Christmas in Missouri – Customs and Traditions

Christmas in Missouri is absolutely delightful!

Missouri offers a wide range of holiday activities, from low-key gatherings to festive celebrations. Spend quality time with your loved ones during your trip to the region while enjoying the enchanting light displays, ice skating, and a diverse array of seasonal festivities, not to mention the delicious food and drinks. Missouri boasts unique traditions and customs that are exclusive to the state. Let’s explore some of the most prevalent customs and traditions that make Christmas in Missouri special.

Festive sights

Christmas in Missouri is synonymous with spectacular light displays. In the state, particularly in Kansas City, you’ll be enchanted by thousands of jewel-toned lights adorning the streets. This radiant tradition is a must-see, with a fifteen-block shopping district brightly illuminated, creating a mesmerizing scene that keeps visitors returning each year.

Missouri is home to a host of distinctive Christmas traditions, and the dazzling lights are a central part. The streets are adorned with over 6.5 million lights and thousands of decorated trees during the holiday season. Don’t miss the captivating “Wild Lights” at the St. Louis Zoo, a unique experience running from late November through December.

Cruising with Santa

Among the most cherished traditions in Missouri is the delightful experience of cruising with Santa. During your visit to the state, you’ll have the opportunity to savor local cuisine and explore various regions. An evening boat cruise on one of the state’s picturesque lakes offers a unique perspective of Missouri’s holiday charm.

You can opt for a morning cruise, relishing a sunrise backdrop while indulging in Santa’s pancakes and enjoying lively musical performances. This experience is a special treat for your loved ones, especially the little ones who can immerse themselves in the enchanting spirit of Christmas at this exceptional destination.

Drive through the lights of joy

Some of the most enchanting Christmas lights can be witnessed along the streets of St. Louis, Missouri. These lights are unlike any other found elsewhere on the planet. During your visit to this region, you’ll have the opportunity to connect with people from various parts of the world, creating a sense of unity and festive joy.

The “Magical Mile” is renowned as one of the most brilliantly illuminated drives in the state. As technology advances, the LED lights become even more dazzling, transforming the area into a mesmerizing spectacle.

Countless cars drive through this illuminated wonderland, ensuring that you’ll witness some of the most extraordinary holiday lighting displays in the region.

Explore the region with the Polar Express

One of the most distinctive ways to explore the region is by embarking on a journey with the Polar Express. The Polar Express offers an exceptional family-friendly train ride that provides a close encounter with the local environment and the region’s residents.

To make the most of this experience, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with the train’s schedule, which will allow you to efficiently explore various parts of the area. This enchanting train ride promises to be an unforgettable adventure for all.

Garden lights

When you visit Powell Gardens in Kingsville, you’ll be treated to mesmerizing light displays. With over 20 miles of lights adorning the expansive landscape, the enchanting scenery will surely captivate you during your trip. What’s more, the region’s greenhouse undergoes a delightful transformation into a holiday-themed tiki bar, complete with incredible music and tropical plants.

On the other hand, the Missouri Botanical Garden stands as one of the state’s most immaculate locations. It boasts a spectacle of over a million lights that illuminate the entire area. This stunning display is accompanied by live music, an assortment of drinks and food, and a variety of celebrations, including Kwanza. A visit to this garden promises a unique and memorable experience.

Ice skating

Ice skating is a cherished and long-standing tradition in the region. Many individuals consider it an essential part of their holiday celebrations, providing the perfect opportunity to enjoy the activity with friends and family during the Christmas season. The state features numerous outdoor rinks, ensuring you have plenty of options to make the most of your visit.

All you need are your mittens, a warm jacket, and your ice-skating shoes to explore the fantastic rinks available. You’ll have the chance to join local residents and share unforgettable moments. Public skating sessions typically run from late November through January, offering ample opportunities to partake in this festive tradition. Don’t miss out on this timeless and delightful experience during your visit.

Watch the Christmas light parade

Christmas light parades are a widespread and beloved tradition that takes place in various parts of the state, adding a touch of magic and sparkle to the holiday season. These enchanting parades are typically held in December, and the spectacle continues throughout the month.

When visiting the state of Missouri, one must-see destination during your travels is Silver Dollar City in Branson. This renowned theme park hosts a remarkable light parade that unfolds during the evening hours. Be sure to immerse yourself in the festive atmosphere and join the enthusiastic crowds gathered to witness this extraordinary display of holiday lights. It’s a festive tradition that will undoubtedly enhance your Christmas experience in the state.

Steam train ride

One of the most cherished and quintessential Christmas traditions you can partake in during your visit to this region is the enchanting steam train ride. The steam train promises an unforgettable journey as it winds through the breathtaking Ozark mountains, offering you an opportunity to explore various scenic areas of the region.

During your delightful train ride, you will be serenaded by the melodic strains of Christmas carols, creating a festive atmosphere that’s perfect for the holiday season. In addition to the joyful music, the story of nativity unfolds before your eyes, adding a heartwarming touch to your experience.

This magical steam train ride is particularly well-suited for young children, making it an ideal choice for families looking to create lasting holiday memories. While on board, you’ll be treated to captivating films and surrounded by the awe-inspiring landscapes that characterize this region, providing you with the most beautiful views imaginable.

Go Christmas shopping

For many visitors to the state of Missouri, the Plaza region is an absolute must-visit. If you’re looking to check off your holiday shopping list and discover the perfect gifts, this is the place to be. The shopping malls in this area offer an exceptional shopping experience, ensuring you’ll find the ideal gifts and items for your loved ones.

As you explore these malls, you’ll be immersed in a winter wonderland of festive decorations. Thousands of ornaments, Christmas trees, and an array of nativity scenes adorn the surroundings, creating a magical atmosphere that’s bound to get you into the holiday spirit.

This shopping adventure is not only about finding the perfect gifts but also about transforming your own home with exquisite Christmas decorations, adding a touch of Yuletide charm to your surroundings. So, indulge in the joy of holiday shopping while experiencing the festive delight of the Plaza region.

St. Louis Zoo Christmas Lights

If you’re planning a trip to the state of Missouri, don’t miss the opportunity to explore the various regions with amazing Christmas traditions. Each year, the region hosts a remarkable Christmas lighting event that promises a truly exceptional experience. To get the full effect, consider visiting in the evening when the enchanting holiday lights come to life.

As you wander through the area, you’ll be treated to a mesmerizing display of unique lighting systems. One of the highlights of this experience is the presence of cozy fire pits scattered around the zoo, where you can warm up while marveling at the captivating illumination.

What sets this display apart is the harmonious blend of innovative lighting and the presence of delightful animals, making it one of the most outstanding and memorable attractions in the state. So, be sure to include a visit to the St. Louis Zoo Christmas Lights in your holiday plans.

Christmas fruitcake

In the state of Missouri, one of the most cherished traditions during the Christmas season is the consumption of fruitcakes. Students from the College of the Ozarks are actively involved in producing thousands of delectable jams, fruitcakes, apple butter, and preserves throughout the year. As you explore the state, you’ll encounter the heavenly aroma that wafts from their kitchens.

What sets these fruitcakes apart is the use of an original old-fashioned recipe that ensures you savor the finest fruitcakes the region has to offer. These recipes have been passed down since the 1930s, and they continue to delight locals and visitors alike. While you’re in the area, don’t miss the opportunity to acquire a wide array of delectable treats for your friends and family, with the Christmas fruitcake standing out as a must-try delicacy.


Gingerbread cookies for Christmas.

Gingerbread, a cherished holiday treat, awaits your taste buds during your journey through the region. You’ll have the opportunity to indulge in some of the area’s exceptional gingerbread creations. Located at the lake resort, the Chateau is renowned for its gingerbread.

Visiting this iconic location is a common tradition among the people of Missouri, who flock to the Chateau for their gingerbread fix or to learn the art of gingerbread making. If you make the trip to this region, you’ll even have the chance to learn the techniques involved in crafting this delightful treat. Don’t hesitate to tap into the knowledge and expertise of volunteers who are eager to guide you through the gingerbread baking process.

Choosing your own Christmas tree 

Selecting your very own Christmas tree is among the most cherished traditions you’ll get to experience during your Missouri journey. Venturing into the Ozark region, you’ll have the chance to personally pick a tree for the holiday season. Typically, it’s the men in the family who embark on this seasonal quest, seeking out trees like cypress or spruce, among others.

While artificial trees are readily available in the market, there’s something truly special about immersing yourself in the natural surroundings and handpicking your Christmas tree. The process of felling a tree, loading it into your car, and then setting it up in your home while the fresh scent of pine fills the air is an unforgettable experience that will enhance your trip to the region.

Enjoy a wheel spin

A popular tradition in Missouri during the Christmas season is taking a ride on the Ferris wheel. The Branson Ferris wheel stands out as one of the iconic attractions in the state, offering a unique and memorable experience. During the Christmas period, this Ferris wheel is adorned with thousands of lights, giving it a truly exceptional and festive appearance.

When you visit with your loved ones, you can look forward to an amazing time during your trip to the region. This is a fantastic opportunity to immerse yourself in a diverse crowd, interacting with people from all parts of the country and around the world. Don’t miss the chance to enjoy a ride on this beautifully lit Ferris wheel and take in the scenic beauty of the majestic Ozark mountains, making your visit to Missouri even more special.


Let’s learn more about Christmas in other US states:

Aurimas Bio

Hi there! I’m Aurimas, a man behind Go Look Explore. I’m passionate about hiking, exploring off-the-beaten-path destinations, and everything outdoors related. Let’s connect.