The Best Time to Visit Lexington, Kentucky

A beautiful drive to a horse farm near Lexington, Kentucky

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The best time to visit Lexington, Kentucky, is in early-to-mid fall (September and October) when summer humidity has let up and the air is fresher. Spring can also be pleasant, but late cold snaps and plenty of precipitation are common.

Fall is an exciting time to visit Lexington as horse racing at Keeneland (Lexington’s thoroughbred racing track) is in full swing and numerous outdoor festivals take place. The city hosts fewer community events in winter when days are shorter and socializing outdoors isn’t as enjoyable.

The Weather in Lexington

Many first-time visitors to Lexington discover the hard way they aren’t as far south as they thought. Intraday temperatures can vary by 30 degrees F or more as seasons give way to one another. If visiting Lexington in early spring or late fall, pack for the unexpected.

Summers in Lexington are typically hot and humid, but winter temperatures can become surprisingly bitter for a few weeks in January or February. Fortunately, extreme lows don’t typically last long.

Although Lexington only averages around 14.5 inches of snowfall a year, sometimes too much comes at once! Ice storms and snowfall occasionally shut the city down for a week, much to the delight of schoolchildren.

Lexington receives around 50 inches of precipitation a year. Similar to the snow, rainfall can also be an all-or-nothing scenario. Consecutive dry weeks cause concerns of drought, then days or weeks of rain arrive to break the trend. Lexington averages 134 days of precipitation a year—more than enough to keep the Kentucky bluegrass looking lush.

Events and Festivals in Lexington

Lexington hosts many weekly and annual events that lure people out to mingle. Most of the free events and things to do take place during summer and fall when the weather tends to be most cooperative. The Lexington Pride Festival each summer is the second largest free community event in the area. Other sizable summer festivals include the Latino Festival, Japan Summer Festival, and Roots & Heritage Festival—all are free to attend.

The horse racing at Keeneland is in full swing for three weeks each spring and fall. With more than 30,000 students attending the University of Kentucky (the largest school in the state), football and basketball games also create a lot of excitement on game nights in fall and winter.

Spring in Lexington

Spring in Lexington is usually cool and rainy as winter slowly relinquishes control. The damp weather has a way of cutting through inadequate clothing though. Each month averages around 13 days of precipitation, bringing out wildflowers and brilliant hues of green along the hilly terrain.

The days in March and April without rain often remain clouded over. When the sun breaks through and blue skies appear, winter-weary residents are known to immediately change plans and head out for a hike. Dreary weather in April never stops people from filling Keeneland to celebrate the three-week Spring Meet. May temperatures average 65 degrees F but highs can climb close to 90 degrees F.

Events to Check Out:

  • Keeneland Spring Meet: The thoroughbreds race with lots of pageantry—and tailgating parties—at Keeneland for three weeks in spring.
  • Saint Patrick’s Day: Lexington is home to a prominent Irish community, many of whom contribute to the equine and bourbon industries. Thousands of local residents, no matter their ancestry, celebrate “Saint Paddy’s Day” in March with a parade and outdoor music.

Summer in Lexington

Summers in Lexington are hot with high humidity. The air feels thick and smells alive from the many flowers and vines blooming. Although summers are beautiful, Lexington is a high allergen zone. Plan accordingly if you suffer from grass or tree pollen allergies. Average temperatures for July and August are in the upper 70s, but highs regularly rise above 90 degrees F.

Many of the best restaurants in Lexington open their patios and begin buzzing with social life. Numerous festivals start up around the city, and the Lexington Farmer’s Market in the 5/3 Pavilion is busier than ever on Saturdays. If you see some people walking around downtown in costumes, the Lexington Comic & Toy Convention may be taking over the convention center.

Events to Check Out:

  • Festival of the Bluegrass: Kentucky’s longest-running Bluegrass music festival takes place at the Kentucky Horse Park, typically in June. Plenty of talent takes to the three stages, but everyone is invited to bring an instrument for picking and grinning at the campground after.
  • Thursday Night Live: Lexingtonians converge at the pavilion adjacent to the old courthouse building for live music, drinks, and socializing. Thursday Night Live begins in summer and runs until late October.
  • Woodland Art Fair: Each August, more than 70,000 people attend the Woodland Art Fair, Lexington's biggest art fair, to admire and purchase art from all over the country.
  • Crave Food Festival: Lexington’s epic food festival takes place at the Bluegrass Fairgrounds in Masterson Station Park. Local restaurants serve their best from tents and trucks as live entertainment takes the stage.

Fall in Lexington

Fall in Lexington can be spectacular, but it always passes too quickly. Foliage in Lexington's more than 100 parks and along tree-lined streets peaks in October. Keeneland fires back up for everyone’s favorite three weeks of thoroughbred racing and parties. Crowds of travelers are never a problem in the city, but you’re most likely to meet international visitors during the yearling sales in September. Fall Halloween festivals provide one final opportunity to socialize before the frenetic holiday season begins a week later.

Historically, September is the driest month in Lexington. Snow arrives in November, but the city sometimes sees flurries in late October. If exploring Lexington in late fall, dress for extreme temperature swings with hot afternoons and chilly evenings. Expect frosty mornings if you’ll be camping in Red River Gorge or elsewhere in Daniel Boone National Forest. Temperatures average 58 degrees F in October, but highs can sometimes be in the 80s while lows for the month can drop below freezing!

Sufferers of fall allergies, beware! Ragweed pollen counts are especially high in September and October.

Events to Check Out:

  • Keeneland Fall Meet: The thoroughbreds race again in fall at Keeneland for three weeks.
  • Lexington Thriller Parade: One of Lexington’s weirdest, wildest events, the Thriller Parade attracts a sizable horde of rehearsed zombies to converge downtown for synchronized dancing to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”
  • Oktoberfest: Christ the King’s fundraiser is the largest Oktoberfest celebration in Lexington. Well-known bands, a casino tent, and plenty of German food and beer keep everyone entertained.
  • Noli Night Market: Bryan Avenue in the North Limestone neighborhood gets shut down the first Friday of every month for an outdoor night market. Locals enjoy vendors, art and antique galleries, food, drinks, and entertainment.

Winter in Lexington

Despite plenty of predictions, how winter will go is anyone’s guess. Lexington frequently experiences mild winters that turn ugly late in the season. With an average temperature of 34 degrees F and lows of around 25 degrees F, January is typically the coldest month in Lexington.

Holiday shoppers create major traffic congestion near Fayette Mall and The Summit on Nicholasville Road—bypass those areas in December or risk getting stuck in the fray!

Events to Check Out:

  • Southern Lights: Beginning in November and running through Christmas, the Kentucky Horse Park gets lit up with dazzling holiday displays. Visitors slowly wind through the displays in their vehicles then enjoy a Christmas market and petting zoo at the end.
  • Chinese New Year: The Lexington Opera House hosts an exciting Chinese New Year celebration each January or February. Entertainment includes traditional music and dance, acrobatics, and a dragon dance.