Kick Off the Holidays in Kansas City With Christmas in the Park

Families Ride Bikes or Drive Through Nearly 200 Holiday Lighting Displays

Kansas City panorama with Union Station
Henryk Sadura / Getty Images

Christmas in the Park is a favorite holiday tradition in Kansas City, Missouri. Every year, hundreds of holiday lights and animated figures for the event turn the campground at Longview Lake into a winter wonderland.

Christmas in the Park

More than 2 million local residents have driven through the annual Christmas lights event since it began in 1987. A companion event called Christmas in the Sky was added in 1997 to kick off the annual Christmas lights display with a stage show and fireworks.

Both events have become holiday favorites in Jackson County, where Kansas City is located. County officials organize both events every year, and local radio station 99.7 The Point provides the fireworks musical soundtrack in a simulcast.

Christmas in The Park is open every night from the Friday after Thanksgiving through December 31 at Kansas City's Longview Lake Park, located two miles south of I-470 off of View High Drive. 

Christmas in the Sky

Christmas in The Sky is a kick-off event, held at Longview Lake Beach, preceding Christmas in the Park. It includes celebrity performances and an evening holiday stage show with scores of singers and dancers. Santa arrives on a mule-drawn sleigh with The First Gift of Christmas. Then tremendous arrays of colorful fireworks, synchronized to holiday music on 99.7 The Point, light up the skies over Longview Lake.

After Christmas in the Sky, Kansas Citians have their first chance to travel through the park by car or bicycle to see more than the 300,000 lights and 175 animated displays that make up Christmas in the Park. Every year, the county's Parks and Recreation department adds a new display to the experience.

Charities Benefit

Admission is free to both the Christmas in the Sky holiday stage and fireworks kick-off shows and the Christmas in the Park holiday lights display. But donations are accepted, and a portion of the proceeds is divided among 39 Kansas City area charities.

Christmas in the Sky

  • Christmas in the Sky kicks off the Christmas in the Park holiday season on the day before Thanksgiving.
  • Gates open at 5 p.m. and the holiday stage show starts at 6 p.m., followed by fireworks at 7:30 p.m. Confirm these times with Jackson County's Parks and Recreation Department (phone: 816-503-4800).
  • After the fireworks, the gates to Christmas in the Park open.

Christmas in the Park

  • Hours: For the most up-to-date times, check with Jackson County's Parks and Recreation Department (phone: 816-503-4800). Typically, hours have been:
    • Sunday–Thursday: 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.
    • Friday–Saturday: 5:30 p.m. to 11p.m.
  • Tip: Be sure to have plenty of gas and plenty of time at your disposal. You should expect bumper-to-bumper or slow-moving traffic getting into the park, driving through it and leaving it. So a weekend trip through the park displays could take a few hours. Also, make sure that you drive with your parking lights on so that you don't annoy the people in front of you.
  • Location: Longview Campground at Longview Lake, I-470 and View High Drive. Follow the signs to enter the campground. Use Mapquest or GPS to locate the campground address: 10711 West Scherer, KCMO 64134.
  • Cost: Christmas in the Park is free, however, small cash donations for local charities are accepted at the end of the drive. Everyone in the car gets candy for their contribution.