It’s officially winter, which also means it’s officially that time of year when the sun sets at 5pm. It’s all so disorienting, you get home from class or work at 11:00PM only to check the time and realize it isn’t even past 6:00! And if you’re like some 10 million Americans, it’s possible you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (aka the Big SAD). So, I’ve compiled a list of fun holiday activities that, hopefully, will help brighten up your winter.
Santa’s Rescue from Weavers | Friday, December 6; 5:30 – 8:30PM
You would think by now that Santa would learn what a hazard flying over Lawrence, KS is since he needs to get rescued from the top of Weavers every year. Actually, it has happened so often that the city knows exactly what time he’ll be there! Starting at 5:30PM, the 900 block of Massachusetts will be alive and buzzing with anticipation. There will be plenty of opportunity to sing Christmas carols (if that’s your thing) and to take in the beauty of the lit trees lining downtown. Parents! After Santa’s rescue, he will stick around and get gift requests from children so you don’t have to. Thanks, Santa!
The Lawrence Holiday Extravaganza | Saturday, December 7; 9:00AM – 4:00PM
Do you put off getting Christmas presents? Are you horrible at buying gifts? If so, don’t stress! The Lawrence Holiday Extravaganza can help you out. This wholesome, happy, bright event features several local artists and business owners who showcase and sell their work. It will take place at the Rock Chalk Park Sports Pavilion.
27th Annual Lawrence Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade | Saturday, December 7; 11:00AM
Lawrence loves it’s traditions, and this parade is no exception. As usual, it will feature several beautiful horses, riders, and carriages. The Christmas Parade is a great way to start feeling that “may your days be merry and bright” vibe that White Christmas always talks about. It is well-suited for everyone, so bring all your (Big SAD) friends and family. There’s something so joyful about watching a horse parade knowing that you won’t be the one left to pick up what they leave behind.
The Arts Center’s “The Nutcracker: A Kansas Ballet” | Weekend of December 13 & Weekend of December 20
The Arts Center’s annual performance of “The Nutcracker” is perfect for anyone that enjoys the music and basic premise of the ballet but grows increasingly uncomfortable with the problematic stereotypes in the original. It provides a nice sense of comfort and visibility as the story takes place entirely in Kansas. And as someone who used to perform in it every year and watched it for several years after, I will say that it is reliably entertaining. Tickets are reasonably priced and can be bought either at the Arts Center front desk or on their website.
Those cool houses that sync their lights up to the radio | Dates vary
If you’re musically inclined but unsatisfied with the monotony of traditional Christmas music, these houses are for you. The inhabitants of the houses put up lights all over the yard and sync up the sequences to a radio station. They even have a sign to tell you what the radio station is! So helpful. The outcome is a really entertaining, mesmerizing light show for all ages to enjoy. One house plays the most epic rendition of “Carol of the Bells” I’ve ever heard, complete with electric guitar. This handy-dandy website has the comprehensive list of houses and addresses.
Powell Gardens | Thursdays – Sundays until January 5, 2020; 4:00 – 10:00PM
Powell Gardens doesn’t let winter stop their cute activities! This year the theme is “Luminosity;” colorful lights are placed across the gardens and all along the main path. They also provide spiked hot chocolate for that *ahem* extra little pinch of joy. I have never been myself, but I’ve heard only good things. Tickets are available on their website.
Kansas City Southern’s Holiday Express Train | December 18 – 22
KC’s Holiday Express Train is a free (free! + parking) experience fit for all. There are several cars available to tour, all of which are elaborately decorated inside and out. The train will pull into Union Station and stay for the whole weekend. A perfect activity to take that one really extra friend, family member, or partner to.
Crown Center Ice Terrace | Open November 2019 – March 2020
A personal favorite of mine, Crown Center Ice Terrace gives off great, no judgement vibes. Skaters of all ages and all levels of experience come together to have some winter fun. There are beautiful lights surrounding the rink, and the Zamboni provides an awesome, almost ASMR level of satisfaction. Adding to the excitement is Fritz’s, which is located just across the street inside the mall. I can say with confidence that their train service is the best I’ve ever had. Besides, there is no better remedy to cold, bruised legs than fairly decent diner food.