December 3, 2013

Beginners Guide To Wells Fargo Family Festival

I’m a big fan of the Wells Fargo Family Festival. It’s the one time of year you can go to several Omaha institutions for FREE and enjoy kid-friendly entertainment. This year, the festival falls on Sunday, Dec. 8. holiday lights logoWe’ve gone a few times now, and I feel I’ve learned a few things about getting the most out of this FREE event.

Make a Game Plan

See what’s going on at each of the venues here. Then decide what’s a priority.

Do you want to go somewhere that usually has an admission but is free during the festival? Check out The Durham Museum or Omaha Children’s Museum.

Want to go somewhere that isn’t often open to the public? Check out the Omaha Police Mounted Patrol Barn.

Want to see Santa? Get in line at Omaha Children’s Museum or The Durham Museum.

Head to the W. Dale Library to decorate - and eat - sugar cookies.

Head to the W. Dale Library to decorate – and eat – sugar cookies.

Wants FREE snacks or hot cocoa? Head to Omaha Police Mounted Patrol Barn, Wells Fargo Bank or W. Dale Clark Library. Side note: The hot cocoa at the horse barn is freaking hot.

Want to listen to live music? Omaha musicians will perform at The Durham Museum, W. Dale Clark Public Library, the Wells Fargo Bank and Joslyn Art Museum.

Decorating cowboy hats at the Omaha Police Mounted Patrol Barn in 2012. Farley is in a serious discussion with his aunt regarding the artistic direction of his hat.

Decorating cowboy hats at the Omaha Police Mounted Patrol Barn in 2012. Farley is in a serious discussion with his aunt regarding the artistic direction of his hat.

Your kids like making things? Head to the Creative Arts Area at Omaha Children’s Museum, decorate cowboy hats at the Omaha Police Mounted Patrol Barn or check out Joslyn to make winter-themed works of art using alphabet stencils, sponges, oil pastels and tempera paint.

Don’t Try To Do It All

There are six venues hosting activities and if you try to go to all of them, you’ll wear yourself down. I’ve tried it, and I don’t recommend it. You’ll feel rushed and everyone will be exhausted. Calculate the time needed to get to each place plus parking; or, if you’re taking the free trolley, calculate the wait.

I recommend two to three stops. When Farley was younger and it was just us and him, one stop was enough.

Plan a Quiet Stop

It’s a good idea to stop somewhere to take a breather, either somewhere not a part of the Family Festival, or one of the quieter stops. I’ve found W. Dale Clark Library to be a little less hectic than the other places. The cookie decorating area is always packed, but last year, we enjoyed a little bit of calm during storytime in the kids area.

Getting From One Place To The Next

Ride the trolley with some of my nieces during our first ever Family Fest (in 2007).

Ride the trolley with some of my nieces during our first ever Family Fest (in 2007).

There is a free trolley that takes people to each stop. It’s fun, everyone sings Christmas carols. The kids love it. It is, however, quite popular, so you’ll likely be waiting in line to get on one – in line, outside. If you haven’t checked, it’s pretty cold in Omaha this time of year. That wait, with antsy kids…it is not fun.

Still, it’s probably better than driving yourself to each venue. You won’t get to park too close to the venue, so the time you spend walking from your car to the entrance is probably close to the time you’ll spend waiting for a trolley.

Dress warmly

Which brings me to my next recommendation: Bundle up. Good golly, it is cold out there. The Omaha Police Mounted Patrol Barn is not a warm place to be, so if that’s on your list to visit, definitely dress accordingly.

If you go:

Wells Fargo Family Fest

When: Dec. 8, noon to 5 p.m.

Where: Wells Fargo Bank, 20th and Douglas streets; Omaha Children’s Museum, 500 S. 20th St.; Omaha Police Mounted Patrol Barn, 615 Leavenworth St.; The Durham Museum, 801 S. 10th St.; W. Dale Clark Library, 215 S. 15th St.; Joslyn Art Museum, 2200 Dodge St.

Cost: FREE

Tip: Ollie the Trolley will provide free trolley rides between locations. Have fun participating in holiday sing-alongs during your travels!

Your turn: Where do you plan on going during the Wells Fargo Family Festival?

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