Wichita, Kan. – If you will be hosting your family or friends in Wichita during the upcoming holidays, Visit Wichita can help you make it a visit they won’t forget.
Show your guests why Livability.com named Wichita a “Top 10 Surprising Foodie City” by taking them out to a few of the 1,000 restaurants in Wichita that reflect our city’s appetite for brunch, lip-smacking barbecue, international cuisine, delicious steaks and more in settings ranging from fine dining to family-owned, independent fast food restaurants.
Don’t forget to show off the growing number of craft breweries Wichita has or stop for a specialty drink at one of the many local coffeehouses. And if you need snacks or desserts, your guests will love sampling at Nifty Nut House, selecting a handcrafted chocolate to savor in the chocolate lounge at Cocoa Dolce or stopping at other one-of-a-kind sweet spots like Churn & Burn or College Hill Creamery.
You’ll have no problem keeping your visitors busy during their stay in Wichita. For a helpful recap of the array of holiday festivities taking place, VisitWichita.com has blog posts on holiday activities that started in November and more festivities that are set to start in December. You can also search the website’s calendar of events or scroll through sample Wichita itineraries for suggestions on where to go and what to do. The same resources are available through the Visit Wichita app, which allows you to make and save plans in advance or will guide you in the moment with interactive features. The free app is downloadable for Apple or Android smartphones and tablets.
A few key holiday experiences include:
- Visitors to Bradley Fair can enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride through miles of crystal lights throughout Bradley Fair. Carriage rides are available through Dec. 23, from 6 to 10 p.m.
- Old Town Square Carriage Rides are also available. Riders can take in the ambiance along the brick-lined streets of Wichita’s Old Town, a historic and lively district known for its shopping, dining and entertainment options. They begin Nov. 19 and run through Dec. 17 and depart from the plaza from noon to 4 p.m.
- Illuminations at Botanica is an award-winning, family-friendly event, which boasts 1 million lights and runs from Nov. 25 through Dec. 30, and showcases Botanica’s 17 acres of beautiful gardens in a completely different light. This year, hundreds of thousands of lights and new themed displays are being added to make it Kansas’ largest holiday light display. More than 5,000 LED luminaries will line garden pathways, more than 120 trees will be expertly lit, and many structures will be lit with twinkling white lights. As visitors enjoy their walk through the gardens, they will enjoy the warm glow of luminaries, the sound of electric trains traveling around pine trees, the reflections of trees on the pond, the magic of the flocked forest at Candy Cane Lane, the fragrance of chimineas, the warmth of hot cocoa and cider and the joy of live musical groups.
- Holiday Show at Exploration Place: From Nov. 26 through Dec. 31, soak up the sights and sounds of the holiday season as the popular Kansas in Miniature exhibit at Exploration Place is decked out for a 1950s holiday, complete with a Christmas parade and nostalgic music.
- Holiday light tours on a party bus are available seven days a week, from Nov. 28 through Dec. 30. Groups can select where they would like to be picked up and can enjoy two hours of fun on a party bus, while stopping throughout the city to view some of the best light displays in town. Throughout December, there are also a variety of light tours that can be taken by the car load.
- See live reindeer and get your photo taken with them while sitting in Santa’s sleigh at Fulton Valley Farms. Visit www.fultonvalleyfarms.com/dashaway-reindeer for more information.
- Enjoy Christmas the cowboy way with the Christmas songs and comedy of the Prairie Rose Rangers at Prairie Rose Chuckwagon Supper’s Christmas on the Prairie. The Prairie Rose Ranch will be decorated in its entirety for Christmas from Dec. 2 through Dec. 17. The program also includes horse-drawn wagon rides, movies, the Silver Screen Cowboy Museum and the all-you-can-eat chuckwagon dinner.
- Another attraction your guests really shouldn’t miss is seeing the Keeper of the Plains. The nightly lighting ceremony is at 7 p.m. The plaza around the statue is being renovated, but the Keeper will remain visible throughout the work, however, there will be times when sections of the site will be temporarily cordoned off and inaccessible.
Other holiday events include:
Winter Art Mania at Wichita Art Museum: Decorated for the holidays and filled with galleries of gorgeous art, the museum is bustling and offers a range of joyful, interactive activities. The museum invites families and neighbors to attend with free admission and experience films, live music, artmaking activities, PopUp Tours, and scavenger hunts from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Nov. 26 through Dec. 31
Let it Snow! at the Boeing Dome Theater and Planetarium at Exploration Place: Enjoy this fun family show featuring holiday images and scenes set to favorite songs from Frank Sinatra to the Muppets.
A Jolly Jam at Exploration Place: Kick back and relax for an evening of adult holiday diversion. Make your own holiday drinks and décor and build a gingerbread house. Wear your best (or worst) holiday attire and sing along to seasonal tunes by a local a cappella group.
Trans-Siberian Orchestra performs "The Ghosts of Christmas Eve": Wichita is one of 60 North American cities where Trans-Siberian Orchestra will bring its winter tour, the live debut of "The Ghosts Of Christmas Eve." Based on TSO's multi-platinum DVD and long-running PBS fundraiser, the story follows the journey of a young runaway who breaks into an abandoned vaudeville theater on Christmas Eve seeking shelter from the cold and the ghostly visions she experiences from that concert hall's past.
Dec. 2-3 and Dec. 9-10
Let's Make Merry: A Victorian Christmas Celebration & Christmas Dinner: Join an annual holiday celebration in Old Cowtown Museum that provides entertainment to evoke your sense of nostalgia. Plus, stroll through the streets of Cowtown decorated for the holiday in 1880's style.
The Wichita Art Museum Holiday Open House: Celebrate the season with holiday refreshments, live music, and a visit with Santa Claus, courtesy of the Friends of the Wichita Art Museum.
Dec. 3 & 4
Wichita Symphony Orchestra's Tchaikovsky’s “Sweetest Suites” at Century II Concert Hall: The performance features music from Tchaikovsky's sweetest ballet suites, "The Nutcracker," "Swan Lake," and "Sleeping Beauty."
Seasons Treatings at Sedgwick County Zoo: Watch the animals receive special, holiday-themed treats.
Breakfast with Santa and his reindeer Dasher: Santa and his reindeer Dasher will be at Stearman Field Bar & Grill. Enjoy a breakfast buffet and family-friendly holiday fun.
Save money at attractions and local businesses
Don’t forget the discounts available at 11 Wichita-area attractions through the Explore Card. Guests pay full admission for each ticket at the first attraction they visit, then they are eligible to receive a $2 discount for each ticket purchased at the other participating attractions through Dec. 31, 2016. The card is free and available at the attractions (except the Kansas Aviation Museum) or at Visit Wichita’s office, 515 S. Main, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Explore Card participants: Botanica, Exploration Place, The Kansas African American Museum, Kansas Aviation Museum, Mid-America All-Indian Center, Museum of World Treasures, Old Cowtown Museum, Sedgwick County Zoo, Tanganyika Wildlife Park, Wichita Art Museum and Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum.
Another easy way to save a few dollars is to peruse the Visit Wichita Deals 'n Discounts.
Trivago rates Wichita third on its list of best value cities in the U.S. in 2016 based on the annual average price of a standard double room and the city’s average hotel rating. With more than 8,000 rooms, there are plenty of options for places to stay in Wichita. If your guests opt to stay at a hotel during their visit, Wichita has a wide variety to choose from, including economical motels, luxurious full-service hotels, extended stay properties and spacious family-friendly suites.