1. Crown Center
Crown Center is arguably the best spot to soak up holiday spirit in Kansas City. Home to the Mayor's Christmas Tree, Santa's Gingerbread Station and the Ice Terrace, it's a destination for young and old alike.
The entire district is decked out in Christmas cheer. Indulge in a holiday shopping spree at Halls Kansas City and take a selfie with one of their holiday "shopping bag displays" (each representing a different neighborhood in KC!). Of course, you can't miss seeing the beautiful Mayor's Christmas Tree in the square. Fun fact: the Crown Center Christmas Tree is taller than the Rockefeller Christmas Tree! Another fun fact: the Mayor's Christmas ornament is made from the wood of the previous year's tree.
If you want an all-in-one holiday experience, come to Crown Center. See the city's Christmas tree, swirl around the Ice Terrace (and try not to face plant), do some holiday shopping at Halls and the Hallmark Gold Crown store (along with the many other shops at Crown Center!), grab a bite at the newly opened UNforked and listen to the holiday choirs! What more could you ask for?
The Plaza Lighting Ceremony is one of the largest community events in Kansas City. A celebrity turns on the lights on Thanksgiving evening and fireworks erupt in the district, making the Plaza sparkle some more. The Plaza is known to be the most beautiful part in Kansas City, and it becomes even more beautiful once its gleaming with colorful Christmas lights.
Aside from the Thanksgiving ceremony, the Plaza is the place to check off all of the holiday shopping list! From Williams-Sonoma to Urban Outfitters to Burberry and Barnes & Noble, you can find nearly everything you need in this shopping and dining district. (And you'll feel a bit European while you do!)
If you're wondering how the Christmas season would feel like in the early 20th century, take a visit to Union Station. Built in 1914, you can still feel its pre-Gatsby splendor. In a way, it makes you feel as if you're traveling back in time to days that were more simple and when trains were the fastest transportation. There is a certain grandeur about the Christmas decor at Union Station: the gold and red traditional Christmas tree, the wreaths in the grand windows with streamers and light-ropes dangling from the high ceilings. You can smell the coffee brewing from Parisi and fresh chocolate from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. Visit the theatre to enjoy the traditional holiday movie series, featuring Elf, Polar Express and Christmas Vacation (my personal fave).
Come to Union Station for a holiday experience that is unique and traditional, in the best way. Union Station is also hosting the 6th annual Holiday Swing this Sunday, December 11th! Shop over 100 handmade and vintage vendors 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
It's not the holidays without The Nutcracker, and it's definitely not the holidays without The Nutcracker at The Kauffman Center. I saw the show for the first time last year at Kauffman, and it was honestly one of my favorite holiday memories ever. (It probably helped that I got free balcony tickets in a pro-drinking zone; nonetheless I would see it again this year in a cheap seat and no alcohol, no questions asked. It's that good, folks.) Before the show, you could buy different Nutcracker-themed holiday gifts and socialize in the Kauffman Center lobby while drinking an Irish Coffee. I felt like royalty. If you haven't experienced this, you haven't lived. I would say more about the actual show, but I don't want to spoil it!
Other events happening here this season are TubaChristmas 2016, Kansas City Symphony's Christmas Festival, a screening of Home Alone and Handel's Messiah of Spire Chamber Ensemble and Baroque Orchestra.