Holidays in the Heartland: Guide to 2019 Events

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Get into the holiday spirit this Heartland Weekend at one of these festive events planned in a community near you.

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Holiday Events in the Heartland



Live Nativity
Dec. 20-21

Cape Girardeau, MO
Saint Francis Healthcare System will recreate the scene of Jesus’ birth with its first outdoor Live Nativity on Friday, Dec. 20 and Saturday, Dec. 21 from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. The free event will be at the Saint Francis Cancer Institute (Entrance 6). Parking will be available near the Cancer Institute.

Flashlight Candy Cane Hunt
Dec. 20

Cape Girardeau, MO
The Cape Girardeau Parks and Recreation Department is excited to host this year’s Flashlight Candy Cane Hunt at the Shawnee Park Center! The hunt will take place on Friday, December 20th from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Bring your flashlights and dress warm to help find all of the candy canes left on the grounds of Shawnee Park. Kids can decorate their own bag to collect the candy canes before the hunt. Afterwards, we will enjoy hot chocolate and cookies to warm back up! There will be a chance to make a Christmas list for Santa to let him know everything you would like for Christmas. Please contact Tessa at 573-339-6736 or with any questions. The cost is $5 per child if registered by December 19. The cost will be $8 per child day of.

2nd Annual Dashing through Downtown Parade of Lights
Dec. 6

Sikeston, MO
The Historic Downtown Sikeston’s 2nd Annual Dashing through Downtown Parade of Lights starts at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, December 6. Floats will begin at the Post Office traveling through the streets of Downtown ending on Malone Street to kick off the Lighting of the Tree ceremony in Legion Park. There will be shopping, activities for the children, hot chocolate and SANTA!

28th Annual Christmas Craft Fair
Dec. 7

Bernie, MO
The craft fair will be at the Bernie Community Center on Highway 25 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. This is the annual fundraiser for the Community Center.

Christmas Tree Exhibit
Nov. 15 – Jan. 15

Altenburg, MO
Experience 50+ themed Christmas trees decorated each telling unique and wonderful stories of history and heritage. The special exhibit at the Lutheran Heritage Center & Museum of the Perry County in Altenburg is free to enjoy.

Christmas at the Glenn House
Nov. 29 – Dec. 30

Cape Girardeau, MO
Christmas at the Glenn House opens for their annual holiday tours the Friday after Thanksgiving, November 29, and you can wander through this beautifully decorated Victorian home every Saturday and Sunday afternoon the last weekend in November and December from 1 – 4 p.m. (November 23, 24 and 25, December 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23, 29, 30).  See the home aglow at a Candlelight Tour from 5 – 8 p.m. December 7 and 15. The decorations are entirely refreshed every year, making this a Christmas tradition that never gets old.  Don’t miss cookies, hot chocolate and apple cider in the carriage house after your tour.  Adults tour for $5, children 12 and under tour for $2.

Cape Girardeau Christmas Tree Lighting
Friday, Nov. 29 at 5:30 p.m.

Cape Girardeau, MO
You can kick off your holiday season in downtown Cape Girardeau with the first-of-its-kind, for the downtown district, Christmas Tree Lighting event. Old Town Cape, Inc. is hosting the special event on Friday, Nov. 29, 2019. The 30-foot Christmas tree will be lit in the Vasterling Suites Courtyard. Starting at 5:30 p.m. you can enjoy live music from the Jerry Ford Ensemble and Christmas carolers. Then at 6:20 p.m., Santa Claus will perform the ceremony of lighting the Christmas tree with live news coverage by KFVS12. After the event, attendees can cross the street and stop into the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel, Top of the Marq, and Baristas Coffee Bar for complimentary holiday beverages and snacks, holiday pictures, and a chance to mingle with Santa Claus himself.

Flip the Switch Party
Friday, Nov. 29 from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Jackson, MO
Head to the park for fun family activities as the city of Jackson ‘flips the switch’ and turns on this year’s beautiful holiday light display! Horse-drawn wagon rides, games, crafts, letters to Santa, and holiday music will take place near the tennis courts and pavilion starting at 4:30 p.m. The lighting ceremony begins at 5:00 p.m. near the footbridge! Around 5:45 p.m. Santa and Mrs. Claus will arrive and kids will get a chance to visit with them.

Christmas on the Square
Saturday, Nov. 30 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Perryville, MO
Perryville will celebrate all things Christmas on Small Business Saturday. Enjoy a German-inspired brunch served at 10 and 11:30 a.m. on the Square. Santa will make a special visit fr4om 2 to 6 p.m. You can enjoy free cocoa, and snag yourself a cookie inside local businesses around the Square. JStreet Brew Co. will provide cold brews from 2 to 6 p.m. Craft and food vendors will be set up serving throughout the day.

Cape Girardeau Parade of Lights
Sunday, Dec. 1 at dusk

Cape Girardeau, MO
You’re invited to get in the holiday spirit at the 28th Annual Downtown Christmas Parade of Lights on Sunday, Dec. 1. This year’s theme is “Christmas Lights and Winter Nights.” Area businesses and organizations will stroll from Capaha Park, east down Broadway to Main Street and end at Art Van Furniture. The parade will start at dusk.

Downtown Cape Christmas Open House
Dec. 6 from 5-9 p.m. | Dec. 7 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Cape Girardeau, MO
The 17th Annual Downtown Christmas Open House two-day event will take place on Friday, December 6, from 5-9 p.m. and Saturday, December 7, from 10 a.m.- 5 p.m., and will feature two opportunities to win a $500 downtown Cape Girardeau shopping spree.

Friday Events:
– Pictures with Santa at Ritter Real Estate
-Free children’s activities in Santa’s Workshop at Ritter Real Estate
-Horse and buggy rides at the intersection of Main and Independence Streets
-Caroling on Spanish, Main, Themis, and Broadway Streets
Saturday Events:
-Pictures with the Grinch at Catapult Creative House (10 a.m. – 3 p.m.)
-Children’s activities in Whoville at Catapult Creative House (10 a.m. – 3 p.m.)
-Outdoor Holiday Market at the intersection of Broadway and Frederick Streets (9 a.m. – 4 p.m.)
-Live caroling on Broadway Street

Downtown Holiday Market
Saturday, Dec. 7 from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Cape Girardeau, MO
Old Town Cape, Inc., in partnership with The Indie House, will facilitate a new Outdoor Holiday Market special event that will take place on Saturday, December 7, during day two of the 17th Annual Downtown Christmas Open House. The Old Town Cape Outdoor Holiday Market will feature a maximum of 40 vendors that offer locally grown, crafted, and handmade products such as winter produce, baked goods, candies, prepared foods, and artisan crafts. Vendors will also accept holiday baking orders, or orders for customized gifts. We are excited to have a mix of seasoned Cape Riverfront Market vendors and brand new first-time vendors. The Old Town Cape Outdoor Holiday Market will be set up in the courtyard area of The Indie House and on Frederick Street at the intersection of Broadway Street south to the intersection at Themis Street, and will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The section of Frederick Street hosting the market will be closed to vehicle traffic, and open to pedestrians.

Brazeau Christmas Walk
Saturday, Dec. 7 from 3 to 8 p.m.

Brazeau, MO
Enjoy the magic of Christmas during the Brazeau Old Fashioned Christmas Walk, hosted by the historical society. More than 300 luminaries line the pathways and the entire village is decorated for the season. Listen to the sounds of the season as you visit the Live Nativity. Shop at the craft fair, enjoy sandwiches and desserts at the tea room, get your holiday cheer at the winery or sit by the fire pit on the patio. You can even mail your letter to Santa at the Post Office, listen to Christmas Carols at the church. Watch Santa at work in his workshop. Visit with Mrs. Clause as she bakes cookies.

Jackson Christmas Parade
Saturday, Dec. 7 starting at 5 p.m.

Jackson, MO
Uptown Jackson Revitalization Organization Christmas Parade will be held on Saturday, December 7, at 5:00 p.m. The theme is “Christmas Candy Christmas.” Following the Parade, Santa will be in the gazebo at the Cape County Courthouse. There will also be extended shopping hours, a window decorating contest, and opportunities to win prizes and shopping sprees.

Sounds of the Season
Sunday, Dec. 8 starting at 3 p.m.

Cape Girardeau, MO
Let’s usher in the Holiday season at the 24th annual Christmas spectacular featuring the top vocal and musical talent in the region under the direction of Jerry Ford! Tickets are $10 and are available at the door. All proceeds support the Southeast Cancer Care Fund which provides for the special needs of our friends who are battling cancer. You can click here for more information.

Southern Country Church Tour
Dec. 7 from 4-8 p.m. | Dec. 8 from 1-4 p.m.

Cape Girardeau County
Start the Christmas season along the Southern Country Church Tour. Fellowship and remember the reason for the season at seven beautifully decorated churches in rural Cape Girardeau County. The self-guided tour takes you Old Bethel Baptist in Jackson, St. James UCC in Jackson, Immanuel Lutheran Church in Jackson, Whitewater Methodist Church in Whitewater, Chirst Lutheran Church in Gordonville, Zion United Methodist Church in Gordonville, and on Sunday only at Zion Lutheran Church in Gordonville.

Christmas Country Church Tour
Dec. 12 & 13 from 2-9 p.m.

Bollinger, Cape Girardeau & Perry Counties
Each year, hundreds step back in time for the Christmas Country Church Tour through Bollinger, Cape Girardeau, and Perry counties. The countryside adventure invites people from all over to take in the area’s rich history and enjoy some holiday cheer. This annual tour features 100-year-old, one-room wooden clad buildings, as well as brick and mortar masterpieces. Each church is draped in holiday decorations reflecting their traditions and culture from Roman Catholic English, Scotch-Irish Presbyterian, German Lutherans and others.

Historic Christmas Candlelight Tours
Dec. 13 & 14

New Madrid, MO
The public is invited to enjoy an 1860s Victorian Christmas during candlelight tours of the Hunter-Dawson home. The house, aglow with the warmth of oil lamps and candles, will be decorated with fresh greenery, Christmas trees and 1860s style ornaments. Site staff will be wearing Victorian-era fashions, and refreshments will be served. Daytime tours will be given Dec. 13 and 14 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with candlelight tours from 6 to 8:30 p.m. each evening. This event is free and open to the public. Hunter-Dawson State Historic Site is located at 312 Dawson Road in New Madrid, in southeast Missouri.

Christmas vintage Pixabay


Christmas Bazaar
Dec. 5

Harrisburg, IL
The United Methodist Women’s Christmas Bazaar is celebrating 84 years. It will be at the Harrisburg First United Methodist Church, 122 W. Poplar from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Morning coffee will be served from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. There will be a dinner and silent auction.

20th Annual Holiday Lights Fair
Nov. 28 – Dec. 30

Du Quoin, IL
The 20th Annual Holiday Lights Fair begins Thanksgiving Night, Thursday, November 28, 2019, and runs through December 30, 2019. The drive-thru lights trail is open each night from 5:30-9:30 p.m. and costs just $10 per vehicle. The Expo Hall will be open the first three weekends in December and will be filled with vendors, food, music, free visits with Santa, and free family fun!

Community Tree Lighting Ceremony
Dec. 4 at 5:30 p.m.

Carbondale, IL
The City of Carbondale is kicking off the week of the Lights Fantastic Parade with the third annual Community Tree Lighting Ceremony on Wednesday, Dec. 5. The ceremony will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the Town Square Pavilion. Light refreshments will be provided. They will also be collecting kid’s coats (ages 1-8) for Coats for Kids at the event. The tree will be lit every night at 5 p.m. throughout the holiday season.

Hometown Tree Lighting Ceremony
Friday, Nov. 6 from 6 to 9 p.m.

Murphysboro, IL
Gather together on Friday, Dec. 6 at 6 p.m. for the Murphysboro Hometown Christmas third Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony at Town Center Park (next to Sallie Logan Library.) There will be music, carriage rides, hot cocoa & popcorn! Santa’s cottage will be open starting at 7 p.m. for pictures with the children!

Festival of Lights
Saturday, Dec. 7 starting at 5 p.m.

Benton, IL
A Benton tradition, the Festival of Lights is sure to be a holiday event the entire family will enjoy! The special evening will include the dazzling lighting of the Square, Santa’s arrival and a chance to tell him what you want for Christmas, pictures with the jolly old soul, games, photo booths, hot chocolate and more! The entire event kicks off at 5 p.m. around the Capitol Park area. This year will feature more lights than ever before.  After the lighting of the Square, a brass quartet will join us to share beloved Christmas classics in Capitol Park.

Southern Illinois Alternative Gift Fair
Saturday, Dec. 7 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Carbondale, IL
Holiday music, refreshments, gifts, and family fun all combine to help create a simpler, more meaningful, and sustainable holiday season.  The 15th Annual Southern Illinois Alternative Gift Fair lets you choose holiday gifts with a deeper meaning for your loved ones while enjoying the day with your neighbors, helping the environment and wildlife, providing meals and shelter for people in need, or giving an orphaned child a chance to go to school. The fair will take over the Carbondale Civic Center.

City of Carbondale Lights Fantastic Fun
Saturday, Dec. 7 starting at 6 p.m.

Carbondale, IL
The most wonderful time of year will take over downtown Carbondale ahead of the Lights Fantastic Parade. This year’s theme is starry nights. The parade kicks off at 6 p.m.

Christmas Open House
Saturday, Dec. 7 at 10 a.m.

Goreville, IL
Get into the holiday spirit when the village of Goreville hosts a Christmas Open House. Get your photo with Santa Claus between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. inside Village Hall, or shop a Christmas Craft Market.

Mt. Vernon Holiday Craft Fair
Saturday, Dec. 7 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Mt. Vernon, IL
Shop for a special someone at the Holiday Craft Fair in Mt. Vernon. More than 40 local crafters will fill the Rollan W. Lewis Community building on Dec. 7 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The fair will feature soaps, wood crafts, handmade jewelry, quilts, decorations and more.

Collaborative Christmas Concert
Saturday, Dec. 8 at 2 p.m.

Harrisburg, IL
Christmas music is in the air at Southeastern Illinois College as the SIC Concert Choir and the SIC Community Chorus prepare for A Collaborative Christmas concert. Joining SIC this year are special guests the Harrisburg High School Band and the HHS Jazz Band. Songs include Christmas favorites, such as Oh Holy Night and Carol of the Bells as well as solo concert band and jazz band Christmas music, Leroy Anderson’s Festival of Carols, Christmas Carols by Vaughan Williams, and Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus.

4th Annual Christmas Stroll
Saturday, Dec. 8 from 2 to 4 p.m.

Carterville, IL
Join costumed villagers for a Yuletide walk through southern Illinois in the 1800s. Tour the decorated buildings at the Bruce Historical Village as you learn about their place in local history. Festive music, sweet treats and a visit from St. Nicholas completes this journey through history. Free and open to the public.

holiday cookies



Live Nativity
Dec. 6, 7, 13, 20 and 21

Wickliffe, KY
The 2nd Annual live nativity scene will be held on the weekends of Dec. 6, 7, 13, 20 and 21 at the Fort Jefferson Memorial Cross from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Area churches will be participating and bringing this to the public.

Dickens of a Christmas
Nov. 30 from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Paducah, KY
On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, historic downtown Paducah will be bustling with holiday shoppers and Christmas cheer. On November 30, enjoy the Dickens of a Christmas Small Business Saturday event organized by Paducah Main Street, a division of the Paducah Planning Department. From 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., downtown Paducah will be transformed into a Dickens atmosphere with Victorian carriage rides, carolers, and characters in costume. At 5 p.m., the community tree will be lighted on the Carson Center lawn.

If you know of other holiday events or see an error, please let us know! CLICK HERE to contact us.