Believe it or not, Christmas events are still happening! Here are a few:

KC's Soul of Santa - Dec. 5-6

COVID-19 may have forced a few cutbacks in this annual 18th and Vine Christmas Celebration, but the “Soul of Santa” Christmas celebration is back again this year, the weekend of Dec. 4-5. Yes, the Kansas City cool “Soul of Santa” will make his annual Christmas visit to Kansas City’s Jazz District and attend both days.

Back again this year is the Friday evening Christmas Tree Lighting at the Paseo Outdoor Plaza, at 18th and Vine, and Saturday’s Community Breakfast and Toy Giveaway. The Christmas concert, held at the Gem Theater following the tree lighting, is back this year but it’s virtual.

Here are a few details: The Christmas Tree Lighting on Fri., Dec. 4 at 6 p.m. Masks will be required. The virtual Christmas Concert is scheduled for Fri., Dec. 4, but more details have not yet been posted.

This year, the Community Breakfast and Toy Giveaway will be drive-thru. This free event, on Sat., Dec. 5, 9–11 a.m., will be held in the parking lot of the Full Employment Council, 1740 Paseo Blvd. Attendees should stay in their vehicles and Soul of Santa’s elves will come to your window. If you choose to walk up, you’re asked to wear a mask and to practice social distancing.

“Soul of Santa,” with his well well-tailored red suit, red dress hat and immaculately trimmed grey beard, will get you in the loop. “The Soul of Santa symbolizes the privilege each and every one of us has to celebrate Christmas in a manner that reflects our heritage and our belief in the spirit of the holiday known as Christmas and all that it represents,” wrote Tucker Lott in his story of the Soul of Santa.

Lott, a Kansas City resident, developed the concept of Soul of Santa more than 20 years ago and he also portrays the character during the Christmas holidays.

The Soul of Santa lives within all of us. He lives within our heart, wrote Lott. “He is every color he needs to be. For me, he is Black. It’s not his color that’s important, it’s what and who he represents.”

Merry Liddle Christmas Wedding - A Lifetime Movie

Former Destiny Child member Kelly Rowland is the star of Lifetime’s first-ever Christmas sequel “Merry Liddle Christmas Wedding.” The show premieres on Lifetime on the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend (Sat., Nov. 28) at 7 p.m. Central Time.

The movie continues the story of Rowland’s 2019 Lifetime Christmas movie “Merry Liddle Christmas.” In both movies, Rowland stars as Jacquie, a successful single tech entrepreneur who hosts her dysfunctional family in her new home over the holiday. In the midst of the dysfunction and true to Lifetime’s well-known formula, Rowland finds love, this time with her neighbor Tyler, even though dating a neighbor breaks one of her dating rules.

In “Merry Liddle Christmas Wedding,” Jacquie and Tyler try to plan their perfect destination Christmas wedding. Naturally, Jacquie's plans go awry when her boisterous family intervenes in her planning and her snooty wedding planner quits in protest. While nothing goes as initially planned, Jacquie and Tyler get a Christmas wedding more memorable than they could have ever dreamed.

Rowland and her husband Tim Weatherspoon are among the movie’s executive producers.

If you miss the premiere, the show will air again that Saturday at 11 p.m. and Sunday at 5 p.m.

The Hip Hop Nutcracker - Now Streaming

“The Hip Hop Nutcracker,” a contemporary dance spectacle set to Tchaikovsky’s timeless music, is available to stream for Orpheum Theatre audiences this holiday season on Thurs., Dec. 17 and Fri., Dec. 18 at 7 p.m. The live capture, filmed as a part of a parternship with PBS, will allow recurring and new patrons to experience this beloved holiday tradition at home, as theaters across the country remain closed.

Tickets are on sale now at www.stellartickets.com/events/hhn-and-orpheum-wichita/hip-hop-nutcracker-wichita. A portion of all tickets sold for the Wichita dates directly benefit the historic Orpheum Theatre. Streaming tickets are $20.

This evening-length production is performed by a supercharged cast of a dozen all-star dancers, a DJ, a violinist, and MC Kurtis Blow, one of hip hop’s founding fathers, who opens the show with a short set.

Live Holiday Theater for the Kids - KC's Coterie

The decades old children’s book “The Snowy Day” and other stories by Ezra Jack Keats are brought to life by the award-winning Mesner Puppet Theater in a rare live theater performance during these unusual times. The show will be on stage at The Coterie Theater in Kansas City from Fri., Nov. 27 through Sun., Jan. 3. While the children’s theater will strictly enforce masks and social distancing rules, if you’re still not comfortable with live performances, the show will be available for virtual streaming by families and families and virtual school field trips beginning Dec. 1.

“The Snowy Day” and other stories by Ezra Jack Keats celebrates the magic and boundless possibilities of the first snowfall. The story follows Peter and his friends as they romp and play, starting snowball fights, and making snow angels in this uplifting musical play about childhood joys and living life to the fullest each day. Told through inventive puppetry and charming songs, Keats’ little boy in the red coat comes to life for families with ages 3 and older in a collection of the stories “Whistle for Willie,” “Goggles!,” “A Letter to Amy,” and “The Snowy Day,” all originally written by children’s author and illustrator Ezra Jack Keats.

Tickets are $13-$15 for youth under 18, students & seniors 60 & older; and $17-$19 for adults. Unlike past Coterie productions, seating is not General Admission. Instead, socially distanced seating pods will be assigned so patrons are asked not to congregate in The Coterie lobby prior to the show.

HOLIDAY LIGHT DISPLAYS  

Illuminations @ Botanica Wichita

Like most events, Illuminations has implemented some changes in response to COVID. The 1-mile walk-through display in the gardens is back, but there is also a half-mile drive-thru display. The drive-thru display features more than 350,000 lights, 9 mega trees dancing to music, Santa's village, one mega tree with over 15,000 lights, a 240-foot drive-thru tunnel, over 40 white trees with bold colors and more.

Other adaptations to COVID include an extended schedule. Illuminations is already open. The drive-thru exhibit runs through Jan. 30, and the walk-thru exhibit runs until Jan. 9. Tickets are also sold exclusively online (no walkup tickets will be sold) for both exhibits and are timed for 30-minute increments to help control the size of the crowds. Guests have a 30-minute window to get their tickets scanned and enter. If you are late to your 30-minute window, you will not be able to enter and your money won’t be refunded.

Tickets for the drive-thru are $20 per car. Walk-thru tickets are $13 for adults, $9 for children, and Age 2-and-under are free. For info and tickets, visit botanica.org.

Kansas City Plaza Lights and Lighting Ceremony

A local tradition for more than 90 years, Plaza Lights is a 15-block holiday spectacle on the famed Country Club Plaza, featuring thousands of glimmering, jewel-colored lights. The lights can be viewed from 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. from Thurs., Nov. 26, thru Sun., Jan. 10.

This year's Evergy Plaza Lighting Ceremony will begin at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving as a broadcast-only event. The ceremony, including historical details, live performances and celebrity guest messages, can be seen on KMBC 9.

Winter Magic KC

Drive through nearly one mile of the most amazing, mesmerizing, winterifically magical holiday light experiences you’ve ever laid your eyes on. The exhibit is already open and continues through Jan. 2 in Swope Park in Kansas City. Tickets can only be purchased online in advance for one-hour time slots, 5 to 11 p.m. at WinterMagicKS.com. Tickets are $20 per car, $30 per limousine and $40 per bus. Proceeds benefit KC Parks Summer Camp Scholarship Fund.

Christmas in the Park - Southeast KC

Thanksgiving week marks the return of Christmas in the Park, a festive drive-thru display of more than 500,000 lights in Longview Lake Park in Southeast Kansas City, 3901 SW Longview Park Dr. The event is free, but donations will benefit local charities. This event runs Wed., Nov. 25 thru Dec. 31. Hours are 5:30-10 p.m. Mon.–Thurs. and 5:30 – 11 p.m. on Fri. and Sat.

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