Holiday magic fills the air & stages of Downtown this week

The Kansas City Ballet presents ‘The Nutcracker’ beginning Thursday at the Kauffman Center. (Photo courtesy of Brett Pruitt, KCBalletMedia.)

From The Nutcracker to Handel’s Messiah, from the Urban Homes Tour to Kansas Jayhawk basketball, this is the busiest and most wonderful time of the year for arts & entertainment in Downtown KC. Here’s the ho, ho, highlight reel for the busy ahead – Monday to Sunday, Dec. 4-10:

The City Market presents its annual gift of Whoville Holidays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. this weekend and next. Dress up as a Whoville character and visit the Grinch and Cindy Lou Who in their Whoville home located in the center of City Market Square. It is open to the public and FREE with the suggested donation to the Help a Who campaign: three canned goods for Harvesters or a new toy in original packaging for the Salvation Army.

‘Whoville Holidays’ returns to The City Market this weekend and next.

Crown Center will is totally in the holiday spirit with family-friendly fun at every turn, including:

  • Santa’s Gingerbread Station – Kids and families can explore this interactive exhibit, meet and have their photo taken with Santa Claus, climb aboard the Crown Center Express Train Engine, and enjoy Gingerbread Village. No admission fee. Photos with Santa are available for a fee, or you may take your own. Open during Crown Center Shops holiday hours now through New Year’s Eve.
  • EBT Santa’s Countdown to Christmas – EBT Laughing Santa, who first appeared at KC’s Emery, Bird, Thayer department store in the early 1900s, has been providing memories for new generations at Crown Center since 1979. Children of all ages will marvel at this Jolly Ol’ Soul as he chuckles his way through the holiday season while counting down the days until Christmas. Open during Crown Center Shops holiday hours now through New Year’s Eve.
  • Holiday Choirs will light up the Crown Center atrium, as more than 130 area school, church and community choirs perform daily through Dec. 19.
  • Ice Terrace – Kansas City’s only public outdoor ice skating rink is open for its 45th season of great skating fun! The rink is open daily at 10 a.m. Visit the Ice Terrace website for hours and fees.

Downtown Dazzle – your complete Downtown KC holiday experience through Jan. 1. Now in its fourth year, Dazzle brings people together from across the region to explore all neighborhoods of Downtown KC and celebrate the season with holiday lights, special experiences and dining and shopping exclusives. For a complete guide to a dazzling array of holiday fun this week – particularly the free Urban Homes Tour of Downtown’s trendiest residential properties from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday – visit

Folly Theater will be festive form this week with two very special events, including:

  • The Folly Goes Country – Make plans now to welcome the hot country duo Walker McGuire for the 3rd annual Folly Frolic benefit concert at 8 p.m. Wednesday. With tickets only $20, this is a great opportunity to see these rising stars – Nashville’s Jordan Walker and Kansas City native, Johnny McGuire  – before they become the next big country artists. And, the benefit will support the Folly’s Operations and Programming budget, as well as to maintain the historic theater.
  • Spanish Harlem Orchestra, the two-time Grammy-winning, Salsa and Latin Jazz Band, sets the standard for excellence for authentic, New York style, hardcore salsa.  Now in its 14th year, SHO will perform the sounds of the barrio, when they take the Folly stage at 8 p.m. Saturday.
Live music – via the Holiday Jam – on the KC Streetcar is a featured attraction of Downtown Dazzle.

Holiday Jam – Hop on board the KC Streetcar this weekend and enjoy some live music from some of our local musicians. Enhance your Downtown Dazzle holiday experience by riding the FREE KC Streetcar and jamming to some tunes while heading to Union Station, Crown Center, the City Market, the Sprint or Midland Theaters, or the KC Power & Light District. This weekend’s jam will feature Enrique Chi at 5 p.m. Friday; They Call Me Sauce at 6 p.m. Friday; and American Slim at 4 p.m. Saturday.

Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts will set the stage(s) for a monumental week of holiday arts and entertainment that features the opening The Nutcracker performed by the Kansas City Ballet; Handel’s Messiah performed by the Kansas City Symphony; and more:

  • Tuba Christmas – One of the most popular performances of the year features tuba players from the Kansas City area and members of the Kansas City Symphony, as they perform the sounds of the season tuba-style in two sold-out concerts at noon today (Monday) and Friday in Helzberg Hall.
  • The Nutcracker – This classic story is set to the celebrated Tchaikovsky’s score and wrapped with sparkling costumes, exquisite sets and captivating choreography. See your children’s wonder ignite and feel the glimmer once more as your childhood dreams return and inspire you to IMAGINE AGAIN. The Kansas City Ballet presents this timeless class beginning Thursday and over 20 performances through Christmas Eve in the Muriel Kauffman Theatre.
  • Handel’s Messiah – This mosaic of the scriptures remains Handel’s most famous work, and it is one of the most triumphant choral pieces ever written. The impeccable acoustics of Helzberg Hall together with the  Kansas City Symphony and Chorus make this THE Messiah performance of the season! Performances are set for 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday.

Knuckleheads Saloon – the rockin’est venue in greater Downtown – features 13 different gigs this week, including the Maria the Mexican Christmas Show at 8 p.m. Saturday and the Fish Fry Christmas Show with the Funky Butt Brass Band at 7 p.m. Sunday

The Midland will be rockin’ this week with five shows, including:

  • Kodak Black – one of the hottest hip hop artists on the scene – performing at 8 p.m. Monday; 
  • Brain Candy Live starring Adam Savage and Michael Stevens at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday;
  • My Favorite Murder Livethe touring production of the wildly popular crime comedy podcast, at 8 and 10:30 p.m. Saturday; and
  • The Hip Hop Nutcracker is a holiday mash-up for the entire family, a contemporary re-imagination of Tchaikovsky’s timeless music, that opens at 6 p.m. Sunday.

Power & Light District will be celebrating the holidays this week with three special events, including”

  • Bubbles Off the Block – Give bubbly this holiday season! Enjoy more than 65+ champagne & sparkling wines, small bites & a silent auction benefiting Kansas City CARE Clinic from 7-9 p.m. Thursday at The Gallery Event Space. Click here for ticket information.
  • Urban Homes Tour – View One Light and Two Light luxury apartments while touring Downtown’s trendiest residential properties. Participants are invited to explore at their leisure from 10 a.m.-5 p .m. Saturday.
  • S’mores with Santa – Watch the Polar Express & enjoy s’mores at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, followed by photos with Santa Claus (bring your own camera!). Click here for ticket info.

Sprint Center is preparing for a major league week with three big-time events, including:

  • Jayhawk Shootout returns to Downtown KC this week as the No. 4 ranked Kansas Jayhawks take on the Washington Huskies in a non-conference basketball showdown at 8 p.m. Wednesday;
  • Christmas with Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith – These multi-platinum, GRAMMY® winners co-bill their popular Christmas tour this holiday season with a much-anticipated visit to KC at 7:30 p.m. Friday. They will be joined by Republic recording artist Jordan Smith, Season 9 winner of NBC’s The Voice.
  • Trans-Siberian Orchestra, the critically-acclaimed, musical powerhouse, returns to Downtown KC this week with a completely updated presentation of its unforgettable “The Ghosts of Christmas Eve” experience. TSO will present two shows – at 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday.

The Truman will feature The Wood Brothers in concert at 8 p.m. today (Monday). National Public Radio’s World Cafe recently raved that “there is so much warmth, soul and musicianship at a Wood Brothers show, it’s no surprise that the band’s audience keeps growing.”

Union Station is immersed in the holiday spirit with Holidays Come Alive – complete with a spectacular, lighted holiday tree – and special features including:

  • Mini Holiday Express Train – the beloved holiday tradition from the Jones Store Downtown – is providing rides to children throughout the season. Riders must be under 48″ tall. Click here for the mini train schedule and pricing.
  • Merry Science – a day jam-packed full of holiday-themed science and Maker fun in Science City – is on tap from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Click here for more details.
  • Holiday Swing – The 7th annual “Holiday Swing” Indie Craft Fair will feature more than 100 handmade and vintage vendors of Strawberry Swing from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

LIVE THEATER is thriving on Downtown stages, which feature six productions this week:

  • A Charlie Brown Christmas – The animated classic will come to life on stage, complete with a live jazz trio will play the original Vince Guaraldi arrangements. Join Charlie Brown on this memorable journey, which runs through Christmas Eve at The Coterie.
  • Christmas in Song – Celebrate the joy of the Christmas season through its beloved songs and carols as the Quality Hill Playhouse presents its 16th annual holiday celebration. Performances run through Christmas Eve.
  • Les Miserables – Cameron Mackintosh presents the new production of Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg’s Tony Award®-winning musical phenomenon, direct from an acclaimed two-and-a-half-year return to Broadway. This Theater League production opens Tuesday and continues through Sunday at the Music Hall.
  • Milking Christmas – This world premiere musical comedy directed by Missy Koonce runs through Dec. 23 at The Living Room.
  • Raggedy Ann and Andy’s Christmas Adventure – a production of Theatre for Young America – continues through Dec. 30 on the City Stage at Union Station.
  • A Spectacular Christmas Show, featuring holiday tunes from Musical Theater, innovative arrangements of Holiday classics, a three-minute Nutcracker and more! This jam-packed holiday treat opens Thursday and runs through Dec. 23 at MTH Theater at Crown Center.

ARTS – your guide to arts and culture in greater Kansas City:

LIVE MUSIC – of all tastes and flavors – is performed at these Downtown venues on most nights:

MUSEUMS are alive and well throughout Downtown, including these 16 destinations:

For more of what’s happening in Downtown and Kansas City, check out our friends at