2015 Holiday Traditions in St. Louis

Thursday October 22, 2015

St. Louis was recently rated a top destination for winter holiday travel by Wallethub. We invite you to discover the upcoming events that make Christmas in St. Louis so special. While you’re baking cookies and wrapping gifts, make time to explore St. Louis by sledding on Art Hill, see the lighting displays and a Christmas show. Celebrate the most wonderful time of the year starting with the Festival of Lights on Nov. 21.

In St. Louis, the countdown to Christmas begins with the Ameren Missouri Festival of Lights (Nov. 21) at Union Station and Aloe Plaza.  This annual community celebration features musical entertainment, children’s activities, vendors and the lighting of the Salvation Army Christmas tree.

This year marks the 31st Ameren Missouri Thanksgiving Day Parade, beginning at 8:45 a.m. and broadcasting on KMOV (Channel 4). More than 130 parade units ranging from musical floats to giant balloons along with marching bands will travel west from 7th Street and Market to Union Station, ending at 20th Street. At the end of the parade Santa Claus will be present to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas.

Prior to the parade, the Third Annual Hungry Turkey 5K will begin at 7:30 a.m. and benefit Operation Food Search. Both the Festival of Lights and the Thanksgiving Day Parade are hosted by the Christmas in St. Louis organization, in partnership with presenting sponsor Ameren Missouri and the City of St. Louis.

All of the Twinkling Lights

Holiday lights at Tilles Park in St. Louis on December 29, 2013.


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. The 46th Annual Way of Lights takes visitors on a scriptural journey to Bethlehem and will be on display at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville, Ill. For 30 years, Winter Wonderland at Tilles Park has created wonderful family memories as the park is filled with millions of twinkling lights and various holiday scenes. Visitors are also invited to walk through the world-renowned Saint Louis Zoo and take in the wonderland of spectacular light displays that is Wild Lights. And last, but certainly not least, Garden Glow at Missouri Botanical Garden will give you the opportunity to stroll through the Garden at night surrounded by a spectacle of unique light installations.

Entertainment for your Delight

Holiday Carriage


Once you’ve seen all of the lights and you’re ready to take a break from Christmas shopping, you can go ice skating at Steinberg Ice Rink or Shaw Park Ice Rink. Steinberg Ice Rink in Forest Park is a seasonal favorite and the largest ice skating rink in the Midwest will open from mid Nov. through Feb. 25. The Shaw Park Ice Rink offers views of the downtown Clayton skyline and opens Nov. 27 (weather permitting).

The whole family will love seeing Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker at the Fabulous Fox in Grand Center on Nov. 30. There will also be a performance of The Nutcracker by Saint Louis Ballet on December 17-23 at the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center on the Campus of UMSL. St. Louis has plenty of entertainment options to keep everyone engaged throughout the holiday season including: Elf: The Musical at the Peabody Opera House on Dec. 26 & 27, the sounds of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra at the Scottrade Center on Dec. 27, Winter Wonderland concert at the Sheldon Concert Hall on Dec. 15 & 16, Jazz at the Bistro Big Band plays Ellington’s Nutcracker on Dec. 21-23. Children will also enjoy the Polar Express Train Ride at Union Station (Nov. 20- Dec. 30), holiday lights and a walking tour at Anheuser-Busch Brewery Lights, and taking a trip to Santa’s Magical Kingdom located near Six Flags in Eureka, Mo.

Other cultural celebrations in St. Louis include the Chanukah: Festival of Lights celebration taking place at the Missouri Botanical Garden on Dec. 6 and the Kwanzaa celebration taking place at the Saint Louis Art Museum on Dec. 27. To learn more about these events and to find more ways to explore St. Louis this holiday season, please see our events calendar.

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