The reasons to visit Kansas City often boil down to two components, legendary jazz and mouth-watering barbecue. However, around the holiday season, Kansas City seems to shine a little brighter than the rest. The city has built up a reputation for its bold and beautiful light displays throughout November, December and January. From nearly 90 year old holiday light displays to decked out trains rolling up to Kansas City’s Union Station, Kansas City doesn’t disappoint with holiday highlights for visitors to appreciate.
The Plaza Lights: Kansas City’s Country Club Plaza area comes alive during the holiday season with thousands of lights. Spanning every dome, tower, and window throughout the Spanish inspired shopping district, the lights turn on in time for Thanksgiving and shine until mid January. The tradition began in 1925 when a single string of lights was placed over a store entrance. Since that time, the display has grown to cover 15 blocks of the Country Club Plaza. The switch is flipped from 5PM to 3AM nightly. In addition to accomplishing holiday shopping while enjoying the lights, there are also plenty of carriage rides available and carolers to appreciate.
The Mayor’s Christmas Tree: For more holiday cheer in Kansas City, the Mayor’s Christmas Tree has been lighting up the Crown Center for decades. The tree itself shines with over 7,200 lights and measures 100 feet tall, rivaling some of the East Coast’s most famous displays. While you’re basking at the Mayor’s Christmas Tree, which benefits the Mayor’s Christmas Tree Fund, you can also visit the city’s only public outdoor ice skating rink at the Crown Center. Admission to the rink costs $6.
The Holidays at Union Station: Aside from visiting Kansas City’s Union Station to appreciate its grand architecture, the train station is also worth a look at the holidays. Trees and lights adorn the station’s Grand Hall. Union Station also fills the holiday calendar with plays, performances and sing-alongs. However, perhaps the most spirited event occurs just before Christmas when the holiday train, the Kansas City Southern Holiday Express Train, rolls into the station for a 5-day visit. The train features a smiling tank car and even a car for Santa to arrive to Kansas City in grand fashion.
The Northern Lights at Zona Rosa: The shopping district just north of Kansas City features one of the city’s boldest light displays. Giant crowns are hung above the streets and lit up in royal style. Zona Rosa also features a Christmas tree in the town square but it is the crowns that create a truly distinctive holiday display.
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