–Compiled by Carol Martin, RUI Finance Dept
The holiday season looks different from family to family, and that’s a good thing. Some folks enjoy traditions, while others try new things every year. Whether it is volunteering your time, making a donation, or learning about a new culture or craft, the holidays are a great time for families to reach out into their community. If you’re looking for something to add to your year-end repertoire, take a look at the list below.
Holiday Lights: Botanica’s Illuminations will be open seven nights a week from November 25-December 31 (except for Dec.24-25). Tickets start at $6, and are available on Botanica’s website. Cited as “Wichita’s premier light display.”
Kansas City’s Lights on the Plaza is perhaps the oldest display (1925), featuring over 280,000 lights in a 15-block area. Held nightly from Thanksgiving through January 15, 2017, this free event boasts carolers and carriage rides.
The ARC’s Lights is a benefit for The ARC of Sedgwick County, featuring over one million lights. Display is nightly from November 24-December 28. A donation of $10 per carload is requested on Sunday through Thursday nights. Tickets are required on Friday and Saturday nights, and may be purchased on The ARC’s website or any Wichita Quik Trip location.
Winfield’s Isle of Lights is going green this year, with several new displays featuring LED lighting. Open nightly November 20-December 30 in Island Park. Horse-drawn carriage rides are available on Fridays and Saturdays for $5. Donations are accepted, but not required for the light display. This show contains thousands upon thousands of lights in a vignette setting.
Santa sightings: Caring Santa (with a special environment for kids with special needs and their families) will be making an appearance at Towne East Mall in Wichita on Sunday, November 20 from 10-11:30 a.m., and Sunday, December 4 from 10-11:30 a.m.
Towne West Mall will feature Sensitive Santa on Sunday, December 4, from 9:30-11:00 a.m. There will be an EventBrite link to RSVP set up soon on their website.
Santa from North Pole City specializes in visiting with kids who have special needs and their families. He makes personal appearances during the holiday season, or you may visit him at the Christmas Village (Scott’s Auto Body Shop in Arkansas City) on December weekends. He’s also on Facebook.
Kids age 2-9 can have Breakfast with Santa at the Derby Welcome Center on Saturday, December 10, from 8-9:30 a.m. Admission is $7, and features Chris Cakes’ pancakes, craft making and a photo with Santa.
Holiday Music: Fifth Annual Christmas Express: A Rockin’ Holiday Concert at the Orpheum Theater on Saturday, November 24. This event is a fundraiser for Shriners’ Hospitals for Children and Midian Transportation Fund and features Jay Leach (American Idol) and a live band. Tickets are $20 through Select-A-Seat.
Mannheim Steamroller Christmas on December 11 at Century II. Tickets start at $53.90.
Trans-Siberian Orchestra presents “The Ghosts of Christmas Eve” at Intrust Bank Arena on December 2. Tickets start at $47.
The Singing Quakers of Friends University host their Christmas Candlelight Concert, December 2-4, in Riney Fine Arts Center. Tickets prices range from $13-$16.
The Wichita State University Vocal Music Department will bring the 54th Annual Candlelight Concert: All Loves Excelling, on December 2-4 at Wiedemann Concert Hall, on the WSU campus. Tickets are $12 for adults and $6 for students.
Holiday Crafts: Make your own festive holiday ornaments, decorations, gift tags, or shirts. There’s Just One Mommy is a fun and creative blog for families.
Build a holiday house at Assistance League of Wichita’s Gingerbread Village at Exploration Place on November 11-13. Regular admission prices apply.
Holiday Happenings: The historic Orpheum Theater has many holiday events in November and December. Christmas movies and holiday music by Black Violin, Jim Brickman and Chubby Checker. Check out the website for dates and ticket prices.
Free Family Board Game Night at the Sedgwick County Extension Center, 7-9 p.m., Friday, December 16.
GraceMed’s Say Grace 5k Thanksgiving Day Race will be held on November 24 at the 1122 North Topeka Street location. The event raises money for the ministry of GraceMed. Entrance fees are $15-$35 and registration is required.
Watermark Books & Café is bringing prolific children’s author Kate DiCamillo to Wichita on December 2. She wrote Because of Winn-Dixie and The Tale of Despereaux and her new book, Raymie Nightingale, has been nominated for a 2016 National Book Award.
Air Capital Comic Con will be held November 12-13 at Century II’s convention hall, featuring artists, writers, vendors, comics and a costume contest. Tickets are available in advance through WichitaTIX.com.
Paw Patrol Live will appear at Century II’s concert hall on December 9-10. Nickelodeon’s familiar show brings doggone fun! Ticket prices start at $17.60.
Music Theatre For Young People presents A Christmas Carol , December 9-11 at Century II. Features Broadway stars Alan Menken and Lynn Ahrens. Tickets start at $10.
Kansas in Miniature Holiday Show at Exploration Place from November 26-December 31. This exhibit features a 1950s Kansas holiday scene in miniature, complete with Christmas parade and period music. Regular museum admission prices apply.
The 41st Annual Turkey Trot (2K and 10K) will take place on Saturday, November 19, at Century II. Races will be held for those under 6, ages 7-17, and adults. Pre-registration is required. Fees are $17.50-$43.00.
Holiday TV: Freeform’s (formerly ABC Family) annual “Countdown to 25 Days of Christmas” programming begins on Thanksgiving Day, November 24. It features Disney and Pixar films, along with other holiday favorite movies and TV shows.
The Hallmark Channel is hosting its popular Countdown to Christmas with original holiday movies every Saturday and Sunday at 7p.m., starting October 28.
Don’t forget to watch the Thanksgiving Day parades!
“The holiday season is filled with reasons to share a warm moment. Here are some great books that you and your family can enjoy together as the days get shorter, the nights get chilly, and the memories grow stronger.”—Erin Downey-Howerton, youth services librarian, WPL
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
When the annual church Christmas pageant is taken over by the horrible Herdman kids, they make the neighborhood question the true meaning of Christmas.
Daddy Christmas and Hanukkah Mama by Selina Alko
Many families observe traditions from different cultures and religions. Sadie tells the story of her family, who celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah their own way – together!
Dear Rebecca, Winter Is Here by Jean Craighead George
Letters between a grandmother and granddaughter record their very different winters – Grandmother in the northern hemisphere and granddaughter in the southern hemisphere. As the earth turns, the seasons change everywhere.
Here Comes Santa Cat by Deborah Underwood
Cat learns he might be on the “naughty” list! His adventures in being nice will charm young readers.
Hershel and the Hanukkah goblins by Eric Kimmel
This Caldecott-winning picture book tells the story of brave Hershel, who helps a village outwit mean goblins determined to keep them from celebrating Hanukkah. Can he maintain his bravery for eight entire nights?
K is for Kwanzaa by Juwanda Ford
Learn about the African-American tradition of Kwanzaa through an alphabet journey.
Light the candle! Bang the drum! A Book of Holidays Around the World by Ann Morris
Many holidays from world traditions have critical things in common: good food, music, and special lights or rituals to enjoy together. Learn about some holidays that you celebrate, and others that may be new to you.
The Polar Express by Chris van Allsburg
You might know this as the endearing holiday movie with Tom Hanks as the Conductor, but it all started here between the pages of this lavishly illustrated picture book.
This Next New Year by Janet Wong
A Korean-Chinese boy tells the story of how his friends from many backgrounds celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year. Children give and receive lucky red envelopes, tidy the house, and enjoy making and eating special dishes that reflect important symbols of the great year ahead.
Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto
Maria is helping to make the traditional Christmas dish, but accidentally loses her mother’s precious ring while putting together the tamales.
While the Bear Sleeps: Winter Tales and Traditions by Caitlin Matthews
In a hibernation dream, a bear leads a young girl around the world where she learns of the many winter traditions observed by humans: Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Candlemas, Solstice, Twelfth Night, and New Year’s Day.
Thanks to www.theresjustonemommy.com; Carolyn @ www.wichitaonthecheap.com; www.kansas.com; www.360wichita.com; www.visitwichita.com; Cheryl @ www.northpolecity.net; Erin Downey-Howerton, Wichita Public Library; Caitlin Kozak @ Towne West Square.