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Celebrating the holidays in the city

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With Thanksgiving now behind us, December is ready to unfold with its own holidays filled with bright lights, delicious food and even snow. In order to help Saint Louis University students pack as much holiday cheer into the last few weeks of the semester, we’ve put together a list of the most exciting festivities happening in St. Louis during the coming month.

Wild Lights at the St. Louis Zoo

More than 500,000 lights decorate the St. Louis Zoo for the holidays during its annual Wild Lights celebration. Trees and plants adorned with lights guide the way through the Gingerbread Village, Snowfall Flurry and other locales. Throughout the month, puppet shows, fireside stories and on select nights, local choirs add to the holiday atmosphere. Visitors see animals such as penguins in paradise, swan lake and fantasy butterfly garden. Souvenirs are available at the Holiday Zootique. Wild Lights is open 5:30-8:30 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until Dec. 23 and daily from Dec. 26-30. Entrance is $5 ($4 for zoo members), and tickets can be preordered online or by phone, as well as purchased on site.

Santa’s Magical Kingdom

Santa’s Magical Kingdom in south St. Louis County is home to Candy Cane Village, the Waterfall of Lights and Kringle’s General Store. Visitors take  wagon rides to across 35 acres of land decorated with Christmas lights. During the ride, visitors see Santa’s helpers—the flying reinder. Located in Jellystone Park in Eureka, Mo., Santa’s Magical Kingdom is open until Jan. 6 from 5:30-10:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 5:30-11:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Admission is $19 per car or $12 per person for wagon or train ride tickets.

Missouri Botanical Garden

The Missouri Botanical Garden has holiday celebrations galore during the month of December.

The Gardenland Express Holiday Flower and Train Show features g-scale train models from different eras travelling a 900 foot long track throughout a miniature holiday landscape. This year’s “Merry Botanical Traditions” theme puts plants of the holiday season on display, such as poinsettias, holly and Christmas cactus, as well as silk flowers from the Chinese Lantern Festival held at the Botanical Garden this past summer. Orthwein Floral Display Hall becomes a winter wonderland with a fairy tale cottage for this seasonal event. Gardenland Express is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m until Jan. 1.

Missouri Botanical Garden will also host the Deck the Halls wreath exhibit and Christmas caroling on Dec. 8; both are included with garden admission.

On December 9, the Missouri Botanical Garden will also hold the Chanukah Festival of Lights. The traditional Jewish celebration will run from 1-4 p.m. and include Israeli music and dance and a menorah-lighting ceremony, all included with garden admission.

Central West End

The Central West End hosts Holidays of Light this Saturday, Dec. 1 from 1- 5 p.m. It is the neighborhood’s own multicultural event showcasing diverse holiday events from around the world. Attractions include Santa and his sleigh, Bob Kramer’s marionettes at Bissinger’s Handcrafted Chocolatier, pony rides, a petty zoo, the lighting of the tree and holiday refreshments. The annual Window Walk throughout the neighborhood starts at 1 p.m. to view holiday themed window displays, which will be up until Dec. 22.

Way of Lights

The Way of Lights at Our Lady of the Snows Shrine in Belleville consists of more than a million lights that tell the story of Jesus’ birth. Entry is free, with a small charge for the laser light show, camel rides and other attractions. The Way of Lights is open from 5-9 p.m. nightly until Dec. 31.

Jewel Box Poinsettia Show

The Jewel Box in Forest Park has a seasonal poinsettia show with red, pink and white poinsettias decorating the city’s largest park. It is open Monday through Friday 9 a.m.-4 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Admission is $1 everyday,  but Mondays and Tuesdays before noon is free.

Christmas Candlelight Concert

The classic St. Louis tradition of the Christmas Candlelight Concert will be held at Powell Symphony Hall on Dec. 2 at 7:30 p.m. Music from Bach’s “Magnificat,” hosted and performed by the Bach Society Chorus and Orchestra, will be accompanied by a candlelight procession and the St. Louis Archdiocesan Children’s Chorus. Tickets start at $20.

 JCC Hanukkah Event

The St. Louis Jewish Community Center is hosting a Hanukkah celebration on Dec. 9 from 4-5:30 p.m. at the Marilyn Fox Building in Chesterfield, MO. This family-friendly event will include Hanukkah activities such as dreidel spinning, candle making and storytelling. Latkes, jelly donuts and other delicious traditional holiday food will be available, as well as mitzvah projects for the community. Attendees will also help to light the giant Agam manorah outside.

 Brother Lazaroff 2nd Annual Hanukkah Hullabaloo

Popular local band Brothers Lazaroff started their Hanukkah tradition last year, and this year it continues on Dec. 8 at 9 p.m. at Off Broadway in the Historic Cherokee Lemp District. Music is a strong tradition of Hannukah, and the Brothers Lazaroff celebrate this tradition with a performance filled with Hanukkah-inspired songs, including the entirety of the classic “Eight Nights.” Other musicians with Jewish connections will make guest appearances throughout the night, making for an interesting and festive night. Tickets are $8-11.

Staying indoors with a mug of hot cocoa and a blanket seems inviting as the weather gets colder, but as the holiday season descends upon St. Louis, the city offers these events and more to help put everyone in the mood of the season.

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