When the holiday season comes around, Kansas City has it all for a magical wintertime adventure. Kansas City boasts many popular destinations for Christmas lights, including the decorated buildings at the Plaza Lights, the holiday laser shows and train rides at Union Station, and the famous towering Christmas tree at Crown Center.
Even in the middle of winter, Powell Gardens has an opportunity for visitors to branch out with their winter activities at our Festival of Lights. This hidden gem, located just 40 miles southeast of downtown Kansas City, offers a tranquil winter wonderland for kids and adults alike to enjoy.
Our botanical gardens come alive in the heart of winter with the addition of Christmas lights in Kansas City! From holiday cookies and hot ciders to fountain light shows and sparkling local artwork, participate in fun-filled wintertime activities under the soft light of the holiday season.
There’s a reason to visit Powell Gardens in every season, and the Festival of Lights is a chance to see the Gardens in a new light—literally! Bundle up with your family and friends and come see the glittering winter wonderland at Powell Gardens.
Things to Do at the Festival of Lights
Over 20 miles of holiday lights accentuate the natural landscape of the Powell Gardens, transforming the area into a vibrant display of color and radiance.
Along this illuminated walk, you’ll run into photo-worthy selfie stations, rest stations with hot drinks and snacks, and stunning sights complete with featured local artwork. This 1-mile long walk is a way to experience Christmas lights in Kansas City unlike any other.
A visit to Powell Gardens even in the winter wouldn’t be complete without some greenery! Along with our year-round Conifer Garden in the heart of our location, we feature poinsettias, Thanksgiving and Christmas cacti, and camellias in our winter displays.
Not to mention, we’ve installed a vivid tropical plant display at our Enchanted Tiki Bar, so you can get away for a moment from the brisk cold of Kansas City winters. While our primary attraction in winter is our Christmas lights, we’re cultivating our plants and habitats behind the scenes to help the Gardens flourish in spring!
Exceptional architecture sets the scene for striking light displays. Each year, we show work from local artists for a dreamy, interactive light experience. Along our winding walk, you’ll notice the gleaming art installations that complement the network of strung lights around the Gardens.
Every location at the Festival of Lights is already photo-worthy, but we’ve also set up a unique series of photo stations along the path. Pose with your family in front of illuminated trees for a holiday card-ready shot, or squeeze into our photo booth to capture some silly holiday cheer. And you won’t want to miss out on our life-sized snow globe for a snapshot of winter magic!
Cozy Rest Stops
Along the lighted path, you’ll find several rest stations for a moment to warm up and refresh. The Festival of Lights is a perfect opportunity to get outside during the cold winter months, but we have indoor activities to keep you comfortable and warm, too.
Visit our Enchanted Tiki Bar in our glass-domed Conservatory for tropical cocktails, live tropical plants, and festive music. Halfway through your walk, warm up at our Peppermint Warming Station for hot chocolate and hot cider (spiked if you would like!) in the midst of garden-grown poinsettias.
Enjoy hot food, holiday cookies, beverages, and more around festive firepits at the Holly Jolly Rest Stop. And if you’re looking for a coffee pick-me-up, or are in need of a stocking stuffer, this rest stop offers local roasted coffee with unique gifts for every age.
Plus, you’re welcome to enjoy your festive treats while you walk on our outdoor path. We simply request that you dispose of your trash in designated cans to keep our gardens pristine.
Visits from Santa
Kids can write down their holiday wish list and deliver it to Santa himself when he’s at Powell Gardens! In one central location near Kansas City, kids can visit Santa while under the glow of beautiful holiday lights. He can be found in the Education building in the Children’s Gardens. Check our events page to see when he’ll be in town!
While all of the Festival of Lights is a sight to behold, there are a few spots in particular that you won’t want to miss.
Take a look at the sprawling wonderland from the vantage point on top of the Missouri Barn & Silo. To reach this viewpoint, you’ll need to navigate through the Villandry garden beds, which in itself is a fun winter activity for both kids and adults. The shifting color blocks represent the changing seasons of winter, spring, summer, and fall.
Travel through the Illuminated Passage to discover a stunning view of the stars above and the gardens below. This location is a great place to take a snapshot of friends and family standing amidst the lights.
For a spectacular light show, the Fountain of Light is an immersive art installation by Quixotic that brightens the Fountain Garden with striking hues. Sit and enjoy the show while sipping from your hot cocoa or spiked cider!
Classes & Workshops
Throughout the festive season, we offer special opportunities to make the most of the holidays. These include workshops to create natural adornments for holiday decorations, such as environmentally friendly fiber pot containers, and classes.
We teach how to create popular holiday alcoholic beverages and the history behind them, such as the Wassail tradition. In addition, we frequently hold art-focused events to showcase new art installations and prominent light artists!
Things to Know About the Festival of Lights
Can I level up my experience for the Festival of Lights?
There are several ways you can upgrade your experience viewing Christmas lights in Kansas City. Book a fun-filled evening at the Festival of Lights with our all-inclusive VIP dinner on Fridays and Saturdays in the Terrace Room. These VIP tickets include a fast-pass festival entry, premium parking, a delicious holiday buffet, and a holiday drink coupon.
To any ticket, feel free to add on a $10 bundle for a complimentary non-alcoholic beverage, a souvenir cup, a festival sticker, and a holiday cookie!
Plus, you can view the hidden world of Powell Gardens with our 3D glasses. As a fun adventure especially for kids, these 3D glasses unveil trains, penguins, and other figures within the landscape of our holiday light walk.
Finally, a membership at Powell Gardens offers discounts on our paid festive events and opportunities. And it comes with many rewards and benefits beyond just the holiday season, from free unlimited admission to special members-only tours, discounts, and events.
A membership is a simple way of supporting Powell Gardens, so we can provide the Kansas City community with unique outdoor activities and events each year.
Will you cancel the Festival of Lights if it snows?
The Festival of Lights is on, snow or shine! Plus, a glittering layer of snow is the best way to view everything that the Festival of Lights has to offer. Only in cases of extreme weather will we cancel the Festival of Lights for the day.
When do you hold the Festival of Lights?
Each year, we post the exact dates for our Festival of Lights that winter. Generally, we hold the Festival in the evenings on Wednesdays through Sundays from November to December. The Gardens will be closed on select days off, including Christmas Day and Thanksgiving.
How can I support Powell Gardens?
A membership is a great opportunity for you to enjoy the spectacles at Powell Gardens while supporting us, but there are many other ways, too.
Because we are a nonprofit botanical garden, we rely on the donations of others to maintain and cultivate the Midwest spirit of place in line with our mission and values. Our corporate sponsorships let us partner with local businesses to connect visitors with the wider community. And we’re always looking for volunteers who want to help the Gardens thrive!
What comes next at Powell Gardens?
Beyond just putting on the best Christmas lights in Kansas City, the staff at Powell Gardens is hard at work tending to the plants and preparing them for the spring bloom all through the winter. Our team performs maintenance on our trails, soil, trees, and prairies to prepare our landscape for seeds to grow and people to visit. And we continue to nurture our plants in our greenhouses and galleries year-round.
Come springtime, you’ll see the Gardens waking up from winter, with many fresh opportunities to see and explore the new blossoms. The spring and summer seasons invite new ways to experience the Gardens, with regular classes and events, butterfly festivals, plant exhibitions, and more.
But you won’t want to miss out on our stunning display of Christmas lights in Kansas City before it’s gone. Purchase your tickets online for the Festival of Lights, or check back regularly for our upcoming festivals and events!