See the City Sparkle
Don’t miss holiday classics this year in St. Louis
By: Jackie Tucker
The holidays in St. Louis are full of festive traditions. I’ve lived in the city for more than a decade, and every year when that telltale change in the weather comes along I break out the Christmas decorations, blankets, wool socks and hot chocolate and get excited. My absolute favorite thing this time of year is watching St. Louis come alive with dazzling holiday light displays that brighten those long winter nights.
My first stop every year is Tilles Park’s Winter Wonderland. I hop into my toasty car with family and friends while a playlist of carols and holiday classics pipes through the speakers, and we enter the park beneath a twinkling canopy of festive cheer. As evening falls, thousands of glowing lights and animated holiday displays magically transform the park into a true winter wonderland.
My inner child comes out, and I wish that I had an extra set of eyes to take it all in, keeping an especially close lookout for a particular red-clad gentleman with a snowy white beard who always makes an appearance. Whether you’re taking the journey in your own car or experiencing a charming carriage ride around the park, this St. Louis tradition can’t be missed.
Another hometown holiday staple that has been around St. Louis for more than 30 years is the Anheuser-Busch holiday lights display. Beer isn’t the only thing brewing in the historic Soulard neighborhood—there’s also a bit of holiday magic in the air.
I’m crazy about those Budweiser commercials that air every Christmas. You know, the ones with the famous Budweiser Clydesdale horses that melt even the Grinchiest of hearts? Strolling around the iconic and gorgeously illuminated Anheuser-Busch brewery is like starring in your very own holiday commercial. Under the soft glow of a thousand twinkling lights, I am spellbound as I step near one of Clydesdales and stare into its soulful brown eyes. Weave in live holiday music, beer samples and toasted s’mores around a cozy fire, and you’ll understand why I come back year after year.
A few years ago, the popular Missouri Botanical Garden kicked off its Garden Glow, adding even more holiday shine to St. Louis. Unique installations featuring a million (that’s right, a million) lights transform the garden’s most well-known locations into an enchanted forest.
The walk through Garden Glow is a little more than a mile and typically takes about an hour and a half to make your way around—unless you’re like me and become so enraptured by the displays that you lose yourself in the beauty and linger a bit longer. From the Climatron® and the labyrinthine maze to all those glittering evergreens, this already gorgeous garden sparkles with a seasonal elegance that won’t be dampened by chilly winter nights.
Brand new this year to St. Louis’ holiday season is Holiday in the Park at Six Flags. It truly makes this the most wonderful time of the year, especially for theme-park fans like me. The stage is set to celebrate the magic of the season when more than one million colorful lights and displays decorate the park, turning Six Flags into the ultimate jolly holiday setting.
Between the thrilling rides and holiday-themed entertainment, I plan on visiting the food stalls for delicious treats that will only be available during the holidays. I’ve heard the elves are taking over the kitchens and cooking up some seasonal goodies like cookies, hot chocolate and cider. And Santa will also be opening up his cottage for children of all ages to stop by and say hello.
St. Louis doesn’t disappoint with its family holiday fun. Options for seasonal cheer are endless. The Ameren Missouri Festival of Lights is the official holiday kickoff for the city, ushering in the season with music, entertainment and the lighting of the Christmas tree at Union Station, closing the night with a spectacular holiday fireworks show. The National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows hosts its breathtaking Way of Lights Christmas display and has become a family tradition for many St. Louis natives. And Wild Nights at the St. Louis Zoo lets us take a peek into the North Pole with their holiday lights and fun family activities like fireside storytelling—one of my favorites!
Occasionally after the holidays, I get a little blue when all of the Christmas lights come down. But this year, the lights in St. Louis are spilling over into 2017, and Santa Claus isn’t the only one coming to town. St. Louis will play host to one of the biggest events in the NHL—the Winter Classic. And it’s happening outside. The lights will shine brightly at Busch Stadium when the puck drops on January 2, 2017. I can picture it now—the St. Louis Blues battling it out with the Chicago Blackhawks in front of the Gateway Arch and the shimmering St. Louis skyline. What better way to send the holidays out in style?
See St. Louis at its most dazzling when the city switches on its holiday lights this year.