The Best Free Holiday Events in the St. Louis Area

St Louis Gateway Arch Christmas
digitizedchaos / Getty Images

It's really easy to spend a lot of money during the holidays—between all of the food, decorations, and gifts, costs can add up quickly. However, there are many ways to enjoy the Christmas season without ruining your budget, especially if you attend these free holiday events and celebrations in the St. Louis area.

From wandering through well-decorated holiday houses to checking out the holiday lighting displays around the region, the following events and celebrations are completely free of charge and open to one and all this year.

Also, if you don't mind spending a little cash, there are many popular holiday events worth the price of admission and are certain to bring a little extra joy to your Christmas season.

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Anheuser Busch Brewery Lights

Brewery Lights at Anheuser-Busch St. Louis

Anheuser-Busch Brewery

Anheuser Busch, the flagship brewery of the popular beer brand, is known for its beautiful interior and is a popular tourist destination on any visit to St. Louis. The brewery celebrates Christmas each year by decorating their complex with thousands of lights.

The Brewery Lights will be on display this year from Nov. 17 through Dec. 30, with the brewery also hosting free walking tours (along with free samples!) throughout the holiday season.

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Christmas Wonderland in Alton

Alton Illinois

Visit Alton

Get in the holiday spirit at the annual Christmas Tree Lighting in Alton, then stick around to drive through the "Christmas Wonderland" of four million lights they're hosting throughout December at Rock Springs Park.

Visitors can enjoy free cookies and hot chocolate, and free pictures with Santa. Christmas Wonderland is open nightly beginning the day after Thanksgiving until December 26, 2022.

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St. Peters Tree Lighting and Holiday Lights

Tilles Park lights

St. Louis County Parks and Recreation Department

Celebrate the beginning of the holiday season in St. Peters with the annual tree lighting and Christmas celebration, taking place on December 2, 2022. The event begins at City Hall at 6:30 p.m. and there will be musical performances, a visit from Santa, and plenty of activities for the kids.

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Ameren Festival of Lights

Ameren Missouri’s Festival of Lights

Ameren Missouri’s Festival of Lights

There's plenty of free fun at the Ameren Missouri Holiday Festival of Lights in downtown St. Louis. Kiener Plaza is the place to be this year for the lighting of the downtown Christmas tree and light display.

The celebration also includes a visit from Santa Claus and fireworks. The event runs from 12 p.m. until 8 p.m. on November 19, 2022.

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Way of Lights

Way of Lights National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows

National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows

The Way of Lights at Our Lady of the Snows Shrine in Belleville, Illinois, is one of the area's biggest Christmas light displays—and it's free! More than a million lights are used to tell the story of Jesus' birth. The Way of Lights is open Nov. 18 until December 31, 2022.

The drive-through outdoor light displays are open every night, including Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year's Eve, but the Shrine's restaurant and gift shop are closed on the holidays.

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Ameren Thanksgiving Day Parade

Thanksgiving Day Parade in St. Louis

Ameren Thanksgiving Day Parade

For thousands of St. Louisans, Thanksgiving begins downtown at the annual Ameren Missouri Thanksgiving Day parade. Marching bands, floats, giant balloons and more make their way down Market Street beginning at 8:45 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day itself.

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Santa Parade in Belleville

Santa Parade in Belleville

Belleville Chamber of Commerce

On Nov. 25, 2022, Belleville, Illinois, welcomes the holiday season with a Santa Parade down Main Street. The parade features more than 100 units including marching bands, floats, and dance troupes beginning at 10 a.m. and lasting into the early afternoon.

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Christmas Traditions Festival

Saint Charles, Mo Christmas

Discover Saint Charles, Mo

From Nov. 26, 2022 through December 24, 2022, celebrate Christmas the old-fashioned way on Main Street in historic St. Charles. You'll see carolers and beautiful decorations every weekend as you make your way down this historic district. On Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, all the shops and restaurants stay open until 9 p.m. to accommodate holiday guests.

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Bethalto Christmas Village

Bethalto Christmas Village

Bethalto Christmas Village

The Bethalto Christmas Village is a free, family-friendly event in Bethalto's Central Park. Stroll through Christmas themed cottages, enjoy live music, and see a live nativity scene every Friday and Saturday evening beginning the day after Thanksgiving.

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Francis Park Tree Lighting

Join residents and visitors in the St. Louis Hills neighborhood for the lighting of the Francis Park Christmas tree. The towering tree is located along Nottingham Avenue near Childress, and the event is from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Nov. 27, 2022. The holiday party features dinner, drinks, and community engagement for a standard price to cover costs and raise funds for community initiatives.

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Lebanon's Winter Wonderland

The Metro East community of Lebanon, Illinois, hosts a free Christmas light display in Horner Park each year through December 31, with colorful lights and hand-painted scenes used to create a Victorian-style holiday show for the whole family. The drive-through display is open Sunday through Thursday. Admission is free, but donations are accepted.

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Poinsettia Show

he landmark Art Deco building, the Jewel Box, is a horticultural greenhouse within Forest Park

 Lorraine Boogich/Getty Images

The Jewel Box in Forest Park is beautiful any time of the year but really shines during the holidays. During the Christmas season, the giant greenhouse is filled with red, pink, and white poinsettias in honor of the holidays.

You can take in the display Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Admission is free Monday and Tuesday before noon, and only costs $1 during other open hours. The Jewel Box is located at the intersection of Wells and McKinley in Forest Park.

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Maplewood Christmas Tree Walk

Maplewood Christmas walk

Mid County Chamber of Commerce


The annual Christmas Tree Walk features caroling, the lighting of the town tree, and visits from Santa as well as a contest of neighborhood window displays.

There are also carriage rides for $5 for up to four people. They have free hot chocolate to warm you up. The celebration runs from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. in downtown Maplewood on December 2, 2022. After the event, check back at the Maplewood website for window display winners and then go check them out in a driving tour of lights in the area.

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Godfrey's Snowflake Festival

The cold weather is just the right setting for the Snowflake Festival in Godfrey, Illinois. This free, old-fashioned festival features carriage rides, caroling, hot cocoa, and pictures with Santa. Everyone is asked to bring a toy item to donate for Toys for Tots, but the event itself is free. The Snowflake Festival runs from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, December 2, 2022, at Glazebrook Park.

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Spirit of the Season

U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Paula Goetz, a vocalist with the USAF Band of the Golden West from Travis Air Force Base, California, performs with Santa Claus during a performance

 Air Force Bands

The U.S. Air Force Band of Mid-America will perform a free holiday concert entitled "Spirit of the Season" at the Touhill Performing Arts Center this year. The concert is free, but requires signing up for complimentary tickets in advance.

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Winter Festival Weekend

Kid wearing a santa hat at the Saint Louis Art Museum

Saint Louis Art Museum


The St. Louis Art Museum will explore winter holidays from around the world at its Winter Festival Weekend. The event includes entertainment, live performances, treats, and art activities and runs from December 10-11, 2022 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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Victorian Christmas Walk

Experience a Victorian Christmas in Bethalto, Illinois at the Victorian Christmas Walk. The event, held each year on the second Sunday of December, includes carriage rides, bell choirs, and strolling musicians. There's also a visit from Father Christmas, holiday treats, and free Christmas concerts from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. The Christmas Walk is held at the Bethalto Village Center near Village Hall.