The holiday season is here and there are so many ways to get into the spirit in St. Louis. Sure, you may want to pick out the perfect tree, but below are other events just begging to become an annual holiday tradition. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Chanukah or Kwanzaa, there’s something for everyone this holiday season. If you’re looking for ways to celebrate without spending money, check out Free Holiday Events and Celebrations in the St. Louis Area. Email your holiday event to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Christmas Light Displays:
Santa’s Magical Kingdom
It takes quite a while to see the 35 acres of Christmas lights at Santa’s Magical Kingdom in south St. Louis County. Millions of lights and dozens of holiday scenes fill Jellystone Park in Eureka. You can see Santa’s flying reindeer, travel through the Candy Cane Village or visit the Waterfall of Lights. For even more fun, take an old-fashioned wagon ride through the display. After seeing the lights, head over to Kringle’s General Store for a little holiday shopping. Santa’s Magical Kingdom is open from 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., Sunday through Thursday, and 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday. Admission is $20 per car or $13 for wagon or train ride tickets.
November 13, 2015 – January 3, 2016
Jellystone Park, Eureka
AB Brewery Lights
Anheuser-Busch has improved and expanded its holiday light display near Soulard. AB celebrates Christmas each year by decorating the brewery complex with thousands of lights. This year, you can also enjoy live music, fire pits, and free samples of AB products Thursday through Sunday evenings from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Admission and parking are free. Enter at the Tour Center at 1200 Lynch Street.
November 19, 2015 – January 3, 2016
AB Brewery, South St. Louis
Way of Lights
The Way of Lights at Our Lady of the Snows Shrine in Belleville is one of the area’s most popular Christmas displays (see pictures of the display). More than a million lights are used to tell the story of Jesus’ birth. You can drive through the display or take a carriage ride. There’s also a laser light show, camel rides, an indoor Christmas tree display and an interactive play area for the kids. The Way of Lights is open from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Admission to view the lights is free, but there is a small charge for the laser light show, camel rides and other attractions. Donations are also accepted.
November 20, 2015 – January 1, 2016
Our Lady of the Snows Shrine, Belleville
Another option for holiday lights in the Metro East is the Winter Wonderland of Lights in Lebanon, Illinois. Colorful lights and hand-painted scenes are used to create a Victorian style holiday show for the whole family. The drive through display is set up at Horner Park in Lebanon. That’s about 30 minutes from downtown St. Louis. Winter Wonderland is open Sunday through Thursday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Admission is free, but donations are accepted.
November 20 – December 31, 2015
Horner Park, Lebanon, IL
Hundreds of thousands of lights will decorate the Missouri Botanical Garden for the holidays. Walk through the light display, then take in the Victorian Christmas decorations at Tower Grove House. Garden Glow also has live holiday music, snacks and shopping. Garden Glow is open most evenings during the Christmas season from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. General admission is $16 for adults and $10 for children. The price for adults increases to $18 after December 18.
November 21, 2015 – January 2, 2016
Missouri Botanical Garden, South St. Louis
Winter Wonderland: Tilles Park
For 30 years, employees with the St. Louis County Parks Department have turned Tilles Park into a Winter Wonderland. You can drive through the display, but the best way to see the lights is by horse-drawn carriage. Winter Wonderland is open daily from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., except for Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Cars are welcome Sunday through Friday, but Saturdays are reserved for carriage rides. Admission is $10 per car. Tickets for carriage rides are available through MetroTix, and vary depending on the size of the carriage.
November 25, 2015 – January 2, 2016
Tilles Park, St. Louis County
Go a little wild this holiday season with Wild Lights at the St. Louis Zoo. If you’ve never been to the zoo on a winter evening, this is a real treat. Walk through the exhibits as they come alive with more than 500,000 lights. Kids can hear holiday stories and adults can do a little shopping at the Holiday Zootique. Wild Lights is open from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $6 for Zoo members and $7 for non-members. Children under two get in free. There is also free parking at the Zoo’s South Lot.
November 27-29, December 2-6, 9-13, 16-23, 26-30, 2015, and January 1-3, 2016
St. Louis Zoo, Forest Park
Each year, Alton’s Rock Spring Park twinkles with more than two million lights during the holiday season. You’ll see cascading waterfalls, lighted trees and dozens of magical displays. Kids can also visit Santa in the Enchanted Forest or get up close with goats, llamas and other animals at the petting zoo. Christmas Wonderland is open Monday through Friday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Admission is $7 for cars and small vans, or $1 a person for vehicles with more than 10 people. You can also take a carriage ride through the display.
November 27 – December 27, 2015
Rock Spring Park, Alton
Celebration of Lights
You find all kinds of Christmas scenes at the Celebation of Lights in O’Fallon, Missouri. Each year since 1991, visitors have enjoyed taking in the holiday lights at Fort Zumwalt Park. This is primarily a drive-though display, but you can also take a carriage, train, Segway or sleigh ride through the park. There is also a walk-through night on Tuesday, December 9. Celebration of Lights is open Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday is for train and Segway rides only. Admission is $9 for cars and $15 for large vans. Tuesday is discount night where all cars, vans and non-commercial vehicles are $7.
November 27 – December 30, 2015
Fort Zumwalt Park, O’Fallon, MO
Holiday Night Lights
Holiday Night Lights is a drive through display set up each year at Rotary Park in Wentzville, Missouri. The display takes you through a mile-long wonderland of twinkling lights. Holiday Night Lights is open from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. It’s open Thursday through Sunday from November 28 to December 7, then daily (except Christmas Day) from December 11 to December 30. Admission is $8 for cars with up to six people, and $1 per person for vehicles with seven or more people.
November 27 – December 30, 2015
Rotary Park, Wentzville, MO
Holiday Festivals and Events:
Holiday Wreath Auction
Local floral designers are showing off their best work at the annual holiday wreath exhibit at the Missouri Botanical Garden. The wreaths are on display each day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The exhibit is included with the cost of Garden admission. You also have the chance to own one of the featured wreaths by making a bid during the silent auction.
November 20, 2015 – January 3, 2016
Missouri Botanical Garden
It’s all aboard for some holiday fun at the Missouri Botanical Garden. The Garden is kicking off its holiday season with its “Gardenland Express” annual flower and train show. The show features model trains that wind their way though a miniature landscape filled with winter scenes and surrounded by poinsettias and other flowering plants. The display is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $5 a person until December 19, and $7 a person starting on December 20. Garden members get in free.
November 21, 2015 – January 3, 2016
Missouri Botanical Garden
Have Breakfast with Santa
Holiday costumed characters will delight children as they visit the tables. When Santa makes his grand appearance and fills the room with his hearty “Ho Ho Ho”, your family will have the opportunity to take a complimentary photo with him. Children will also receive something special from the jolly man’s bag of goodies. Adults won’t go neglected. Santa’s special gift for them is free parking.
Dec. 19 & 20 at 9 a.m. & 11 a.m.
St. Louis Zoo
The Polar Express
Welcome to St. Louis’ home for holiday fun — St. Louis Union Station. THE POLAR EXPRESS™ TRAIN RIDE is the centerpiece of a season of fun for the whole family. Before and after your train journey to the North Pole, enjoy live music, photos with Santa and shopping with the Holiday Magic vendors.
November 20 – December 30, 2015
St. Louis Union Station
CWE Window Walk
The kick-off festivities, held on Saturday, December 1, will feature a day-long party with family themed events from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Activities and entertainment includes carolers, horse-drawn carriages, ice sculpting, live holiday music, Bob Kramer’s Marionettes, Fire Juggler Jason Divad, a tree-lighting ceremony and much more. Also on December 1, merchants will hold “open houses” where customers can receive special offers, drinks and holiday treats. Select retailers will offer 20% off your entire purchase.
Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays in December
Central West End
The RFT’s Holiday Spirits
RFT’s Holiday Spirits: A swirl of spirits, specialty cocktails and merriment! Don’t miss the RFT’s Holiday Spirits, which features a variety of spirits from local, regional and worldwide distilleries. Guests will enjoy winter-themed cocktails, light bites, a live band, DJ and much more. General admission tickets ($20) include a commemorative glass, hors d’oeuvres and unlimited craft cocktail tastings from 7 to 10 p.m. VIP tickets ($35) get you early access (6 p.m.), a commemorative glass, valet parking, hors d’oeuvres and an exclusive welcome cocktail.
December 17, 2015
Third Degree Glass Factory
Kwanzaa Holiday Expo
Better Family Life is hosting a Kwanzaa Holiday Expo for local families. There will be food, shopping, speakers and health screenings. There’s also a special Kwanzaa Children’s Village for the kids. The expo is Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m., at the Better Family Life Center at 5415 Page Boulevard. Admission is $5 in advance and $7 at the door.
December 19, 2015
North St. Louis
St. Louis Ballet’s Nutcracker
The Nutcracker comes to the stage at the Touhill Performing Arts Center. The classic Christmas ballet is one the whole family can enjoy. Tickets are $22 to $61.
December 17-23, 2015
Touhill Performing Arts Center
Missouri Ballet Theatre’s Nutcracker
Missouri Ballet Theatre is performing the classic Christmas ballet, The Nutcracker, at the Edison Theatre at Washington University. Dozens of local children are participating in the performances. Tickets are $35.
December 18-20, 2015
Santa v. the Snowman
Alien vs. Predator. Freddy vs. Jason. Now there’s Santa vs. the Snowman, and you can catch it on the ultimate big screen, the OMNIMAX theater at the St. Louis Science Center. Luckily this holiday tale is lighthearted and suitable for kids. It tells the story of a curious snowman who challenges Santa and his workshop for control of the Christmas gift delivery business. Tickets are $9 for adults and $8 for children. Special group discounts are also available.
St. Louis Science Center
The Royal Dump Dinner Theater Holiday Show
The Royal Dumpe Dinner Theater Holiday Show features all of the great entertainment that delighted St. Louis audiences for over 42 years. The show has a holiday flair with a special rendition of the Twelve Days of Christmas and other holiday favorites. Dinner and show with drinks and adult libations. Advance reservations are strongly suggested.
December 18 & 19, 2015
The Royal Dumpe Dinner Theater
Through a wide range of both upbeat and heartfelt songs, the story of the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge, who learns to change his ways and value the true meaning of Christmas through a series of ghostly visitations, resonates with the whole family and provides the perfect holiday entertainment.
December 18 & 19, 2015
St. Charles Community College
St. Charles Christmas Traditions
When it comes to capturing the sweet, nostalgic essence of Christmastime in America, few places do it better than St. Charles’ Historic Main Street. Experience the magic for yourself at St. Charles Christmas Traditions, a month-long celebration of holiday cheer. Shop and dine along the red-brick streets, say hello to the strolling characters, and allow the festive carolers to lift your spirits. This is the perfect place to begin your own holiday tradition with your family, complete with a gingerbread village, chestnut-roasting and a host of Santas from around the world. Go on — get merry!
Saturdays, 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Sundays, 12-5 p.m., Wednesdays, Fridays, 6:30-9 p.m. and Thu., Dec. 24, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Continues through Dec. 23, 2015
Schlafly Winter Market and Holiday Fair
With the best selection of local farmers and food purveyors in the region, it’s the perfect place to shop for your holiday meals and to get great gifts from local artisans and crafters. The farmers market goes until NOON ONLY, while the Holiday Fair continues under the Bottleworks pavilion until 2 p.m.
December 19, 2015
All is Calm
You have many entertainment options for the Christmas season, but limited time. Make time to see Peter Rothstein’s All Is Calm. This acappella musical is inspired by the soldiers on both sides of World War I who laid down their guns and embraced their fellow men rather than fight on Christmas Day. It’s a moving story beautifully presented by Mustard Seed Theatre, which brings it back for a third year in a row. The play is performed at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and at 2 and 5 p.m. Sunday (November 27 through December 20) at Fontbonne Fine Arts Theatre. Tickets are $25 to $30.
Sundays, 2 & 5 p.m. and Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through Dec. 20, 2015
Fontbonne Fine Arts Theatre
Kwanzaa: First Fruits
Celebrate African traditions at the Missouri Botanical Garden. This year’s Kwanzaa celebration will include music and storytelling. There will also be a boutique selling Kwanzaa crafts and jewelry. Kwanzaa is a seven-day holiday that takes its name from the Swahili term meaning “fruits of the harvest.” The celebration is from noon until 4 p.m. at the Garden’s Ridgway Center. Admission is included with a ticket to the Garden.
December 30, 2015
Missouri Botanical Garden
Matt Wilson’s Christmas Tree-O
It was a snowy day in May when Matt Wilson, Jeff Lederer andPaul Sikivie gathered at Maggie’s Farm recording studio to spread Christmascheer. The result of that gathering is Matt Wilson’s Christmas Tree-O, acollection of everyone’s favorite holiday tunes that’s destined to be added toholiday music collections all over the globe.
December 16 – 19, 2015
Jazz at the Bistro
We hope that you will make BandTogether a part of your holiday this year and join us for “My Favorite Things,” our annual holiday concert. Come celebrate with us and hear classics like “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer,” “The Nutcracker,” “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” and “O Holy Night,” among many others. The BandTogether Colorguard will also be performing and showcasing their spinning and dancing skills with a routine set to the classic “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” As always, the concert is free and open to the public!
December 19, 2015
560 Music Center
St. Louis Chamber Chorus Concert: Christmas, Auf Deutsch!
The Chamber Chorus Christmas concert features three major works from the German-speaking world, Mendelssohn motets, for Advent and Christmas; Schutz’s “Deutsches Magnificat”; and Schoenberg’s “Friede auf Erden.” With its call for peace on earth, the Schoenberg work could hardly be more timely. We also explore how composers from beyond Germany treat that culture’s seasonal melodies and verse, including American Stephen Paulus, UK’s John Rutter and Australian Clare Maclean. The Chorus presents a world premiere, commissioned from former composer-in-residence Yakov Gubanov.
December 20, 2015
Trinity Lutheran Church
Holiday Pops Spectacular
The Compton Heights Concert Band is joined by Hugh Smith, Robert Ellison and Gina Galati for its annual Holiday Pops Spectacular. The concert will include an upbeat program of holiday favorites and Christmas classics. Tickets are $25 to $50.
December 21, 2015
Powell Symphony Hall
Jazz St. Louis Big Band plays Ellington’s Nutcracker
Celebrate the Holidays with a special showcase of Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite performed by the Jazz St. Louis Big Band! These jazz interpretations of Tchaikovsky’s ballet, arranged by Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, feature tunes like “Sugar Rum Cherry” (taking the place of “Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy”) and “Peanut Brittle Brigade” (taking the place of the mundanely named “March”). Filling out each set will be Ellington/Strayhorn classics like “Take the A-Train,” “Cottontail,” “Koko,” “The Mooche,” and more, all played from the original charts.
December 21 – 23, 2015
Jazz at the Bistro
Christmas Time is Here Concert
Andy Waggoner and Friends are performing a holiday show at the Sheldon Concert Hall. The concert will be filled with music based on the song “Christmas Time is Here” from A Charlie Brown Christmas. Tickets are $20.
December 22, 2015
Sheldon Concert Hall
Christmas Candlelight Concert
The Bach Society Chorus and Orchestra performs its annual Christmas Candlelight Concert at Powell Symphony Hall. The evening features selections from Handel’s Messiah! with solos by soprano Christine Brewer. Tickets are $30 to $75.
December 23, 2015
Powell Symphony Hall
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