The holiday spirit is alive and bright in these Missouri light showcases.
There’s something magical about the soft glow of holiday lights, dazzling with their reflections bouncing off the frozen ground. A peacefulness and calm come with the beauty of the lights. When night falls and the lights illuminate crisp winter air, we are transported back to our earliest memories of the holidays.
If you’re in search of the splendor that is holiday lights, you don’t have to go far from home. From drive-through parks to walking paths to holiday light running trails, you’re sure to find the perfect destination around our state to get you in the holiday spirit.
GARDEN GLOW — MISSOURI BOTANICAL GARDENS
St. Louis, MO
The first Garden Glow was held in 2013. “Typically, visitors see the 79 beautiful acres of the garden in the daylight, but there is something truly magical about seeing the garden at night,” says Catherine Martin, public information officer for Missouri Botanical Gardens. Admission fees benefit the Missouri Botanical Garden, which is the nation’s oldest botanical garden in continuous operation and a national historic landmark. “More than one million lights twinkle at the Missouri Botanical Garden during Glow, illuminating the garden’s landscape and historic buildings,” Catherine adds. “You can enjoy a winter walk through the garden with family and friends and warm up with a holiday beverage, s’mores around the fire, or with a holiday tour of Tower Grove House, all while strolling through a stunning light display. Each year, there’s something new to see as we continue to make the display even better for new guests and those who have made it part of their annual holiday traditions.”
The display runs November 17 to January 1 from 5 to 10 p.m., with the last entry at 9 p.m. It runs every night except for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at 4344 Shaw Blvd.
St. Joseph, MO
The Holiday Park in St. Joseph, also known as the North Pole, began in 1981 to bring back an organized Christmas lights display to the community. “A group of optimists from the East Hills Optimists Club pitched the idea of turning Krug Park into a winter wonderland during the Christmas holiday season to the parks director,” says Julie Noel, special events and communications coordinator for the Parks, Recreation, and Civic Facilities Department of the City of St. Joseph. The local public schools had a competition to name the mile drive-through park, “Holiday Park” winning out. “Local groups volunteer to sing holiday songs in the park. There is no set schedule for when these performances will occur, so it is always a fun surprise for people traveling through the park during a performance,” says Julie. The parks department takes great pride in decorating both Krug Park and Hyde Park in St. Joseph for the holidays. “Many people travel back to St. Joseph just to drive through the park and relive their childhood memories while making new memories with their children and grandchildren,” adds Julie.
The display runs at 3500 St. Joseph Avenue November 23 through January 1 every night from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Free will donation is accepted to help with continuation of the lights.
POWELL GARDENS FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS
Powell Gardens Festival of Lights is illuminated by KC Power & Light and began in 2017. You’ll find Kansas City’s Botanical Garden on Highway 50, about 40 minutes east of Kansas City. “This initiative brings life and activity during a time when the gardens are generally dormant,” says Kalie Hudson, marketing and sales manager of the gardens. Powell Gardens is a nonprofit, and funds raised through the event support the organization. Displays are set up along a mile-long walking path through the gardens. “The displays are conceptualized and installed by our amazing horticulture team. Their creativity and hard work bring these beautiful ideas to life,” says Kalie. “We are truly unique in the area in that the display is a walking pathway through a beautiful botanical garden. We are outside city limits, and noise and light pollution are virtually nonexistent, allowing for a calming, joyful experience during a bustling holiday season.”
The display runs November 23 through January 6 Thursday through Sunday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. at 1609 N.W. U.S. Highway 50.
LATCHFORD CHRISTMAS LIGHTS
In the small town of Callao, Missouri, you’ll find Latchford Christmas Lights. This year marks the 27th year Bruce and Vicki Latchford (plus family and friends) have put on their display at their home. It all started when Vicki asked for an outdoor nativity scene for Christmas, and it has grown from there to a five-acre walking trail on their property that extends into their neighbor’s yard. “Our little town is probably 290 people, and last year, more than 20,000 people signed the guest book,” says Vicki. Their displays off er visitors a classic Christmas with antique displays mixed in with new designs of their creation. There are characters and sleighs that kids and kids-at-heart can take photos with as well. “It’s fun to see the families come out,” says Vicki. “I think it’s a must-see display because they can interact more by getting outside and taking their time walking through with hot chocolate.” The Latchfords offer their display free to the public; the donation box helps to fund the electricity. In addition to their lights display, the Latchfords also decorate American Legion Post 360 Callao with military Christmas decorations.
The display runs November 22 through January 1 every night from 5:15 to 10 p.m. on 518 E. Second St.
CAPITAL CITY FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS
Jefferson City, MO
“Load up your car and head out to Binder Park to enjoy this magical holiday season with friends and family all while helping out others in your community,” says Sarah Wood, director of operations for Homemaker Health Care, a local nonprofit organization. This is the second year HHC is putting on the display as a community fundraiser to bring awareness to help seniors and people with disabilities right here in the Jefferson City community. All proceeds from the event will go toward HHC and other local charities that help with the event. “What better way to help out others in your community while enjoying this magical holiday season drive-through park with your friends and family?” says Sarah. “Our goal is not just to have lights but to entertain our visitors with choreographed displays that are synced to music that plays over a radio station in the visitors’ cars.”
The drive-through light park is located at Binder Park. The fundraiser runs from December 1 to December 31 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and is closed on Mondays.
Other must-see light attractions in Missouri:
THE MAGIC TREE
November 30 to January 6 from dusk to 11 p.m. at The Village of Cherry Hill, 4200 Merchant St.
THE ENCHANTED VILLAGE OF LIGHTS AT LAURIE FAIRGROUNDS
November 16 to January 1 from 5 to 9 p.m. (10 p.m. on weekends) at 269 Fairgrounds Dr.
UNITY CIRCLE OF LIGHTS
November 25 to January 1 from dark until midnight at Highway 5 and Highway 52.
Kansas City, MO
Thanksgiving to mid-January from sundown to 3 a.m. at 4706 Broadway.
BIG RIVER RUNNING COMPANY THREE-MILE RUN/WALK THROUGH CANDY CANE LANE
St. Louis, MO
Most weeknights in December from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at 5352 Devonshire Ave.
ST. LOUIS ZOO WILD LIGHTS
St. Louis, MO
November 22 to December 30 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at 1 Government Dr.
TILLES PARK WINTER WONDERLAND
St. Louis, MO
November 21 to December 29 (closed Christmas Eve) from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. at 9551 Litzsinger Rd.
AN OLD TIME CHRISTMAS — SILVER DOLLAR CITY
November 3 to December 30 during park hours at 399 Silver Dollar City Pkwy.