People from all across the region are bundled up and crowded at the Country Club Plaza, mugs of hot chocolate warm chilly hands as people wait in earnest anticipation for the famous Plaza Lights ceremony to begin. What follows next is six weeks of seasonal celebrations, festive events and luminous light shows.

Here’s everything you need to know about winter in Kansas City:

Iconic Sights

Luminous light shows and decorative displays transform KC into a veritable winter wonderland. Take, for example, the Mayor’s Christmas Tree, a famous fir more than 100 feet tall and proudly showcased at Crown Center. The centerpiece is lit by 7,200 white bulbs and provides the perfect photo op—or reminder of the beauty of the city and the season. Head down to the Country Club Plaza to get a glimpse of the Spanish-inspired architecture decked out in seasonal colors.

Or, head up north to Zona Rosa, a popular shopping and entertainment district where you’ll find the Northern Lights—huge crown displays lit up and hung from above. Head out to Longview Lake Park for Christmas in the Park, a holiday drive-thru display that features timed lights that generate charming animations sure to wow young ones and adults alike.

Seasonal Merriments

Seasonal events help locals and visitors alike embrace the holiday spirit. Kansas City’s newest and grandest holiday tradition is WinterFest, a Worlds of Fun experience where you can let yourself be whisked away to a magical winter village filled with ice skating, family rides, seasonal décor, live entertainment, a nightly tree lighting and more. Guests can get wild by visiting the Kansas City Zoo this winter, where they can explore Helzberg Penguin Plaza before stopping by to see Berlin the polar bear, who will be right at home in the cooler weather. 

Meanwhile, children love meeting Santa and his elves when the Holiday Express Train pulls into Union Station. The locomotive brings an entire stockingful of North Pole spirit to the beautiful 102-year-old station, including Santa’s sleigh, a gingerbread boxcar and more. People of all ages hit the Crown Center Ice Terrace to skate to their heart’s content. Southwest of Downtown KC, skaters can visit the Ice at Park Place in Leawood, Kan., where festivities are as essential to the experience as balance is to staying upright on the ice. Skiers, snowboarders and tubers can get their downhill thrills at Snow Creek in Weston, Mo., the perfect way to get outside and carve up slopes all throughout winter.

Holiday Gift Getting

Known for its wonderful family attractions, Crown Center is a showcase for some of the best shopping in KC, including Halls Kansas City and Function Junction. Coupled with stunning lighting and festive decorations, there’s no better place to find holiday cheer during your gift getting. Head to festive Village West to spend time at Legends Outlets Kansas City, featuring big-name retailers perfect for gift-giving.

Check out Country Club Plaza for high-end shops and others with plenty of local flair. In search of something retro? Try antique shopping in the West Bottoms for pre-owned and vintage finds. 

Warm up with Winter Menus

KC restaurants offer delicious food and can’t-miss atmosphere for special occasions of all kinds. For a private meal coupled with chef-driven cuisine, try Corvino Supper Club & Tasting Room. If Mexican is more up your alley, Port Fonda in Westport is a must-try. Spend an intimate night out at Bluestem or Story. Or, delight in Italian dishes at Lidia’s Kansas City in the Crossroads Arts District.

Gather your group and indulge in Kansas City Restaurant Week, the city’s premier dining event, featuring multi-course menus at 150+ area restaurants, Jan. 12–21. Make plans, and learn about this year’s featured charities, at KCRestaurantWeek.com.

High-Powered Athletics

Kansas City is home to some of the best and loudest sports fans in the world. Whether it be Sunday or Monday night, the Kansas City Chiefs always show up to play when they’re home at Arrowhead Stadium, the loudest outdoor sports arena in the world. Who wouldn’t get fired up to play in front of that crowd? Not to mention the undeniable tailgate traditions that get going well before kickoff—making for a truly memorable experience.

Hockey fans need travel no further than Independence, the home of the Kansas City Mavericks. The ECHL team is a player development affiliate of the NHL’s Calgary Flames, owns two regular season titles and one of the most devoted fan bases in the league. 

Can’t-Miss Plays and Performances

Ben Pruitt

Make sure you check out some of Kansas City’s most iconic live performances during wintertime. The full list of shows can be found here, but you’ll find a few highlights below:

Contact Visit KC