From twinkling lights to festive holiday markets, Lincoln, Nebraska, truly knows how to celebrate the Christmas season in style. Whether you’re a long-time resident or a visitor, the city’s holiday events promise a mix of tradition and wonder. In this post, I’ll explore six of the most exciting holiday events in Lincoln — from mesmerizing lights displays to tree lighting ceremonies and bustling holiday markets. So, bundle up in your favorite winter attire, grab a cup of hot cocoa, and join me on this festive journey through the heart of Lincoln!
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Zoo Lights Powered by LES is one of the largest lights displays in the Midwest. The display runs from Nov. 24 through Dec. 30, 2023 (though, it’s closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day) at the Lincoln Children’s Zoo, 1222 S. 27th St., Lincoln, Neb.
Highlights of Zoo Lights include multiple light shows choreographed to holiday music and light tunnels. There are more than 30 lit animal silhouettes and hanging vine lights, too. The kids will like the holiday train ride and the s’mores or hot cocoa station.
Zoo Lights are s a timed-ticket event, and the zoo warns that ticket dates and times will sell out. So, advanced ticket purchase is recommended. General admission tickets are available at a discount for Lincoln Children’s Zoo Members. Note: Members of other zoos, such as Omaha’s Zoo, do not receive any discounts. Everyone ages 2 and older must have a ticket.
VIP tickets are available and include the opportunity to be the first to enter the event at 5:30 p.m. or enter anytime during the event with minimal wait time. It also includes a souvenir hot cocoa cup and discounted refills, as well as a holiday train ride ticket.
Members are able to purchase tickets starting Nov. 6. The general public may purchase tickets starting Nov. 8. Proceeds from Zoo Lights Powered by LES directly supports the zoo and animals in the winter months.
Magical Lights of Lincoln is another large lights display…in fact, it’s the largest in Nebraska. The drive-through lights show will be Nov. 24 through Dec. 31, 2023 nightly from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Lancaster Event Center, 4100 N. 84th St., Lincoln, Neb.
The display will have themes unique to Nebraska, according to the website. Themes include Magical Farms, Husker Power, Toyland, Candyland, Wonderful Winter, and Magical Forest. More than 1 million colored lights will be synchronized to music. Driving through the show is expected to last about 20 minutes you’re driving at a slow pace.
Tickets are $20 per carload on weekdays (Sunday-Thursday) and $25 on weekends (Friday & Saturday). “Carload” is defined as being up to 20 foot long. Tickets go on sale Nov. 1.
SouthPointe Pavilions’ annual holiday celebration and tree lighting is held on Nov. 25 at 2910 Pine Lake Road, Lincoln, Neb. The event includes Santa’s Grand Entrance and the tree lighting at 6:30 p.m. Santa will be available for photos following the tree lighting. There will be hot cocoa and cookies, as well as giveaways from the event’s sponsor, FNBO.
The celebration is FREE, too!
For one day only, O Street is transformed into a German-inspired holiday market. Wax Buffalo’s Winter Market on O Street is Dec. 2 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 727 O St., Lincoln, Neb. Local makers and artisans will sell their goods during the market.
And it’s not a holiday market without food and drinks. Organizers promise hot cocoa, German fair, and plenty of festive treats. There will also be a Kid’s Zone for children.
General admission is $12; and for general admission plus swag, the ticket is $23. Children under 5 are admitted FREE.
Another fun shopping event is Love, The Locals Holiday Market on Dec. 9 and 10 at Canoyer Garden Center, 2601 Long Pine Road, Lincoln, Neb. There will be more than 65 makers and artists from Nebraska selling their products from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.
There will be live music by The Wildwoods, Steady Wells, Haylee Bice and others. Food will be available for purchase from places like Rutabagas, Ybor, New Day Coffee + Smoothies, and Delco Daves. Zipline Brewing Co. will also be there with beer available for purchase.
Tickets are $6 at the door (credit cards are encouraged). Admission is FREE for those ages 18 and under.
A unique retelling of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” the production at Lincoln Community Playhouse, 2500 S. 56th St., Lincoln, Neb., features Dick Terhune playing all the classic characters. It’s a run-man show! Performances are Dec. 16 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 17 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $26 each.
More holiday events in Lincoln
- Starry Nights Christmas Tree Festival: Walk Through the Trees is Nov. 22 and Nov. 24-26 at Gateway Mall, 6100 O St.
- The 2023 Indoor Holiday Harvest Market is Dec. 3 and 17 from 10 a.m. to 2 P.M. at 241 Victory Lane, Lincoln, Neb.
- Lincoln Symphony Orchestra presents “Deck the Halls” on Dec. 3 at 2 and 6 p.m. at Lied Center for Performing Arts, 301 N. 12th St., Lincoln, Neb.
- The 2023 Holiday Bazaar is Dec. 9 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 800 S. 120th St., Lincoln, Neb.
- The TADA Productions presents “Your Holiday Show of Shows” from Dec. 15-17 at 701 P St., Lincoln, Neb.
- Mannheim Steamroller Christmas by Chip Davis is Dec. 21 at 7:30 p.m. at Lied Center for Performing Arts, 301 N. 12th St., Lincoln, Neb.
- Make Believe Midnight is Dec. 31 at Lincoln Children’s Museum, 1420 P St., Lincoln, Neb.