December 2, 2014

Beginners Guide To Wells Fargo Family Festival 2014

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. 7. We’ve gone a few times now, and I feel I’ve learned a few things about getting the most out of this FREE event.

family fest

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. Or head to Joslyn Art Museum to see the exhibit “In Living Color: Andy Warhol & Contemporary Printmaking from the Collections of Jordan D. Schniter and his Family Foundation” – this a special exhibit is usually $10 for adults to view.

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 The Durham Museum or Omaha Police Mounted Patrol Barn.

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.

Want to listen to live music? Omaha musicians will perform at W. Dale Clark Public Library and the Wells Fargo Bank.

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.

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

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

Your kids like making things? Decorate cowboy hats at the Omaha Police Mounted Patrol Barn or check out Joslyn’s studios to make your own works of art.

Want a unique experience? Head to the Omaha Police Mounted Patrol Barn to ride a stagecoach or a pony.

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

Riding the trolley with my nieces during our first ever Family Fest in 2007.

Riding the trolley with 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: Sunday, Dec. 7, 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!

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Astute readers will say, “Hey, this looks a lot like the 2013 guide!” Yes, yes it does. It’s been updated, though, I promise.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Omaha’s Holiday Lights Festival Downtown Omaha is more than six weeks of live music, outdoor ice skating, and 40 blocks of holiday lights in downtown Omaha. Family-friendly events include the tree lighting ceremony on Thanksgiving night, the Wells Fargo Family Festival on the first Sunday in December, and the New Year’s Eve Fireworks Spectacular. Holiday carolers perform in the Old Market every Saturday evening. Holiday Lights Festival events and activities are free, except for the outdoor ice skating rink.Read more about the festival here. […]

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