Glittering Plaza Lights Event Kicks Off Holiday Season in Kansas City

Kicking off the Christmas Holiday on Thanksgiving Night

Jc Nichols Fountain - Royal Blue
Derek Slagle / Getty Images

If you're visiting Kansas City during Thanksgiving, you're just in time to catch the annual kickoff to the Christmas holiday season, the Plaza Lights Event at the Kansas City Country Club Plaza. From its first ceremony in 1930, this annual event has grown to be one of the most spectacular holiday traditions in the region.

The Lighting Event is held on the evening of Thanksgiving and marks the official start to Christmas in Kansas City, and the lights remain on from sundown to about 3 a.m. from the time of lighting through mid-January.

To prepare, workers from the Kansas City Power and Light Company (KCP&L) utility string more than 80 miles of lights with 280,000 glittering jewel-tone bulbs for the holiday lighting display. Once lit, these lights illuminate 15 blocks of the Spanish-inspired Country Club Plaza shopping district, outlining every dome, tower, and window to create a glittering Christmas wonderland for tourists.

Thousands of people gather on Thanksgiving evening for the annual Plaza Lighting Ceremony, when a celebrated guest flips the switch that turns on the public lighting display that will remain on all during the year-end holiday period and into January.

Schedule and Main Attractions of the Event

The ceremony itself takes place on a huge stage situated at Nichols Road and Pennsylvania Avenue in front of Brio and Burberry, and performers, musicians, and the Plaza Lighting Ceremony orchestra perform here throughout the event; as the lights go on, helicopters fly overhead with people who want a close-up view of the spectacle.

Anyone who can't make it down to see the event in person can watch also it on KSHB Channel 41, which usually hosts the ceremony and televises it live. To confirm times and place, consult the  Country Club Plaza website.

From 5 to 6 p.m., the event kicks off with a pre-show with giveaways and performances by local talent followed by the official lighting ceremony, which starts at 6 p.m. sharp.

2017 marks the 88th Annual KCP&L Plaza Lighting Ceremony, and the ceremony itself concludes with the lights of the district being flipped on by an honorary guest just before 7 p.m.

A post-show concert closes out the night from 7 to 8 p.m., and the lights remain on until 3 a.m. each night for the rest of the year. So, even if you miss the main event, you can still come and explore the beautifully illuminated Country Club Plaza any time during the holiday season.

Other Attractions and Accommodations

If you're planning on staying in Kansas City for Thanksgiving to catch the annual Plaza Lights Event, there are plenty of other things to do in the area while you wait for that Thanksgiving evening tradition to start.

The Country Club Plaza features dozens of shops, several hotels, a few fine dining establishments, and a slew of moderately priced restaurants and bars. While you wait for the lights to flip on, walk down the Spanish-inspired streets and take in all that this shopping district has to offer.

Once you're ready to turn in for the night after all that Thanksgiving turkey, you can choose from Courtyard by Marriot, Embassy Suites, The Fontaine, Hampton Inn, Holiday Inn, The Intercontinental Hotel, Kansas City Marriot, The Raphael Hotel, Residence Inn, Sheraton Suites, and the Southmoreland Inn for your overnight accommodations.