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When Planning Holiday Festivities, Don't Forget the Traditional "Cave Sing" At Mammoth Cave National Park


Mammoth Cave National Park Rangers Johnny Merideth (left) and Chuck Decroix search for the traditional cedar tree to decorate the Rotunda for the Cave Sing. NPS photo by Nicole Bull.

Deep within the passageways that twist and turn at Mammoth Cave National Park the acoustics can be incredible. There is no background noise other than the shuffling feet, soft voices of visitors, and, in some passages, the running or dripping of water. On December 6 those sounds will fade into the background when the park hosts its annual Cave Sing to celebrate the coming holiday season.

“The Cave Sing began as a community outreach event in 1980,” says Superintendent Patrick Reed. “Families and neighbors, music and songs, it is just fun to visit the cave. Everyone is invited.”

Ranger Chuck Decroix, one of the event coordinators, said the idea for the Cave Sing dates back to 1883, when local residents held a Christmas celebration in Mammoth Cave. A ten-foot cedar was hauled into the cave and stood in a room known as the “Methodist Church.” It was soon draped with ribbons and popcorn under the glowing light of lard-oil lanterns. An article about the event stated: "The halls of the cave rang with joyous carols and the laughter of happy children."

“We feel like we are reenacting a part of the great Cave’s past,” said Johnny Merideth, another event coordinator. “Singing carols underground by lantern light – there’s no better way to start the holiday season.”

Cave Sing schedule:

Before The Sing
1:15 - Storytelling at the Mammoth Cave Hotel Rotunda Room
2:00 - Depart for cave from visitor center

Inside The Cave
2:30 – Rotunda, featuring The Glasgow Brass Quintet

2:45 - Methodist Church, featuring:
Susan Morris and “The Faith Ladies Trio”
Western Kentucky University Women's Chorus
The Men’s Chorus of the First Christian Church Disciples of Christ

After The Sing
3:30 - Mammoth Cave Hotel, where Santa Claus arrives and complimentary
refreshments are served.

"Most trips into the cave, including the Cave Sing, are considered strenuous," said Ranger Jackie Wheet. "Visitors are reminded to dress for the weather and wear comfortable walking shoes."

A few words of caution:

The Cave Sing is a three-quarter-mile walking trip, including a steep hill and about 100 steps. Park officials suggest you wear comfortable shoes and dress for the weather. Even though the cave air stays at a constant 54 degrees Fahrenheit, wind chills in the entrance are much cooler. Bags, purses, camera bags, strollers, diaper bags, and framed infant carriers are not allowed in the cave. Be aware that these items need to be stowed in the coin lockers located in front of the visitor center, or locked in your vehicle.

In addition to serving cookies and hot apple cider after the Cave Sing, the Mammoth Cave Hotel will also be conducting an all-day open house on December 6, with special discounts in both gift shops.


I'd LOVE to do this! This sounds awesome and I fell in love with the caves and surface trails of Mammoth when vacationing there for the 1st time this past October.

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