Downtown is Dazzling as holiday season nears a crescendo

Here’s the ho, ho, highlight reel for the busy and festive holiday week ahead in Downtown KC – Monday to Sunday, Dec. 18-Christmas Eve:

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 Tuesday.
  • 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 through March 11. 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 visit

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 week’s jam will feature Hailey Massengale from 4-6 p.m. Wednesday on board the streetcar and Cucharada from 4-6 p.m. Friday at the Union Station Streetcar stop.

Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts will set the stage(s) for a monumental week of holiday arts and entertainment that features The Nutcracker performed by the Kansas City Ballet; Christmas Festival performed by the Kansas City Symphony and Chorus; and more, including:

  • Christmas Festival – Join the Kansas City Symphony and Chorus for this spectacular holiday celebration filled with lush symphonic arrangements of Christmas classics, fresh versions of your favorite carols, and many melodic surprises. This holiday favorite features two more performances at 7 p.m. today (Monday) and Tuesday 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 classic for eight more shows from Wednesday through Sunday in the Muriel Kauffman Theatre.
  • Handel’s Messiah with Spire Chamber Ensemble – Messiah has rendered audiences breathless since its 1743 debut, and Spire’s annual performance has become a Kansas City tradition for the whole family.  Let the voices of Spire, and the virtuoso playing of the Spire Baroque Orchestra on original period instruments light up your holidays at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Helzberg Hall.
  •  A Nightmare Before Christmas – The wildly inventive world of Tim Burton’s macabre classic will be shown in its entirety on a huge screen this Screenland at the Symphony presentation. Danny Elfman’s rambunctious, colorful score will roar to life in the hands of the Kansas City Symphony as you follow Jack the Pumpkin King’s quest to seize Christmas. Performances are set for 7 p.m. Friday and 1 and 7 p.m. Saturday in Helzberg Hall.

Knuckleheads Saloon – the hottest venue in greater Downtown – features 10 shows this week, including Jimmy Bratcher’s Man, it’s Christmas Show at 8 p.m. Friday and Sky Smeed in the Gospel Lounge at 8 p.m. Saturday.

The Midland will be in the spirit of the season with two big shows, including Illenium with Said The Sky and Dabin at 8 p.m. Thursday and Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker at 7 p.m. Friday

Shen Yun returns to Downtown KC for long-awaited encore performances this weekend. China was once known as the “Land of the Divine,” its ancient culture was said to be inspired by the heavens. Shen Yun now brings this lost world back to life. You are invited to take this immersive journey to the distant past and realms even beyond the visible world. We’ve combined the incredibly expressive art form of classical Chinese dance, gorgeous orchestral works, brilliant costumes, and innovative effects to bring you an unparalleled theatrical experience. Performances are set for Friday and Saturday at the Music Hall.

The Truman will be on fire this week as The Floozies present their second annual Miracle on Funk Street with Late Night Radio and DJ Chicken Sammich at 9 p.m. Saturday.

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

  • Gingerbread House Display, courtesy of the Kansas City Culinary Arts School, is open daily through New Year’s Day.
  • Kansas City Southern’s Holiday Express Train – The magical holiday train continues its annual visit to Union Station today (Monday) and Tuesday. The Kansas City Southern Holiday Express train includes a smiling tank car Rudy; a flatcar carrying Santa’s sleigh, reindeer and a miniature village; a gingerbread boxcar; the elves’ workshop; the reindeer stable; and a little red caboose. This holiday treasure will be open today (Monday) from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. before its final day from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday.
  • Laser Holiday Magic – The Arvin Gottlieb Planetarium features a special laser light show that is set to holiday music. The laser holiday fun continues daily until Jan. 7 (except for Christmas Eve and Day).
  • Mini Holiday Express Train – the beloved holiday tradition from the Jones Store Downtown – is providing rides to children through New Year’s Day. Riders must be under 48″ tall. Click here for the mini train schedule and pricing.

LIVE THEATER is thriving on Downtown stages, which feature five 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.
  • Milking Christmas – This world premiere musical comedy directed by Missy Koonce runs through Saturday 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 runs through Saturday 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