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Each week, KCUR's Creative Adventure newsletter brings you a new way to explore the Kansas City region.

A guide to Kansas City's biggest holiday lights, merry markets and music in 2022

Festival of Lights Powell Gardens
Powell Gardens
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A mainstay of local holiday light attractions is the Festival of Lights at Powell Gardens in Kingsville, Missouri. Bundle up and explore Kansas City's botanical glowing gardens for your next date night or family-friendly outing.

Celebrate another holiday season in Kansas City with festive light displays, merry markets and musical events across the metro.

How early is too early for Christmas music on the radio and holiday Adventures? With another long election season wrapping up, we're eager to embrace our city's timeless holiday traditions and find new adventures to enjoy throughout fall and winter.

Starting this week, the Kansas City region will sparkle with holiday lights, adding cheer and festive colors to our humble city skyline. Holiday markets will soon pop up across the metro, teeming with gifts crafted by local makers and artists.

Head to these holiday events and markets with family and friends to explore, shop and spend more time making memories.

Lighten up

Luminary Walk Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens
Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens
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The 23rd Annual Luminary Walk returns to the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens starting Friday, Nov. 25, 2022.

Northern Lights Holiday Lighting Ceremony

Head to the Northland on Saturday, Nov. 19 from 4-6 p.m. for the Northern Lights Holiday Lighting Ceremony, featuring a full slate of festive events. This free event features holiday crowns, a towering 55-foot Christmas tree and a commemorative bell from Santa’s sleigh.

Stay for a 4 p.m. performance of the Nutcracker Suite by Priscilla and Dana's School of Dance and holiday tunes performed by local bands. Show off your skating moves at the Zona Rosa ice rink and warm up with food and drink from Brew HaHa Coffeehouse, Muffin Top Dessert, Wild Cactex and more.

Santa arrives at 6 p.m. to flip the switch on the holiday lights.

Evergy Festival of Lights at Powell Gardens

A mainstay of local holiday light attractions is the Evergy Festival of Lights at Powell Gardens, open Wednesday-Sunday, 4-10 p.m. now through Dec. 30. New additions this year include larger-than-life photo ops, a Light Labyrinth interactive art installation and Santa's Workshop — where you can buy an ornament to decorate or shop for stocking stuffers.

Expect to see fan favorites including the snow globe selfie station, enchanted tiki bar and Quixotic Fountain of Light.

Luminary Walk at Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens

The 23rd Annual Luminary Walk returns to the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens, weekends starting Friday, Nov. 25. Stroll with family and friends down brightly-lit paths. Behold villages of gnomes and fairy-folk, peaceful winter woods illuminated by candlelight and the joyous Children's Garden.

Stay for live musical performances and a visit with Mr. Claus. Thousands of lights adorn trees, buildings and bridges throughout the Luminary Walk, which serves as a major fundraising event for the Arboretum.

Kansas City holiday markets

Holiday Markets in Kansas City
City of Lenexa, Kansas
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Holiday markets abound in the Kansas City metro, from Lenexa's annual holiday market to the Merry Market in Kansas City's River Market.

Lenexa Holiday Farmers Market

Hop in the sleigh and scoot over to Lenexa for the fifth annual Holiday Farmers Market, Saturday, Nov. 19 and Saturday, Dec. 17, from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Browse among vendors and artists selling products grown, raised and made locally.

While you're there, stock up on pecans, meat, handmade pies, wine and jellies to fill your belly this Thanksgiving and beyond.

Merry Market featuring Strawberry Swing

Merry Market featuring the Strawberry Swing returns to City Market for its 12th season starting Friday, Nov. 25, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. This open-air festive shopping event is free to attend and features more than 90 artisans and makers specializing in a range of crafts, including ceramics, printing, painting, photography, woodworking and more.

Holiday Cheers Market with Strawberry Swing at J. Rieger & Co.

The Strawberry Swing will also host a series of evening holiday markets at J. Rieger & Co. starting Friday, Dec. 2 from 6-10 p.m., and continuing each weekend until Christmas. Sip on holiday cocktails and browse hand-crafted gifts from seven rotating artisans and makers.

Christkindlmarkt at The Campground

Christkindlmarkt returns for its third year at The Campground in the West Bottoms, Dec. 8-11 and Dec. 15-17, 5-10 p.m. Campground owners Christopher Ciesiel and Cristin Llewellyn modeled the event after an open-air European-style Christmas market.

Shoppers can enjoy locally made goods, food, hot drinks and cocktails, holiday music and more with bars open inside the restaurant and in the outdoor market.

Downtown Lee's Summit Farmers Market Holiday Market

Support two dozen local farmers, artists and makers at the Downtown Lee's Summit Farmers Market Holiday Mart on Saturday, Dec. 10 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Shop for handmade products to share as gifts or to complement a holiday meal.

Bonus: the first 200 customers receive a free insulated tote bag.

Music sets the mood

Kansas City holiday music event The Wires
The Wires
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Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the holidays with The Wires: A Winter Solstice Concert, on Thursday, Dec. 22 from 7-8 p.m.

Christmas on the Square

Celebrate the start of the holidays with free events at Christmas On the Square in historic Downtown Harrisonville on Saturday, Dec. 3 from 4-7 p.m. Summon the holiday spirit with classic songs performed by Jenna & Martin and the Tornado Alley Barbershop Quartet.

You can shop among 40 local vendors at the Winter Market, rendezvous with ol’ Santa then hitch a free ride on an old-fashioned wagon or miniature train. The mayor officially heralds the launch of the holidays with a tree lighting ceremony at 6:15 p.m.

Tuba Christmas

Play along with the band at Tuba Christmas on Friday, Dec. 9 at 12 p.m. Or simply enjoy a free noon outdoor performance (weather permitting) in the Crown Center Square. Tuba and euphonium performers should register in advance to participate and join the KC Symphony in Tuba Christmas.

For the rest of us, it’s a Tuba Festivus. Dress for the weather in holiday attire, bring a chair to sit if you wish and sing along to holiday songs performed by hundreds of tuba players.

The Wires: A Winter Solstice Concert

Need a break from holiday lights, shopping and the hustle and bustle of the season? Soothe the soul and renew the spirits with The Wires: A Winter Solstice Concert on Thursday, Dec. 22 from 7-8 p.m. This appearance by the alternative strings duo is their fifth annual performance at The Pilgrim Center.

Due to limited space, this free event is ticketed. Tickets will be available via Eventbrite beginning Friday, Nov. 25.

Pete Dulin is a Kansas City-based writer and author of four books, including Expedition of Thirst and Kansas City Beer: A History of Brewing in the Heartland.
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