During the holidays, everyone is in a mad rush to make their lists of things to do and check them twice. But when people take a moment to soak up the spirit of the season, they are rejuvenated to enjoy the holidays to their fullest.
In Mid-Missouri, there are ample ways to enjoy a day trip or weekend excursion to visit with Santa, explore Christmas celebrations of yesteryear, make holiday memories with families and friends, and shop and prepare for the big celebration.
Take a break from the holiday hustle and bustle and plan a yuletide adventure filled with festive events, sightseeing and more at one of these close-by holiday hot spots. Loved ones will surely put you on their nice list for it.
It is where many Mid-Missourians call home: Missouri’s capital city. During the holidays, the possibilities for finding the ideal presents are endless in Jefferson City with its historic downtown filled with boutiques and shops and accessible retail centers boasting locally owned and nationally known businesses. However, residents and visitors from across the Midwest can create some enjoyable family traditions with a slew of events that will also raise the holiday spirit in anyone.
• Mayor’s Christmas Tree Lighting – The 12th annual free community event at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 30 at Rotary Park on Bolivar Street includes entertainment, refreshments and visits from Santa and Mrs. Claus. The tree lighting begins at 6:30 p.m.
• “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” – Stained Glass Theatre will present this beloved American holiday classic as a live 1940s radio broadcast. A few dozen characters will unveil the tale of idealistic George Bailey as he considers ending his life on Christmas Eve. The production takes the stage at 7:30 p.m. every Thursday and Friday, and at 2 p.m. Saturday from Nov. 30 through Dec. 16. Tickets are $9 per person.
• Downtown Living Windows – Held from 6-9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 1, Living Windows takes place downtown where storefronts and windows on High Street from Jefferson to Adams come alive with dancers, singers and religious and holiday themes. Guests can also enjoy hayrides, visits with Santa Claus at Hawthorn Bank, carolers, entertainers, refreshments and more during the free event.
• Jefferson City Jaycees Christmas Parade – Visitors to the 78th annual Christmas parade at 4:30 p.m. will see dozens of floats decorated in holiday themes, listen to local bands playing Christmas tunes, collect candy and more. The parade runs through the heart of downtown on High Street and back down Capitol Avenue. Americana music ensemble Link Union will perform prior to the parade at 3 p.m. Check JeffCityConcerts.org for Link Union tickets.
• Capital City Festival of Lights – A Winter Wonderland – Drive through this choreographed light display at Binder Park synced to holiday music and stretching more than a mile, held from 5:30-9 p.m. every Sunday through Thursday and 5:30-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, from Dec. 2-31. Admission is $20 per vehicle.
• “A Christmas Carol” – Capital City Productions presents the classic Charles Dickens tale in both a dessert production at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 7, Dec. 14 and Dec. 21 and at 1:30 p.m. Dec. 10, Dec. 17 and Dec. 23, and as dinner productions at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 8-9, 15-16 and 22-23. Call 573-681-9612 or visit capitalcityproductions.org for ticket reservations.
• Holts Summit Holiday Parade – View individually unique floats during the “Christmas Movie Magic Parade” theme at the Holts Summit Holiday Parade at 2 p.m. Dec. 9 in Holts Summit. Organizers are taking entries to make sure each movie is not represented twice.
WHILE YOU ARE HERE: TAKE A TOUR AT THE MISSOURI GOVERNOR’S MANSION
Whether it’s your first or 10th time touring the Missouri Governor’s Mansion, the holiday season is a perfect opportunity to take in that experience. During November, tours run regularly at 9 a.m. with the last tour at 11:30 a.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Even though no tours are held in December, visitors can take a special candlelight tour of the Governor’s Mansion and see the historic home beautifully decorated for the holidays, as well as meet Gov. Eric Greitens and his wife. Tours are held from 6-9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 1 and from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Dec. 2. The event is free and open to the public.
The Mizzou homeland has more to offer than Tigers football, up and coming music, unique art districts and scenic recreation areas. Columbia residents know this, and they know the holidays are a time to truly immerse themselves in a variety of community events that offer something for every age.
• 38th Annual Jaycees Holiday Parade – A true kick-off to the holiday season, this event begins at 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 19 in downtown Columbia. With a variety of floats, bands and Santa, guests can enjoy collecting candy and watching the merriment parade down Broadway and 6th streets.
• Columbia Holiday Festival – Held Nov. 17-19 at the Columbia Expo Center, the annual holiday festival allows guests to get a jumpstart on their Christmas shopping with vendors, artisans and crafters from across the state, making it one of the largest holiday-themed events of its kind in Mid-Missouri. In addition, a portion of ticket sale proceeds support local charities.
• Living Windows – The District in Columbia has its own Living Windows display held the first Friday in December (at 6 p.m. Dec. 1 this year), where shopkeepers move all the merchandise out of their front windows and stage live holiday performances for onlookers. Open houses, strolling carolers, holiday treats and visits with Santa are also a part of the festivities.
• Jingle Bell Run – The Arthritis Foundation’s Jingle Bell Run get the community moving and raises funds and awareness to cure America’s leading cause of disability. Participants are encouraged to wear holiday-themed costumes, tie jingle bells to shoelaces and enjoy this event beginning at 8 a.m. Dec. 2 at Stephens College. For more information, call 314-447-4884.
• “An Antique Carol” – Talking Horse Productions presents this comic opera adapted from Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” written by local maestro Hugo Vianello, founder and former conductor of the Missouri Symphony. Production dates are at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 1-2 and 7-9, and at 2 p.m. Dec. 3 and Dec. 10 at the company’s intimate black box theater in the North Village Arts District downtown.
• The Great Russian Nutcracker – Experience this classic holiday tale at 7 p.m. Dec. 4 at the University of Missouri’s Jesse Auditorium. Delight in Russian dancers’ elegant artistry, puppets and beautiful handmade sets, costumes and props. Visit concertseries.missouri.edu/concert/node90 for tickets prices.
• Danú: A Christmas Gathering Feile na Nollag – The acclaimed Irish ensemble, Danú, celebrates Christmas with “Feile Na Nollag,” or “A Christmas Gathering” at 7 p.m. Dec. 2 at the Missouri Theatre. This event offers a sampling of the music and singing traditions celebrated in Ireland on one of the country’s most important holidays. Visit concertseries.missouri.edu/concert/node/91 for ticket prices.
• March Family Christmas – Stephens College gives its annual Victorian holiday celebration a new twist, focusing on the exceptional women in the March family portrayed in “Little Women” during this event at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 3-6 at the Historic Senior Hall at Stephens College. Learn how the March women keep their spirits up during the holidays while their father is away at war. Enjoy Christmas carols, dancing and treats.
• “Elf The Musical, Jr.” – PACE Youth Theatre will present the heartwarming tale of Buddy, a would-be elf, who is unaware he is actually human and goes on a journey to find his birth father, helping New York City remember the true meaning of Christmas on his journey. Production dates are 7 p.m. Dec. 14-16 and 2 p.m. Dec. 16-17.
• Holiday Lights and Sights Tour – See the city’s most beautiful holiday lights from the Parks and Recreation mini-bus from 6:15-7:30 p.m. and 7:45-9 p.m. Dec. 8. Tours depart from the ARC, and admission is $7.50 per person with pre-registration required. Call 573-874-7460 for more information.
• Symphony of Toys – Members of Columbia Chorale join forces with the Missouri Symphony Society to perform during the Missouri Symphony Orchestra’s annual holiday concert at 3 p.m. Dec. 17 at Missouri Theatre.
WHILE YOU ARE HERE: STOP BY THE MAGIC TREE
In 1995, Will Treelighter lit a crab apple tree in a little neighborhood in Columbia with mini lights on every little branch. The beautiful, elaborate spectacle created admirers from near and far. In 2010, the Magic Tree was moved to a new host neighborhood, the Village of Cherry Hill in Columbia. Visitors can come see the gorgeously decorated cherry tree near conjunction Scott Boulevard and Chapel Hill Roads. The tree is lit every night from Thanksgiving through Epiphany (Jan. 6) during the season.
Lake of the Ozarks spans four counties and encompasses more than 10 towns, and holiday shopping is a prime activity with one-of-a-kind boutiques, a variety of chain and department stores, and the outlet shopping center. However, many visitors plan their excursions around the slew of holiday festivals scheduled from November through December.
• Holiday Market Place – Explore craft booths and vendors with Christmas crafts and gifts from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Nov. 17-18 at the Camden County Museum in Linn Creek. Lunch is available for a donation. For more information, visit camdencountymuseum.org.
• Lake Area Christmas Parades – At least three Christmas parades are held annually at Lake of the Ozarks. The first is the annual Lighted Christmas parade, held this year at 6 p.m. Nov. 25 along north Missouri 5 in downtown Laurie. The Eldon Chamber of Commerce hosts an annual Christmas parade in early December in the city’s downtown district, and the annual Lake of the Ozarks Christmas Parade is scheduled for 3 p.m. Dec. 9 on Bagnell Dam Strip in Lake Ozark, followed by a community bonfire, treats, crafts and visits with Santa at Two-Bit Town on the strip.
• Christmas Village at Old Kinderhook – Every Friday and Saturday from Thanksgiving (Nov. 23) through Christmas Eve (Dec. 24), the community is invited to take horse drawn carriage rides, decorate gingerbread houses, view the tree lighting and tree trimming gatherings, meet with Santa and Mrs. Claus, listen to elves telling stories, make s’mores, ice skate and enjoy other fun and games for the whole family at The Ice at Old Kinderhook in Camdenton. Call 573-317-3500 or visit oldkinderhook.com for hours and more information.
• Camdenton Christmas on the Square – Head down to the Camden County Courthouse quadrant Dec. 2 for a slew of free activities including the Running of the Elves 5K at 9:30 a.m. and games, ornament making, chocolate snowmen, prize drawings, craft tables, music, cookie decorating, a petting zoo, refreshments, and ham drawings beginning at 10:30 a.m. Santa and Mrs. Claus will arrive after the festivities begin to visit with children. For more information, call 573-346-2227 or visit camdentonchamber.com.
• Frosty Float 2017 – Celebration Cruises in Osage Beach (docked at 5085 Davis Drive by the Grand Glaize Bridge) will sell tickets for $25 to experience a cruise featuring a variety of lakefront homes decorated for the holidays at 10 a.m., 1:30 p.m. or 5 p.m. Dec. 3-10. Cruise activities include children’s games, face painting, snacks, Christmas carols, and visits with Santa, which include a special gift. Call 573-346-0660 for tickets.
• Versailles Christmas on the Square – From 1-5 p.m. Dec. 9 in downtown Versailles on Monroe and around the courthouse square, guests can enjoy a variety of free activities, including Versailles Middle School choir performance, carriage rides, visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus inside the Morgan County Museum and a slew of local craft vendors. A silent auction will also be held inside the museum. For more information, call 573-378-4401 or visit versailleschamber.com.
• “The Rented Christmas” – The Young Museum Players will perform the story of John Dale, who has not had a “real Christmas in years,” which spurs the decision to “rent” a Christmas from rent shop owner Anne Weston. The production is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Dec. 9 at the Camden County Museum in Linn Creek, and admission is $5 per family.
• “The Almost Totally True Story of Hansel and Gretel” – This Sunrise Beach Little Theatre children’s holiday production tells the befuddled tale of Hansel and Gretel with many other fairy tale characters to boot. Performances are at 2 p.m. Dec. 9-10 at the Sunrise Beach Community Center.
• “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” – Held at 7 p.m. Dec. 15-16 and at 2 p.m. Dec. 17 at the Royal Theatre in downtown Versailles, “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” tells the story of the Herdmans: Imogene, Claude, Ralph, Leroy, Ollie and Gladys. Known as the town bullies, the Herdmans show up for the church Christmas pageant try-outs – for the snacks only. Despite the protests of children who think they can do better, the Herdmans land the starring roles in the Christmas play. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students/children. Call 573-378-6226 for tickets or visit theroyaltheatre.com for more information.
• Old Tyme Christmas at Linn Creek – Becoming a popular seasonal tradition, guests can enjoy craft activities, refreshments and tours of the Camden County Museum as it is decorated for the holidays; take a tour of beautifully decorated historic homes and buildings in town, have breakfast with Santa and much more throughout the day on Dec. 16. For more information, visit camdencountymuseum.org.
WHILE YOU ARE HERE: TAKE IN HOLIDAY LIGHTS
Four drive-through holiday light parks help brighten spirits throughout the season at Lake of the Ozarks.The Versailles Unity Circle of Lights is open from Nov. 25-Jan. 1. at the city park. The oldest display is the Festival of Lights, boasting 4,000 strings of lights and open nightly from 6-10 p.m. Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 23, through Jan. 1 at the Shrine of the St. Patrick and Mother’s Shrine on Missouri 5 in Laurie. The Enchanted Village of Lights is open nightly from 5-9 p.m.and on the weekend until 10 p.m. from Nov. 17 through Jan. 1 at the Laurie Fairgrounds in Laurie. From Nov. 25-Dec. 31, guests can see more than 100 displays at the Holiday Lights in the Park at Osage Beach City Park.
The Moniteau County seat offers up lots of holiday fun, including two big community events in the heart of its downtown district.
• California Christmas Style – The California Chamber of Commerce invites guests to its event Dec. 2. Businesses are planning an open house with sales, discounts, prizes and refreshments. Local entertainment and performances will take place, and a lighted Christmas parade with special guests, Mr. and Mrs. Claus, will begin at 5:30 p.m. downtown. Many activities are being scheduled. For more information, visit calmo.com.
• “Holiday Favorites” – Enjoy a variety of music with the “White Christmas” flair, and the Finke Players will present “A Christmas Carol” at 7 p.m. Dec. 2 at Finke Theatre. Visit finketheatre.com for more information.
With a Holiday Open House allowing residents and visitors to jumpstart their holiday shopping season in early November, Fulton and other Callaway communities embrace Christmas with open arms and exciting festivals and programs.
• Fulton Festival of Lights – The City of Fulton will light the fourth annual Wish Tree and Field of Joy holiday displays at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 1 at Veteran’s Park, with the event open every evening through Christmas.
• Callaway Singers Holiday Concert – Enjoy the sounds of the season during the Callaway Singers annual free Christmas concert at 2 p.m. Dec. 3 and at 7 p.m. Dec. 7 at Dulany Auditorium at William Woods University in Fulton.
• Fulton Jaycees 69th Annual Christmas Parade – With a theme of “Feed the World: A Season of Giving,” the parade will celebrate volunteers and community service, with the board of The George Washington Carver Cultural Center as this year’s grand marshals. The parade is held at 1 p.m. Dec. 2 in downtown Fulton.
WHILE YOU ARE HERE: GET NOSTALGIC AT CRANE’S MUSEUM
This 4,000 square-foot museum showcases unique exhibits including a recreated White Eagle gas station, two original land grants dating back to 1822 with actual presidential signatures, a four-room Victorian themed display and a horse and buggy. The museum is located at 10665 Old Hwy. 40 in Williamsburg. Visit cranesmuseum.org for more information.
This beautiful historic town sitting on the Missouri river is known for its original boutiques, German influenced food, collection of some of the best Missouri wineries and breweries, and its Oktoberfest celebrations. However, Christmas is another time the city is abuzz, with events for adults and children.
• Holiday Fare Wine Trail – Enjoy festive food and wine pairings at seven stops on the scenic Hermann Wine Trail. Event hours are from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Nov. 18 and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Nov. 19. Required advance tickets are $30 per person.
• 24th Annual Kirstkindl Markt at Stone Hill Winery – Get warm in Stone Hill Winery’s heated pavilion and enjoy a traditional German Christmas market, with Christmas goodies, carolers, hot soups and mulled wine. The market is held from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 2, and from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 3.
• Christmas Tablescapes – The historic Rotunda Building comes alive with elaborate Christmas table displays. The event is open from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 2-3 and Dec. 9-10. Admission is $5.
• Historic Hermann Museum and German Bake Sale – The museum in the 1871 German School building presents “Ein Blick in die Vergangenheit, A Look Into the Past”, Dec. 2-3 and Dec. 9-10. Tours highlight include costumed docents and 19th Century decorations, as well as a German bake sale with traditional holiday treats. Music and mulled cider are also available. Visit Historichermann.com for tour prices and times.
• Deutchheim Weihnachtsfest – From 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 2-3 and Dec. 9-10, this event at Deutschheim State Historic Site’s Pommer-Gentner House is decorated with greenery and lamplight, with featured Christmas trees in its historic rooms. Sample German Christmas cookies and learn how Christmas customs of German immigrants became American traditions still celebrated today. A Christmas gift shop with a variety of traditional gifts and books will also be open.
• Christmas Traditions at Hermann Farm – Enjoy pleasures of Christmases past at the 1847 Husmann House, 1790 trading post, Schuetzenhalle, broommaker, tinsmith and woodwright shops. Costumed guides, Father Christmas, Shire draft horses, a bonfire and refreshments round out the experience held from Dec. 2-13 at Hermann Farm. Visit hermannfarm.com for details.
• Holiday House Tours – Explore historic homes decked out for the holidays in and around Hermann from 2-7 p.m. Dec. 2. Purchase tickets at the Welcome Center at 312 Market Street.
• The Spirit of CHRISTmas at Starkenburg – The concerts held 2:30 p.m. Dec. 7-9 at St. Martin’s Church will feature mezzo-soproano Carrie Kirchhofer-Tilly and organist Jonie Loehnig on the 1860 Pfeffer pipe organ. A vendor market will be open from 1-4:30 p.m., and sing-a-longs and refreshments will be available.
• Santa Rampage – Put on Santa attire and raise money for Hermann’s Christmas toy drive. Happy hour begins at 2 p.m. Dec. 9 at Tin Mill Brewery before participants parade to other downtown Santa stops before returning to the brewery for music from Last Chance from 7-10 p.m. Details and pre-registration are available at blufftontelecomservices-llc.com.
• Kristkindl Market at Hermannhof – For $5 per person, guests can enjoy the riverfront Festhalle and open-air Hofgarten with European Christmas markets from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 9 and from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 10 at Hermannhoff Winery.
WHILE YOU ARE HERE: TAKE IN A HOLIDAY MOVIE AT THE SHOWBOAT
While browsing through holiday markets, taking wine tours, enjoying carolers and much more during a Christmastime visit in Hermann, make sure to stop by a popular local attraction: the Showboat Community Theatre. Located at 112 E. 4th Street in the Hermann Historic District, the nonprofit theatre puts an emphasis on all arts, particularly where young people can be educated in the arts, hosting a variety of events year-round. Live performances, movies, film festivals, live music shows and more fill their playbill. At 7 p.m. Dec. 8, guests can enjoy “The Muppet Christmas Carol” or another holiday classic, “It’s A Wonderful Life,” at 7 p.m. Dec. 9. For more information, call 573-486-2744 or visit @HermannShowboat on Facebook.
By Samantha Pogue