Capital of the World", it is located in the heart of Kentucky's Bluegrass region.
Annual cultural events and fairs
Lexington is home to many thriving arts organizations including a professional orchestra, two ballet companies, professional theatre, several museums including a basketball museum, several choral organizations and a highly respected opera program at the University of Kentucky. In addition, there are several events and fairs that draw people from throughout the Bluegrass.
Mayfest Arts Fair is a free outdoor festival that takes place annually over Mother's Day weekend. Held in Gratz Park between the Carnegie Center and Transylvania University, the festival typically features up to 100 art and craft booths, live entertainment throughout the weekend, food, children's activities, adult activities and literary events, free carriage rides, a traditional Morris and Maypole dance and various demonstrations.
Taking part the first full weekend of June is the Festival of the Bluegrass, Kentucky's oldest bluegrass music festival. It includes three stages for music and a "music camp" that teaches the bluegrass music to school children. Also in June is the popular Broadway review presented by UK Opera Theatre, "It's A Grand Night for Singing!"
Later in June, the Gay and Lesbian Service organization hosts the Lexington Pride Festival, currently into the planning phases of its third festival as of 2009, the event is popular among the diverse communities in Lexington.
Lexingtonians gather downtown for the Fourth of July festivities which extend for several days. On July 3, the Gratz Park Historic District is transformed into an outdoor music hall when the Patriotic Music Concert is held on the steps of Morrison Hall at Transylvania University. The Lexington Singers and the Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra perform at this event. On the Fourth, annual festivities include a reading of the Declaration of Independence on the steps of the Old Courthouse, a waiter's race in Phoenix Park, a parade, a country music concert, and fireworks. Also, throughout the day street vendors sell their wares and food to the downtown visitors. The Fourth of July is considered to be the biggest holiday in Lexington.
"Southern Lights: Spectacular Sights on Holiday Nights", taking place from November 18 to December 31, is held at the Kentucky Horse Park. It includes a three-mile (5 km) drive through the park, showcasing numerous displays, many in character with the horse industry and history of Lexington. The "Mini-Train Express", an indoor petting exotic animal petting zoo, the International Museum of the Horse, an exhibit showcasing the Bluegrass Railway Club's model train, and Santa Claus are other major highlights.
The Lexington Christmas Parade: Held usually the day after Thanksgiving, the parade route follows Main Street between Midland and Broadway. Festivities include a Holiday Market with over 25 arts and craft vendors, a stage with entertainment, food, and the annual tree lighting ceremony, which occur in Triangle Park.
Other events and fairs include:
"It's A Grand Night for Singing:" Presented by UK Opera, 2nd and 3rd weekends in June.
The Artists Market: A small display of arts and craft booths which is set up concurrently with the Farmer's Market each Saturday from the first weekend in June through the last weekend in August. Located in Cheapside Park adjacent to the Lexington Farmer's Market.
Thursday Night Live: An annual summer series of free, public concerts held in Cheapside Park every Thursday evening from 4:30pm – 7:30pm in from May – October.
A Midsummer Night's Run: A 5K race in early August.
The Woodland Art Fair: An annual event of the Lexington Art League, is held annually in August at Woodland Park and features many local and national artists working in a variety of media.
The Roots & Heritage Festival: An event that takes place throughout the month of September and consists of a wide variety of culturally enriching activities including art exhibits, literary readings, film presentations, the Festival Ball and the ever-popular two-day street festival featuring live musical performances from internationally renowned artists.
The Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra presents several annual concerts.
The Kentucky Women Writers Conference which has hosted dozens of the nations foremost women writers.
Festival Latino in September
Gallery Hop: a seasonal event where the city's art galleries are open to the public on the third Friday of February, April, June, September and November.
Beaux Arts Ball: A masquerade ball hosted by the University of Kentucky's College of Design (formerly College of Architecture).
Tournament of Champions: One of three national high school debate championship tournaments featuring policy debate and Lincoln-Douglas debate. The best teams in the nation meet after qualifying during the regular season on the first weekend in May annually, hosted by the University of Kentucky Debate Team.
Lexington Pride Festival: An annual summer event to celebrate pride in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities. Lexington has one of the highest concentrations of gay and lesbian couples in the United States for a city its size.
Historical structures and museums
Hunt-Morgan House, completed in 1814, served as residence for the first millionaire west of the Appalachians (John Wesley Hunt), a Confederate General (John Hunt Morgan), and Kentucky's only Nobel Prize winner (Thomas Hunt Morgan).
Lexington is home to numerous museums and historical structures. One of the most famous is Ashland: The Henry Clay Estate along Richmond Road east of downtown. This two-story museum is a National Historic Landmark and was the former home of statesman Henry Clay.
Lexington Public Library, in the Phoenix Park area near the geographic center of Lexington, houses the world's largest ceiling clock, a five story Foucault pendulum and a frieze depicting the history of the horse in the Bluegrass. The library and its branches also house art galleries and traveling exhibits.
Another important museum is the Lexington History Center in the old Fayette County Courthouse in the heart of downtown. It offers two museums, one dedicated to the history of the region and the other dedicated to public safety. A third museum, devoted to the history of pharmaceuticals in the Bluegrass, is under construction. It will also be home to the Isaac Scott Hathaway Museum in 2007 as well.
Aviation Museum of Kentucky
The Headley-Whitney Museum
Mary Todd Lincoln House
Old Morrison, on the Transylvania University campus
Waveland State Historic Site
The UK Art Museum is the premier art museum for Lexington and the only accredited museum in the region. Its collection of over 4000 objects ranges from Old Masters to Contemporary, and it also hosts ongoing special exhibitions.
The local Woolworth's building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its significance as a site of civil rights protests against segregation during the 1960s. Nonetheless, the building was demolished in 2004 and the area paved as a parking lot.
Parks and outdoor attractions
City parks and facilities
Lexington has over 100 parks ranging in size from the 8,719-square-foot (810.0 m2) Smith Street Park to the 659-acre (2.7 km2) Masterson Station Park. There are also six public golf courses at Avon, Kearney Links, Lakeside, Meadowbrook, Tates Creek and Picadome and four dog parks, at Jacobson, Masterson Station, Coldstream, and Wellington. It also has two public 18-hole disc golf courses at Shillito Park and at Veterans Park, and a public skate park at Woodland Park, featuring 12,000 square feet (1,100 m2) of "ramps, platforms, bowls, and pipes".
Lexington Cemetery is on the National Register of Historic Places, not only because of notable people interred there, but because it was founded during the major cholera epidemic of 1848.
Horse racing tracks
Lexington is home to two historic horse racing tracks. Keeneland, sporting live races in April and October since 1936, is steeped in tradition where much has not changed since the track's opening. The Red Mile Harness Track is the oldest horse racing track in the city, and second oldest in the nation. This is where horses pull two-wheeled carts called sulkies while racing, also referred to as harness racing. The Kentucky Horse Park, located along scenic Iron Works Pike, is a relatively late-comer to Lexington, opening in 1978. It is a working horse farm and an educational theme park, along with holding the distinction of being a retirement home for some of the world's greatest competition horses including Cigar and 2003 Kentucky Derby winner Funny Cide. Lexington also played host to the 2010 FEI World Equestrian Games in September and October 2010.
The city is home to Raven Run Nature Sanctuary, a 734-acre (3.0 km2) nature preserve along the Kentucky River Palisades. There are 11 miles (18 km) of back-country hiking trails that range from wheelchair-accessible paved trails to difficult single-track trails. It is common to run across hopeful Appalachian Trail backpackers. The city has recently purchased land adjacent to the park which will make Raven Run the largest park in the city. Raven Run is home to over 56 species of trees, 600 species of plants, 200 species of birds, and other wildlife. Remains of a grist mill, homestead and limekiln remain. The preserve also has a nature center and various educational programs throughout the year. Such programs include seasonal wildflower walks, stargazing during the warmer months, evening insect tours, and historical walks and presentations.
The Arboretum is a 100-acre (0.40 km2) preserve adjacent to the University of Kentucky. It features the Arboretum Woods, a small, 16-acre (65,000 m2) Bluegrass Woodland patch that is home to eighteen native Kentucky tree species, and more than 50 native Kentucky grasses and herbs. It also has 1,500 varieties of roses in the Rose Garden, a Home Demonstration Garden, and numerous paved paths and trails.
The city also plays host to the historic McConnell Springs, a 26-acre (110,000 m2) park within the industrial confines off of Old Frankfort Pike. There are two miles (3 km) of trails that surround the namesake springs, historic dry-laid stone fences, and historical structures.
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