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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    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. 

    Dates: Mid-November to Early January

    Locations: Various

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    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 22 to December 30, 2017

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

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    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 17, 2017 to January 1, 2018

    Location: Missouri Botanical Garden

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    The Santa Express is coming to St. Louis Union Station. Kids can take a magical holiday journey featuring 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. Hotel packages are also available.

    Dates: November 24 to December 30, 2017

    Location: Downtown St. Louis

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    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 though 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. Garden members get in free.

    Dates: November 18, 2017 to January 1, 2018

    Location: Missouri Botanical Garden

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    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: Late November

    Location: Cahokia Mounds

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    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, 2017

    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: December 1, 2, 8, and 9, 2017; 6 p.m. 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 2, 2017

    Location: Florissant

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    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.

    Dates: December 2, 2017; 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 2, 2017

    Location: Forest Park

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    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 2, 2017; 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

    Location: Grafton, IL

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    Cookie Spree on Cherokee

    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 2-3, 2017

    Location: South St. Louis

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    This is the 42nd 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 2-3, 2017

    Location: Soulard, South St. Louis

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    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 2 and 3, while Hermannhof Winery typically sets up shop the following weekend.

    Dates: December 2 to 3 and December 9 to 10, 2017 (check with Hermannhof)

    Location: Stone Hill Winery Pavilion and Hermannhof Festhalle

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    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, and the Music of John Williams.

    Dates: Select dates through December 23, 2017

    Location: Powell Symphony Hall

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    Kids and pets can get their pictures taken with Santa at the Boathouse in Forest Park. Santa will arrive by boat at 11 a.m. Pictures are from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Money raised from the event benefits Forest Park Forever.

    Dates: Early December

    Location: Forest Park

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    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 4, at 10:15 a.m. and 2:15 p.m., and December 5, at 2:15 p.m. and 8 p.m.

    Dates: December 4 to 5, 2017

    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 8-9, 2017

    Location: St. Peters

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    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 8, 9, 10, 15, 16, 17, 2017; 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m

    Location: Missouri Botanical Garden

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    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.

    Dates: December 8, 2017

    Location: Missouri Botanical Garden

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    Gingerbread Cookie Walk

    Take a special holiday walk along Main Street in Belleville. Buy a gingerbread cookie bag at the start of the walk, then stop at dozens of stores along the way and get a different cookie to fill your bag. The event runs from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

    Dates: December 9, 2017

    Location: Belleville, IL

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    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 9-10, 2017

    Location: Central West End

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    The Northwinds Concert Band performs its annual holiday concert at the Florissant Civic Centre Theatre on December 10, at 3 p.m. 

    Dates: December 10, 2017

    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 10, 2017; 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 4, 2017

    Location: Sheldon Concert Hall

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    The Missouri Ballet Theatre is also performing the classic Christmas ballet, The Nutcracker. Dozens of local children are participating in the performances.

    Dates: December 3, 2017; 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.

    Location: Florissant Civic Center 

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    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 15 to 23, 2017

    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, John Rzeznik and Lights.

    Dates: December 2, 2017 – Showtime: 6:30pm, Doors Open: 5:30pm

    Location: Family Arena

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    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 10. 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 10, 2017

    Location: Missouri Botanical Garden

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    Mitzi MacDonald & Keltic Reign

    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 17, 2017

    Location: Sheldon Concert Hall

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    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 19, 2017

    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 23, 2017

    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: Through December 24, 2017

    Location: St. Louis Science Center

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    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 27, 2017

    Location: Missouri Botanical Garden