Guide to Holidays in St. Louis: Events, Parties, and Attractions

The Polar Express Train Ride
Courtesy of The Polar Express

The holiday season is here and there are so many ways to get into the spirit in St. Louis. Whether you plan on picking out the perfect tree or hope to attend an annual event or tradition in Missouri this holiday season, you're sure to find something you and your family will enjoy doing together this year.

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Chanukah, or Kwanzaa, there's something for everyone in St. Louis and the surrounding area, and if you're looking for ways to celebrate without spending money, there are plenty of free holiday events as well.

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     Anheuser Busch Brewery

    St. Louis has some wonderful Christmas light displays, from Winter Wonderland in Tilles Park to the Way of Lights in Belleville. Check out one or more this holiday season.

    Even the Anheuser Busch Brewery will be all decked out for the holidays. The offers free walking tours. The Kid Zone is the place where kids can take a ride on the Brewery Express train and enjoy a holiday classic movie on the big screen. Everyone can warm up at the Soup Bar after all the Christmas fun.

    Dates: Mid-November to Early January

    Locations: Various

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     St. Louis County Parks

    See one of the area's most popular Christmas light displays at Winter Wonderland in Tilles Park. Open for vehicular or carriage traffic through Sundays to Fridays from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Saturdays are reserved for carriage rides. Admission begins at $10 a vehicle.

    Dates: November 21 to December 30, 2018

    Locations: Tilles Park 9551 Litzinger Road St. Louis, MO 63124

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    Wreath presented at the wreath auction

    Karen Fletcher

    Local floral designers are showing off their best work at the annual holiday wreath exhibit. The wreaths are on display each day in Monsanto Hall. The exhibit is included with the cost of Garden admission. You also have the chance to own one of the featured wreaths by making a bid during the silent auction.

    Dates: November 16, 2018, to January 1, 2018

    Location: Missouri Botanical Garden

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    Polar Express at St. Louis Union Station

    The Polar Express train is coming to St. Louis Union Station. Kids can take a magical holiday journey featuring scenes from the famous book. Children will receive a souvenir gift.  Hotel packages are also available.

    Dates: November 16 to December 30, 2018

    Location: Downtown St. Louis

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     MIssouri Botanical Garden

    It's all aboard for some holiday fun at the Missouri Botanical Garden. The Garden kicks off its holiday season with its "Gardenland Express" annual flower and train show. The show features model trains that wind their way through a miniature landscape filled with flowering winter scenes. The display is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $5 a person in addition to the regular garden entrance fee. Garden members get in free.

    Dates: November 17, 2018, to January 1, 2019

    Location: Missouri Botanical Garden

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    Cahokia Mounds World Heritage Site

    For a unique holiday shopping experience, head over to Cahokia Mounds for Native American Market Days. Dozens of Native artists will be selling their arts and crafts. Items include jewelry, blankets, paintings, books and more.

    Dates: November 24, 2018

    Location: Cahokia Mounds

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    Two little girls posting with Santa at the Magic House Dine with Santa event

    Magic House 

    St. Louis area children are invited to dine with Santa this holiday season. The St. Louis Zoo, Magic House and other top attractions are all hosting Breakfast with Santa. Prices vary for each event, but they all include a meal, treats for the kids and pictures with Santa himself.

    Dates: December 2 to December 24, 2018

    Location: Various

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    Take a trip back to the 1800's this Christmas at the Daniel Boone Home in Defiance, Missouri. The Boone Home welcomes visitors for candlelight tours. Stroll through the historic property as thousands of candles light your way. There are nearly a dozen buildings decorated for a 19th-century Christmas. Tickets are $15 for adults and free for children under 4. A limited number of tickets are available and reservations are highly recommended. To make a reservation, call (636) 798-2005.

    Dates: Dec. 7 and 8, and 14 and 15, 2018 from 6:00 to 10:30 p.m.

    Location: Daniel Boone Home, Defiance

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    Florissant marks the holiday season with a Christmas celebration in historic Old Town. The festivities begin with the arrival of Santa Claus at just after 2 p.m. and end with the lighting of the town's Christmas tree at 5 p.m. There are also crafts, cookies and holiday music throughout the afternoon.

    Dates: December 1, 2018

    Location: Florissant

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     Kim Howland

    The small town of Elsah, Illinois, is known as the "village where time stood still." Elsah's historic charm is certainly on display during the holidays. Visitors can tour homes decorated for Christmas, do a little shopping, and attend the lighting of the village Christmas tree.

    The $15 homes tour entry ticket includes a carriage ride and music at the two Elsah churches.

    Dates: December 1, 2018; 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.

    Location: Elsah, IL

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    Skate with Santa

    Santa Claus will be lacing up his ice skates and taking a spin at Steinberg Rink in Forest Park. You can skate with Santa from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Skating fees are $7 a person and $6 for skate rental.

    Dates: December 1, 2018

    Location: Forest Park

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     Santa's Chocolate Express

    Celebrate the season at the Taste of Chocolate and Holiday River Walk in Grafton. Businesses along Main Street will be offering special promotions, music, and entertainment, while the Grafton Winery serves up all kinds of chocolate treats. Tickets are $9 in advance and $10 at the door.

    Dates: December 1, 2018; 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    Location: Grafton, IL

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    Cookie Spree on Cherokee

    Cherokee Antique Row 

    It's a sweet shopping experience along Antique Row on Cherokee Street. Stores will be serving Christmas cookies to shoppers. There's also live music and holiday entertainment.

    Dates: December 1, 2018

    Location: South St. Louis

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    This is the 43rd year for the Holiday Parlour Tour in Soulard. Take a walk through historic homes decorated for the season. The event also includes a holiday bazaar, food, and music. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door.

    Dates: December 1-2, 2018

    Location: Soulard, South St. Louis

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     Visit Hermann

    Hermann, Missouri, is known for its German heritage, and it really shows through during the holidays. Visitors can buy crafts, decorations, food and more at a traditional German Christmas market called a Kristkindl Markt. Stone Hill Winery hosts its market on December 1 and 2, while Hermannhof Winery typically sets up shop the following weekend.

    Dates: December 1 to 2 and December 8 to 9, 2018

    Location: Stone Hill Winery Pavilion and Hermannhof Festhalle

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    St. Louis Symphony

    Dan Dreyfus

    The St. Louis Symphony is celebrating the holidays with a series of special concerts including Gospel Christmas: A Soulful Celebration with Dianne Reeves, Mercy Holiday Celebration with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and Holiday Festival Chorus, Home Alone in Concert, and the Music of John Williams.

    Dates: Select dates through December 23, 2018

    Location: Powell Symphony Hall

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    Holiday Brass Concerts

     Scott Porter

    The Holiday Brass Concerts are an annual tradition for many in St. Louis. The concerts will be at Manchester United Methodist Church on Woods Mill Road. Concerts are December 3, at 10:15 a.m. and 2:15 p.m., and December 4, at 2:15 p.m. and 8 p.m.

    Dates: December 3 to 4, 2018

    Locations: West St. Louis County

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    Local ice skaters of all ages put on a holiday show at the St. Peters Rec-Plex. Skaters perform to holiday classics and are also joined on the ice by Frosty the Snowman.

    Dates: December 7, 2018

    Location: St. Peters

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    Supper with Santa at the Missouri Botanical Garden

     Karen Fletcher

    Have Supper with Santa in the Butterfly House at Missouri Botanical Garden. The cost is $20 per person. Crafts, cookies, and a souvenir are included.

    Dates: December 14, 15, and 16, and 21, 22 and 23, 2018; 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m

    Location: Missouri Botanical Garden

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    Carolers in the Garden

     Mary Lou Olson

    The Missouri Botanical Garden is a beautiful sight any time of the year, but during the holidays you can also enjoy the sounds of the season during Old Time Christmas Music in the Garden. Musicians will perform throughout the Garden from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. (Sold out)

    Dates: December 7, 2018

    Location: Missouri Botanical Garden

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    The second Saturday in Belleville is Gingerbread Cookie Day (formerly Gingerbread Cookie Walk). You can explore the downtown area by checking out the shops and restaurants and collecting cookies. You'll need to register for the walk where you'll be given a bag for your cookie collection. There is a choice of 5k or 10k marked trail.  

    Dates: December 8, 2018

    Location: Belleville, IL

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     Cathedral Concerts

    Celebrate Christmas at the beautiful Cathedral Basilica in the Central West End. Christmas at the Cathedral concerts feature the Archdiocesan Adult Choir, Orchestra, Children's Choir and Handbell Choir performing favorite holiday songs.

    Dates: December 1 - 2, 2018

    Location: Central West End

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     Northwinds Concert Band

    The Northwinds Concert Band performs its annual holiday concert at the Florissant Civic Centre Theatre on December 9, at 3 p.m. 

    Dates: December 9, 2018

    Location: Florissant

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    Tour some of St. Louis' finest Victorian homes all decked out for Christmas. The tour begins at Park House at 2023 Lafayette Avenue. All eleven of the homes on the tour are within walking distance, but there is also a trolley to shuttle visitors between homes.

    Dates: December 9, 2018; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

    Location: South St. Louis

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    KMOX Holiday Radio Show

    A live performance by your favorite radio personalities from KMOX. Each year, the station puts on an old-time, live radio play for the holidays.

    Dates: December 17, 2018

    Location: Sheldon Concert Hall

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    St. Louis Ballet performing The Nutcracker

    St. Louis Ballet

    The Nutcracker comes to the stage at the Touhill Performing Arts Center. The classic Christmas ballet is one the whole family can enjoy.

    Dates: December 14 to 23, 2018

    Location: North St. Louis County

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    Y98 Radio is hosting a Mistletoe Show at the Family Arena in St. Charles. The show features performances from All Time Low, Fitz and the Tantrums, The All-American Rejects, and John Rzeznik and Lights.

    Dates: TBD

    Location: Family Arena

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    Chanukah celebration at the Missouri Botanical Garden

    Tom Incrocci

    Experience the traditions of Chanukah at the Missouri Botanical Garden. The Garden will host "Chanukah: Festival of Lights" from noon to 4 p.m. on December 2. The celebration begins with the symbolic lighting of the menorah, followed by Jewish music and dancing. There is also a traditional marketplace where shoppers can buy Chanukah items. Admission is included with a Garden ticket.

    Dates: December 2, 2018

    Location: Missouri Botanical Garden

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     Mitzi Macdonald

    Enjoy a Celtic Christmas complete with a special visit from a Scottish Santa. Along with holiday music and fun, everyone is invited on stage to partake of tea and homemade cookies during the performance. Tickets are $15.

    Dates: December 18, 2018

    Location: Sheldon Concert Hall

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    Bach Society of St. Louis 

    The Bach Society Chorus and Orchestra performs its annual Christmas Candlelight Concert at Powell Symphony Hall. The evening features selections from Handel's Messiah along with Christmas carols with the St. Louis Children's Choirs and solos by  Scott Kennebeck and Martha J. Hart.

    Dates: December 11, 2018

    Location: Powell Symphony Hall

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    The Compton Heights Concert Band is joined by Hugh Smith, Robert Ellison and Gina Galati for its annual Holiday Pops Spectacular. The concert will include an upbeat program of holiday favorites and Christmas classics.

    Dates: December 22, 2018

    Location: The Skip Viragh Center for the Arts at Chaminade, 425 South Lindbergh Boulevard, Saint Louis

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    Alien vs. Predator. Freddy vs. Jason. Now there's Santa vs. the Snowman, and you can catch it on the ultimate big screen, the OMNIMAX theater at the St. Louis Science Center. Luckily this holiday tale is lighthearted and suitable for kids. It tells the story of a curious snowman who challenges Santa and his workshop for control of the Christmas gift delivery business. Tickets are $10 for adults and $9 for children. Special group discounts are also available.

    Dates: Opens December 23, 2018

    Location: St. Louis Science Center

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     Kat Niehaus

    Celebrate African traditions at the Missouri Botanical Garden. This year's Kwanzaa celebration will include music and storytelling. There will also be a boutique selling Kwanzaa crafts and jewelry. Kwanzaa is a seven day holiday that takes its name from the Swahili term meaning "fruits of the harvest." The celebration is from noon until 3 p.m. at the Garden's Ridgway Center. Admission is included with a ticket to the Garden.

    Dates: December 26, 2017

    Location: Missouri Botanical Garden