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Wichita's Winter Traditions

When it comes to traditions, Wichita has more than a few. Check out these options that are essential to an ICT winter.

Illuminations at Botanica

Illuminations at Botanica

Date: Through Dec. 31
Time: 5:30-8:30 p.m.
Location: Botanica
Price: $8, $7 for members

Botanica’s Illuminations Christmas light show has been operating for more than two decades. Featuring thousands of lights throughout the gardens, the event allows guests to walk through the spectacular display at their leisure, enjoying lights coordinated to music, video clips from Christmas movies, snack stations visits from Santa Claus and more. Illuminations runs from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. each night through Dec. 31 (With the exclusion of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.) Illuminations is Botanica’s largest fundraiser of the year and with tickets priced at just $8 ($7 for members), there’s no reason not to go, enjoy the display and give back to the community.


The Arc's Lights

The Arc's Lights

Date: Through Dec. 28
Time: Opens nightly at 5:30
Location: Entrance at Douglas and St. Paul
Price: $10 or suggested $10 donation

If there’s one thing Wichitans love this time of year, it’s Christmas lights. The Arc’s Lights is a drive-through display, offering the beauty of an outdoor light show without requiring guests to leave the warmth of their cars. Also operating for over 20 years, this display benefits the Arc of Wichita, which  supports those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.


Mannheim Steamroller Christmas

Mannheim Steamroller Christmas

Date: Dec. 16
Time: 3 p.m.
Location: Century II
Price: $53.90-$71.50

Two major Christmas concerts roll through ICT each year. Trans-Siberian Orchestra has already come and gone (Is it just me, or were they really early this year?), but you can still catch Mannheim Steamroller Christmas on Dec.11. Grammy Award Winner Chip Davis’s Mannheim Steamroller Christmas has been a holiday tradition not only locally, but nationwide for 30 years. Combining the well-loved Mannheim Steamroller Christmas music with breathtaking visual effects, this show is worth a watch. Catch it at Century II on Dec. 16!


Carriage Rides

Carriage Rides
Bradley Fair
Date: Through Dec. 23     
Time: 6-10 p.m.
Location: Bradley Fair     
Price: Free
Old Town Square
Date: Saturdays through Dec. 17
Time: noon - 4 p.m.
Location: Old Town Square
Price: Free


Oh, what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh! Holiday carriage rides are a big deal in Wichita, and not just because they’re free; they’re also a lot of fun! Offering a unique opportunity that kids love, Bradley Fair and Old Town Square both highlight holiday carriage rides.If you’ve managed to miss these rides in years past, it’s worth a special trip.


Reddi Cares For Kids Toy Drive

Reddi Cares For Kids Toy Drive

Date: Through Dec. 30
Time: 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Location: 8017 E. Douglas Avenue, 3901 N. Broadway or 400 S. Commerce Street

Reddi Industries hosts its annual holiday toy drive for the Child Advocacy Center of Sedgwick County (CACSC) again this year. Running through Dec. 30, the drive donates toys to children who have been the victims of neglect or abuse. Small toys such as action figures, Barbies, coloring books, dolls, Legos and sports balls are ideal donation items, but stuffed animals are not accepted.

Donations can be dropped off at Reddi Industries, 3901 N. Broadway and RSM Marketing Services, 400 S. Commerce Street. Those who donate will receive a pair of complimentary tickets to Botanica’s Illuminations.


Cowtown's Victorian Christmas

A Victorian Christmas

Date: Dec. 2, 3, 9 and 10
Time: 6-9 p.m.
Location: Old Cowtown Museum
Price: Included in regular admission

What’s a more appropriate Wichita Christmas tradition than an old-fashioned Wichita Christmas? Old Cowtown Museum depicts Wichita like in the 1860’s, shortly after the city was officially founded. Enjoy a holiday blast from the past, with Cowtown’s Victorian Christmas! Visit Santa in his workshop, string some popcorn, listen to carolers, ride in a wagon, make crafts and have a great time at this one-of-a-kind event!


"The Nutcracker"

"The Nutcracker"
“The Nutcracker”
Date: Dec. 16-18
Time: 7 p.m., 2 p.m. on Dec. 18 (Sunday)    
Location: Century II
Price: $12.50-$40
The Hip Hop Nutcracker”
Date: Dec. 20
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: Orpheum
Price: $34-$45


This one is a Christmas tradition pretty much everywhere, but you’ve got a couple different options if you want to see it right here in Wichita. You’ve probably at least heard of “The Nutcracker”, but if you aren’t, I’ll fill you in. It’s the ballet with the mice, soldiers and sugarplums. Sound familiar? Ballet Wichita will perform “The Nutcracker” at Century II from Dec. 16-18. If Ballet isn’t your style, you can catch a more modern adaptation of the story at the Orpheum’s “Hip Hop Nutcracker” on Dec. 20. This production opens with a performance by MC Kurtis Blow, one of the founding fathers of hip hop.


Christmas Shows

See a Christmas Show

There are plenty of Christmas shows in ICT each year. Whether you're looking for a screening of a holiday classic like  "It's a Wonderful Life", a new twist on a classic like "A Christmas Carol the Musical" or for something totally original like "Holidays of Our Lives" or "The Kyle and Monte Christmas Musical", there are plenty of options.

Local venues like Century II, the Orpheum, Roxy's Downtown, Mosley Street Melodrama and more will offer special holiday shows. See the full list here


The Mayor's Downtown Tree Lighting

The Mayor's Downtown Tree Ligh

Date: Dec. 8
Time: 6 p.m.
Location: Kennedy Plaza and Century II
Price: Free

The Annual Mayor's Tree lighting will be held on Dec. 8 in Kennedy Plaza. Accompanied by A Night With Santa, a kids event taking place inside of Century II, the festivities will take place from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Come out and watch the lighting of the Christmas tree, play a few carnival games, watch  fireworks, make crafts and more. 


Sledding At the Palace

Sledding At the Palace

If you've ever been a kid in Wichita, you've probably been sledding at the Palace west. it's one of a very few good hills in the area, so it's a very popular choice. Many people also choose to sled on the big hill at Sedgwick County Park, but it isn't quite as iconic (perhaps because it isn't clearly visible from the highway). If you do sled at the Palace, we advise that you use caution and good judgement as it is located near a very high-traffic area. 

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