The Midwest is full of festive holiday events, and many of the best holiday events and light display happening in the coming weeks in nearby cities and rural communities. Here are some of my top picks for Christmas events within about 4 hours or so of Sioux City that could make a really fun day trip or weekend trip for families in the Siouxland area!
Now updated for Christmas 2023!
|Sioux Falls Winter Wonderland at Falls Park, photo courtesy of Sioux Falls CVB
- Winter Wonderland at Falls Park features over 300,000 lights on hundreds of trees and poles, and will be lit every night from 11/17/23 to 1/7/2024
- The 31st Annual Parade of Lights is on Friday, 11/24 at 7:30pm, on Phillips Ave from 13th to 5th
- Enjoy Carols + Cocoa with the Premiere Playhouse before the parade, from 6:30 to 7:30pm on Friday 11/24
- Tis the Season Christmas concert with the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra live at Washington Pavilion on December 9th and 10th
- Miracle on 34th Street live radio play musical at Washington Pavilion on December 14th through 16th
- A Christmas Carol performed by the Premiere Playhouse at the Sioux Falls Orpheum Theater runs from 12/15 to 12/23
- A Christmas Line presented by DAPA (Dakota Academy of Performing Arts) at Washington Pavilion on 12/15 and 12/16
- For tickets to events at Washington Pavilion go here. For more info on these events and the other great Sioux Falls holiday events, check out the Visit Sioux Falls website
More Christmas fun in South Dakota
- The highlight of Vermillion for the season is their Standstill Parade of Lights on December 7th from 6-7pm in downtown Vermillion features a wide variety of floats and performers like a traditional parade, but they stay still while the crowd moves around to see all the fun!
- A Christmas Carol at the National Music Museum in Vermillion on December 1st at noon provides a unique musical twist on the holiday classic
- Free screenings of Christmas classics at the Coyote Twin Theaters on Mondays in December
- For more info, visit the Vermillion tourism page
- Holiday Festival of Lights
- Cowboy Christmas at WJ ranch features horse rides, buggy rides, Santa on the ranch, and lots more fun! More information is available on the WJ Ranch Website.
- Vespers at Mounty Marty with Benedictine Sisters of Sacred Heart Music, TBA
- View a performance of a play presented by the Lewis & Clark Theatre Company. More information is available on the Lewis & Clark Theatre Company website.
- The Hall of Trees at the Mead Cultural Education Center features dozens of elaborately decorated Christmas trees. More information available on the Mead website.
- For more information on these events and other festive fun in the Yankton area, check out Visit Yankton.
|Santa's Magic 2018 at the Omaha Children's Museum, photo used with permission of OCM
- The Durham Museum is one of Omaha's most festive locations! You can find full details for all their events, buy tickets, and make reservations on their website. Some of their most notable fun this holiday season includes:
- Christmas at Union Station This year's Tree Lighting Ceremony will be held on Friday, 11/25 from 4 to 8pm.
- A new temporary White Christmas exhibit at the Durham explores the costumes and more behind the beloved movie White Christmas.
- Omaha Children's Museum's Santa's Magic exhibit, an annual favorite featuring Santa, elves, ice princesses, and more! This exhibit is included with regular museum admission. More information is available on the Omaha Children's Museum website.
- Zoolightful immerses families in festive fun at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo on most nights from November 17th to December 30th. The event includes not just spectacular lights and other decorations, but also rentable igloos and tons of holiday fun!
- For more festive fun in Omaha, check out the Ultimate Omaha Holiday Events List post from the Oh My Omaha! blog.
More Christmas fun in Nebraska
- Tons of festive fun at the Arbor Day Farm and Arbor Day State Historic Park including:
- Christmas at the Mansion, which features a tour of the festively decorated Arbor Day Mansion with over 50 rooms!
- Santa's Lost Reindeer at the Treetop Adventure
- A 12 Days of Christmas Elf Hunt at the Treetop Adventure
- Murder at the Ugly Sweater Party murder mystery theme party at the Lied Lodge
- Find more info on the Nebraska City website
|70-foot tree at Winterfest in KC, photo by Sage Scott of Everyday Wanderer
- The Kansas City Ballet will be performing The Nutcracker at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts from December 1st through 24th
- The KC Repertory Theatre is staging a production of A Christmas Carol from November 21st through December 24th
- The Mayor's Christmas Tree Lighting at Crown Center on November 24th features a 100-foot-tall tree near the Crown Center ice skating rink, which opens November 3rd. For more information go here.
- Then, head inside to warm up in Crown Center and catch a performance of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer by the KC Coterie Theater with performances from November 7th through December 31st
- The iconic Kansas City Plaza Lights will be lit beginning November 23rd
- Delight in Hallelujah Holidays from KC's Jazz Symphony
- Enjoy the Holiday Reflections village at KC's Union Station between November 20th and January 1st
- The KC Symphony will be performing Handel's Messiah the first weekend of December and Christmas Festival the third weekend of December
- Watch Miracle on 34th Street at the Tivoli at the Nelson Atkins Art Center on December 15th and 17th
- Prepare to be dazzled at Powell Gardens' Festival of Lights from November 16th through December 30th
- Christmas at the Lake showcases hundreds of thousands of holiday lights along Longview Lake from November 22nd through December 31st
- Find more KC Christmas fun on the KC Parents website or the Visit KC official KC tourism website.
More Christmas fun in Missouri
- Have Breakfast with Santa at the Albrecht Kemper Museum of Art on December 2nd
- Watch the biggest holiday light display in Missouri light up, at the Holiday Park Lighting Ceremony, to be held at the Krug Park Lagoon at 6pm on November 24th
- Then, watch Hyde Park be transformed into the South Pole at the South Pole lighting ceremony at 6:30pm on November 24th
- Kids will love the Mayor's Children's Christmas Party at 10am on December 9th at the Bode Ice Arena
- Get your holiday best on for a Doll Tea Party at the Wyeth-Tootle Mansion on December 10th
- Holiday Cheer includes live performances from the St. Joseph Symphony and the St. Joseph Youth Chorale on December 16th at the Missouri Theatre
- Celebrate Downtown Holidays with carriage rides, cocoa, live music, and more, on Saturdays in December after the official tree lighting on November 25th
- For more info on holiday fun in Saint Joseph, visit the St. Joseph tourism site.
|Winter in historic East Village, photo courtesy of Catch Des Moines
- Drive through Adventureland's spectacular Jolly Holiday Lights where each night from November 17th to January 7th provides tons of holiday cheer and proceeds go to Make-a-Wish Iowa. Find more info here.
- Santa's Rock n Lights at Living History Farms shares more than a mile of holiday music and festive lighting with guests from November 24th to December 31st
- Ride the Santa Express on the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad any weekend between Thanksgiving and Christmas, more info here.
- Celebrate the season at the Blank Park Zoo. Find more information on these events on the Blank Park Zoo website.
- Ballet Des Moines presents The Nutcracker at the Hoyt Sherman Place. More information available from Ballet Des Moines.
- For more Des Moines Holiday fun, check out this post from Catch Des Moines, or visit the Des Moines Parents website, especially their list of Holiday Events in Des Moines.
More Christmas fun in Iowa
- Christmas Acres, "country Christmas" drive or walk-through lighted extravaganza, with over 100,000 lights, tons of inflatables, 100's of light up molded plastic characters, and other decorations, along with festive music and other fun. Free admittance, with donations requested for a local charity for those who are able to contribute. You can find the most up-to-date info about Christmas Acres on their Facebook page
- Pioneer Village Christmas Wonderland features Christmas lights and decorations, visits with Santa, and rides in lit and decorated horse drawn wagons! Find more info on the Pioneer Village Christmas Wonderland Facebook Page
- Relax at the Jazzed Up Christmas Party at the Roof Garden at Arnold's Park on December 2nd
- Rock out to the Shaun Johnson Holly Jolly Holiday Tour at the Roof Garden at Arnold's Park on December 15th
- For more info on more holiday events in the Okoboji area, visit the Vacation Okoboji website.
Want to go a bit further? Check out Christmas lights in Chicago with Angela from Dang Travelers or Christmas lights in Minneapolis with Mike of Give Me the Mike!
Whatever your destination is this holiday season, I hope you get to spend some time making special memories with your friends and family!