Holiday Cheer in Missouri: Things to do in the Southwest Region

The holidays are coming. My inner child is making plans and she’s starting early.

Who doesn’t love a parade? So she’s kicking off the season November 14 with the 3rd Annual “Most Wonderful Time of Year Parade” at Branson Landing, dedicated to Mr. Christmas, Andy Williams. But why limit myself to just one? The Carthage Christmas Parade steps off December 7, followed by the big Springfield Christmas Parade that Saturday.

Branson Christmas Parade Final-2

Indulging my holiday whims is all about having fun, and the Fall Hip Handmade Market November 13-14 in Joplin lets me shop for indie-craft gifts with a fun, relaxed vibe. Getting the shopping done early lets me really cut loose on Christmas activities.

One of my favorite memories of my childhood holidays is the family driving around looking at the lights. This is one experience that is even better now because holiday light displays are amazing these days.  My adult self can sneak in some gift shopping at Branson Landing and enjoy the incredible light displays at their Winter Wonderlanding from November 1 through Christmas Eve.

Springfield’s Festival of Lights kicks off a little later, on November 21. In addition to the displays, there will be shows, plays, fireworks, even free ice skating (or in my case, ice falling).

Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge

Even an inner child needs some quieter activities to recharge, so I’ll reconnect with nature at Eagle Watch December 19 at Roaring River State Park in Cassville. I may linger until after dark, because have you ever noticed how close the stars are this time of year? It’s Mother Nature’s own holiday light display.

Holiday events are on the schedule, too, The Journey to Bethlehem December 3-5 near Seneca brings home the reason for the season with a 45-minute interactive trek filled with animals, Roman cavalry, fellow travelers and more – all ending with the Nativity.


The Holiday Open House December 12 at George Washington Carver National Monument in Diamond offers crafts, carols and refreshments.  When you love history, and holiday lights, and Christmas carols the way I do, the 12th Annual Memorial Illumination Ceremony and Tour December 12 at Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield near Republic is a don’t-miss. I can make both because my inner child has a driver’s license.

December 31 is adult time, so I’ll head to Pythian Castle in Springfield to ring in the New Year with dinner, dancing and entertainment. On the other hand, a little voice is reminding me that the place is haunted.

Of course, this is just a sampling of all there is to see, do and shop for during the holiday season. Check out and set your own itinerary for a holiday season filled with fun for the whole family, and your own inner child.

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