17 Holiday Events That Homeschoolers Enjoy Around KC

Kansas City holiday events that homeschoolers enjoy
This photo of one of Kansas City’s most well-known holiday events, the Plaza lights, is courtesy of Katie Ward.

Several of Kansas City’s holiday events and activities have become annual favorites with area homeschoolers!

Ready to make this year’s Christmas season extra special for your family? Check out these popular recommendations below:

1. The Nutcracker Suite at Kauffman Center (or a school performance).

From the mouse king battling toy soldiers to the “snowfall” inside the theater, this performance by the Kauffman Center has something for all ages.

Note: Some homeschool moms recommend attending school performances of The Nutcracker or A Christmas Carol, if the Kauffman Center is too stressful on the family budget.

2. The Mystery of Christmas.

As an alternative twist on “The Nutcracker,” check out this Dramatic Truth Ballet Theatre performance.  Instead of going to the Land of Snow, Clara gets to travel to Jerusalem on the night of Jesus’ birth. The play is set to Tchaikovsky’s music and features international ethnic dances to welcome the Savior.

Another note for thrifty moms: Group discounts are also available!

3. Crown Center (Christmas Land, Kaleidoscope).

Not all holiday events have to be expensive to make a lasting impression. Kids love the super-sized Crayola products at Crown Center‘s Christmas Land, which is open for free through Dec. 31. Kaleidoscope also offers fantastic crafts for children.

4. Journey to Judea (sold out) and Road to Bethlehem.

Journey to Judea is a free, interactive Christmas experience is hosted by Countryside Baptist Church in Olathe. Church members portray scenes from scripture on four nights of hour-long outdoor tours, with groups of 30-50 people in each tour.

Update for 2018: We have heard from members that Journey to Judea has sold out for this year.

If you’re in Missouri, a closer journey may be “Road to Bethlehem,” which will be hosted at Red Bridge Baptist Church in KCMO.

5. Trilogy Cultural Arts Centre’s Christmas Spectacular Show.

We heard about this in one of the comments on this blog post! The 2018 Nutcracker Sweet show has a discount rate for groups of 20 or more.

We also like the centre’s mission as stated on its website: “to provide excellence in a nurturing arts training environment where the artist and family can flourish in community, creativity and integrity.”

6. The Plaza.

Ah, that magical moment on Thanksgiving Day when all the lights turn on and the Kansas City Plaza area is transformed! Some families choose not to go at that time, though, because of the huge crowds. They’ll drive through the streets later with their families, often with cups of steaming hot chocolate or apple cider.

Other homeschool moms suggest purchasing a carriage ride as an extra-special treat for the kids.

7. Christmas in the Park.

This dazzling, free winter wonderland opens with “Christmas in the Sky.” Enjoy a gorgeous display of fireworks that go off in time to the Christmas music simulcast on 99.7 The Point. Afterward, your family can savor the hundreds of animated displays, lovingly decorated with hundreds of thousands of Christmas lights!

Be prepared to pack snacks and plan on long lines if you’re going to opening night. Tip: Go during the week when the lines are shorter.

Approximately 200,000 people a year go to “Christmas in the Park,” according to Jackson County’s website, and its popularity shows no sign of abating!

Bonus: The Lee’s Summit Magic Tree is nearby, too!

8. Christmas penguins.

If your kids like penguins, they’ll love Paulie’s Penguin Playground in Olathe! One of the largest Christmas displays in metropolitan Kansas City, this playground features hundreds of holiday figures, all with a penguin twist. Who knew Rudolph and his buddies faced such stiff competition from these adorable birds?

9. Tuba Christmas (Kansas City Symphony).

Tuba Christmas in Kansas City has taken place every year since 1979! Although tuba players must pay $10 to perform, it’s free to register as a guest. Space is limited, so register early to secure your seat.

10. Pictures with Santa.

Discussing Santa in your homeschoolIf selfies with Santa happen to be a holiday tradition, they can get pretty pricey. But fear not! One enterprising homeschool mom recommends going to Bass Pro Shops, where Santa gives out great pictures for free.

Bass Pro Shops also offers crafts and activities for children, including a carousel, from late November through Christmas.

11. Overland Park Arboretum.

For a more sedate celebration, try the Overland Park Arboretum’s holiday luminary walk.

Gardens, woods and ponds all have a candlelit glow that your family can enjoy for two weekends. Horse-drawn wagon rides are also available.

12. Handbell choir.

Did you know an advanced community handbell ensemble meets right here in the Kansas City area? Rezound! members play on handbells and handchimes that span 7 octaves and come from three different countries.  Also, when their weekly rehearsals last about three hours, you know that’s dedication!

All concerts are free, except for the choir’s listed symphony performances. Attendees can ask questions and even try playing the handbells after the end of the concert.

13. Olathe Youth Symphony.

For anyone in the Olathe area, another great holiday option is Olathe Youth Symphony Association‘s free December concerts. All performances take place at Olathe South High School, at 151st and Ridgeview in Olathe.

14. Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop & Farm’s Open Christmas House.

This historic site typically offers its Open Christmas House for free (donations suggested). Celebrate Christmas like they did in the 1860s, with cookstove and blacksmith demonstrations, Heritage Center ornaments, and possibly a visit from Santa!

Some activities come with a fee, such as stagecoach rides and making a gingerbread house.

15. 1855 Christmas Candelight Tour.

Enjoy a mid-19th century Christmas celebration at the Harris-Kearney House Nov. 24-25 with tours every 15 minutes!

Listen to Christmas carols and experience holiday customs native to the English, German, Irish and Southern American pioneers who settled in western Missouri.

16. Wornall Holiday Candlelight Tours.

The Wornall House’s candlelight tours will take place Dec. 8 and 9. Tickets are $15 per person and include a seasonal treat with hot beverage.

“Engage all five senses as you tour the Wornall House in its holiday finery. This beloved holiday tradition is a special evening tour of the house that shows you how Victorians celebrated the season through decorations, activities, games, and food.”

17. Holiday lights near your area.

A number of homeschool families will bundle everyone into their car at nights, laden with hot chocolate or other such goodies, and just tour area neighborhoods to see the sights. Some ideas:

  1. Monticello Lights Display – north of 64th Street across from Riss Lake, including a home at 6427 NW Monticello Drive that offers synchronized music with its light display on a short-wave radio broadcast.
  2. Olathe Christmas Card Lane – in the Mission Ridge subdivision, near 151st Street and Ridgeview.
  3. Other displays in Johnson County – another extensive listing of Christmas lights is available at this website.
  4. Winterset Valley in Lee’s Summit – south of 3rd Street. All the trees along the roads are lit up with lights for a gorgeous view!

This post was originally published in November 2014. It has been updated for a more extensive listing.

Does your family have any favorite holiday events we didn’t mention? Let us know in the comments!


  1. Alisa Young
      November 6, 2014 at 10:37 AM

    Thank you! I’ve been searching for a new holiday activity to add this year. I think we might have to check out the Olathe youth symphony.

    1.   November 14, 2014 at 11:06 AM

      You’re very welcome, Alisa! Let us know if you have any other suggestions to add to our list.

  2. Andrea Cartwright
      November 6, 2014 at 9:46 PM

    we love Trilogy’s Christmas Spectacular show. It’s a variety show with all your Christmas favorites. The school show is only $5 for groups of 20 or more. See trilogy’s website for all dates and showtimes. http://Www.trilogyculturalarts.org

    1.   November 14, 2014 at 11:05 AM

      Thanks so much, Andrea!

  3.   December 1, 2014 at 3:10 PM

    Oh wow! My youngest just learned about hand bells last week. We may need to check that one out. This is a great list. Thank you.

    1.   December 10, 2014 at 2:15 PM

      Our pleasure! We’re always looking to add other suggestions, so if you know any, send them our way.

  4. Sharon
      November 17, 2015 at 4:16 PM

    The Church of the Open Door in Leavenworth, Kansas also has a notable contribution to the season. Walk Through Bethlehem occurs on the first weekend of December. Families or individuals may choose Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. Private tours for larger groups are available on Thursday by appointment. The tour will take you through a walking history lesson regarding life in that small town in Roman times. Go and see Christ’s birthplace from a new perspective.

    1.   November 18, 2015 at 10:30 AM

      Thanks so much, Sharon!

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