Something special starts to happen when the days get shorter and the temps get colder. You can practically smell it in the air…yep, it’s Kansas City during the holidays. Sure, there are bigger and more well-known locales for celebrating the season, like New York with the Rockefeller Center tree, and 5th Avenue window displays, or Chicago’s “Nutcracker” Ballet or shopping on Michigan Ave., but for our money, you just can’t beat the merry Midwest!
Whether you live around town or are just visiting family and friends in KC, you’re sure to fall in love with this city and its surrounding areas when you experience these five holiday-time treasures.
Holiday Lights (and not just at the Plaza)
You know the holiday season in Kansas City has officially kicked off when they flip is switch on Thanksgiving evening and the festive lights that cover the Country Club Plaza shine for all to see. It’s a pretty big deal and is one of the most anticipated events of the year. In fact, it is so popular that year in and year out, the Plaza squeezes in the population of a decent-sized suburb to accommodate all of the people who want to see the ceremony in person.
It’s a Kansas City fixture and the holidays wouldn’t be the same without it, but you don’t necessarily have to limit your love of festive filaments to the Plaza.
From humble neighborhood displays to elaborate, wattage-busting presentations at parks, shopping centers and family destinations all over the KC-area, there is no shortage of ways to make your days merry and especially BRIGHT, including:
Checking in at a lofty 100 feet, the Mayor’s Christmas Tree at Crown Center stretches higher than those on display at the White House and Rockefeller Center. The massive holiday icon sparkles with 7,200 white bulbs and represents the Mayor’s Christmas Tree Fund.
Watch sparkling lights synchronized to music with animation, lighting effects, patterns, and messages.
It doesn’t get more magical than Christmastime at Crown Center. Oh, where to begin? Aside from being a major holiday shopping hub, it’s practically bursting with festivity and spirit. The Center creates a Christmas wonderland for kids to visit Santa and play in his Gingerbread Station before and after sharing their wish list with him.
Bustling shoppers can take a rest and take in some musical spirit courtesy of local school, community and church choirs who fill the Center with festive favorites and traditional songs to celebrate the season.
No visit to Crown Center would be complete without a trip to the Ice Terrace. Bring back childhood memories of ice skating on Kansas City’s favorite outdoor rink, or sit back and watch your children get their first taste of this wintertime activity, with the Mayor’s Christmas Tress serving as a picturesque backdrop.
While Crown Center is home to several choices for watching holiday performances, Kansas City has many more opportunities, including some longtime traditions.
The Trans-Siberian Orchestra is making a limited appearance at the Spring Center this December, bringing the residents and visitors of Kansas City a brand new production entitled “The Ghosts of Christmas Eve.”
Holiday Express Train
The Holiday Express Train has been a Christmastime tradition at Kansas City’s Union Station for almost 20 years. It’s favorite holiday treat for both kids and kids-at-heart. Each year, led by the Rudy the smiling locomotive, the Kansas City Southern Holiday Express is a seasonal celebration on rails! It brings a smiling and jolly Santa Claus, accompanied by his elves, back to Kansas City and into Union Station.
Visitors can greet Santa and tour the carefully decorated cars which include a miniature village car, the elves workshop, a gingerbread boxcar and of course, a little red caboose.
All of the amazing destinations and decorations around Kansas City during the holidays, while beautiful, just can’t compare the bright light created by the people who live here. Kansas Citians are known to be caring and kind all throughout the year, but their warmhearted nature shines even greater during the holiday season.
You see it everywhere you go around town and it makes you glad you live here. Whether it is someone ringing a bell next to a red kettle for the Salvation army, local businesses collecting food for Harvesters to keep those in hard times fed, or homegrown servicemen taking in Toys for Tots so that every area child has a merry Christmas, the people in the heart of America truly have the biggest hearts of all.