There’s no place like Kansas – especially for the holidays. From lights in the city, to rural candle lit neighborhoods, from old-fashioned Christmas parades, to festive movie-themed train rides. Christmas in Kansas is straight from the silver screen. Here is our list for the Top 10 Kansas Holiday Events that will leave you cheering for more!
1. Baldwin City
All aboard! Powered by the Midland Railway, take a magical trip on The Polar Express Train Ride in Baldwin City, from Nov. 17 through Dec. 30. Each ticket includes fantastic entertainment, delicious hot chocolate, a scrumptious cookie, and the first gift of Christmas – a silver sleigh bell. Set to the sound of the motion picture soundtrack, passengers relive the magic of the classic story as they are whisked away on a magical one-hour trip to the North Pole. Passengers are encouraged to wear their pajamas for the ride!
2. Fort Scott
Fort Scott National Historic Site was established atop a bluff overlooking the Marmaton River more than 176 years ago – the Candlelight Tour brings good tidings for the time of year and commemorates the fort’s anniversary. The tour is illuminated by more than 700 candle lit lanterns and more than 100 re-enactors that bring the fort and the season to life. This year’s Candlelight Tour will take place Dec. 7 and 8.
Stroll, drive or ride through Hutchinson’s Hyde Park Neighborhood for the annual Hyde Park Christmas Luminaria. Scheduled annually for the Saturday before Christmas, visitor’s can expect an old-fashioned celebration in the decorative and historic neighborhood. Enjoy musical entertainment, horse-drawn wagon rides, along with cider and cookies in Hyde Park. Don’t forget to share your wish list with Santa at the corner of 20th and Washington!
Picture authentic horse-drawn carriages pulled by dozens of stunning horses adorned with garlands and bells. As one of the most unique holiday parades in the nation, the Lawrence Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade celebrates American heritage – the first Saturday in December every year. Christmas spirit floods Massachusetts Street as families and friends cozy up with hot cocoa and blankets, eagerly waiting for sounds of sleigh bells and jolly laughter.
Lindsborg is the sugar plum of charming towns in Kansas during the holiday season. A Swedish tradition, the St. Lucia Festival is observed annually on the second weekend in December. The town is abuzz with merriment – good food, live music, Swedish folk dancing, carriage rides, and a procession of girls and boys in white carrying candles. You won’t want to miss the crowning of the local Lucia.
Ten … nine … eight … the Little Apple ball drop is a bucket list festivity in Kansas. Modeled after the famous ball drop in New York’s Times Square, the Little Apple New Year’s Eve Celebration draws thousands of people to Aggieville in Manhattan. Live music, bar hopping, fireworks – and the highlight of the evening – the “Little Apple” drop, make for a memorable way to ring in the New Year.
A Country Christmas captures the reason for the season. The owners of this seven-generation farm in Towanda, Kansas, open their hands and hearts, and invite people to share in the beautiful rustic setting for a Christmas in the country. Enjoy a live nativity. Walk pathways in the woods lit by a million dancing lights carefully choreographed to traditional holiday songs. Visit a live reindeer. Warm up by a toasty fire. Delight in a Country Christmas every Friday and Saturday from Nov. 26 through Dec. 24.
Considered the largest Christmas tree and light display west of Kansas City, since 1950 the Christmas-made town of WaKeeney, has held the title “Christmas City of the High Plains.” From the Saturday after Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day, the town magically transforms into a holiday wonderland. Make WaKeeney a tradition – see the 35-foot tree of fresh pine, thousands of lights, handmade decorations, fresh greenery, and a North Pole that will make you think you’re not in Kansas anymore.
Grab your coat and cold-weather accessories to take the family through an enchanted Christmas forest at Illuminations at Botanica. More than one million lights are strung atop trees in 30 holiday-themed gardens. November through December, Botanica Wichita transforms into a winter wonderland filled with dazzling lights, festive music, and a visit from the man of the hour – Santa Claus. Keep warm with hot chocolate and s’mores as you celebrate season.
With the chilly air and smell of wood fires, comes the twinkling of holiday lights. Isle of Lights in Winfield is a delightful Christmas display in Island Park on Main Street. Wander through the park under dancing snowflakes and giant wreaths. The Isle of Lights is open nightly from 6-10 p.m., from the third Sunday in November through Dec. 30.