Christmas is 10 days away, which means you need to do two things: 1) Finish your shopping; 2) Enjoy the fun events happening around Missouri during this season of celebration.
In every corner of the Show-Me State, celebrations of all sorts take place as 2011 winds to a close and 2012 draws near. Whether you’re interested in drive-thru light parks, how holidays were celebrated in days past, appearances by the Jolly Old Elf, religious services, or cultural celebrations, you’re sure to find it in Missouri.
There are dozens of places to enjoy holiday lights in Missouri, perhaps none more famous than Branson. One of Branson’s largest attractions, Silver Dollar City, has been named to several national “Top 10” lists for seeing holiday lights, and has been recognized by Yahoo! Travel, MSN and Mainstreet.com, to name a few. Other wonderful light displays are found at Fort Zumwalt Park in O’Fallon and in Kansas City’s Country Club Plaza.
If your inner Scrooge isn’t afraid of journeying to Christmas past, be sure to visit the First Missouri State Capitol State Historic Site in St. Charles for Christmas Traditions. The historic site will host a concert on Dec. 17, a special event that includes a reading of “The Night Before Christmas” on Dec. 18, and an event with interpreters dressed in period clothing on Dec. 21 and 23.
Looking for a chance to give Santa your wish list? Look no further than Kingsville and the beautiful Powell Gardens, which hosts Holiday Fun with Santa from 9 a.m.-noon on Dec. 17. This event includes a breakfast, a chance to meet Santa, make crafts, enjoy storytelling with Mrs. Claus and then take an outdoor mini-train ride (weather permitting). Reservations are required, so act fast. Call 816-697-2600, ext. 209 for details.
If your celebrations of the holiday involve more spiritual pursuits, visit Missouri Botanical Garden for Chanukah: Festival of Lights, from noon-4 p.m. on Dec. 18. This traditional Jewish holiday celebration will include Israeli music and dance and a menorah-lighting ceremony. Congregation Beth Shalom, in Columbia, also will celebrate Dec. 18, with a Hanukkah celebration beginning at 4 p.m. You’ll also find special events celebrating the official beginning of Hanukkah/Chanukah, Dec. 20. Among them is a Hanukkah Concert from 7 p.m.-9 p.m. at BSKI, 1107 E. Linden Ave., in Richmond Heights.
On Christmas Eve, the National Shrine of Mary, Mother of the Church, in Laurie (near Lake of the Ozarks), will have a special holiday concert, Wonderful World of Christmas Music, at 6:30 p.m. leading up to the Christmas Eve Mass, which will begin between 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. The National Shrine of Mary, one of the many spiritual centers in Missouri hosting Christmas Eve services, features a 14-foot stainless steel sculpture of Mary, along with the world-famous Mother’s Wall of Life. Christmas Day Mass at the Shrine begins at 9 a.m.
Dec. 26 begins the seven-day celebration of Kwanzaa, an African-American and Pan-African holiday celebrating family, community and culture. Kwanzaa continues through Jan. 1, 2012. The name Kwanzaa is derived from a Swahili phrase meaning “first fruits” and it focuses on seven principles designed to contribute to building and reinforcing family, community and culture among African-American people, as well as Africans throughout the world African community.
Missouri Botanical Garden will host Kwanzaa: Festival of the First Fruits, from noon-4 p.m. on Dec. 28. The event will feature craft and jewelry displays, storytelling, and authentic African drumming and musical performances. Springfield also will be the site of a Kwanzaa celebration; Dec. 29 the Ladies Civic League is sponsoring an event at Washington Avenue Baptist Church, 1722 N. National Ave. The event begins at 6 p.m. and will feature music and guest speakers.
As you can see, there’s no shortage of things to do in Missouri during the holiday and celebration season. We encourage you to travel safely, and we extend to you our sincere wishes for fun and memorable experiences in Missouri.