5 Fun and Festive Ways to Celebrate the Holidays in St. Louis

The holiday season is upon us here in St. Louis, which means that many St. Louis families are busy, busy, busy with shopping, decorating, and holiday gatherings.

Caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season? Don’t forget that our city offers many wonderful holiday traditions for families to enjoy, so gather your kids and take advantage of these fun and festive ways to celebrate the true magic of the holidays:


Winter Wonderland in Tilles Park

Looking for a magical and low-key way to have some nighttime fun? Pack some popcorn and cocoa, put the kids in their jammies, and head out to see the lights! There are many beautiful holiday light displays in and around St. Louis, but few are as impressive as the Winter Wonderland at Tilles Park.

This St. Louis tradition is open nightly from 5:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m. through January 1 (closed on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve), and admission is $10 per family vehicle. With reservations, you can even ride through the park in a horse-drawn carriage.

If you go, keep in mind that Winter Wonderland is closed to vehicular traffic on Saturdays, and that you must enter from south bound McKnight Road. Also be aware that, since this attraction is immensely popular, the line to get into the park can be extremely long – especially if you visit right before Christmas.

Winter Jewels: A Holiday Celebration at the Butterfly House

Looking for a seasonal celebration that isn’t so focused on Santa? Then you’ll enjoy taking in the beauty of over 1,000 jewel-toned butterflies at Winter Jewels: A Holiday Celebration at the Butterfly House. Winter Jewels is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. through December 30, and on weekends, kids are also invited to create special winter- and butterfly-themed crafts.

And if you do want to see Santa, he will be visiting – a special Supper with Santa at the Butterfly House is scheduled for December 9, 15, and 16 from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. For complete details and pricing for both events, visit www.butterflyhouse.org.

U.S. Bank Wild Lights at the St. Louis Zoo

Go wild this holiday season by visiting your favorite animals after dark at U.S. Bank Wild Lights at the St. Louis Zoo. Hundreds of thousands of lights will brighten the way as you stroll through festive displays like Snowfall Flurry Walk, Gingerbread Village, and Penguins in Paradise. Hot chocolate and snacks are available for purchase, and local choirs perform on select evenings.  

Wild Lights is open from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays through December 23, and will be open nightly December 26-30. Admission is $5 for the general public, $4 for Zoo members, and free for children under the age of 2.    


Gardenland Express at the Missouri Botanical Garden

The Gardenland Express at the Missouri Botanical Garden is a unique Holiday Flower and Train Show that promises to delight visitors of all ages. Watch as G-scale trains travel along a 900-foot track through a miniature holiday wonderland, and admire some of the season’s most beautiful and festive flowers, including poinsettias, holly, and Christmas cactus.

The Gardenland Express is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through January 1 (closed Christmas Day), and admission is $5 for guests ages 3 and up (in addition to regular Garden admission). Complete details are available at www.mobot.org.  

Also at the Garden, you can catch Chanukah: Festival of Lights on Dec. 9 from noon to 4 p.m. This traditional Jewish celebration includes festive Israeli music and dance and menorah-lighting.

Santa vs. the Snowman at the Saint Louis Science Center

Sure, there are plenty of classic Christmas movies you can watch at home, but do you have a four-story, wrap-around screen or a domed theatre at your house? Unless you’re really lucky, the answer is probably no. So why not take your family to visit the OMNIMAX Theater at the Saint Louis Science Center this holiday season?

Santa vs. the Snowman, a family-friendly holiday film, is playing daily at the OMNIMAX Theatre through December 31. Children and adults alike will enjoy the tale of “an all-out riotous battle for Christmas,” and marvel at the breathtaking IMAX technology that magically brings Santa’s Workshop to life. For ticket information and show times, visit www.slsc.org.

For lots more events for your and your family, be sure to check our online Things To Do calendar anytime or subscribe to our Daily Events Email to get event information delivered directly to your in box or smartphone each morning.

By Alyssa Chirco, SmartMama blogger for SmartParenting

Alyssa Chirco is a St. Louis freelance writer, mother and margarita lover, not necessarily in that order. In addition to writing for St. Louis Kids, she is Contributing Editor for Parenting Squad, writes regularly about parenting and family for Lifetime Television's The Balancing Act, and firmly believes there are few problems in life that cannot be solved with a good margarita.


Photos courtesy of the Missouri Botanical Garden and the Saint Louis Zoo.

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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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