Holidays in the Heartland: Guide to 2018 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



Christmas at the Glenn House
Nov. 23 – Dec. 30

Cape Girardeau, MO
Christmas at the Glenn House opens for their annual holiday tours the Friday after Thanksgiving, November 23, 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.

Flip the Switch Party
Friday, Nov. 23 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.

Holiday Home Tour
Dec. 1 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Cape Girardeau & Jackson
Get inspired to decorate your home for the holidays during the 31st Annual Holiday Home Tour. The annual event is a self-guided tour through five area homes, beautifully deocated for the holidays. It’s presented by the Lutheran Family and Children’s Services Foundation and the Safe House For Women.

Old Fashioned Christmas Walk
Dec. 1 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.

The Roadshow Christmas Tour
Dec. 2 at 5 p.m.

Cape Girardeau, MO
The most wonderful time of year will be even merrier and bright at the Show Me Center this December. That’s because Compassion LIVE is launching its brand new “The Roadshow Christmas Tour” and Cape Girardeau is one of the stops. The artists set to take the stage include Matthew West, Matt Maher, Plump, Josh Wilson, Leanna Crawford and Building 429

Downtown Cape Christmas Open House
Dec. 7 from 5-9 p.m. | Dec. 8 from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Cape Girardeau County
The 16th Annual Downtown Christmas Open House two-day event will take place on Friday, December 7, from 5-9 p.m. and Saturday, December 8, from 10 a.m.-3p.m., and will feature two opportunities to win a $500 downtown Cape Girardeau shopping spree.

Friday Events:
Visit Santa’s workshop for:
-Free pictures with Santa
(Art Van Outlet)
-Free children’s activities
(Art Van Outlet)
-Free horse and wagon rides
(Corner of Independence and Main Streets)
-Caroling on Spanish, Main, Themis, and Broadway Streets
Saturday Events:
-Free pictures with The Grinch
(Catapult Creative House)
-Free children’s activities
(Catapult Creative House)

Southern Country Church Tour
Dec. 8 from 4-8 p.m. | Dec. 9 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 6 beautifully decorated churches in rural Cape Girardeau County. The self-guided tour takes you to three churches in Gordonville, Whitewater United Methodist Church in Whitewater, and two churches in Tilsit.

Christmas Country Church Tour
Dec. 13 & 14 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. 14 & 15

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. 14 and 15 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.

Trans Siberian Orchestra Tribute
Dec. 14 (Perryville) & 15 (Cape Girardeau) at 7 p.m.

Perryville & Cape Girardeau
LivinTale will present a Trans Siberian Orchestra Tribute on Dec. 14 and Dec. 15. The beautifully choreographed event features the SEMO Sundancers and beverages by Jackson Street BrewCo. On Dec. 14, the event dancers will put a show on starting at 7 at the Perry Park Center in Perryville, and on Dec. 15, the event will start at 7 p.m. at the A.C. Brase Arena.

RELATED: Holiday Parades in the Heartland

Christmas vintage Pixabay


19th Annual Holiday Lights Fair
Nov. 22 – Dec. 30

Du Quoin, IL
The 19th Annual Holiday Lights Fair begins Thanksgiving Night, Thursday, November 22, 2018, and runs through December 30, 2018. 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
Nov. 26 at 5 p.m.

Carbondale, IL
The City of Carbondale is kicking off the week of the Lights Fantastic Parade with the 2nd annual Community Tree Lighting Ceremony on Monday, November 26. The ceremony will begin at 5 p.m. in front of City Hall at 200 S. Illinois Avenue. Light refreshments will be provided. We 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.

Festival of Trees
Nov. 30 – Dec. 2

Mt. Vernon, IL
Enjoy the sights and sounds of Christmas at Spero’s 11th Annual Festival of Tree’s held and the beautiful Granada Theater. The event kicks off November 30, at 5:30 pm with a preview party, with several trees up for live auction. Saturday stop in all day to look and silent bid on all remaining trees and wreaths and again on Sunday from noon to 3 p.m.

Hometown Tree Lighting Ceremony
Nov. 30

Murphysboro, IL
Join us Friday, November 30th for the Murphysboro Hometown Christmas 2nd 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. 1

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 2018 Festival of Lights is particularly exciting with the addition of a (FREE) “Iceless Skating Rink”! The entire event kicks off at 4 p.m. around the Capitol Park area. Another Benton Christmastime staple will join us at this year’s Festival of Lights as the BCHS Madrigals entertain us with their beloved musical performances.

Southern Illinois Alternative Gift Fair
Dec. 1 from 11 a.m. until 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 14th 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
Dec. 1

Carbondale, IL
The most wonderful time of year will take over downtown Carbondale ahead of the Lights Fantastic Parade. Sip on regional coffee at Artspace 304 from 8 a.m. to noon. Enjoy a cookie walk from 4 to 6 p.m. starting at the Carbondale Main Street Office. Santa’s Reindeer will make an appearance at the Town Square Pavilion from 4 to 7 p.m. Write a letter to Santa at the Historic Train Depot from 4 to 6 p.m. The parade kicks off at 6 p.m.

Christmas Open House
Dec. 1

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 Fun
Dec. 1

Mt. Vernon, IL
Eat, drink and be merry in Mt. Vernon. Enjoy a holiday craft fair from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Rolland W. Lewis Community Building, a vendor fair on 9th Street between Broadway and Main from 12 to 4 p.m. The annual Parade will start at 5 p.m. Bring the whole family to 9th Street after the parade for live performances, a tree lighting, cookie decorating for kids, crafts, food concessions and more.

Annual Living Christmas Tree
Dec. 1 & 2 at 7 p.m.

Mt. Vernon, IL
Park Avenue Baptist Church’s Annual “Living Christmas Tree” will be held Saturday, December 1st and Sunday, December 2nd at 7 p.m. each night inside of Park Avenue Baptist Church’s beautiful sanctuary. We invite you to join us for this musical celebration of Our Lord and Savior’s birth! The choir will be standing in a 30 ft. tall Christmas tree accompanied by a live orchestra. This a Free worship event and is for all ages. Please wear warm clothing as the sanctuary will be cooler than usual due to the heat from the lights.

3rd Annual Christmas Stroll
Dec. 2 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.

Children’s Christmas Open House
Dec. 7 from 4:30 to 6 p.m.

Herrin, IL
The City of Herrin is hosting a children’s Christmas open house. The evening will be an opportunity to have refreshments with various city officials and have a visit and a picture with Santa. There will be a variety of craft activities for the children and a drawing for bicycles, tricycles and some toys, for children 11 years of age and under. Santa and his number one elf will arrive by fire truck in front of City Hall at approximately 4:45.

Carbondale Eagles Holiday Craft/Vendor Fair
Dec. 8 starting at 2 p.m.

Herrin, IL
You can complete your Christmas Shopping all while helping the Carbondale Eagles raise money for a special cause. Shop from multiple craft vendors, Pampered Chef, Scentsy, Rada Cutlery, Mary’s Embroidery, Gourmet Cupboard, Thirty-One, Treats and Sweets, Jewelry and Essential Oils, Butterfly and Tree Jewelry, Mary Kay and more. Proceeds go towards supplying a free holiday meal for senior citizens.

Hadley’s Haven Christmas Home Tour
Dec. 8 from 4 – 8 p.m. & Dec. 9 from 1 – 4 p.m.

Anna, IL
Get into the holiday spirit all while supporting a good cause. In Anna, you can tour 11 beautifully decorated houses along the Hadley’s Haven Christmas Home Tour. Tickets are on sale now at Kiki’s, Hebrewz, and Anna-Jonesboro National Bank locations. Proceeds benefit the construction of Hadley’s Haven all-inclusive playground coming soon to Anna. The homes are located at:

  • 103 Welding St., Jonesboro
  • 500 E. Heacock, Jonesboro
  • 623 S. Main St., Anna
  • 615 S. Main St., Anna
  • 503 S. Main St., Anna
  • 206 E. High St., Anna
  • 30 Walnut St., Alto Pass
  • 330 State Forest Rd., Jonesboro
  • 104 W. Jefferson St., Anna
  • 507 S. Main St., Anna
  • 524 N. Main St., Jonesboro

Old Tyme Christmas
Dec. 9 from 1 to 4 p.m.

Metropolis, IL
The Massac Marines will put on “The Olde Tyme Christmas” at the Visitors Center at Fort Massac. They will show how a traditional Christmas might have been for the French soldier or villager in 1759. Enjoy music, refreshments, and decorations.

holiday cookies


Dickens of a Christmas
Nov. 24 from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Paducah, KY
On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, historic downtown Paducah will be bustling with holiday shoppers and Christmas cheer. On November 24, 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, dancers, carolers, and characters in costume. Paducah’s Small Business Saturday event is a chance to spend the day with family and friends while getting a jumpstart on Christmas shopping. Plus, you are supporting your local businesses by keeping your dollars in this community.

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