In between dashing through the snow and roasting chestnuts on an open fire, make your way out to Kansas City, where the holidays are full of family-friendly events, light shows, and some of the region’s best shopping. Here are some of the best ways to celebrate the season in KC:
Luminous Light Shows and Decorative Displays
The holiday season kicked off in KC on Thanksgiving night with the Country Club Plaza lighting ceremony, a tradition dating back to 1929. Bundle up after your Thanksgiving feast and join the crowd as seasonal lights illuminate the Spanish-style architecture of this beautiful outdoor shopping center. For another dazzling display, head over to Crown Center to view the Mayor’s Christmas Tree, a towering fir more than 100 feet tall and lit up by 7,200 beautiful white bulbs. Up north, Zona Rosa’s Northern Lights are huge decorative crowns decked out in colorful lights, delighting guests as they search for holiday gifts.
Holiday Merriments and Events
Bring young ones to check out the Holiday Express Train as it pulls in Union Station. Now in its 16th year, the locomotive brings an entire stockingful of North Pole spirit to the iconic station, including Santa’s sleigh, a gingerbread boxcar and more. Meanwhile, the Kansas City Zoo is open daily during the holidays (except Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day), so get wild at Penguin Plaza or spend time with Berlin the polar bear, who will be right at home in the cooler weather. Santa Claus has even been known to make an appearance or two. Also be sure to make time for a spin around the ice at Crown Center Ice Terrace for a day of festive ice skating.
Gift Shopping Galore
Find the perfect gift for that someone special by heading to the Country Club Plaza, where you’ll find high-end shops and other retailers with tons of local flair. Big-name favorites in an outdoor setting are the highlight up north at Zona Rosa. Or, if you’re in search of something retro, try your hand at antique shopping down in the West Bottoms. No matter where you decide to shop or what you’re searching for, you’ll find that local KC products have their own unique style.
Can’t-Miss Plays and Performances
- A Christmas Carol – Spencer Theatre, Nov. 18–Dec. 24
- Handel’s Messiah – Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, Dec. 1–4
- The Nutcracker – Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, Dec. 3–24
- Santaland Diaries – Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Dec. 8–24\