Best of December in Kansas City
Experience the best of Kansas City this December. Whether you're hosting out of town company or celebrating with your family - there is something for everyone. Enjoy live shows, Christmas traditions, holiday traditions, and more. Our readers love the Ultimate Guide to Christmas in Kansas City, your complete guide to local holiday events, but sometimes it is daunting to sort through hundreds of holiday celebrations. These are our top picks for December in Kansas City:
Holidays at Crown Center
Crown Center is one of Kansas City’s best-loved holiday landmarks with many great events all season long. Christmas at Crown Center is a Kansas City Tradition! With a whimsical playground, model trains traveling through a gingerbread village, visits with Santa, ice skating, and more... there is something for everyone!
Upcoming Events at Crown Center:
- 2018-2019 Crown Center Ice Terrace: November 2 - March 10 Through the rest of the season, regular admission is $7 and adults over 60 and children 4 and under are free. Ice skates can be rented for $3. Enjoy perks like "Two-for-Tuesdays" after 5 p.m. each Tuesday, group rates on weekdays for groups of 20 or more, skating lessons beginning December 1, and season passes for just $80/person.
- Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical: November 6 - December 30 Back by popular demand, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer graces The Coterie Theater’s stage throughout the season with the show’s classic characters and heartwarming message. Tickets are $13 for children and seniors, and $17 for adults, and can be booked online or by calling 816-474-6552.
- EBT Santa’s Countdown to Christmas: November 23-December 31 Christmas nostalgia comes to life with EBT Laughing Santa, who first appeared at KC’s Emery, Bird, Thayer department store in the early 1900s and has been a holiday fixture at Crown Center since 1979. Marvel at St. Nick in the Crown Center Shops as he chuckles his way through the holiday season while counting down the days until Christmas.
- Santa’s Gingerbread Station: November 23 - December 31 Families have found their home for holiday fun at Santa’s Gingerbread Station, where kids can explore the interactive exhibit, climb aboard the Crown Center Express Train Engine and enjoy Gingerbread Village. This is also their chance to meet and take photos with Santa (professional photos available for a fee) until December 24 when Santa heads back up north.
- Holiday Choirs: November 26-December 21 Beautiful holiday music fills the halls of Crown Center, as more than 130 area school, church and community choirs perform every day.
Worlds of Fun Winterfest
Worlds of Fun is hosting WinterFEST Weekends Nov. 23 - Dec. 30. Holiday cheer rings out at Worlds of Fun during the annual WinterFest celebration. Thousands of sparkling lights transform the park with an inviting glow that warms the hearts and lifts the spirit. Witness festive live shows, meet iconic holiday characters, join holiday activities like ice skating and cookie decorating, ride select park attractions and create lasting memories with family and friends. This holiday celebration takes place on select nights in November and December
Holidays Alive at Union Station
Union Station (30 W. Pershing Rd., Kansas City, MO. http://unionstation.org/) is one of our city's most beautiful landmarks and a favorite family destination. Enjoy favorite Union Station holiday traditions.
Mini Holiday Express Train Take a ride on the miniature train! Often referred to as the Jones Store Train and beloved by generations at the holidays, it was once a popular attraction at the Jones Store downtown. Riders must be under 48" tall (approximately 5-6 years of age and under). Union Station Members FREE. Non-members $5
$3 Classic Holiday Movie Series at Union Station Union Station, 30 W. Pershing, Kansas City. $3/ea. Polar Express in your PJs! Elf! Christmas Vacation! Home Alone! Your favorite holiday classic movies are back at Union Station’s GIANT 5-story Extreme Screen starting November 16. Relive the magic of these beloved family favorites at KC’s BIGGEST SCREEN for JUST $3 per ticket. All movies featured daily at 12:30pm, 3:00pm, 5:30pm, 8:00pm. Polar Express also featured at 10am Saturdays and Sundays. PLEASE NOTE: Polar Express shows typically sell out and advance ticket purchase is highly recommended to avoid disappointment.
- Nov 16 to Nov 21- Christmas Vacation
- Nov 23 to Nov 29 - Elf
- Nov 30 to Dec 6 - Home Alone
- Dec 7 to Dec 18 - Polar Express in Your PJs
Holiday Swing Dec. 1-2 at Union Station, 30 W. Pershing, Kansas City, MO. Join The Midwest's biggest handmade holiday shopping event in our 8th year of celebrating the handmade movement: The Holiday Swing. 100+ handmade & vintage vendors + food trucks + cash bar + whimsical photobooth + holiday cheer at one of the most beautifully decorated holiday destinations in Kansas City: Union Station Kansas City Inc. Best of all? It's FREE to attend.
The KCS Holiday Express Dec. 14-18 at Union Station, 30 W. Pershing, Kansas City. The KCS Holiday Express is a festive, six-car train that brings Santa Claus and his elves to communities throughout the company’s U.S. rail network at scheduled stops. Guests to the train can visit with Santa Claus and walk through three cars filled with holiday displays. Each event is free, open to the public and no tickets are required. FREE!
Holiday Magic Laser Show selct dates at Union Station, 30 W. Pershing, Kansas City, MO. Celebrate the holidays with your favorite songs set to a choreographed laser show.
Trombone Christmas Dec. 15 at Union Station, 30 West Pershing Road, Kansas City, MO. Participation in the concert is open to trombone players of all ages and experience levels. FREE!
Noon Year's Eve at Science City, December 31st, Noon-7PM! Noon Year's Eve is is THE place to have a fun, safe and education New Year's Eve party for children of all ages and parents, too!
A Christmas Carol
KCRep presents A Christmas Carol Nov. 16 - Dec. 30 at Spencer Theatre, 4949 Cherry, Kansas City, MO. Ebenezer Scrooge, a miserly, cold-hearted creditor, continues his stingy ways on Christmas Eve. He rejects a dinner invitation and all the good tidings of the season from his nephew, Fred; he yells at charity workers; and he overworks his earnest employee, Bob Cratchit. Until, he is visited one-by-one, by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come, who show him the errors of his ways until he ultimately discovers what’s really worth celebrating at Christmas-time and beyond.
Festival of Lights at Powell Gardens
Powell Gardens (1609 N.W. U.S. Highway 50, Kingsville, MO) celebrates the season with special events in the gardens throughout the winter and we're especially excited for the Festival of Lights Thurs-Sun thru Jan 6. The Powell Gardens Festival of Lights offers a unique holiday experience in the Kansas City area. A lighting exhibition, artfully curated by the Powell Gardens Horticulture staff, the Festival of Lights includes botanically-themed lighting displays that begin at the garden entrance and stretch along a mile-long walking path through six of the seven themed gardens. enjoy free children’s activities each day from 4-8 p.m. including an ornament station to take the magic home with you!
Clara's Dream and Holiday Showcase Dec. 8 & 9at Olathe South High School Performing Arts Center, 1640 E 151st St, Olathe, KS. Since 2005 Miller Marley's Youth Ballet has come together with guest performers to present a condensed version of "Nutcracker" ~ just perfect for audiences of all ages. This adaptation of "Nutcracker" follows Clara on a magical journey that leads her into a dream-like world filled with some of your favorite scenes from this holiday classic ballet in a shortened show. Prior to "Clara's Dream" other performing groups from Miller Marley entertain with a variety of dance styles. Each year something new comes to this show.
Holidays at Summit Fair
Summit Fair 860 NW Blue Pkwy, Lee’s Summit, MO.The holidays are magical at Summit Fair. Shops and restaurants include: featuring Beauty Brands, Buckle, Cato, Charming Charlie, Chick-fil-A, Chico's, The Children's Place, Christopher & Banks, Complete Nutrition, Crazy 8, Dressbarn, DSW, Escapist Skateboarding, Francesca's, Freebirds World Burrito, Glo Nail Lounge, Heavenly Olive Oil & Vinegars, JCPenney, Jos A. Bank, Macy's, McAlister's Deli, Massage Heights, Maurices, Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Sakura Sushi, Smallcakes, Tip Top Tux, Visionworks, Whim Boutique, White House Black Market, Yankee Candle and Yogurtini. December Events include:
- Elf Night Dec. 7 from 6:00PM-9:00PM: FREE Christmas celebration featuring cookies and cocoa, crafts for the kiddos, free visits and photos with Buddy the Elf, balloon art, holiday face painting, giveaways and more! *All giveaways are provided on a first come, first served basis and are only available while supply lasts.
Liberty Light Show
Liberty Light Show Nov. 30, Dec. 1, 2, 7, 8, & 9. Shows are 15 minutes long, and begin every 45 minutes at 6:00pm, 6:45pm, 7:30pm, 8:15pm, 9:00pm. This FREE drive-in Christmas light display will be synchronized with live musicians in the PV parking lot. It’s a family-friendly show that will capture the hearts of many. Audiences will tune their radios to hear live performances of Christmas favorites from the comfort of their own cars. Through a simple narrative the Gospel story will be weaved throughout the show - inviting guests to discover the true reason for the season. Guests can view the 15-minute show from the warmth of their vehicles on a first-come, first-serve basis.
December at the Kansas City Zoo
The Kansas City Zoo is open year-round and the holidays offer some of our FAVORITE events of the year. The Kansas City Zoo is a blast year-round, but really- can you think of anything more fun than watching Santa DIVE with penguins???? Tip - FOTZ passes are a PERFECT clutter free holiday gift and you'll enjoy free year-round admission to the KC Zoo and free or discounted admission to other zoos when you travel.
- Weekends thru Dec. 16 Santa Dives with Penguins: What’s red and white and swimming with the penguins at Helzberg Penguin Plaza? Santa! Get a one-of-a-kind photo of Santa as penguins torpedo around him. Watch the penguin bubbles trail the man in the red suit and hear the children giggle. Dives are at 2 p.m.
- Dec. 15 & 16 Winter Wonderland: Celebrate the holiday season with the Zoo’s furry, feathery and fluffy friends Saturday, December 15 and Sunday, December 16 from 10 am to 3 pm. Our gentoo and king penguins will venture outside in the frosty air for a Penguin March at 11 am. See Santa dive underwater with our penguins at 2 pm.Santa will also be personally delivering presents to the animals. See our animals enjoy the special gifts he brings. At 10:30 am, see Santa and Mrs. Claus decorate the lion exhibit with a Christmas tree and gifts, then watch the lions enjoy their new treats.
- Dec. 31 Zoo Year's Eve: Ring in the new year Zoo-style! Penguins, polar bears, and many more animals will enjoy festive enrichment items. Dance to the beats of our interactive DJ and make a noise maker before you jump in our photo booth to capture a memory!
Holiday Shopping in Downtown Lee's Summit
Downtown Lee's Summit shopping district hosts special events all month as shoppers prepare for the holidays. Historic Downtown Lee’s Summit is a nationally award-wining Main Street. With more than 45 eclectic specialty stores, dozens of dining and entrainment options, and the most welcoming business owners around, Downtown Lee’s Summit is worth the trip.
Santa Visits Downtown Lee's Summit: As you shop Downtown Lee’s Summit this holiday season, be sure to stop in to get your photos with Santa. He will be available for pictures with children of all ages during the following dates and times:
- December 1 – 3-4 p.m. at GOT Art Gallery- 18 SW 3rd, 4-5 p.m. strolling downtown
- December 8 – 3-4 p.m. at the Lee’s Summit History Museum- 220 SW Main, 4-5 p.m. strolling downtown
- December 15 – 2-3 p.m. at the Lee’s Summit History Museum- 220 SW Main, 3-4 p.m. strolling downtown
Holiday Shopping at Legends Outlets
Legends Outlets in Kansas City, KS is Kansas City's premier outdoor shopping and entertainment destination and the only designer outlet center in the area. With more than 100 designer outlets, retail, dining and entertainment options, Legends Outlets offers something for every style, age and price range.
45 foot Holiday Tree: A 45-foot holiday tree returns this year as the Legends Outlets' main centerpiece, located at the center of the Civic Courtyard Fountain in front of AMC Legends 14 Movie Theater. The tree is decorated with festive LED-lighted snowflakes and a three-foot-six-inch snowfall topper featuring a mix of static LED light bars and double-sided LED animated show tubes. During the ceremony, festive decorations will light up throughout the shopping center and continue through early January.
Journey to Judea
Journey to Judea Nov. 16-18, Nov. 30 – Dec. 2, Countryside Baptist Church, 14150 W. 175th St., Overland Park, KS. FREE admission. Come listen to Moses, David, Isaiah and others foretell the coming of the King. See the busy innkeeper and the young pregnant couple who were denied residence by him. Watch the angels tell good news to shepherds. Witness the empty cross and the open tomb and hear the next chapter of the story.
A Kansas City Christmas & Morning at the Manger
Christmas events at Lenexa Baptist Church. Kansas City Christmas is our yearly Christmas program featuring the LBC Worship Choir and Orchestra. This is event is free to everyone but there is no reserved seating, so get here early! The concert will be followed by a Dessert Buffet. If you can’t make it in person, each program will be live streamed on the LBC web site.
- December 8: 12:00 p.m. – Doors Open to the Worship Center. 1:00 – Program Begins.
- December 9: 4:00 p.m. – Doors Open to the Worship Center. 5:00 – Program Begins
Victorian Christmas at National Museum of Toys and Miniatures
Toys bring back whimsical holiday memories and there is no better place to enjoy those moments than the National Museum of Toys and Miniatures (5235 Oak St, Kansas City, MO. 816.235.8000).
Special Events in December:
- Coleman House Opening: Dec. 1 from 10am-4pm at the National Museum of Toys and Miniatures (5235 Oak St., Kansas City, MO). The annual tradition returns! See T/m’s nine-foot-tall dollhouse decked out for the holiday season. Get up close as T/m opens the doors for a day of in-depth talks about this giant dollhouse. Talks at 10:30am, 1pm, and 2:30pm, or come anytime between 10am and 4pm to view the house. Included with museum admission.
- MEET THE EXPERTS: THE TOYS OF JERRY SMITH: Dec. 9 from 2-3pm at the National Museum of Toys and Miniatures (5235 Oak St., Kansas City, MO). Get to know the experts at The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures through this monthly exploration of special topics. On December 9, discover the story behind the museum’s special exhibit, Going Places: The Toy Collection of Jerry Smith. Relive Christmases past while exploring the toy trains, airplanes, and automobiles collected by one Kansas City man.
Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens' Holiday Luminary Walk
Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens (8909 W 179th St, Bucyrus, KS. 913.685.3604) hosts this event weekends thru Dec. 8. Admission charged. Purchase tickets online at www.opabg.org. This Arboretum fundraiser features a mile of candles, holiday lights, live musical entertainment, Santa Claus in the Depot, horse-dawn wagon rides, hot cider around a campfire and mystical Gnome and Fairy Villages. Volunteers and staff members are transforming the Arboretum into a wonderland of candles and lights, music and holiday fun. Thousands of candles line the walkways and trails. Holiday lights will be on display from trees, buildings and bridges. Children will be thrilled to see Santa's Woodland Depot in the Train Garden and chat with him nightly from 5:30 - 8:30 p.m. The luminary walk will be held from 5 - 9 p.m. Last entrance is at 8 p.m. 2018 eTickets are $9 per person and can be purchased online. Tickets can also be purchased at the gate the night of the event for $10 per person. Children 5 and under are free."
Holiday Fun at Paradise Park
Paradise Park (1021 NE Colbern Road, Lee’s Summit, MO) is a great place to spend quality time as a family. Paradise Park is one of our favorite attractions year-round, but it is especially great when little ones need to burn some energy inside over the winter months. December is extra special at the park with holiday themes in the Discovery Center and the Ginormous Gingerbread House! This holiday season, they offer some of the most unique Christmas events in town:
Ginormous Gingerbread House thru Jan. 5. Paradise Park's giant, two-story Foam Factory transforms into a Ginormous Gingerbread House where snow falls magically indoors amidst a colorful world of flying foam balls with everyone working together to fire the balls through air-powered cannons, blasters and geyser.
Winter Break Daily Specials. Find loads of fun at Paradise Park during the winter break. Special discounts and deals change every day from Dec 21 – Jan 7.
New Year’s Eve Party December 31 from Noon to 6 p.m. 3-2-1...Happy 2019 everybody!! You are invited to ring in the New Year early with the legendary Ball Drop at Paradise Park's Foam Factory. Have a blast with friends and family. This rocking New Year's Eve party is an early-evening, totally kid-friendly celebration. Register to win awesome door prizes that you can use all year long at Paradise Park.
Holidays at Family Tree Nursery
Family Tree Nursery locations become a winter wonderland lined with forests of decorated trees. lights, decorations, and holiday gifts. Santa visits the nurseries on the following dates:
- Sunday, Dec 2nd - Liberty Location: 830 W. Liberty Dr. (816.781.0001)
- Saturday, Dec 8th - Overland Park Location: 8424 Farley St. (913.642.6503)
- Sunday, Dec 9th - Shawnee Location: 7036 Nieman Rd. (913.631.6121)
Downtown Dazzle thru Dec. 31, Downtown Kansas City, MO. Downtown KC’s all-encompassing holiday experience features five unique neighborhoods and something for everyone, including tours of trendy, urban homes, exclusive shopping offers and other festive sights and sounds. Experience this signature holiday event with a free KC Streetcar ride connecting downtown’s holiday events and happenings. From Crown Center and Union Station to the Crossroads and Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts to the Power & Light District and City Market – visit the mobile-friendly KC Streetcar site at KCStreetcar.org and jump to the Streetcar Tracker for real-time location of the Streetcars. Special Dazzle pop-ups are planned throughout the season at various downtown locations where the Dazzle team will be handing out holiday swag, including the Dazzling Deals booklet, featuring more than 60 special offers from downtown-area merchants and attractions for exclusively for Dazzling Deals booklet holders! On Dec. 8 from 10am-5pm, participate in the Urban Homes Tour. Downtown’s trendiest residential properties—from the Crossroads Arts District to the River Market—will open for public tours during the most popular event of Downtown Dazzle. Participants are invited to explore at their leisure from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. while traveling from one property to the next by using the KC Streetcar, walking or driving. Pick up your Downtown Dazzle Urban Homes Tour Guidebook at Visit KC’s office on Dec. 8 located at 1321 Baltimore Ave., Kansas City, MO 64105. For more information, visit DazzleKC.com.
KC Ballet presents The Nutcracker
KC Ballet presents The Nutcracker Nov. 30 - Dec. 23 at Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, 1601 Broadway Blvd., Kansas City, MO. Last year, Kansas City Ballet’s The Nutcracker awed Kennedy Center audiences in Washington, D.C., and hailed as “positively oozing charm” by The Washington Post, and is “especially lovely with its bright, fresh decor.” The classic, Victorian-era story by E.T.A. Hoffman featuring Clara, the Nutcracker Prince, Dr. Drosselmeier and the Sugar Plum Fairy is a magical theatrical experience wrapped with exquisite costumes, grand sets and captivating choreography. Let your wonder ignite and feel the glimmer once more as your childhood dreams return and inspire you to IMAGINE AGAIN. Also, Dec 1, 2018: Sugar Plum Fairy Children’s Ball at Muehlebach Tower of the Kansas City Marriott Downtown, 200 W. 12th St, Kansas City, MO. Ball from 10:30 am to 1:00 pm. Immediately followed by the 2:00 p.m. performance of Kansas City Ballet’s The Nutcracker at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. Guests will park at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts and be whisked off to the beautiful Muehlebach Tower and the magic of the holidays. Children will delight in having their complimentary picture taken with the Sugar Plum Fairy, watching traveling magicians, and interacting with costumed characters. Parents will enjoy shopping at our fantastic silent auction. You will dine on a delicious three course lunch, enjoy entertainment provided by Kansas City Youth Ballet and dance with your family and friends to holiday music. The excitement continues as you see the wonderful re-imagined holiday favorite, The Nutcracker. The Sugar Plum Fairy Children’s Ball is a benefit for Kansas City Ballet School and its scholarship program.
Child of Hope
Child of Hope Nov. 30 - Dec. 2 at The Culture House Stage & Studio (in Oak Park Mall, 2nd floor by Nordstrom), 11149 W 95th St, Overland Park, KS. The richness and inspiration of Christmas and the Nativity story brought to life as only Storling Dance Theater and The Culture House can do it. Join us to see the Gospel story of the birth of Jesus like you’ve never seen it. Stunning music, costumes and design set the stage to bring us all to the child that changed the world forever. Bring your friends and family to this unforgettable event.
The Pigeon Comes to Topeka! A Mo Willems Exhibit
The Pigeon Comes to Topeka! A Mo Willems Exhibit thru Jan. 4 at the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center. Co-organized by Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh and The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, the exhibition is inspired by the art and characters of the beloved children’s book author and illustrator, Mo Willems. Many familiar characters will be featured including best friend duo Elephant and Piggie, faithful companion Knuffle Bunny and The Pigeon, the wily city bird best known for his antics in Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! Activities will give visitors the opportunity to make art that is inspired by Mo Willems and to learn about the rich social and emotional lives of the author’s characters. The exhibit will also feature prints of illustrations, including sketches and other preliminary materials, by Mo Willems. In this play-and-learn exhibit, visitors can: Have a hilarious conversation in the voices of Elephant Gerald and Piggie at a double-sided phone booth. Make Elephant and Piggie dance with old-time animation. Put on a wearable bus and take a drive around the exhibit. Spin the laundromat washing machine and uncover Knuffle Bunny and other surprises! Dress up Naked Mole Rat and send him down the runway for a one-of-a-kind fashion show. Stack lightweight blocks to create their own terrible monster or funny friend. Launch foam hot dogs at The Pigeon and play the plinko game to give the Duckling a cookie. Try out art techniques that Mo uses for his own books.
Dinosaurs Revealed: Journey Across America, a world premiere exhibition at Union Station! Come face-to-face with 26 life-size dinosaurs. See them move, hear them roar. Examine two massive full body skeletons and dozens of real fossils. Get hands-on digging for new evidence. Walk through the most prolific North American dinosaur dig sites. Visit the Paleontologist Hangout and meet real dinosaur hunters. Interact with a 3D augmented reality volcano, dinosaur tracks, puzzles and more. It’s an adventure that promises to educate, fascinate and excite imaginations of every age.
Celebrate Christmas in Kansas City
Find even MORE events to celebrate Christmas in Kansas City with our ultimate guide!