Talk of the Town
From ballets to ice skating, here are some favorite holiday traditions.
1. “The Nutcracker”
As the lights dim in the Muriel Kauffman Theatre, audiences are transported to a magical place where Clara’s gift of a nutcracker opens up a new world of sugarplum fairies and other delights.
One can’t help but marvel at the magnificent sets and costumes of this age-old favorite. The spectacular choreography of Todd Bolender, performed by dozens of beautiful dancers including Destane’ Doughty, a 13-year-old Kansas City Ballet student, is accompanied by the acclaimed Kansas City Symphony. Tchaikovsky’s Christmas classic is showing at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts from December 1 - 23. Purchase tickets early for this spellbinding holiday tradition at kauffmancenter.org.
2. Musical Theater Heritage’s Holiday Show
“A Spectacular Christmas” at the Off Center Theatre at Crown Center features a sack full of classic Christmastime songs from movies and musicals. This award-winning, family-friendly production is funny, heartfelt and sentimental. You’ll laugh and cry along with many of Kansas City’s best-loved local actors, whose performances are sure to move you right into holiday cheer.
For more information visit musicaltheaterheritage.com.
3. Ice Skating at Park Place
Johnson County’s only outdoor ice rink is located in the heart of the charming Park Place shopping community at 117th St. and Nall Ave. Veteran skaters and newbies alike can take to the ice at this affordable public skating rink. Warm frozen fingers by stepping into the adjacent Ingredient restaurant and order up a cup of hot cocoa.
Don’t have a pair of skates of your own? No worries, rental is just $3.
For more details visit parkplaceleawood.com.
4. Handel’s “Messiah” at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts
Hallelujah! The holidays would not be complete without Handel’s majestic choral masterpiece, “Messiah.” The power of 250 voices combined with the impeccable acoustics of Helzberg Hall make this performance, led by the esteemed music director of the Grand Rapids Symphony, David Lockington, a majestic choral masterpiece. The Independence Messiah Choir joins the Kansas City Symphony and Symphony Chorus to continue this 96-year tradition — the perfect addition to your holiday bucket list.
Ticket information online at kcsymphony.org.
5. Santa’s Crayola Christmas Land at Crown Center Shops
Whether you’ve been naughty or nice, Santa wants to hear about it at the Crown Center Shops. Jolly Old St. Nick will be holding court Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sundays noon to 6 p.m.
Children can play on super-sized Crayola products while waiting to share all their holiday wishes. The whimsical Crayola Christmas Land is on the first floor of Crown Center. While there, be sure to take a peek outside at the Mayor’s 100-foot-tall Christmas tree, which proudly stands as a gift from the City and a tribute to the season.
More details online at crowncenter.com.
6. Kansas City Repertory Theatre’s “A Christmas Carol”
Now entering its 48th season, “A Christmas Carol” is one of Kansas City’s oldest holiday performance traditions. Join the ghost of Christmas Present, with his famed “Christmas Cheer” in hand, for this favorite, timeless ritual. In this touching retelling of the classic story, curmudgeonly businessman Ebenezer Scrooge requires the intervention of a few spectral guides to understand the true meaning of Christmas and life. Complete with lively musical numbers, ornate costumes and dashing stagecraft, Dickens’ classic tale of hope and redemption reminds us all what’s really worth celebrating during the holidays — or any time. Performances through December 26.
Visit kcrep.org for ticket information.
7. Room With a View of the Plaza Lights
Watching the Country Club Plaza come alive with thousands of holiday lights is one of Kansas City’s most beloved traditions, enchanting residents and visitors alike for more than 80 years. The light switch is flipped every evening at 5 p.m. throughout the holiday season and into early January.
Make the most of this special tradition by reserving a north-facing room at The Intercontinental Hotel. Your family will be ringside for the breathtaking lighting event from one of the best vantage points in the city.
Try booking an upper floor to ensure premium visibility of all 80 miles and 280,000 multi-colored bulbs illuminating the outlines of buildings and towers. Then take a short stroll to the west end of the Plaza, where Pennsylvania Avenue and Nichols Road meet, to grab a private horse-drawn carriage or sleigh ride. Enjoy a charming holiday tour of the historic County Club Plaza at its finest for exquisite memories.
For more information visit countryclubplaza.com.
8. Longbranch Christmas Tree Farm
Gather up the kiddos, don your favorite mittens and take a quick drive to the area’s most popular choose-it-yourself and chop-it-down-yourself tree farm. This all-inclusive, family-friendly farm offers a wide variety of pre-cut Christmas trees as well as the cut-your-own variety. There are three large fields of pines perfect for the picking.
If you prefer to stick with the quintessential artificial tree, consider infusing your home with nostalgic scents of the season by bringing home a fresh Longbranch Christmas wreath, garland or bough. Spend some time at this festive spot where free rides on a winter hay wagon await, or set foot in the warming barn where kids can get their faces painted. Sip a steaming cup of complimentary hot coffee or cider while deciding which of the holiday greens will adorn your home this season.
Details and directions: 25990 West 77th St., Shawnee, Kan., 66227. Phone: (913) 441-5990. Open Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sundays from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. and weekdays from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Directions: West on 83rd St. to Mize Rd. (approx. 1.5 miles west of K-7), turn north on Mize Rd. Go to 77th St. on the left, turn left and the farm is just four driveways down on the right.
9. “Christmas at Resurrection”
“Christmas at Resurrection” at The United Church of the Resurrection has become one of Kansas City’s most anticipated holiday events. The dramatic musical presentation features more than 300 actors, singers, dancers and instrumentalists in a celebration of Christmas and the depiction of the traditional Christmas story.
The event, staged in the sanctuary of one of the nation’s fastest growing mega-churches, is sure to fill you with Christmas spirit.
For more information visit cor.org.
10. Longview Lake’s “Christmas in the Park”
Longview Lake’s “Christmas in the Park” is a spectacular sight with upwards of 175 animated figures and holiday scenes. Be dazzled by miles of dancing vignettes of giant illuminated Santa figures in a variety of movements made up of strands of lights (300,000 or more).
Enjoy lighting displays of other classic amusements including the unexpected skateboarder on a half pipe or flying reindeer landing atop a rooftop — all engineered by the inventive team at the Kansas City Parks and Recreation Department. Cruise around the lake while listening to your favorite holiday tunes and enjoy this sensational winter wonderland.
Tip: Be sure to fill the gas tank — exploring the enchantments this illuminated park offers can take over a bumper-to-bumper hour.
Directions: Take 470 East to View High Drive, exit south on View High Drive and follow to 3rd Street, then follow signs.