There is no shortage of magical ways to celebrate the holidays in St. Louis. You can easily spend every weekend in December out making memories with your kids. Here's what we're excited about doing and seeing this holiday season:
It's hard to think of a more fun and festive evening than strolling through more than a million lights at our city's world-famous zoo. This super family-friendly holiday favorite is full of activities your kids will love, like taking a spin on the Conservation Carousel, the Polar Express Experience in the Zoo's 4D Theater, fireside stories and s'mores, a visit with Kali the polar bear, all the whimsical animal-themed displays or a walk through the Sea Lion Sound tunnel. All activities are included in admission, too. You'll come away with lots of fun memories and some great photos! Tickets are available online and at the entrance, but advance tickets are encouraged. Have a child with sensory needs? Visit Wild Lights on Sensory Night Dec. 10. Wild Lights is held on select nights through Dec. 30. Closed Dec. 24 and 25. Get more information and tickets at stlzoo.org
This annual kid-favorite event is full of holiday fun on the farm, and you can even bring your family dog! The Purina Farms Pet-acular Bazaar has great shopping for unique gifts from local artisans, but that's just the start. There is also a Kids Activity Area with a trackless train, balloon animals, inflatable bounce houses and more. Plus, you can take photos with Santa, enjoy live entertainment, watch canine acrobatics and meet adoptable pets. You can even grab a bite to eat in the Cafe. Admission and parking are free. The Pet-acular Holiday Bazaar will be held Dec. 15 and 16 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. both days at Purina Farms in Gray Summit. Want even more time with Santa? Check out the Breakfast and Craft Workshop with Santa (pre-paid reservations are required).
Learn how cultures around the world commemorate winter holidays at the Saint Louis Art Museum during Winter Celebrations. This free event includes mesmerizing live performances of music and dance, opportunities to create art during Create Labs, decorate cookies and hear traditional stories from global cultures and much more. You can even stop into the Give Labs and make a seasonal card to lift someone's spirits. Cards will be donated to families at the Ronald McDonald House, the International Institute and individuals at the St. Louis Psychiatric Rehabilitation Center. Don't miss the live performances from Afriky Lolo, St. Louis Osuwa Taiko, the Normandy High School Jazz Band, Dances of India and more. Finally, stop into the photo booth to save your special memories. Winter Celebrations will be held on December 8 and 9 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free. Learn more at slam.org.
The Little Dancer is a holiday tradition, and COCA puts a new twist on this classic tale every year. This year, the story of The Little Dancer comes to life in a new and fanciful way in The Little Dancer: Livre Vivant. Young ballerina Mary falls asleep reading her favorite pop-up book of the story Marie in Fourth Position. To her surprise, she wakes up inside the book where she meets Degas' The Little Dancer, and the pair take off on an exciting journey through the streets of Paris. With each turn of the page, Mary and The Little Dancer encounter wonderful people and places, like The Eiffel Tower and the world-famous Paris Opera ballerinas. Along the way, Mary's confidence grows, and she realizes she can't give up her dreams! Featuring COCA's Ballet Eclectica, this family-friendly holiday event celebrates friendship, courage and determination in an imaginative and delightful way. Performances, designed for ages 5 and up, will be held Dec. 14-16 at COCA in University City. Learn more and get tickets at cocastl.org.
It's the most wonderful time of the year, so celebrate it by taking your family to see classic holiday films on the big screen! Marcus Theatres is hosting special showings of these family favorites from Nov. 30 - Dec. 13: Elf, Home Alone, It's a Wonderful Life, Christmas Vacation, The Polar Express, and Miracle on 34th Street. Shows are playing at locations across the St. Louis metro area: Arnold, Chesterfield, Des Peres, Mid Rivers in St. Peters, Ronnies in South County, St. Charles and Town Square in Dardenne Prairie. All shows are just $5 for all ages. For showtimes and advance tickets, visit marcustheatres.com
Not every family outing in December has to have a holiday theme to be memorable. Metro Theater Company, well known for top-quality family productions with meaningful themes, brings Wonderland: Alice's Rock & Roll Adventure to the stage with shows throughout December at the Grandel Theatre. This new take on Lewis Carrol's beloved, poetic tale features a cast of actors/musicians and an eclectic mix of everything from classic rock to ska to punk. Witness 7 1/2-year-old Alice's journey through Wonderland in search of her own inner musical voice. Wonderland: Alice's Rock & Roll Adventure introduces young audiences to different instruments, musical styles and famous musicians, and touches on the themes of helping others, understanding emotions, creating welcoming communities and growing up. This 85-minute show is perfect for kids in kindergarten and up. Get tickets at metroplays.org and save 25% with promo code PARENT.
Nothing personifies winter fun more than grabbing your skates and gliding across the ice, and it's even better with special guests, like Santa, Frosty the Snowman, Olaf and Sven. Local rinks are open for the season, and special events include Skate with Santa at the Steinberg Skating Rink in Forest Park, Skate with Santa at the Kirkwood Ice Rink, Snowman Skate at Shaw Park with Olaf and Sven, and Skate with Santa at the Brentwood Ice Rink. Don't feel like hitting the ice yourself? Enjoy a skating show with Santa and Frosty the Snowman at Winter Wonderland on Ice at the St. Peters Rec Plex.
Bring your whole family to Laumeier Sculpture Park for some tree-trimming fun! Learn about winter birds while you and your family create homemade ornaments that double as bird feeders. Then, you'll head out for a guided hike around Laumeier Sculpture Park to explore the woods and leave one of your ornaments for the birds at Laumeier. Finally, you'll warm up indoors with hot cocoa and a winter story. You'll take home a winter bird feeder or two to decorate your own tree. Dress for the outdoors. This two-hour workshop is for ages 4 to 12 with a parent or caregiver. Trim the Trees will be held on December 15 from 1 to 3 p.m. at Laumeier Sculpture Park. Register at laumeier.org.
Engage your young scientist in science-related learning at the Saint Louis Science Center's Preschool Science Series. Through interactive stories and hands-on exploration, children learn about science, as well as language, problem-solving and social skills.
Explore the St. Louis Zoo after dark at Boo at the Zoo. Bring your little ghouls and goblins to this non-scary celebration designed just for kids. Though this is not a trick-or-treating experience, costumes are encouraged, and each child 12 and under will receive a treat bag when they leave.