Jefferson City, Mo. – The holiday season brings magic to Missouri, where a variety of festivals and events featuring everything from parades and lights to shopping and food take center stage.
With more than 100 events in the next several weeks, the Show-Me State has an array of holiday activities to keep you busy from now until Jolly Old St. Nick arrives – and beyond.
Read on to learn more about the fun experiences waiting for you in Missouri this holiday season, and then check the VisitMO blog for more holiday activities.
Light Up the Night
Light shows are a big part of the holidays, and Missouri’s light-centric events, drive-thru light parks and attractions – such as Branson’s Silver Dollar City, which features more than five million lights and 1,000 decorated trees during the An Old Time Christmas festival running through Dec. 30 – are enough to make even Clark W. Griswold jealous.
The Enchanted Village of Lights in Laurie is the Lake of the Ozarks area’s largest drive-thru holiday light park, covering some 27 acres on the Laurie Fairgrounds. Celebrating its 22nd year, the Enchanted Village of Lights runs 5 p.m.-9 p.m. weekdays and 5 p.m.-10 p.m. on weekends, Nov. 20-Jan. 2, 2016.
The Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis gets decked out for the holidays during the Third Annual Garden Glow, held Wednesdays through Sundays from Nov. 21-Dec. 17 and nightly Dec. 18-Jan. 2, 2016, (closed Dec. 24, 25, and 31). Stroll the garden at night while surrounded by amazing light installations and hundreds of thousands of lights. Photo opportunities, holiday tunes, and food and drinks are part of the fun. Admission is $16 for adults (ages 13 and older), $12 for members, $10 for children (ages 3-12) and $6 for member’s children.
Kansas City’s Country Club Plaza kicks off its holiday celebration, Plaza Lights, on Thanksgivingnight (Nov. 26) with a lighting ceremony and activities and concerts both before and after the traditional flip of the switch at 6:54 p.m. The Plaza Lights illuminate 15 city blocks and are on daily, from 5 p.m. to 3 a.m., through Jan. 17, 2016.
Carthage offers an illuminating take on the holidays, with light displays atop the majestic Jasper County Courthouse, inside the beautiful Victorian mansions along historic Grand Avenue and on the city’s water tower, which takes the form of a Christmas light hot-air balloon each year. There’s also the mile-long Way of Salvation light display, open 6:30 p.m.-10 p.m. from Nov. 26-Dec. 25; the Precious Moments Chapel and Gardens Christmas Lighting ceremony from 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m. on Nov. 27; and Mt. Moriah Lights, which features more than 75,000 lights programmed to six different holiday tunes, on Dec. 4-6, Dec. 11-19 and Dec. 21-30.
Holiday Traditions Abound
When it comes to traditional celebrations, the Show-Me State knows how to put on a great show. From the state’s first capital to its current capital, and points in between, traditional celebrations are part of Missouri’s holiday season.
One of the best parts of any holiday celebration is the chance to enjoy sweet treats. If you think combining sweets with shopping is pretty much as good as it gets, you need to be in Poplar Bluff from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on Nov. 20-21. That’s when the city’s popular Holiday Cookie Tour returns, giving you the chance to shop and munch on cookies at any (or all – no judgments here) of 25 participating businesses along the route. Entry is $20 per person and includes a holiday cookie cook book and, of course, 25 cookies!
The city of St. Charles goes all out during the holidays with its annual Christmas Traditions festival. From the day after Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve, the streets of this historic city are filled with songs of the season, Santas from around the world and great shopping and dining opportunities. The gingerbread village and chances to meet Santa delight youngsters.
Dec. 5 brings the chance to enjoy Missouri’s small-town holiday spirit, as El Dorado Springs hostsChristmas Fest. Singers and entertainers perform from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on the Spring Park Stage, and then businesses showcase their float-making skills during a parade down the city’s Main Street. A Christmas Expo from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. gives you the opportunity to shop with small and home-based businesses.
The first weekend in December is a great time for festival fun in Ste. Genevieve, which hosts its 31st Annual Holiday Christmas Festival from Dec. 4-6. During the weekend, enjoy a parade, carolers and carriage rides; snap photos with Mr. and Mrs. Claus; listen to any number of 30 free musical programs in the historic district; and shop in stores and art galleries.
Celebrate a Dickens Christmas in Warrensburg on Dec. 5, when downtown storefronts are brought to life by artists and musicians. Horse-and-wagon rides, carolers, live music, chestnuts roasting on an open fire and Tiny Tim’s soup competition are part of the fun. Activities run from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Traditions of European cultures and holidays past are the focus of A Christmas Celebration at Missouri Town 1855 in Lee’s Summit on Dec. 12. From 9 a.m.-5 p.m., the customs of English, German and French settlers are brought to life in this historic antebellum community. Period music and décor are part of the experience. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for senior citizens and those ages 5-13.
Beautiful Homes are Waiting
Festive greenery, beautifully decorated trees and candlelight help add to the beauty of the Missouri homes open for tours during the holiday season. A visit to any one of these locales might help inspire your decorating efforts before the in-laws show up this year.
One of Cape Girardeau’s architectural jewels shows off its Victorian elegance during the holidays. Christmas at the Glenn House (circa 1883) gives you the chance to see this restored home, where rooms depict life in the early 1900s, and to enjoy cookies, coffee and cider in the carriage house. Tours begin Nov. 27 and run 1 p.m.-4 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday through December.
Visit Vaile Mansion in Independence, once dubbed an American “Christmas Castle” by USA Today,as it celebrates a Victorian Winter Wedding from Nov. 27-Dec. 30. This 30-room mansion, built in 1881, will feature ribbons, lace, cherubs, angels and garland, and a collection of wedding dresses will be displayed throughout the mansion. Tours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and 1 p.m.-4 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $6 for adults, $3 for children. The mansion is closed Dec. 23-25.
Continuing what’s perhaps Missouri’s most stately holiday tradition, the Missouri Governor’s Mansion in Jefferson City is beautifully decorated for the holidays and opens for candlelight tours from 6:30 p.m.-9 p.m. on Dec. 4, and from 2:30 p.m.-4 p.m. on Dec. 5.
Also on Dec. 4-5, you may celebrate the holidays, pioneer style, in Defiance. The Daniel Boone Home and Heritage Center’s Christmas Candlelight Tour takes you back to the 19th century and gives you a glimpse of how Christmas was celebrated in the past. Learn about different cultures and traditions while enjoying holiday decorations and hot wassail.
And while it’s not a home, the Juanita K. Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts in Springfield certainly has a warm holiday feel from Dec. 4-6 when it hosts the 21st annual WinterFest Visual and Performing Arts Festival. Works of the region’s top visual artists are on display and for sale, and festival-goers enjoy live holiday music from local choirs and instrumental groups as they shop. WinterFest is 5 p.m.-10 p.m. on Dec. 4, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. on Dec. 5, and noon-5 p.m. on Dec. 6.
Learn more about holiday fun in the Show-Me State at VisitMO.com, the official website of the Missouri Division of Tourism.
About the Missouri Division of Tourism
The Missouri Division of Tourism (MDT) is the official tourism office for the state of Missouri dedicated to marketing Missouri as a premier travel destination. Established in 1967, the Missouri Division of Tourism has worked hard to develop the tourism industry in Missouri to what it is today, a $15.3 billion industry supporting more than 290,000 jobs. For more information on Missouri tourism, go to http://www.VisitMO.com.