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Looking for some Kansas City holiday magic? Here's a guide to festive lights, events and shopping

Two 12 foot tall lighted angels playing horns flank a lighting display at Union Station.
Ron Inman
Holiday Reflections at Union Station is on display through January 1.

Kansas City is already full-force into the holiday season. Enjoy light displays, small-town traditions, pop-up bars, performances and holiday markets through the rest of November and December.

This story was first published in KCUR's Adventure newsletter. You can sign up to receive stories like this in your inbox every Tuesday.

Whether you like the cold weather and dark evenings or not, the holiday season is upon us again.

With themed pop-up bars, lighting ceremonies and even a Mariah Carey concert, Kansas City has a holiday-themed event every single weekend through the New Year to get you into the spirit.

Christmas, Hanukkah and more holiday pop-ups in Kansas City

The Miracle pops up in two Kansas City locations this season.
Miracle Kansas City
The Miracle pops up in two Kansas City locations this season.

If you want to feel some holiday cheer without braving the cold weather, you can visit the Holiday Reflections exhibit at Union Station through January 1. This “walk-thru holiday village” will have lights, ornaments, and even a mini-train for kids.

If you want to enjoy the exhibit in a kid-free environment, Union Station is hosting the adults-only pop-up bar Tinsels & ‘Tinis at Holiday Reflections on December 15, December 16, and December 22 for $15 a ticket (although it may already be sold out).

Other holiday pop-up bars include the return of Miracle Kansas City 2023, with Miracle on the Plaza at 4807 Jefferson and Miracle on Main Street at 1924 Main. Both locations take reservations as well as walk-ins.

Tinsel Tavern at KC Live! in the Power and Light District is now taking reservations for November 24–December 30.

Rec Deck the Halls at the Boulevard Tours and Rec Center is a 21+ holiday event that runs every Friday and Saturday from November 24–December 30. There is a $5 cover and a portion of ticket sales benefit the nonprofit Kansas City G.I.F.T.

Jingle Bar, a 21+ pop-up at KC Wine Co in Olathe, also opens on November 24. KC Wine Co is also home to the KC Pumpkin Patch, which is hosting a family-friendly Winter Wonderland walk-through that also starts on November 24.

If you want to get your dog in on the holiday fun, Knights of Lights at the Kansas City Renaissance Festival is pet-friendly — dogs cost $5 to get in and an adult ticket is $17 if you buy it online. Knights of Light runs every Friday–Sunday from November 24–December 31. While there, you can meet Santa, Elf, and Barbie, and there’s also a pirate ship.

If you want to go all out for Christmas, Enchant at Legends Field in Kansas City, Kansas, looks promising. There is a holiday light maze, a miniature Christmas village with vendors and gifts, an ice skating trail, a Santa photo opportunity, and a children’s holiday play. It runs from November 24–December 31; tickets are $34 for adults and $25.50 for kids 3 and over.

For a German-style holiday market, Campground in the West Bottoms is throwing its fourth annual Christkindlmarkt. On the weekends of December 7–9 and December 14–16, head to the camping-themed space for cocktails, vendors, and food.

You can celebrate Hanukkah at the GloWild Havdalah — a Jewish prayer ceremony to mark the end of the Sabbath — at the Kansas City Zoo on December 9. Hanukkah is the festival of lights, of course, and the event will take place against the backdrop of Asian lanterns at the zoo. Violinist Coleen Dieker will perform. Tickets are $19 per person.

The Hannukah Glow Party is at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City on December 10. Come prepared to party at the silent disco. This family-friendly event will also have food and crafts.

Where to find holiday lights displays around Kansas City

Trees strung with multicolored lights reflect on a pond at night.
Bill Harrison
The Sar-Ko Aglow light display runs from December 1–January 15.

Speaking of lights! If you want to be wowed by an outdoor light display, Electric Glow at Overland Park Arboretum is a great bet. You can visit on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings from November 28–December 20, and find music, hot cider, and gnome houses.

The Arboretum will offer the same holiday festivities at its luminary walk, but to enjoy the candlelit scenery without the fanfare, head to the adults-only candlelight stroll.

You can take another wintery walk outdoors at the Evergy Festival of Lights at Powell Garden, which runs on Wednesdays–Sundays through December 30. If you need to warm up indoors, you can watch Quixotic performers at Powell Gardens’ Conservatory.

Sar-Ko Aglow is another walk-through holiday light display at Sar-Ko-Par Trails Park in Lenexa that you can visit nightly from December 1–January 15.

If you don’t want to leave your car you can head to Holiday Lights on Farmstead Lane at Deanna Rose Farmstead in Overland Park, Kansas, from November 23–December 31. While watching the lights, you can even tune into 90.5 Rose FM and watch a synchronized musical performance.

You can see another free drive-through light display at Christmas in the Park at Longview Park in Lee’s Summit from November 22–December 31. The website recommends that you visit the park during the week early in the season to avoid long lines.

On the other side of Longview Lake, Christmas in the Sky is a one-night holiday fireworks display at Longview Lake on November 22 that will be synchronized to music on the radio station 99.7 FM The Point.

Tree lightings and small town traditions around Kansas City

An enormous Christmas tree in white string lights sits beyond a fountain, flanked by rows of smaller trees in white string lights.
Crown Center
The Mayor’s Christmas Tree at Crown Center.

If you are a sucker for tradition, Kansas City’s 94th annual Plaza Lighting Ceremony occurs on Thanksgiving, which falls on November 23 this year. TechN9ne is flipping the switch this year, and Quixotic and the Elders are performing.

The next day, on November 24, the Mayor’s Christmas Tree Lighting Event will take place at Crown Center, with musical performances, hot chocolate and s’mores, and a firework display.

For a smaller lighting ceremony, head to Grandview for the Mayor’s Christmas Tree lighting on November 30. You can bring canned food and toiletry donations for the Grandview Assistance Program. Or you can go to Prairie Village for their Mayor’s Holiday Tree Lighting that night too.

In Liberty, Missouri, the Garrison Christmas Party and Lighting of the Tree is on December 11 at Corbin Theatre Co. The event features a concert and musical performance by area youth.

If you have ever watched a Hallmark Christmas movie, you know that small towns have that unmatched holiday charm. Visit Parkville’s 23rd annual Christmas on the River on December 1 for a bit of quaint holiday charm. The event will be capped off with a fireworks show at dusk.

Lawrence, Kansas, hosts an annual Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade, which is on December 2 this year. Much of the parade occurs on horseback, and Santa rides through town on a horse-drawn sleigh. It doesn’t get much more quaint than that!

Kansas City holiday music and performances

In a production of The Christmas Carol, the Ghost of Christmas Present in a green and gold robe throws glitter over the audience of children.
Don Ipock
Holiday magic at the Kansas City Repertory’s 2021 performance of A Christmas Carol.

It wouldn’t be the holiday season without the Kansas City Ballet’s annual performance of The Nutcracker. This year, it has a 16-date run at the Kauffman Performing Arts Center from December 1–December 24, including some matinee performances later in the month. Tickets start at $34 for adults and children.

Another mainstay of the Kansas City holiday season is the Kansas City Repertory Theatre’s annual performance of A Christmas Carol. This year the show runs through December 24, and tickets start at $39. On December 3 the performance will include ASL interpretation.

For a high-quality Christmas carol sing-a-long, you can also head to the Kansas City Symphony Christmas Festival at the Kauffman Performing Arts Center on December 14–17. The event is kid-friendly and tickets start at $42. You are also sure to hear some holiday classics at the free Holiday Follies concert at the Music Hall on December 17.

The Kansas City Symphony will also perform the classic Handel’s Messiah along with the Kansas City Symphony Chorus on December 1–3, with tickets starting at $30.

You can also see the Symphony on December 5 at TubaChristmas, one of Kansas City’s great traditions. The outdoor event at Crown Center Square features tuba and euphonium players — it costs $10 to participate but taking in the brassy sounds is free.

Not a tuba person? Try Trombone Christmas at Union Station, now in its seventh year, on December 16. Registration to play is $15, but there’s no cost for the concert itself.

Then there are the contemporary holiday classics. Thanksgiving officially marks “All I Want For Christmas Is You” season, and the day after, you can hear the song from Mariah Carey herself at the T-Mobile Center on November 24, part of her Merry Christmas One and All! Tour. Tickets start at $59.95.

Another ‘90s sensation, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, will be in town for their “The Ghosts of Christmas Eve” tour at the T-Mobile Center on December 16. Tickets start at $39.

For more ‘90s nostalgia, you can see the Kansas City Symphony play the score of the 1992 Muppet Christmas Carol along with the film on December 8 at the Kauffman Performing Arts Center. The Symphony is giving Tim Burton’s 1993 classic The Nightmare Before Christmas the same treatment on December 21. Tickets are going fast for this one.

If you want to get in on the dancing, go to Kolograd’s A Christmas Story Dance on December 2 at St. John’s in Strawberry Hill in Kansas City, Kansas. The band—Slavic for “Dance City”—will play Croatian and Slovenian songs along with American holiday classics. Tickets are $10 at the door.

Do all your holiday shopping around Kansas City

Two women smile at the viewer in front of a yellow trolley decorated with white paper snowflakes and greenery with red bows.
Katie Mabry van Dieren
Holiday Swing runs each weekend at Crown Center from November 25–December 17.

For a one-of-a-kind handmade holiday gift, the Holiday Swing market starts at Crown Center on November 25–26 and will run every weekend through December 15–17. Returning for its 13th year, the event will feature over 75 regional artists and makers as well as food and drink vendors.

You can also find gifts made by local artists and artisans at Art Garden KC. From Thanksgiving through Christmas, you can shop, eat, and drink on Saturdays and Sundays at the City Market. Make sure to see Gingerbread Lane—a miniature model of Kansas City made out of cookies.

You can eat and shop for a good cause at Holidays in Crestwood the weekend of November 30–December 2. The Crestwood shops are donating 10% of their sales to the organization Child Protection Centers during that stretch, and there will be a gingerbread house auction to benefit the organization. You can also drink hot chocolate, see Santa, and hear music from Uke 66 and the UMKC Conservatory Carolers.

Other options to buy local for the holidays include the Overland Park Holiday Market on December 2 in Downtown Overland Park. On December 9, the Westport Christmas Market will feature vendors selling handmade holiday items.

It’s the same day as the KC Santa Dash — a 5k in Westport where the runners are dressed in Santa costumes. Shop and watch the runners, or sign up for the race yourself!

Don’t forget your dog! The Santa Paws Holiday Mart is also on November 25 at the Dogs’ Spot in North Kansas City. Santa will be onsite for photo ops with your dog (or you). You can also buy dog gifts and treats from local vendors.

Hannah Bailey is a cultural studies scholar and a freelance writer for KCUR. You can email her at hannah@coneflower.org.
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