Luminous light shows and decorative displays transform KC into a veritable winter wonderland. Take, for example, the Mayor’s Christmas Tree, a famous fir more than 100 feet tall and proudly showcased at Crown Center.

Wintertime in Kansas City means tree lightings and grand holiday traditions, plus festive events that run through the whole season. Mark your calendar and plan accordingly, because you won’t want to miss it. Make it a day or a weekend getaway.

From timeless traditions and can't-miss performances to tromping around the Kansas City Zoo with some of the world's wildest animals, winter in Kansas City is full of seasonal spirit. 

Kansas City winters are jam-packed, with six weeks of seasonal celebrations, festive events and luminous light shows, followed by months more of ice skating and big-hill sledding.

People from all across the region are bundled up and crowded at the Country Club Plaza, mugs of hot chocolate warm chilly hands as people wait in earnest anticipation for the famous Plaza Lights ceremony to begin on Thanksgiving weekend but even if you missed the lighting ceremony, there’s plenty to see.

Luminous light shows and decorative displays transform KC into a veritable winter wonderland. Take, for example, the Mayor’s Christmas Tree, a famous fir more than 100 feet tall and proudly showcased at Crown Center.

The centerpiece is lit by 7,200 white bulbs and provides the perfect photo op—or reminder of the beauty of the city and the season. Head down to the Country Club Plaza to get a glimpse of the Spanish-inspired architecture decked out in seasonal colors.

Or, head up north to Zona Rosa, a popular shopping and entertainment district where you’ll find the Northern Lights—huge crown displays lit up and hung from above. Head out to Longview Lake Park for Christmas in the Park, a holiday drive-thru display that features timed lights that generate charming animations sure to wow young ones and adults alike.

Seasonal events help locals and visitors alike embrace the holiday spirit. Kansas City’s newest and grandest holiday tradition is WinterFest, a Worlds of Fun experience where you can let yourself be whisked away to a magical winter village filled with ice skating, family rides, seasonal décor, live entertainment, a nightly tree lighting and more. 

Guests can get wild by visiting the Kansas City Zoo this winter, where they can explore Helzberg Penguin Plaza before stopping by to see Berlin the polar bear, who will be right at home in the cooler weather. 

Meanwhile, children love meeting Santa and his elves when the Holiday Express Train pulls into Union Station. The locomotive brings an entire stockingful of North Pole spirit to the beautiful 102-year-old station, including Santa’s sleigh, a gingerbread boxcar and more.

People of all ages hit the Crown Center Ice Terrace to skate to their heart’s content. Southwest of Downtown KC, skaters can visit the Ice at Park Place in Leawood, Kan., where festivities are as essential to the experience as balance is to staying upright on the ice.

Known for its wonderful family attractions, Crown Center is a showcase for some of the best shopping in KC, including Halls Kansas City and Function Junction. Coupled with stunning lighting and festive decorations, there’s no better place to find holiday cheer during your gift getting. Head to festive Village West to spend time at Legends Outlets Kansas City, featuring big-name retailers perfect for gift-giving.

Check out Country Club Plaza for high-end shops and others with plenty of local flair. In search of something retro? Try antique shopping in the West Bottoms for pre-owned and vintage finds. 

KC restaurants offer delicious food and can’t-miss atmosphere for special occasions of all kinds. For a private meal coupled with chef-driven cuisine, try Corvino Supper Club & Tasting Room. If Mexican is more up your alley, Port Fonda in Westport is a must-try. Spend an intimate night out at Bluestem or Story. Or, delight in Italian dishes at Lidia’s Kansas City in the Crossroads Arts District.

Make sure you check out some of Kansas City’s most iconic live performances during wintertime. The full list of shows can be found at but you’ll find a few highlights below:

•A Charlie Brown Christmas – The Coterie Theatre, Nov. 7–Dec. 31

•A Christmas Carol – Spencer Theatre, Nov. 16–Dec. 24

•Les Misérables – Music Hall Kansas City, Dec. 5–10

•The Nutcracker – Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, Dec. 7–24

•Handel’s Messiah – Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, Dec. 8–10

•Trans-Siberian Orchestra – Sprint Center, Dec. 9

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