December kicks the holiday season into full throttle in Wichita, from one-night-only events to ongoing activities throughout the month. Every major attraction in the city offers festivities, and you can see holiday lights from the air, on foot, on a trolley tour, while riding in a horse-drawn carriage or from the comfort of your vehicle.
If you missed our November blog post, be sure to check out Six things to do in Wichita in November to get in the holiday spirit for a number of events that started in November and continue into December, like Illuminations at Botanica, Exploration Place shows and exhibits and Prairie Rose Chuckwagon Supper's Christmas on the Prairie programs.
The sequel to that holiday blog post is below, our picks for classic Wichita events to enjoy in December. Since we can't include all of our favorites, visit www.visitwichita.com/holiday/ for an extensive and evolving list of holiday happenings.
A Night With Santa & Downtown Lighting Ceremony
Century II Performing Arts & Convention Center
Admission free (donations of canned or boxed goods benefiting the Kansas Food Bank are encouraged)
This community event begins outdoors on the Kennedy Plaza with Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell and City Council members hosting a tree lighting from 6-6:40 p.m. There will be a special visit from Santa, fireworks over the Arkansas River and carols sung by the Newman Troubadours and Heartspring Choral Sensations.
The doors to Century II open at 6:30 p.m. for the indoor celebration, which is geared for kids ages 12 and under and stays open until 8:30 p.m. Activities include bingo, cake walk, carnival games, inflatables and a live reindeer. You can take photos with Santa using your own camera or professional photos may be purchased. Food and drinks are available for sale (cash only). There will be a drawing at 8:20 for decorated live Christmas trees and kids' bicycles.
"Dickens of a Christmas"
Dec. 4 & 5, 11 & 12, 18 & 19
Old Cowtown Museum
Admission $7.75 adults; $6.50 seniors (62 and older); $6 ages 12-17; $5.50 ages 5-11; free ages 4 & under and museum members.
Old Cowtown Museum is marking its 40th anniversary of celebrating Christmas with a new and expanded celebration over three weekends in December. Regular admission tickets allow visitors entry onto the grounds each evening of "Dickens of a Christmas," which brings to life Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" throughout the museum. You'll find Bob Cratchit inside the First Arkansas Valley Bank working on the books, Scrooge buying a Christmas goose inside the Meat Market and other scenes from the holiday classic re-created.
Adding to the Dickens-inspired entertainment will be familiar Christmas activities and traditions:
• Santa Claus in Santa's Workshop
• Christmas carolers strolling the streets
• Christmas crafts and activities for kids
• Cookies, cocoa and unique Christmas gifts for sale
Old Cowtown Museum also offers a limited number of Christmas dinner tickets for each Saturday of "Dickens of a Christmas" that includes a catered dinner as well as entry onto the grounds. Christmas dinner tickets must be bought in advance.
Wichita Symphony Orchestra's Handel's "Messiah"
Dec. 5 & 6
3 p.m. & 8 p.m.
Century II Concert Hall
Last performed by the Wichita Symphony in 2000, Handel's "Messiah" evokes the pure joy of the holidays with jubilant melodies and the famous "Hallelujah Chorus." With orchestrations by none other than Mozart, this BIG Messiah will lift the spirits of all and begin the holiday season of celebrations.
Ballet Wichita's "The Nutcracker"
Dec. 12 & 13
2 p.m. & 7 p.m.
Century II Concert Hall
Ballet Wichita will perform the annual favorite "The Nutcracker," a tale of holiday adventure that follows a little girl's journey through a fantasy world of fairies, princes, toy soldiers and an army of mice. The performance features the Ballet Wichita Orchestra with guest artists from Dance Theatre of Harlem and a cast of more than 100 Ballet Wichita company dancers.
4 p.m. & 8 p.m.
INTRUST Bank Arena
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. The rocking holiday tradition features "Christmas Eve Sarajevo 12/24," "O' Come All Ye Faithful," "Good King Joy," "Christmas Canon," "Music Box Blues," "Promises To Keep" and "This Christmas Day."