The Ghosts of Christmas Past are haunting the Galt House at “KaLightoscope: A Christmas Carol”!

Charles Dickens’ Christmas spooks add a little chill to the warmth and splendor of the Galt House’s downtown holiday spectacular!

As a child who loved both Halloween and the whole fall season with its splashes of red, orange and gold colors, I was also a child who dreaded the dark and cold of winter when the world would lose its color, the trees would become bare and an icy chill would bite at the skin. Christmas, however, was the bright spot in the long, cold winter and was full of its own special magic. When the post Halloween blues hit me in November, I always found that Charles Dickens’A Christmas Carol” was the perfect bridge to get me in the holiday spirit.

“A Christmas Carol” is, of course, a ghost story filled with incorporeal spirits and creepy phantoms from the world beyond, and a couple of them are downright terrifying. My favorite version of Dickens’ ghost story is the Oscar Award winning animated short film from 1971, which was produced by legendary animator, Chuck Jones, directed by Richard Williams, narrated by Michael Redgrave and features the voice of Alastair Sim, who also played Ebenezer Scrooge in the much beloved 1951 British live action version of the film.

It was Jacob Marley’s Ghost in that cartoon version that sent chills up my spine in a grade school classroom screening one December afternoon many years ago that I’ll never forget. The hideous faces of Ignorance and Want beneath the robes of the Ghost of Christmas Present also left their scars on my elementary psyche. Unfortunately, that version of “A Christmas Carol” isn’t available on Blu-ray or DVD, but it can be found on YouTube (

Actors Theatre’s production of “A Christmas Carol” has become a 39 year Louisville holiday tradition, while the Galt House’sKaLightoscope” Christmas event is only in its fifth season. The first four years of KaLightoscope put visitors inside a candy colored holiday fantasy land, but this year the whole area has been completely renovated to immerse guests in the wintry world of Dickensturn-of-the-century London.

That means haunted door knockers, chain-bearing ghosts, ghastly reapers and graveyard scenes!

At a cost of $2 million, the Galt House flew 20 artists from China to Louisville who spent two months creating the larger than life scenes in the style of Chinese luminaries. Massive structures were built out of metal, silk and LED lights to create a walk-thru attraction that tells the story of “A Christmas Carol” from beginning to end with animations and a synched audio track. Live actors also interact with guests in some of the scenes.

If you’ve been to KaLightoscope before, I can tell you that this year’s version feels much smaller and quite a bit shorter than the previous incarnation, but the ticket price is also much cheaper and the scope of the entire event has actually increased. Adult tickets in previous years were $20 each, but kids could get in for free. This year, adult tickets are only $12 and kids are $5 each, making the event more attractive to curious adults without kids.

There’s plenty more to see beyond KaLightoscope, however. Both sides of the Galt House are decorated in shiny and colorful old-world Christmas charm. Many of the antique, animatronic figures that once graced the shopping center windows of the old Stewart’s building downtown at Christmas have been restored and are now appearing in the windows of different model buildings along the path you follow after leaving the KaLightoscope area.

There’s an entire mini Dickens-style village to explore, and for the kids, there’s an Elf show, a Christmas train ride, a Snow Fairy castle with a meet-and-greet area and, of course, a chance to tell Kris Kringle himself exactly what you want for Christmas. There are also craft and gift shops and a chance to buy holiday treats.

Dickens’ holiday ghosts always help me to make the transition from Halloween to the Christmas season much easier, and I hope that the larger-than-life spooks haunting KaLightoscope this year help you stomp out any humbugs from your own incorporeal spirit. Merry Christmas.

The Phantom of The Ville

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