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Lighten Up: Kansas City Illuminates for the Holidays

December 7, 2010

The Mayor's Christmas Tree is displayed at Crown Center.

I may be biased, but few things are as magical as Kansas City during the holidays. Check out these six luminous Kansas City traditions — some new, some old — that are sure to brighten your holiday season.

Country Club Plaza's Season of Lights.

A tradition for more than eight decades, the Country Club Plaza’s Season of Lights is a Kansas City winter trademark. The 15-block spectacle features miles and miles of glimmering, jewel-colored lights that accentuate every dome, tower and window of the Spanish-inspired shopping district (through Jan. 16).

Checking in at a lofty 100 feet, the Mayor’s Christmas Tree at Hallmark’s Crown Center is taller than those on display at the White House and Rockefeller Center. Sparkling with 7,200 white bulbs, the massive holiday icon represents the Mayor’s Christmas Tree Fund, which aids 33,000 of Kansas City’s less fortunate (through Jan. 1).

The Kansas City Power & Light District has debuted a bright new tradition — Holiday Windows on Main. Blending art with light, some of the area’s most talented local artists have partnered with 13 downtown businesses to create unique and enchanting window displays inspired by those in Times Square. The festive storefronts on Main Street are on display through Jan. 2.

A few blocks up the road, several downtown buildings light up the winter sky for City Lights (through Jan. 1). Featuring a synchronized display of 30,000 bulbs and 16.7 million colors, the centerpiece is the entire front façade of Marriott Kansas City Downtown. The celebration of lights signifies the kick-off of The Salvation Army’s Annual Christmas Campaign.

Zona Rosa's Northern Lights.

Zona Rosa, a shopping district known for resurrecting several local traditions, spruces up its streets each season for Northern Lights (through mid-January). Ornate and colorful, several lighted crowns are suspended above the district’s busy streets, harking back to a 1950s downtown tradition. Also in store for visitors: a holiday igloo, Victorian carolers and visits with the Fairy Princess.

Another local favorite is Christmas in the Park, a festive drive-through display in Longview Lake Park (through Dec. 31).  A tradition for 24 years, the Park is transformed into a delightful winter wonderland with more than 300,000 lights and almost 200 animated figures. The event is free, but donations are accepted to benefit local charities.

Kansas City’s major holiday lights displays offer no shortage of cheer for you and yours this season. For a complete rundown of winter activities, plus hundreds of “Season of Magic” discounts and special offers, go to

Submitted by Alan Carr, vice president of marketing and communications, Kansas City Convention and Visitors Association.

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