November 12, 2013

50 Holiday Activities In Omaha {2013}

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50+ holiday events in 2013

Toss your to do list aside! Let’s procrastinate toward the holidays together.

Because why spend all that time planning and getting ready for family time, when you can be spending time together now? Catch a concert, volunteer, watch a game, watch a movie… it’s on the list. Here are 50 holiday activities for you to consider:

1. Trans-Siberian Orchestra performs Nov. 13 at 7:30 p.m. at the Mid-America Center, 1 Arena Way in Council Bluffs, Iowa. This is an impressive rock-influenced show, with cool theatrics and light shows. I’ve seen it twice and would probably go again. I’d recommend the show for school-agers on up.

2Register your family to Ring a Bell this season. Locations are available all over the city.

3. You think winter, you’ve got to think of ice skating. for a unique experience, try out Twilight Skate at Moylan Iceplex, 12550 West Maple Road. The fun nights are Saturdays from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m., when they bring down the house lights and turn on the party lights while the DJ plays the tunes and takes requests. Price is $10 for admission with or without skate rental.

4.  The free Hummel Nature Center Little Gobbler Event is Nov. 16 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Hummel Nature Center & Day Camp. You’ll go on a hike looking for turkeys and their tracks, learn about birds and make a turkey caller. RSVP online here.

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5. Get some fresh air and look to the skies Nov. 17  during HawkWatch Eagle Migration. Head to Hitchcock Nature Center in Honey Creek, Iowa, from 1 to 3 p.m. See live raptor demonstrations, activities for children and enjoy refreshments – plus it’s just a nice place to hike around with the kiddos. Cost is $5 per person (children 5 and younger admitted free). Weather permitting.

6. Gather up some friends and head to Adventures in Art, 6001 Maple St., to make gifts. One class coming up is an ornament making class Nov. 18 from 6 to 7 p.m. Call for cost and to see if you need to reserve spots in the class, (402) 556-4278. Other fun art night outs are held at Corky Canvas and Village Canvas and Cabernet.


Elf the Musical

“Elf the Musical” runs Nov. 19-24 at the Orpheum Theater.

7. Omaha Performing Arts and Broadway Across America present “Elf the Musical” at the Orpheum Theater, 409 S. 16th St., Nov. 19-24. Show times vary, but the opening night performance of this jolly show begins at 7:30 p.m. and runs about a two and a half hours.

8. Go on a Christmas tree hunt. There are several nearby tree farms to find the perfect one, including Frosty’s Pines (recommended by Oh My! Facebook friend, Jessica), as well as Dappen Tree Farm in Council Bluffs, Iowa, and Santa’s Woods in Blair, Nebraska.

9. Two companies present “The Nutcracker” this season. Creighton Dance Company and Department of Fine and Performing Arts present “The Nutcracker” at Lied Education Center for the Arts, 2500 California Plaza, Nov. 20-23. Admission: $5, Creighton students with id; $15, seniors; $18, general. “The Nutcracker” runs Nov. 20-23. Performances are tonight through Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. Ballet Nebraska presents it at the Arts Center at Iowa Western Community College in Council Blufs on Nov. 23 ta 7:30 p.m., as well as Dec. 7 at 2 and 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 8 at 2 p.m. at the Orpheum Theater. Ticket prices vary depending on the venue. For more information, go online.

Christmas Carol

“A Christmas Carol” is at the Omaha Community Playhouse Nov. 22 through Dec. 23.

10. Take your family to one of Omaha’s longest-running holiday traditions. “A Christmas Carol” is presented at Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass St., Nov. 22 through Dec. 23.  Performances are Wednesdays through Saturdays, 7:30 p.m., and Sundays, 2 and 6:30 p.m. Before Dec. 15, single tickets are $35 for adults, $24 for students; Dec. 15-23, single tickets are $39 for adults, $28 for students. Get tickets here.

11. Deliver Drumsticks on Wheels with your kids! 800 Drumstick On Wheels Drivers are needed to help deliver 5,000 TURKEY ‘N’ FIXIN’S boxes to low income families in our community on Nov. 23. Register here.

12. Hear Handel’s Messiah sung by Voices of Omaha in a FREE concert Nov. 24 at 3 p.m. at the Holland Center, 1200 Douglas St. Wait until you hear the 165-voice choir! Like what you hear? Donate some money to the very good cause!

13. The Durham Museum, 801 S. 10th St., has a lot planned this holiday season! Kick things off with a little letter writing fun. Head to The Durham Museum for the first Tuesday Family Night event on Nov. 26 from 5 to 7 p.m. There will be crafts and activities, but the big thing to do will be to write a letter to Santa.Your child will get a personalized letter from Santa some time in December!

14. Visit Santa’s Wonderland at Bass Pro Shops in Council Bluffs. Check the schedule to find out what FREE crafts are planned, when the games are and when you can get a picture with Santa. Snag a Bass Pass to reduce the wait to see Santa, and another tip, go sometime Monday through Thursday for a shorter wait. It’s all free and runs now through Dec. 24.

15. Head south to Papillion for a spectacle of a tree lighting event that involves Santa and some fireworks. Get ready to oooh and ahhh. It’s at Shadow Lake Towne Center,7775 Olson Drive, Papillion, on Nov. 27 from 6 to 9 p.m.

16. Get some fresh air before your big feast at Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, Nebraska. Come out for the Turkey Day Traipse on Nov. 28 and take part in a brisk walk on the trails from 9 to 10 a.m. (FYI, the Nature Center will be closed). Free for members, $8 per person (those older than 2).

17. Want something a little less cheery this season? Go check out the entertaining, but dark “Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol” at the BlueBarn, 614 S. 11th St., Nov. 29 through Dec. 22. This was popular the first time it ran, so get your tickets now! For reservations, call 402-345-1576. Bring a little extra cash and donate to the drive to purchase gift cards for the elderly through the Eastern Nebraska Office on Aging. There’ll be a display in the lobby about it.

18. Take part in one spectacular tree lighting event at The Durham Museum. “Christmas at Union Station” kicks off with this ceremony featuring live music, crafts and caroling on Nov. 29 from 4 to 7 p.m. The night ends with an epic countdown to the tree lighting. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be there, also. I’ve gone to this several times – it’s fun but very popular… if your kid wants to see Santa, get in line as soon as you arrive.

19.  Santa’s Magic at Omaha Children’s Museum runs Nov. 29 through Dec. 22 with near-daily shows. There’s a light show set to music, visits by the Snow Queen and, of course, Santa, and a sing-along. Time your visit to catch Santa coming down the chimney starting Nov. 29: Tuesday – Friday at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. (Additional show at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday).

Farley is so little in this picture at Lauritzen Gardens in 2010! But check out that setting, pretty sweet, right?

Farley is so little in this picture at Lauritzen Gardens in 2010! But check out that setting, pretty sweet, right?

20. Holiday Poinsettia Show at Lauritzen Gardens, First and Bancroft streets, runs from Nov. 29 through Jan. 5, 2014. Excluding holidays, the gardens are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visit and enjoy the atmosphere of the indoor oasis. Kids love the model trains traveling through the display, I love all the colors. Admission is $7 for adults, $3 for children ages 6-12 and free for kids 6 and younger (and members).

21. The Boys Town tree lighting ceremony is at 137th Street and West Dodge Road on Dec. 1 at 7:45 p.m. Santa’s arriving on a fire truck and there will be carolers. Top that!

22. Don your best tea party outfits and head to the Joslyn Castle, 3902 Davenport St., for the Nutcracker Holiday Tea Party on Dec. 1 from 2 to 4 p.m. Cost is $35 for adults and $25 for children. It will be an elegant setting with costumed characters from “The Nutcracker!”Make your reservation here.

23.  “The Madrigal Christmasse Feaste” is held at Regency Marriott Ballroom, 10220 Regency Circle, Dec. 3-6. It’s a multi-course meal that starts with cocktails and pre-performance entertainment at 6 p.m., followed by the feast at 7, and the production concludes at 9:20. Tickets are $52, $48 groups of 10 or more; get them at Ibsen Costume Gallery, 4981 Hamilton St., or call (402) 556-1400.

24. Celebrating Hanukkah is a new event at Omaha Children’s Museum, 500 S. 20th St., and it’s free with museum admission. On Dec. 3, head to the museum and learn to make a candle, test potato experiments in the Science Center, read a Hanukkah book at the Imagination Playground and learn about force and motion using a dreidel.

25. Stay and play late at The Durham Museum. 801 S. 10th St. The museum holds Family Nights with Santa Tuesdays, Dec. 3, 10 and 17, from 5 to 8 p.m. Unique to this fun night, I think, is that you can meet some of Santa’s reindeer. Expect live music and holiday crafts too. Cost of admission applies.

26.  Enjoy a little afternoon concert Wednesdays and Fridays in December. Joslyn Art Museum holds “Holiday Under Glass” live concerts over the lunch hour in the atrium of the Joslyn Art Museum from noon to 12:45 p.m. Museum admisison is free, and if you stick around, you can take the gallery tour at 1 p.m. First one is Dec. 4.

27.  There’s some evening fun planned at Omaha Children’s Museum! On select nights, your family can take part in Milk & Cookies With Santa. Decorate cookies, make crafts and run wild at the museum on Thursdays, Dec. 5, 12 and 19, from 6 to 8 p.m. Limited seating so buy your tickets early. (tip: kids 24 months and younger are admitted free).

28.  “Christmas at Cathedral” is Dec. 6-8 at St. Cecilia Cathedral, 701 N. 40th St., featuring the Omaha Symphonic Chorus and the Omaha Symphony Chamber Orchestra. Click this link to order tickets. Preferred seating is $30, general seating is $18.

29.  Get your Christmas shopping finished early at the Holiday Market Dec. 7 and 8 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Aksarben Village. Shop local vendors in a heated tent, and then, if you think like me, finish the excursion with a stop at Jones Bros. Cupcakes. Yum!

30. Get your kids an all-day babysitter and attend the seventh Annual Holiday Beerfest Dec. 7 from 1 to 5 p.m. at Crescent Moon, 36th and Farnam streets (enter through Beertopia). Sample nearly 75 holiday seasonals. Your ticket gets you a souvenir tasting glass, a program of available beers, and unlimited 2-oz tastings. Ticket information will be posted at this link soon.

You'll find Santa at the Omaha Children's Museum on Dec. 8 during the Wells Fargo Family Fest.

You’ll find Santa at the Omaha Children’s Museum on Dec. 8 during the Wells Fargo Family Fest.

31. A must every year for my family is the Wells Fargo Family Fest. This FREE event is Dec. 8 from noon to 5 p.m. at various venues around downtown Omaha (see complete schedule here). There is so much to do that day – make crafts, meet Santa, listen to music, ride a stage coach. I’ve found it’s best to visit 2 or 3 places that day, you feel like you spend more time running to each place than enjoying yourself.

32. Check out the popular Hot Shops Holiday Open House on Dec. 7 and 8. If you want unique presents, you’ll find them there! It’s open Dec. 7 from noon to 8 p.m. and Dec. 8 from noon to 5 p.m. It’s FREE and kid-friendly, and be sure to watch some of the demonstrations like glass blowing.

33. Irish Christmas at Father Flanagan’s Historic Home is daily Dec. 8-16 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Boys Town. This is more of an antique experience, so if your child is like a bull in a china shop (like my sweet Mooch), keep close tabs on her.

34. There are a lot of events planned around “Christmas at the Historic General Dodge House” held at the historic home located at at 605 Third St. in Council Bluffs. One event to look forward to with children is Family Night – they’re held on several evenings but come by on Dec. 5 if you want to catch Santa! Event is from 6 to 8 p.m.; Santa is next door at the Beresheim House (bring your camera). Cost is $10 for a family (2 adults & children).

35. Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium holds Holiday Happenings Saturdays, Dec. 7, 14 and 21, at 10:45 a.m. in the aquarium. Head to the shark tunnel and watch speical characters dive with the sharks. Throughtout the day, you’ll see animals around the zoo getting special gifts, too. It’s include with zoo admission.

Christmas-Spectacular-Logo-936. Omaha Symphony’s “Christmas Spectacular” is a joyful holiday tradition. The dancing Santas are always a hit. Catch a performance at the Holland Performing Arts Center Dec. 12 at 7 p.m., Dec. 13 at 8 p.m., Dec. 14 at 2 and 8 p.m., or Dec. 15 at 2 and 7 p.m. Ticket prices vary.

37. Channel your inner-Santa. The Substitute Santa Drive is held from Dec. 9-14. Donate unwrapped gifts, toys, electronics or gift cards to Child Saving Institute at 4545 Dodge St., from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on those days. Gifts go to the children served by an agency program, whether it be a child in the shelter, childcare, foster family or adoption.

38. Join the crazy masses of runners for the Ugly Sweater Run 5K on Dec. 15. Race takes off at 11 a.m. The website was a little screwy right before posting this, so I’m not sharing the link just yet.

39. You like a little Sinatra feel to your holiday celebrations? Check out Shaun Johnson Big Band Experience Dec. 18 at 7:30 p.m. at Josyln’s Witherspoon Theater. He’s the Emmy-winning lead singer of Tonic Sol-fa.

40. Volunteer for Open Door Mission’s Project Santa Drive Thru Christmas on Dec. 21. Children 13 and older are welcome to help. Volunteers are needed to hand out toy bags, gift books, candy bags, traffic patrol, and sort items for low income families to take home. Details and sign up here.

41. Mannheim Steamroller has pretty much cornered the market on Christmas music, don’t you think? Hear them perform live at one of two shows on Dec. 22 (3 and 7 p.m.). Mannheim Steamroller Christmas is a multimedia, family-friendly event.

42. Find a babysitter and head to Mr. Toad’s, 1002 Howard St., for some jazz and Mr. Toad’s Special Coffee. Every Sunday starting at 9 p.m., Luigi, Inc. plays some cool jazz. Add the special five-liquor blend in some coffee and topped with some homemade whipping cream – perfection. (I know, I know, 9 p.m. is really late for some – it certainly is for me. Go early if you must and just try the coffee – it’s worth the trip).

43. Give snowshoeing a try! Rent them at Hitchcock Nature Center in Honey Creek, Iowa, on the weekends until 5 p.m. each day. $6 a day for a pair or $10 for a weekend. Get details here.

44. Take part in the American Red Cross Holiday Blood Drive (must be 16 years old or older) on Dec. 23. Check here for local details.

45. Start a new family tradition. Oh My! Omaha readers have shared some of their families’ Christmas Eve traditions: After church, go look at Christmas lights; family members gift each other Christmas PJs (which, of course, you have to wear to bed); watch “A Christmas Story” with the family (if you don’t own the movie, TBS kicks off 24 hours of the show starting at 7 p.m. on Dec. 24).

46. If your family needs a little down time on Christmas Day, enjoy the ABC Family “25 Days of Christmas” lineup for Dec. 25: 6 a.m. “Frosty’s Winter Wonderland”; 6:30 a.m. “The Year Without a Santa Claus”; 7:30 a.m. “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town”; 10 a.m. “The Muppet Christmas Carol”; noon “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” (my favorite!); 2 p.m. “The Santa Clause”; 4 p.m. “The Santa Clause 2”; 6 p.m. “The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause”; 8 p.m. “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”

My beautiful nieces skating at the ConAgra ice rink many moons ago.

My beautiful nieces skating at the ConAgra ice rink many moons ago.

47. Take a spin around an outdoor ice skating rink. ConAgra Foods Ice Rink in the Old Market . It’s open Dec. 13 through Jan. 5. A $5 admission includes skate rental and benefits Food Bank for the Heartland. It’s particularly enchanting under the lights at night. Hours are Sunday – Thursday, 1 to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 1 p.m. to midnight
; and Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, 1 to 5 p.m. It’s closed Christmas and New Year’s Day.

48. Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo hosts Pancakes with Penguins Dec. 27-29 from 8:30 to 10 a.m. (so before it opens to the public!). Just like it sounds, you’ll get pancakes and a visit from African penguins, and there ought to be crafts involved too. You’ll want to make a reservation to this ASAP.

49. Day-time New Year’s Eve celebrations include the zoo’s and the Durham’s. Here are the details: The Durham Museum will hold a Noon Year’s Eve party from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. for all ages. There will be live music, crafts and activities, culminating with a bubble wrap stomp and ball drop at noon in the Suzanne and Walter Scott Great Hall. Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium has Noon Year’s Eve festivities planned from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., too.

50. New Year’s Eve evening celebrations include First Night in Council Bluffs, Omaha Children’s Museum’s First Night of Play and the Holiday Lights Festival Fireworks Spectacular (set to ’80s music no less). First Night is a wonderful event held from 4:30 to 10 p.m. at several C.B. downtown locations and the Mid America Center Convention Center (kids’ stuff is at the MAC until 8 p.m.). The great thing about this event is that kids 12 and younger are FREE! Adults pay $10 for all the concerts, activities and magic show. Omaha Children’s Museum’s First Night of Play from 6 to 8:30 p.m. The event includes pizza dinner, goodie bag, face painters, balloon artists, dance party and concert by Dino O’Dell! “Midnight” at OCM is at 8 pm, complete with a countdown to the New Year and a giant bubble wrap stomp. Last, but not least, great big fireworks show downtown starts at 7 p.m. out of Gene Leahy Mall. Show up a little early for primo viewing since this draws a lot of people, and tune your radio to 104.5.



  1. Tessa Genners says:

    Thank you for all this information! As zoo members we are really missing out on all the fun activities they host. I hope to take my daughter to the Pancakes with penguins!

    • Thanks, Tessa! Definitely take advantage of that membership – we haven’t done the breakfast with penguins yet, but both kids loved watching the special scuba diving characters (like Santa and an elf) during Holiday Happenings.

  2. Great list! Thank you!!

  3. We found a great tree farm last year – Bennington Pines – 160TH St & Hwy 36
    The cool thing is once you buy your tree the first time you can register to “Pre-Tag” for next year. We get to go in early before the masses tag our tree and come back closer to Christmas to pick it up. Kind of nice for people with kids because you aren’t trudging around in the cold snow for an hour picking the perfect tree!

  4. This is such a great list! Thanks for putting it all together. I’ve never done any of the first night activities, I wonder if it’s something teens would be interested in. The fireworks were great last year, looking forward to it again 🙂

    • Thanks, Angel! First Night in Council Bluffs has programming covering a wide range of interests, so it depends on your teen’s interests. If I had to pick one for a teen, I’d say Brule is pretty cool to see live. You can’t beat seeing them for free on NYE.

  5. Thanks for this list Kim! Next year, we will be taking advantage of it even more as our little one will be 18 mos. 🙂

  6. Real Princesses Omaha is getting into the holiday spirit. We are offering singing grams from our two elves. Would you consider adding this to your list? You can find more information on our site Thanks so much for what you do for the community!

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