Holiday Fun in St. Louis
The wonders of the holiday season are nearly upon us, and Explore St. Louis is your gateway to all the magical events and experiences that await you and your family in St. Louis. From parades, train rides, light displays, live entertainment, shopping and much more, St. Louis has a variety of classic holiday traditions that families have enjoyed for generations. Once again St. Louis is packed with holiday fun that begins with the Ameren Missouri Festival of Lights and concludes with the 2017 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Busch Stadium. Here’s just a sampling of the events you’ll need to put on your calendar
Classic Events to Welcome in the Season
Ameren Missouri Festival of Lights (Nov. 19) – The always anticipated Ameren Missouri Festival of Lights in Aloe Plaza across the street from historic Saint Louis Union Station, helps ring in the holiday season with musical entertainment, children activities, vendors, and fireworks that follow the annual lighting of the Salvation Army’s Tree of Lights on November 19 beginning at 3:30pm.
Ameren Thanksgiving Day Parade (Nov. 24) – The Ameren Thanksgiving Day Parade takes to the streets of downtown on November 24 at 8:45 am with over 130 parade units, including musical floats, displays, giant helium balloon figures, local marching bands and an appearance by Santa Claus to wish everyone at Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas. Prior to the parade, runners of all ages will be hitting the streets for the annual Hungry Turkey 5K.
One of the most enchanting things about this time of year is all of the captivating lighting displays. There are so many options in St. Louis that will fill your spirit with wonder and joy.
Way of Lights (Nov. 18 – Dec. 31) – Families from across the region will once again flock to the Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows for the annual Way of Lights Christmas display. This unique display features a mile-and-a-half drive of over one million lights and displays that include life-size biblical statues taking visitors on a journey to Bethlehem.
Winter Wonderland at Tilles Park (Nov. 23 – Jan. 1, Closed Dec. 24 and 31) – Don’t miss your chance to see one of the most popular Christmas light displays in the area. For over 30 years, Tilles Park in St. Louis County has been making memories for families across the region with its Winter Wonderland. The park is filled with millions of twinkling lights and various holiday scenes.
Garden Glow at the Missouri Botanical Garden (Nov. 19 – Jan 1; Exhibit Closed Dec. 24 and 25) – Visitors will have the opportunity to stroll through the Missouri Botanical Garden at night surrounded by a spectacle of unique light installations. Hundreds of thousands of lights will adorn some of the Garden’s most iconic locations including the Climatron®, Kaeser Memorial Maze, the Central Axis and Tower Grove House. Walkways will be transformed into an explosion of visual magic, while more traditional displays will delight crowds of all ages.
U.S. Bank Wild Lights at the Saint Louis Zoo (Nov. 25 – 27, Nov. 30 – Dec. 4, Dec. 7 – 11, 14 – 23, & 26 – 30) – Visitors are invited to walk through the world-renowned Saint Louis Zoo and take in a wonderland of spectacular light displays.
Christmas Candlelight Tour (Dec. 2 – 3 and 9 – 10) – Step back in time to the year 1819. View the Boone Home and the village decorated and lit with thousands of candles to create a one of a kind atmosphere full of holiday cheer and good tide. As visitors make their way through the candlelit village, they will see the traditions of different cultures and see how the special holiday was celebrated on the frontier.
Anheuser-Busch Brewery Lights (Nov. 17-Jan. 1) – Experience the wonder of the Budweiser Clydesdales, s’mores roasting on an open fire, thousands of twinkling lights and one monumental display of holiday spirit.
Santa’s Magical Kingdom (Nov. 18 – Jan. 8) – Millions of lights and dozens of holiday scenes fill Jellystone Park near Six Flags St. Louis in Eureka. You can see Santa’s flying reindeer, travel through the Candy Cane Village or visit the Waterfall of Lights. After seeing the lights, head over to Kringle’s General Store for a little holiday shopping.
Gracing the Stage
Theaters and concert halls across St. Louis come to life during the holidays, with magical performances that are sure to delight young and old. Here’s just a sampling of the many performances that are sure to get you in the holiday spirit.
Twelfth Annual Christmas at the Cathedral (Dec. 10 – 11) – The Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis will host the Tenth Annual Christmas at the Cathedral concert, featuring the Archdiocesan Adult Choir, Children’s Choir, Handbell Choir and Orchestra, featuring Christmas classics both old and new.
Trans-Siberian Orchestra (Dec. 4) – Music and the holiday spirit come alive again during the Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert, “The Ghosts of Christmas Eve, The Best of TSO and More” a larger-than-life performance complete with symphonic-rock music, grandiose light displays and spectacular effects.
Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite (Dec. 19 – 21) – 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” and “Peanut Brittle Brigade.”
Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker (Nov. 30) – The biggest Christmas experience of the year! Enchant the whole family with larger than life magical props, a 60 foot growing Christmas tree and spectacular Russian-made costumes and sets.
A must-see event, witness the world’s best dancers on stage at the Fabulous Fox Theatre!
Sounds of the Season (Dec. 9 – 11) – Ambassadors of Harmony will rekindle the joy of the holidays with Sounds of the Season at the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center on the campus of the University of Missouri.
Saint Louis Symphony’s Mercy Holiday Celebration (Dec. 16 – 18) – The holidays would not be complete without taking in a performance of the Saint Louis Symphony’s Mercy Holiday Celebration concert at Powell Symphony Hall. Enjoy a concert full of timeless holiday classics and, of course, a special visit with jolly ol’ St. Nick!
Seasonal Happenings & Family Fun
Chanukah: Festival of Lights (December 18) – A traditional Jewish holiday celebration that includes festive Israeli music and dance, a menorah-lighting ceremony and Chanukah merchandise provided by local vendors and the Garden Gate Shop.
Kwanzaa Celebration (January 1) – Enjoy an afternoon of culture, performance, and the tradition of the seven principles of Kwanzaa at the Saint Louis Art Museum annual Kwanzaa celebration.
Santa Express Train Ride (Nov. 18-Dec. 30) – featuring ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas will depart from St. Louis Union Station during the most wonderful time of year
Lafayette Square Holiday Parlor Tour (December 11) – Experience a glimpse of early Christmas holiday traditions and modern holiday collections of one of the largest collections of Victorian homes in the country.
Holiday in the Park (Nov. 25-Jan.1) – This holiday season Six Flags St. Louis becomes a magical winter wonderland featuring thousands of colorful lights throughout the park, show stopping performances to get you into the Holiday spirit, and personalized meet-and-greets with Santa and his helpers.
2nd Annual World’s Largest Ugly Christmas Sweater Party (December 10) – The 2nd Annual World’s Largest Ugly Christmas Sweater Party at Ballpark Village returns December 10! This year, they’re looking to beat the Guinness Book World Record for the World’s Largest Christmas Sweater Party of 3,400 and double their doniation from last year of 840 pounds of non perishable food items to Operation Food Search. Attendees will enjoy endless entertainment, photo-booths, live music and more!
Augusta’s Candlelight Christmas Walk (Dec. 2 & Dec. 9) – A corridor of over 1,500 glowing luminaries welcomes visitors to the Augusta’s Candlelight Christmas Walk with sights, sounds and smells of ‘Christmas yesteryear’ in charming Augusta, Mo.
Grinchmas (Dec. 3) – Not to let Santa have all the fun this Holiday Season the Grinch will be out spreading holiday cheer and joy and to help raise funds for Shriners Hospitals for Children on Saturday. For a $7 donation, participants can get their photo taken with the Grinch. Those who bring a toy donation can get a photo taken for only $5. Joining the Grinch will be the clowns from Moolah Shriners, who will offer free face-painting and balloon animals.
Steinberg Skating Rink in Forest Park (opens mid-Nov. through Feb. 23 – with extended holiday hours, Nov. 23 – 26 and Dec. 16 – Jan. 7, 10 a.m. – Midnight) – Always a holiday and seasonal favorite is a visit to Steinberg Ice Rink in Forest Park. It is the largest outdoor skating rink in the Midwest and is open to the public every day of the week, including holidays.
Shaw Park Ice Rink (Nov. 25-Feb. 26) – Ice skaters from across the region will once again flock to Shaw Park this year to enjoy one of the few remaining outdoor ice rinks in the area. The rink offers a wonderful backdrop with the downtown Clayton skyline and the long-standing oak trees in Shaw Park.
Breakfast with Santa at Ikea St. Louis (Dec. 18) Santa loves to eat breakfast and his elves love to sing. Take your kids to see Santa and his elves at IKEA St. Louis. Stuff your bellies, take pictures with Santa and enter for a chance to win holiday giveaways. Each child will also take home a special gift from Santa’s bag.
Winterfest at the Arch (Dec. 27 – Jan. 8) The Winterfest at the Arch will kick-off on Dec. 27 with the opening of the ice rink in Luther Ely Smith Square, between the Gateway Arch and the Old Courthouse. The rink will remain open until Jan. 8 with many activities scheduled in between. The skating rink will be made of synthetic ice, a unique material that replicates the feeling of skating on real ice. Visitors can use real skates on the 46 ft. x 92 ft. rink. The rink’s location in the newly renovated Luther Ely Smith Square highlights a completed portion of the $380 million CityArchRiver project, which is renovating the Arch grounds and surroundings. Additional events as part of Winter Fest at the Arch will be announced in the coming weeks.
Finding the Perfect Gift
The St. Louis area has some of the finest neighborhood boutiques and shops for holiday giving, from The Loop to Washington Ave. in downtown, or the quaint shops in Maplewood, Ferguson, Cherokee Street, Webster Groves, Kirkwood and old town St. Charles. If you’re searching for home furnishings, you must shop at IKEA St. Louis. The luxurious Plaza Frontenac provides the wonders of Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman-Marcus and other high-end shops. Bargain hunters won’t have to look far, Chesterfield is home to both St. Louis Premium Outlets® and Taubman Prestige Outlets, offering yet another great shopping experience for residents and visitors to the region. Gift shops within St. Louis’ renowned attractions and museums (many open free of charge) are treasure troves of great shopping. The Old Courthouse, Missouri History Museum, Saint Louis Art Museum and the Thomas Sappington House Museum not only offer an incredible selection of unusual gift items, but a quick tour of the museums’ galleries provide a refreshing break from the holiday shopping hubbub.
Game of the Year
St. Louis hockey fans have waited years for this game, as the 2017 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic will come to Busch Stadium on Jan. 2 featuring the St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks. Even if you can’t get tickets to watch these classic rivals battle it out on the ice at the ballpark, there are a plethora of fan activities to help celebrate this amazing event and the St. Louis Blues 50th anniversary season.
Blues 50th Anniversary Exhibit (Dec. 5 – Mar. 4) Hockey fans will not want to miss the newest exhibit at the St. Louis Central Library entitled “50 Years Of Blood, Sweat And Cheers – A Tribute To The St. Louis Blues And Their Fans.” This exhibit will explore the history of the Blues’ franchise featuring an ice rink floor, original dasher boards from the Arena, a Glenn Hall statue replica, goalie net, season ticket holder holiday cards from the Salomons and wall murals of past and present players. In addition, hockey fans will marvel at the collection of 30 player jerseys, including the original prototype St. Louis Blues jersey, 60 game-used hockey sticks and eight display cases filled with memorabilia on loan from St. Louis Blues fans.
To see a full listing of all the wonderful holiday events taking place in St. Louis this holiday season, visit explorestlouis.com/events