St. Louis Gearing Up for 2019 Holiday Season Celebrations

Thursday November 7, 2019

By Patrick

ST. LOUIS – That magical time of the year — aka “the holidays” — sweeps into St. Louis giving residents and visitors alike a flurry of seasonal events and activities to enjoy.

With a holiday parade kicking off the season, twinkling light displays, live entertainment to shopping the St. Louis way, opportunities to partake in family traditions abound this holiday season.

It’s not surprising that St. Louis, filled with great attractions, cultural venues and exciting things to do, offers a heaping serving of holiday fun, much of it free or with a modest charge.

Welcome the Holidays

The Ameren Missouri Festival of Lights, celebrating St. Louis’ heritage, cultures and traditions, ushers in the holiday season in Kiener Plaza in downtown St. Louis on Nov. 23 from 4 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. The event features musical performances, Christmas Village activities and free ice skating on the Winterfest skating rink, for anyone with ice skates. Skate rentals are also available. A festive fireworks finale follows the lighting of the Salvation Army Tree of Lights.

For many, the 2019 Ameren Thanksgiving Day Parade signals the official beginning of the holiday season when it steps off in downtown St. Louis on Nov. 28 at 8:45 a.m. from 20th Street and Market Street proceeding east towards Broadway. More than 130 parade units, including musical floats and displays, giant helium balloon figures, animal units, restored antique cars and firetrucks, marching bands and of course, Santa — are on tap.

Before the parade, runners of all ages descend on downtown St. Louis for the annual Turkey Trot STL 5K run. The run begins at 7:30 a.m. with a ½ mile youth race for children 12 & under at 8:45 a.m. The event is stroller friendly and follows the Thanksgiving parade route through downtown St. Louis.

The magical story of a child’s search for the meaning of Christmas comes to life when real trains depart
historic St. Louis Union Station for a round-trip journey to the North Pole on the Polar Express Train Ride™. Trains begin running on Nov. 29 and continue on selected dates through Dec. 30, 2019.

Twinkle, Twinkle and More Twinkle

No other city gussies up for the holidays like St. Louis. Starting with an explosion of sparkling lights in Kiener Plaza in downtown St. Louis to Wild Lights at the Saint Louis Zoo, you’d need a calculator to tally the number of colorful lights adorning the city for the holidays.

Brewery Lights at the Anheuser-Busch Brewery kicks off the holidays with a public lighting ceremony, Nov. 22. Then it’s open Friday through Sunday through Dec. 30 with drive-through tours Monday through Wednesday evenings.

The Missouri Botanical Garden will be clad in a million dazzling lights for Garden Glow, Nov. 23-Jan. 4.

The Saint Louis Zoo transforms into a holiday wonderland with U.S. Bank Wild Lights on select nights, Nov. 29-Dec. 30. Visitors can stroll among more than one million twinkling lights and view whimsical animal-themed displays and watch “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” at the 4D Theater.

Another twinkling holiday favorite is the annual Way of Lights Christmas display, Nov. 22-Dec. 31, at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows. More than a million lights and displays with life-sized Biblical statues stretches over a mile and a half “journey to Bethlehem.”

For many families, a trip to Winter Wonderland at Tilles Park (Nov. 22-Jan. 2, Closed Nov. 26, Dec. 24 and Dec. 31) is a holiday tradition. Youngsters and adults alike delight in millions of twinkling lights and numerous holiday scenes.Experience holidays as they were celebrated in the early 1800s at the Historic Daniel Boone Home,
Dec. 6-7 and 13-14, when thousands of candles illuminate life on the edge of the frontier.

At Santa’s Magical Kingdom (Nov. 15-Jan. 5) in Jellystone Park near Six Flags St. Louis in Eureka, visitors can traverse not one, not two, but three tunnels of sparkling holiday lights.

Catch the Holiday Spirit—Onstage

Nothing spreads holiday fever than attending a live performance—and St. Louis has an exciting selection of holiday classics for all ages.

Celebrating 35 years of holiday magic, Mannheim Steamroller Christmas (Nov. 23) returns to the Fabulous Fox Theatre for their annual tour.  The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis’ Imaginary Theatre Company brings to life The Elves and the Shoemaker, a warm-hearted story perfect for the holiday season, Dec. 21-23.

For a whimsical diversion, check out Disney Junior Holiday Party! (Dec. 4) at Stifel Theatre, where children and their families can sing and dance along to their favorite songs at this dazzling musical wonderland. Also coming to Stifel Theatre is The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Musical, Dec. 19. For a different twist on the holiday, book tickets for Cirque Dreams Holidaze (Nov. 29-30) with jaw-dropping magic, breathtaking circus acts, and angelic voices singing favorite Christmas carols at the Fabulous Fox Theatre.

Synonymous with the holidays is the Nutcracker, and St. Louis has Nutcrackers galore.

Also at the Fox Theatre is Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker, Nov. 20-21.  The Saint Louis Ballet performs its version of The Nutcracker at the Touhill Performing Arts Center, Nov. 29-Dec. 1 and Dec. 19-23. For contemporary versions, the Hip Hop Nutcracker takes the stage at the Fox Theatre, Nov. 26. Jazz St. Louis Big Band performs a special showcase of Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite, Dec. 10-12, at Jazz at the Bistro.

Sweet Sounds of the Season

Musical events add to the holiday festivities, and St. Louis has an impressive array of offerings.

Jazz for the Holidays ushers moments to remember with the Jazz Orchestra, Vocal Point and Wind Ensemble at the Touhill Performing Arts Center, Dec. 8. Also, at the Touhill, the Ambassadors of Harmony combines comedy and the lighter side of popular holiday songs with classic carols and sacred music of the season, Dec. 13-15.

The St. Louis Symphony (SLSO) Mercy Holiday Celebration returns to Powell Symphony Hall for an unforgettable experience that will put you in the holiday spirit, Dec. 13-15. Trans-Siberian Orchestra brings its Christmas Eve and Other Stories tour to Enterprise Center, Dec. 26. For a special holiday performance, The Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra In Unison Chorus and Kennedy Holmes meld their voices to perform A Gospel Christmas at Powell Symphony Hall, Dec. 18-19.

Another fun performance is the Home Alone in Concert; the beloved 1990s box office hit shown on the big screen with the SLSO and a children’s chorus performing John Williams’ delightful score live, Dec.

20-21, at Powell Symphony Hall. For a stirring holiday experience, attend the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis’ special concert of Christmas favorites at the 14th Annual Christmas at the Cathedral, Dec. 7-8.

Outdoor Fun

Ice skating is a St. Louis holiday tradition, and there are several places to enjoy it.

Skaters can enjoy the Winterfest Ice Rink and Kiener Plaza’s beautiful lights in the heart of downtown from Nov. 23-Jan. 26, Fridays-Sundays, with extra dates around the holidays and leading up to the NHL All-Star Weekend. Bring your skates to skate FREE.

Steinberg Skating Rink in beautiful Forest Park is the largest outdoor ice skating rink in the Midwest. Their 2019-2020 ice skating season runs Nov. 15-Mar. 1with extended holiday hours.

Chanukah, Kwanzaa
Missouri Botanical Garden hosts Chanukah: Festival of Lights (Dec. 22), a traditional Jewish holiday celebration featuring Israeli music and dance, a Menorah-lighting ceremony and Chanukah merchandise.

The Garden also hosts Kwanzaa: Festival of the First Fruits (Dec. 30), a contemporary African-American holiday that centers on the feast table of the harvest. The event includes a Kwanzaa ceremony, storytelling, craft displays and authentic African drumming and musical performances.

Holiday Haul St. Louis Style

Holiday shopping in St. Louis isn’t a chore to mark off your list—it’s an adventure. St. Louis’ famed cultural institutions—the Saint Louis Zoo, the Saint Louis Art Museum, Missouri History Museum, Saint Louis Science Center, Missouri Botanical Garden and the Gateway Arch—which are so much fun to visit, are fun to shop, too. Not only can you tick those hard-to-buy-for loved ones off your list, but you will rest assured that your gifts are unique treasures.

Or take to St. Louis’ awesome neighborhood boutiques and shops in the Delmar Loop, Washington Avenue, Maplewood, Ferguson, Cherokee Street, Webster Groves, Kirkwood and old town St. Charles for great gift buys. IKEA St. Louis is “the” place to find home furnishings and tasty Swedish meatballs when you want a shopping break.

Thinking upscale? Check out Plaza Frontenac with Saks Fifth Avenue, Nieman-Marcus and other high-end shops. Bargain hunting? Head to Chesterfield, where you’ll find St. Louis Premium Outlets®.

For all of St. Louis’ exciting events this holiday season, visit Explore St. Louis is the driving force behind St. Louis’ $5.8 billion convention and tourism industry, the official destination marketing organization of St. Louis City and County and operator of the America’s Center Convention Complex.