When it comes to the holiday season, the Joplin metro area doesn’t disappoint.
The 51st annual Joplin Christmas parade, back after the pandemic-induced hiatus from last year and with a “Cruisin’ to Christmas” theme, will wind its way from 15th to Third streets in downtown Joplin.
Just a few miles east is Vision Carthage’s Hometown Holidays on the Carthage square, a 37-day holiday festival opening Friday, Nov. 26. It will offer a number of activities, including a synthetic ice skating rink, a snow maze and a 30-foot-tall slide.
Elsewhere are a handful of traditional small-town parades, themed races, Christmas-colored lighting ceremonies, holiday lighting displays, musical concerts and, at several locations, Christmas-themed plays.
But what about holiday festivals and events elsewhere in Missouri? According to Missouri Division of Tourism officials, here are several can’t-miss displays that will be filled with “hot chocolate, candy canes, festive foods and amazing lighting displays.”
• An Old Time Christmas is a long-running festival at Silver Dollar City in Branson. It’s open to the public through the end of December and displays 6.5 million Christmas lights as well as daily live shows, including “Home for Christmas,” a new Broadway-style show held inside the Red Gold Heritage Hall. There’s also plenty of food, 60 shops selling Christmas items and Santa’s Cottage, where kids can directly tell St. Nick what they want beneath the Christmas tree.
• Now open through the end of December, Kansas City’s Festival of Lights, located at Powell Gardens, showcases more than 20 miles of lights along a lighted outdoor path. New this year is the Magic Tree, which is covered with more than 3.5 miles of lights.
• Holiday Reflections, the walk-through holiday village located at Kansas City’s Union Square, has been expanded for 2021. Its massive Grand Plaza features Christmas lights, dozens of decorated trees and giant mirrored ornaments. Rudy’s Wonderland, a longtime kids’ favorite, has also been expanded this year, including the mini holiday express train.
• One of the Kansas City area’s largest outdoor light displays is located in Lee’s Summit. The 34th annual Christmas in the Park, which is open Wednesday, Nov. 24, through the end of December, offers a half-million lights and 175 animated displays in a drive-thru experience.
• A five-hour drive to St. Louis may be worth it to experience Garden Glow, now open through Jan. 8, at the Missouri Botanical Garden, featuring 1 million lights, s’mores, festive drinks and too many photo opportunities to count.