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10 Things to Do in (and Around) Columbia, Missouri at Christmas


It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Thanksgiving is over and it is officially time to decorate trees, sip hot cocoa, and listen to Mariah Carey on repeat! But if you’re like me, you’re feeling more than a little overwhelmed by all there is to do during the holiday season.

When I feel overwhelmed, I always start by making a list. So, to ease the holiday stress (and to help me remember why we celebrate Christmas in the first place), here’s a list of ten things to do with friends and family this December.

Grab your coats (or snuggle up somewhere warm, if that’s more your thing) and get ready to experience the joy of Christmas in Columbia, Missouri this year. 

1. Snag a Free Photo with Santa at Bass Pro Shops

What: Step into a Winter Wonderland and even meet the big guy himself! Grab a free photo with the kids, bring home a free holiday craft, and mail a letter to Santa. Reservations are required.

When: November 4 – December 24

Where: Bass Pro Shop (3101 Bass Pro Drive, Columbia, MO 65202)

2. Shop ‘til You Drop – For a Cause!

What: Join City of Refuge for their first ever Holiday Market, showcasing local (and refugee!) artisan work. There will be delicious food, hot beverages, entertainment, and a special visit from Santa! Stop by to shop for your holiday gifts and to get in the holiday spirit. All proceeds go toward City of Refuge care and programming.

When: Saturday, December 9 from 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Where: City of Refuge (10 N Garth Ave, Columbia, MO 65203)

3. Enjoy The Nutcracker

What: The beloved family tradition is back. Experience the extraordinary international cast and Ukrainian Principal Artists performing at the peak of classical European Ballet. Plan for a magical evening of jaw-dropping acrobatics, larger than life puppets, and stunning hand-crafted sets and costumes of the Christmas-time classic, The Nutcracker. Tickets can be purchased online.

When: Wednesday, December 6 at 7:00 p.m.

Where: Jesse Hall Auditorium (501 S 9th St, 65201)

4. Stroll through the Winter Wonderland Garden of Lights

What: Visit Shelter Gardens during in December to experience the Shelter Insurance Winter Wonderland Garden of Lights. The gardens will once again be lit with fun holiday scenes and lights you don't want to miss!

When: December 8-16 from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

WHERE: Shelter Gardens (1817 W. Broadway, 65203)

5. Visit The Crossing Magic Tree

What: Come take in The Crossing’s 85-foot sycamore illuminated by nearly 200,000 lights. Each light is intended to represent almost every person living in Boone County and remind us that each member of our community matters to God and is made in his image. Stop by on a Friday night in December for extra Christmas fun. You can read more about what to expect at the Magic Tree here.

When: The Magic Tree is lit and open to the public every day from 5-10 p.m. starting November 24 through the first week in January.

Where: The Crossing (3615 Southland Drive, 65201) 

6. Check out the Candy Cane Crib at Logboat

What: The Candy Cane Crib is back and better than ever at the newly expanded Logboat Brewing Company. Come enjoy a local brew and take in the lights in the new space – inside or out!

When: Wednesday, November 22 through the end of the Christmas season

Where: Logboat Brewing Company (504 Fay St, 65201)

7. Take a Christmas Lights Tour of Como

 Grab some hot chocolate, load into the car, crank up the Christmas music, and take a tour of COMO’s most iconic Christmas light spots.

When: Any time! Choose one evening or break it up over several days so you can enjoy the lights in each part of the city!

Where: Drive around to see what you discover, or use this Christmas Lights Map as your guide!

8. Celebrate the Holidays with the Clydesdales

What: Central Missouri is home to the famous Budweiser Clydesdales, and they go all out for Christmas! Take a drive to Booneville and enjoy Holidays With the Clydesdales at Warm Springs Ranch.

You can reserve a spot to tour the stalls, meet the horses, and enjoy the lights. Reservations are required and spots are limited, so make sure you sign up soon!

When: Wednesday, November 22 - Saturday, December 30

Where: Warm Springs Ranch (25270 MO-98, Boonville, MO 65233)

9. Chop Down Your Own Tree at Starr Pines Tree Farm

What: Take in the beautiful scenery, then take your pick of the Pine and Fir trees home with you. Shop for a carton of apple cider for your family, a fresh wreath, and other gifts outside the famous Starr Pines barn. Tractor rides to the field are available on weekends when weather allows.

When: Open every day from Thanksgiving through Christmas from 9 a.m. until dark.

Where: Starr Pines Christmas Tree Farm (21298 Pleasant Hill Road, Boonville, MO, 65233)

10. Attend a Christmas Eve Service as a Family

What: Join The Crossing on Christmas Eve! Be sure to invite a friend, family member, or co-worker to join you! Crossing Kids is available for preschool and younger, but all ages are welcome in the service.

WHEN: Sunday, December 24 at 7:30, 8:45, 10:00, or 11:15 a.m.

WHERE: The Crossing (3615 Southland Drive, 65203)

Now that you have a list of things to do, spend some focused time preparing your heart for Christmas this year. Check out our collection of articles, devotionals, videos, and more to help you get ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus.