16 Holiday Events Your Kids (and You) Will Love This Season

It’s beginning to look a lot like the holiday season in St. Louis! As we look ahead to the December holidays, many beloved area attractions are celebrating with amazing seasonal events that offer festive fun for the entire family. Whether you’re looking for a traditional holiday favorite or something completely new, we’ve rounded up 16 of the best holiday events for St. Louis families to enjoy this year.    
1. Wild Lights at the Saint Louis Zoo.
U.S. Bank Wild Lights at the Saint Louis Zoo is back this year for another beautifully lit season. On select evenings through December 30 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., your family can stroll through the Zoo grounds surrounded by hundreds of thousands of lights, animal light displays, fireside stories, hot chocolate, live performances by local choirs and lots more.
And don’t forget that you can also enjoy Breakfast with Santa or Dinner with Santa at the Saint Louis Zoo on various dates – but you’ll need to make reservations soon since both events sell out quickly.
2. Garden Glow.

For the first time ever, St. Louis families have the opportunity to see the Missouri Botanical Garden transformed into a glowing holiday wonderland. Hundreds of thousands of lights will decorate the Garden’s most iconic attractions, walkways will be transformed into magical light tunnels, and Wishing Trees, Snowballs and “Glowmen” will light the night sky. Garden Glow 2013 runs through January 4, and tickets range from $6 to $18 per person.
3. Pet-acular Holiday Bazaar at Purina Farms.

The annual Pet-acular Holiday Bazaar at Purina Farms is open to the whole family (including the family dog!) and features unique holiday gifts from more than 40 local artisans, exciting canine performances, delicious food, train rides, puppet shows, face painting, a coloring contest and inflatable bounce houses. Kids and their dogs can also have their photo taken with Santa Paws. The Pet-acular Holiday Bazaar will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Dec. 14 and 15. Admission and parking are free. Call 314-982-3232 for more information.

4. Supper with Santa and Winter Jewels at the Butterfly House.
This holiday season, enjoy the warm temperatures inside the Butterfly House's tropical conservatory and more than 1,000 jewel-toned butterflies surrounding you in free flight. Winter Jewels: A Holiday Celebration is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays through January 5 (closed Christmas Day and New Year’s Day,) and all activities are free with paid admission.
Families can also enjoy a Supper with Santa at the Butterfly House – which includes a spaghetti dinner, pictures with Santa, ornament making, cookies, hot chocolate and more – on November 30 and December 1, 7, 8, 14, and 15. Advance reservations are recommended.
5. Winter Wonderland at Tilles Park.

A trip to Tilles Park to see the holiday lights has become a St. Louis tradition. Through January 1, Winter Wonderland will be open to vehicular traffic Sundays through Fridays from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. and for carriage rides only on Saturday evenings. No reservations are needed, and admission is paid as vehicles exit the park.
6. O'Fallon Celebration of Lights.
The annual Celebration of Lights in Fort Zumwalt Park in O'Fallon, Mo., has been a holiday tradition since 1991. This enchanting display of holiday scenes is open through December 30 (except December 25), and families can choose to tour the lights by car, walking tour, carriage ride, segway ride, train ride or sleigh ride. Some tours require reservations; find more information and admission rates at www.ofallon.mo.us

7. Holiday Concerts - St. Louis Symphony and St. Louis Children's Choir.
Celebrate the holidays with beautiful music! Visit Powell Hall on December 8 to hear all six ensembles of talented young singers from the St. Louis Children's Choirs performing holiday favorites and works by master composers, or visit December 20 through 22 for the Holiday Celebration to enjoy your favorite carols, a visit from Santa and holiday music performed by the St. Louis Symphony and Holiday Festival Chorus.

8. Winter Getaway at the Missouri History Museum.

Family movies, interactive music performances, and drop-in “make and takes” are all part of the winter break fun at the Missouri History Museum. This free event, which runs from December 27-30, is a great way to entertain the kids while school is out of session. On Friday, Dec. 27, kids will be entertained by local favorite Babaloo in an interactive musical experience and make 60's-themed crafts. On Saturday, Dec. 28, visitors can catch a showing of the family film The Love Bug and join Radio Disney for music, dancing, games and prizes.

On Monday, Dec. 30, you can cozy up with the musical Mary Poppins, then watch your kids have a blast making their own magical umbrellas to take home, and go on a Mary Poppins scavenger hunt through the galleries! Learn more at www.mohistory.org

9. Breakfast with Santa at the Magic House.
This is one event you’re sure to “flip” over! Make your morning (or evening) sizzle with a yummy pancake breakfast, a photo with Santa, playtime in the museum and a fun holiday craft to take home. Breakfast with Santa at the Magic House takes place at 8 a.m., 9:45 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Dec. 8 and Dec. 15. The cost is $15 per person for members and $20 per person for non-members, and reservations are required.
10. Grinchmas.
The Grinch will be arriving on South Grand on Saturday, December 7 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at MoKaBe’s Coffeehouse and Tower Grove Creamery, and he will be bringing his friends, the clowns from Moolah Shriners, to assist with balloon animals and face painting. At Grinchmas, there will be coloring books, activities and holiday cheer are available for the kids for free, and snacks and treats – including children’s size ice cream for $1 – will be available for purchase.
11. Candy Cane Hunts at Kirkwood Park and Faust Park.
The reindeer have been busy hiding candy canes, and children ages 2-10 are invited to hunt for them! The Candy Cane Hunt at the Saint Louis Carousel takes place in Faust Park at 10 a.m. on December 7, while the Candy Cane Hunt in Kirkwood Park takes place at 10 a.m. on Saturday, December 14.
12. Santa and Frosty on Ice.
Can Santa Claus and Frosty ice skate? With all that ice at the North Pole, they must have lots of time to practice! Skate with Frosty at Shaw Park Ice Rink (for FREE) on Friday, December 6 from 6 to 10 p.m. or Skate with Santa at the Kirkwood Ice Arena during the public skate session from 1:30 to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 14.
Prefer to watch Santa and Frosty on ice? Head to Winter Wonderland on Ice at the St. Peters Rec-Plex to see beloved holiday favorites and talented local skaters perform. Shows are December 14 at 7:00 p.m. and December 15 at 5:00 p.m. and ticket prices range from $5-8 per person.  
13. Santa at the Boathouse.

Santa Claus is a busy guy this time of year, but he wouldn't miss his grand arrival in Forest Park! Santa is scheduled to arrive by boat at 11 a.m. at the Boathouse in Forest Park on Dec. 1, and he'll stick around until 2 p.m. for photos. Brunch begins at 10 a.m. if you’re interested in dining, and photos are $15 for the first print with discounts for additional prints.
14. Santa Visits and Cookies with Mrs. Claus at the Museum of Transportation.
Santa Claus will make special visits to the Museum of Transportation during the holiday season to hear children’s wishes and have some quality lap time. And on select dates, Mrs. Claus will come along with delicious holiday cookies to share. Bring your camera for a souvenir photo! Santa Visits the Museum of Transportation on November 29 and 30 and December 7, 14 and 21 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and on December 1, 8, 15 and 22 from Noon to 3 p.m. Cookies with Mrs. Claus in the Creation Station takes place December 7 and 8 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Both events are included with museum admission.

15. Breakfast with Santa, Story Hours and Gingerbread House Workshop at Eckert’s.

Get in the holiday spirit at Eckert’s! Enjoy Breakfast with Santa from 8 -12 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday mornings, and be sure to stay for a free Holiday Storytime at 9 or 11 a.m. to hear the tale of the gingerbread man and make a special gingerbread craft.

And for those who have always longed to build a gingerbread house but were intimidated by the thought, head to the Country Store at 10 a.m. or 4 p.m. for a special Gingerbread House Workshop. The cost is $14 per gingerbread house, all ages are welcome, and supplies and guidance will be provided. Breakfast with Santa, Holiday Storytime and the Gingerbread House Workshops all take place at Eckert’s Belleville location on November 30 and December 1, 7, 8, 14, 15, 21 and 22.

16. Gardenland Express.

Last but not at all least, one of the longest running holiday traditions for St. Louis families is Gardenland Express at the Missouri Botanical Garden. Visitors to this one-of-a-kind holiday flower and train show will see G-scale trains traveling through a holiday landscape made up of festive decorations and thousands of fresh plants and beautiful poinsettias.

Gardenland Express is open daily through January 5 with hours from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (closed on December 25), and is free for Garden members. For non-members, admission is $5 per person in addition to Garden admission through December 20, and increases to  $7 per person from December 20 to January 5.

What are your family’s favorite St. Louis events and attractions to visit for the holidays?

Looking for more? You'll find more holiday happenings and lots of fun family events in our Things to Do calendar. You can also sign up to receive our free Daily Events Email newsletter and get at handy list of the day's events sent directly to your inbox each morning.


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Alyssa Chirco is a freelance writer, mother and margarita lover, not necessarily in that order. In addition to writing for STL Parent, she is Contributing Editor at Parenting Squad, and covers parenting, health and lifestyle topics for publications across the country. She recently moved from the suburbs of St. Louis to a small town in rural Jefferson County, where she is learning to survive with no Target or Starbucks in sight. Follow her on Twitter @AlyssaChirco


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