8 Absolutely Essential Kansas City Holiday Experiences

By KCM Content Studio

There's no shortage of iconic sights and unforgettable experiences worth discovering during the holidays in Kansas City. Spend every moment of the season celebrating with these can't-miss KC traditions.

Take the train at Union Station

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Union Station Holidays

Union Station is one of the most impressive buildings in the city—not to mention one of the largest and most beautiful train stations in the country. Something about being in a train station just feels like the holidays, which Union Station emphasizes with the city’s largest indoor tree.

When it comes to taking a train here, you have three great opinions: a miniature train ride for kiddos, the large model train displays in the back that get gussied up for the season and, yes the Amtrak line you’ll hear rolling into town a few times a day. Union Station also books a wide variety of unique holiday entertainment, from festive jazz shows to a circus arts version of The Nutcracker.

Through January 1.

Witness the Plaza Lights

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Country Club Plaza Lights

The Country Club Plaza turns one hundred next year, but its holiday light tradition won't reach its centennial just yet. Strange as it seems, that means that there were actually a few years where Country Club Plaza wasn’t the brightest and most festive place in Kansas City this time of year.

A tradition that started with a single strand hung at the Mill Creek Building is now deeply enmeshed in local lore—it’s hard to imagine the holidays in Kansas City without them. Start, or continue, your family tradition this winter.

Through Jan. 14, 2024.

Walk through the lights in Armour Hills

Ask insiders for their favorite neighborhood light display, and they’ll point you to these streets in the Armour Hills neighborhood on the east side of Ward Parkway. Most houses on these streets have some lights, but a handful go all-out, putting together Griswoldian light shows that many people park and walk to appreciate.

In the Armour Hills neighborhood of South KC, concentrated on 69th and Romany Streets on the eastern side of Ward Parkway. Starts after Thanksgiving.

Ice Skating at Crown Center Ice Terrace

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Ice Skating Family at Crown Center

Kansas City has a number of outdoor ice rinks, but this one is the granddaddy of them all. For fifty years, the outdoor ice rink at the heart of Crown Center has been a tradition for locals before or after holiday shopping. The rink is large and sheltered. Lights dangle overhead for festive evening skates.

Through March. $9 for adults and children over four. $5 skate rental.

Winter Magic

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Winter Magic

A new tradition that’s quickly becoming a favorite, this winter light ride winds through Cliff Drive. The Winter Magic route is a mile long and covered in LED bulbs separated into twelve themed holiday displays and several immersive canopies.

Through Dec. 31. From $25.

Soul of Santa

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Soul of Santa

Another newer tradition—now in its fifth year—that’s becoming a favorite is the Soul of Santa holiday tree in the jazz district, 18th and Vine. The festivities happen on December 1 and 2, when there will be a ceremonial holiday tree lighting, a toy giveaway and a concert at The Gem Theater.

Dec. 1-2 at 18th & Vine and Dec. 8-9 at the Shops on Blue Parkway.

See A Christmas Carol

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A Christmas Carol

KC Rep’s production of A Christmas Carol at Spencer Theatre is a local tradition, as the company has done an adaption of the Charles Dickens’ classic for over forty years. The entire family can enjoy the tale of Scrooge’s journey through Christmas Past, Present and Future and get lost in the music and magic of this holiday classic. 

Through Dec. 24. Times and prices vary.

See the Nutcracker

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The Nutcracker

The Kansas City Ballet’s production of the Nutcracker is one of the quintessential productions of the year. You’ll be immersed in the setting and enchanted by the melodies of Tchaikovsky’s classic as the Nutcracker comes to life to battle the evil Mouse King at the Kauffman Center.

Through Dec. 24. Times vary. $34-149.


Access more holiday resources to find all the ways you can celebrate the season in Kansas City, from stunning displays to shopping hotspots.

Holidays in KC