Several of Kansas City’s holiday events and activities have become annual favorites with area homeschoolers!
Ready to make this year’s Christmas season extra special for your family? While some of these have been affected/canceled because of COVID-19, we have listed them here as a springboard for more ideas:
1. The Nutcracker Suite.
The traditional performance by the Kauffman Center has been canceled this year, but you can always borrow a DVD performance or re-enact some of your favorite scenes at home, set to music!
2. The Mystery of Christmas.
As an alternative twist on “The Nutcracker,” check out this Dramatic Truth Ballet Theatre performance.
Instead of going to the Land of Snow, Clara gets to travel to Jerusalem on the night of Jesus’ birth. The play is set to Tchaikovsky’s music and features international ethnic dances to welcome the Savior.
For this year, Harrisonville Community Church in Missouri will host the event with limited seating. Masks are required, temperatures will be taken at the door and sanitizer will be available. The Center is equipped with air purifiers and will be regularly sanitized.
3. Crown Center.
Not all holiday events have to be expensive to make a lasting impression. While the Crown Center Ice Terrace is open daily, advance reservations are needed this year. “Face coverings or masks are required for entry to the Crown Center Shops per the current KCMO order, dated June 26.”
4. Journey to Judea (canceled for 2020).
Journey to Judea is a free, interactive Christmas experience hosted by Countryside Church in Olathe. Church members portray scenes from scripture on six nights of hour-long outdoor tours, with groups of 50 people in each tour.
While this event had to be canceled this year, they hope to reopen it in 2021.
5. Trilogy Cultural Arts Centre’s Christmas Spectacular Show (?).
The 2020 Christmas Spectacular show is still scheduled for Dec. 17-20, per their website. We are following up with the organization to see whether it is still set for this year.
All ticket sales are final, without refunds. “In the case of cancellation or rescheduling of event, exchanges less any fees may be possible. Please keep your tickets or confirmation email until the options are publicly announced.”
6. The Plaza.
Ah, that magical moment on Thanksgiving Day when all the lights turn on and the Kansas City Plaza area is transformed!
This year offers self-guided walking tours, along with complimentary treats and a souvenir light.
7. Christmas in the Park.
This dazzling, free winter wonderland opens with “Christmas in the Sky.” Enjoy a gorgeous display of fireworks that go off in time to the Christmas music simulcast on 99.7 The Point.
Afterward, your family can savor the hundreds of animated displays, lovingly decorated with hundreds of thousands of Christmas lights!
“In an effort to help mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus, public visitors to Jackson County facilities are required to wear a mask and maintain social distancing of at least six feet, and public occupancy is limited.”
Bonus: The Lee’s Summit Magic Tree is nearby, too!
8. Christmas penguins.
If your kids like penguins, they’ll love Paulie’s Penguin Playground in Olathe! One of the largest Christmas displays in metropolitan Kansas City, this playground features hundreds of holiday figures, all with a penguin twist. Who knew Rudolph and his buddies faced such stiff competition from these adorable birds?
9. Tuba Christmas (Kansas City Symphony).
A Tuba Christmas in Kansas City has taken place every year since 1979! This year it’s all virtual.
“Registration is now open to participate in the Symphony’s Virtual TubaChristmas PlayAlong! It may look a bit different, but the spirit of the event continues this year with a virtual event on Thursday, December 3 at 6pm. ”
10. Pictures/Events with Santa.
If selfies with Santa happen to be a holiday tradition, they can get pretty pricey. But fear not! One enterprising homeschool mom recommends going to Bass Pro Shops, where Santa gives out great pictures for free. (This year, advance reservations are required.)
Other area organizations are offering “Drive-By Santa” events, such as PossAbilities Children’s Therapy in their Merrian and Lee’s Summit loations (check out their Facebook events).
11. Overland Park Arboretum.
For a more sedate celebration, try the Overland Park Arboretum’s holiday luminary walk. (Tickets are nearly sold out!)
Gardens, woods and ponds all have a candlelit glow that your family can enjoy.
12. Handbell choir (canceled this year).
Did you know an advanced community handbell ensemble meets right here in the Kansas City area? Rezound! members play on handbells and handchimes that span 7 octaves and come from three different countries. Also, when their weekly rehearsals last about three hours, you know that’s dedication!
Unfortunately all December concerts are canceled, but they are looking to reopen in April.
13. Olathe Youth Symphony (canceled).
For anyone in the Olathe area, another great holiday option is Olathe Youth Symphony Association‘s free December concerts. All performances take place at Olathe South High School, at 151st and Ridgeview in Olathe.
(We were not able to confirm on their website, but we believe this event has been canceled this year.)
14. Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop & Farm’s Open Christmas House (canceled).
This historic site typically offers its Open Christmas House for free (donations suggested). Celebrate Christmas like they did in the 1860s, with cookstove and blacksmith demonstrations, Heritage Center ornaments, and possibly a visit from Santa!
Some activities come with a fee, such as stagecoach rides and making a gingerbread house.
(This event has been canceled for this year.)
15. Wornall Holiday Candlelight Tours (now Youth Drop-In Days).
Historically the Wornall House’s candlelight tours were $15 per person and included a seasonal treat with hot beverage, but they have now been reworked into Youth Drop-In Days.
“Families work together to move through three stations on a featured topic with a different activity at each station. Topics and activities have been specifically curated to encourage critical thinking and to fit in with Kansas and Missouri social studies curriculum. Drop-in Days are ideal for grades three through seven, although all are welcome.
Drop-ins welcome and registration is not required! You can buy tickets in advance for contact-free check-in if preferred.”
16. Holiday lights near your area.
A number of homeschool families will bundle everyone into their car at nights, laden with hot chocolate or other such goodies, and just tour area neighborhoods to see the sights. Some ideas:
- Monticello Lights Display – north of 64th Street across from Riss Lake, including a home at 6427 NW Monticello Drive that offers synchronized music with its light display on a short-wave radio broadcast.
- Olathe Christmas Card Lane – in the Mission Ridge subdivision, near 151st Street and Ridgeview.
- Other displays in Johnson County – another extensive listing of Christmas lights is available at this website.
- Winterset Valley in Lee’s Summit – south of 3rd Street. All the trees along the roads are lit up with lights for a gorgeous view!
We have updated this post, originally published in November 2014, for timeliness and detail.
Does your family have any favorite holiday events we didn’t mention? Let us know in the comments!