Whether you have already made these events part of your family’s annual Christmas traditions, or you’re hearing about one of these for the first time, here are five must-see holiday events in Wichita, Kansas.
Location: Botanica, The Wichita Gardens (701 Amidon, Wichita, Kansas).
Dates: November 26-27, December 3-4, 10-11, 17-18,
Hours: 5:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m. each night.
Cost: $7 for adults ($6 for members), $3 for youths (ages 2-12). Children 2 and under are free.
Now entering its tenth year, Illuminations at Botanica Gardens has become a holiday tradition for 10,000 attendees. Using more than 4,000 luminaries and tens of thousands of lights, Botanica staff and volunteers decorate the 9½-acre garden and turn it into a true wonderland. Of particular note are the large, lit trees in the middle of the reflection pond, and the light-covered arbors in the Beverly Blue Garden, which are decorated to look as if they are covered with Wisteria vines. After a trip through the gardens, guests will be able to purchase cookies and hot beverages and listen to local musical groups provide entertainment.
New to the Illuminations celebration this year are: new, moving light displays set to music; new lights on the fountains in the Shakespearean Garden; and new lights on the hill in the Parriott Terrace Garden.
Also new this year is Spaghetti with Santa, an event that will be held on December 16, from 5:30-7:30. Guests can enjoy a spaghetti dinner with Santa and Mrs. Claus, decorate cookies for dessert, and then view the lights of Illuminations. The cost for this special event is $12 for adults ($10 for members) and $7 for youths ($5 for members).
Lights on the Lake 2010
Location: Heartspring (8700 East 29th Street North, Wichita, Kansas)
Dates: Thursday-Sunday from Thanksgiving Day-December 12, and every day between December 16 and Christmas Day.
Hours: 6 p.m.-10 p.m. each night.
Cost: A $5 suggested donation, but it is up to attendees to give what they can.
For the seventh year in a row, Heartspring, a center that provides therapy and assistance to children with special needs, is decorating its campus with thousands of lights and providing an opportunity for the community to drive through and view them. Heartspring reorganizes the exhibits of lights every year to provide a new experience.
After the drive, those who would like to can stop at the Hospitality Center where there will be warm drinks as well as music performed by middle school and high school groups, as well as other community singing groups such as the Sweet Adelines. Children will also be able to get their photographs taken with Santa.
The money raised at Lights on the Lake will go to support the Heartspring Financial Assistance Fund, which helps the organization provide physical and occupational therapies, as well as offer services at discounted rates, so that they can help those with special needs reach their goals.
Let’s Make Merry: A Victorian Christmas Celebration & Christmas Dinner
Location: Old Cowtown Museum (1865 W. Museum Blvd, Wichita, KS)
Dates: December 3, 4, 10 & 11, 2010
Hours: 6 p.m.-9 p.m.
Cost: $7.75 for adults, $6.50 for seniors (62+), $6.00 for youths (12-17), and $5.50 for children (4-11). Children under 4 get in free.
Starting on December 3, Old Cowtown Museum will host Let’s Make Merry: A Victorian Christmas Celebration & Christmas Dinner. Building on the success of previous years, visitors will be able to take in the sights of Cowtown after dark, experiencing the holiday traditions brought by settlers from their homelands. Each night, there will also be multiple shows for attendees to enjoy, including the “Night Before Christmas” play, performances by Dixie Lee and the Entre Nous dancers, and a special act by magician Roscoe Riff. Visitors will also be able to purchase cocoa and cookies, as well as handmade crafts.
Ballet Wichita’s The Nutcracker 2010
Location: Century II Performing Arts & Convention Center – Concert Hall
Dates & Times: December 11 (8 p.m.) & December 12 (2 p.m.), 2010
This year, Kristi Boone and Isaac Papas of American Ballet Theatre Company will join over 80 Ballet Wichita dancers in a performance of the classic ballet, The Nutcracker. They will be accompanied by a live orchestra. The Nutcracker is the story of a young girl, Clara, who receives a Nutcracker for Christmas. That night, she sneaks down to the Christmas tree to see her toy, and embarks on a marvelous adventure with the Nutcracker Prince.
The Wichita Symphony Orchestra presents: The Spirit of Christmas, a FamilyHoliday Concert
Location: Century II Convention Hall
Dates: December 7, 2010
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Cost: Free – however, the concert is first come, first served.
An evening of fun for the whole family. Accompanied by the Butler Community College Concert Choir, the Wichita Symphony Orchestra will perform classic favorites that are sure to put you in the holiday mood. Even better: a portion of the program will be devoted to a group sing-along.