September 26, 2018

Omaha Annual Holiday Traditions

Omaha’s annual holiday season lasts longer than a month, with a ton of family-friendly celebrations and Christmas traditions you can count on each year. The events usually kick off on Thanksgiving night and run through the first week of January each year. Here are some of my favorite Omaha annual holiday traditions:

Looking for annual Christmas shows, holiday displays and kid-friendly activities in Omaha? Here's a round up of celebrations you can count on each year during the holiday season.

Omaha Holiday Lights Festival

On everyone’s to-do list is to stroll through the Old Market where millions of lights are strung up for 40 blocks as part of Omaha’s Holiday Lights Festival.

You can count on this festival to kick the holidays off in Omaha. The weeks-long festival includes carolers on the weekends, an outdoor ice skating rink, the free Family Festival, and fireworks on New Year’s Eve.

Holiday Lights Festival Omaha Ice Rink
The ice rink during the Holiday Lights Festival. Since this picture was taken, the rink has relocated a few blocks to the north.

2019 News: The lights strung around Gene Leahy Mall are one of my favorite parts of the festival. However, starting in 2019, there will be construction that will make it impossible to have the lights up at the mall for a few years. See them this year, before they’re temporarily relocated.

Omaha Attractions With Christmas Celebrations

Omaha’s zoo – Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium has a couple of events to note. On some weekends, Holiday Happenings is a fun one to catch. Head to the aquarium at designated times to watch Santa and elves scuba dive in the shark tank. The event is included with admission.

For an extra fee, there are holiday events with a meal like Supper With Santa and Pancakes & Penguins.

Durham Museum Christmas tree
The Durham Museum is home to the largest indoor Christmas tree each year. “Christmas at Union Station” usually begins the day after Thanksgiving and runs through early January.

The Durham Museum – One of my favorite ways to kick off the season is the tree lighting ceremony at The Durham Museum. It’s held the day after Thanksgiving each year, and while it’s always super crowded, it’s worth fighting the crowds to be a part of it.

It also kicks off Christmas at Union Station, which runs throughout the holidays and includes the Cultural Holiday Tree Display, pictures with Santa, concerts, and the Cultural Holiday Festival.

Santa's Magic annual show Omaha Children's Museum
“Santa’s Magic” runs Nov. 24 through Dec. 23 each year at at Omaha Children’s Museum. In addition to the Snow Queen who makes it snow indoors, children can get one-on-one time with Santa. Photo courtesy Omaha Children’s Museum

Omaha Children’s Museum – If your kids are younger, there’s nothing more magical than “Santa’s Magic,” which runs from Black Friday through Dec. 23 typically, at Omaha Children’s Museum.

It’s an interactive show with an Elsa-like character who makes it “snow” indoors, elves, and Santa arriving by chimney. Kids get a turn talking to Santa at the end.

Holiday Poinsettia Show at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha
Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism

Lauritzen Gardens – Omaha’s botanical gardens have the annual Holiday Poinsettia Show. Kids will like that the model trains run around the displays.

While I’m there, I enjoy stopping by the conservatory. It’s a tropical oasis in the winter. In recent years, the Poinsettia Show has been lit at night for visitors in the evening.

Christmas Concerts In Omaha

There are a few things you can be sure of, and one is that there will be an abundance of Christmas concerts to choose from each year in Omaha.

Omaha Symphony – “Christmas Celebration” has been an annual tradition for years. While the show changes with music and featured performers, you can be sure that Santa will be there (and many “Santas” who will be dancing at one point).

Santa and Omaha Symphony
Photo courtesy Omaha Symphony

Handel’s Messiah – I have yet to catch this annual performance by Voices of Omaha, but this concert features a long concert choir singing. It’s usually held in mid-November.

Holidays Under Glass – This is a free lunch-time concert series at the Joslyn Art Museum. If you go, you may want to arrive early to make sure you get a seat in the atrium.

Making Spirits Bright Concert & Sounds of the Season – A big part of the Holiday Lights Festival is music. There’s a free concert every year on Thanksgiving night called Making Spirits Bright at the Holland Performing Arts Center. You’ll also find carolers on the weekends in the Old Market and in Gene Leahy Mall for free mini concerts (AKA, Sounds of the Season).

Christmas on Stage In Omaha

Omaha is home to a thriving performing arts scene, and there are quite a few traditional holiday shows performed each year. Plus, many theaters like The Rose will have a holiday show this time of year.

Omaha Community Playhouse – OCP has been performing “A Christmas Carol” for decades and its perfected the musical.  It’s great to introduce to elementary age kids or older (it’s kinda long). The sets, costumes, music and choreography is top notch every year.

A Christmas Carol in Omaha starring Jerry Longe as Ebenezer Scrooge.
Photo courtesy Omaha Community Playhouse

American Midwest Ballet – Nebraska Ballet is now American Midwest Ballet, the regions only professional ballet company. They’ve been performing “The Nutcracker” for years, and you can usually catch it at the Orpheum Theater in Omaha or Iowa Western Community College’s Art Center in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

Holiday at Hogwarts show in Omaha

Apollon Art Space – A little untraditional, but still it feels like a holiday show, “Holiday At Hogwarts” is an annual dinner theater show at Apollon Art Space.

During this interactive show held in December, you’ll talk with familiar characters from Harry Potter’s world in a dining room decorated for Christmas. It’s pretty kid-friendly, so you’re fine going with or without kids.

Read more about the show here.

Gingerbread Displays In Omaha

Gingerbread train at Magnolia Hotel in Omaha

Magnolia Hotel – Stop by the downtown hotel’s lobby during the holidays to see the chef’s creations. One year, it was a gingerbread train and town.

Holiday Shopping In Omaha

For holiday shopping in Omaha, there are a couple events that I particularly look forward to.

Hot Shops Winter Open House – Hot Shops is a collection of studios and galleries of local artists working in different media. Twice a year, the open house invites the public in to see their work, watch live demonstrations (check out the glass blowing) and, of course, shop.

The open house is typically the first weekend in December.

Hot Shops glassblowing demonstration during open house

Holiday Market – The Holiday Market is Omaha’s answer to Christmas markets in Europe, though definitely not as big. Shop booths of local and regional artists and food vendors in tents at Aksarben Village. Santa is usually found somewhere in the market, too.

The Holiday Market is typically the first weekend in December.

Round up of annual Omaha holiday traditions including the must-see events, shows, and festivals held each year. These are events you can plan on if you're visiting for the first time or you want to start a holiday tradition.  #Christmas #Santa #holidays

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November 20, 2017

Bringing Kids To ‘A Christmas Carol’

I think I’m becoming a Christmas softie. I was always more of a “Scrooged” kind of Christmas story girl, not “A Christmas Carol.” The Dickens classic was a little too sweet. But here I am, joyful after seeing Omaha Community Playhouse’s production of “A Christmas Carol” this past weekend. I get it, now, why families make it a tradition to see every year. I feel like it’s the quintessential show to kick off the holiday season.

Updated: This post was first written in 2017 and has been updated with 2019 information.

What to expect if you take kids to "A Christmas Carol" - This holiday classic has been performed at Omaha Community Playhouse for more than 40 years. This is local community theater at its best! #Omaha #Christmas

Disclosure: I received two complimentary tickets to review the show, so I took my oldest son (he’s almost 8) to see it for his first time.

Thinking of bringing your kids to see this holiday classic? Here’s what to expect:

What to expect at “A Christmas Carol”

Photo courtesy Omaha Community Playhouse

– This is a huge production. The cast is quite large, the sets look remarkable, and the costumes are to die for. When the curtain goes up for that first number, you’ll be wowed by this show. It’s community theater at a different level.

– Jerry Longe has played Ebenezer Scrooge for more than a decade, and it’s hard to imagine anyone else in the role. Granted, I’ve seen Dick Boyd in the role many years back and thought the same. But, Longe really has made this role his own. He adds some fun touches that made my son laugh.

– There’s a surprise at the end of the production. Don’t sneak out when you think it’s over. Just wait.

Timing a bathroom break

The first act is 70 minutes long, so if you or your kid has a small bladder, go before the show begins. The intermission is long enough for a restroom break, though, if you can hold it.

The whole show is about 2 hours and 20 minutes with the intermission. If you partake in any of the Christmas cheer in the lobby (AKA, drinks), you might not last until the end.

What ages would like this best?

There are treats for purchase in the lobby of the theater at intermission.

This is suitable for most ages, though kids under 3 are not permitted. Early grade school ages would be great ages to introduce this show. The length of the show, though, makes me think that it may be a test of attention spans on really young ones.

Also, I will say this: There are a couple of parts that may scare young ones. When the ghost of Jacob Marley arrives, he’s accompanied by minions. Those little goblin kids are the stuff of nightmares. (I think they bothered me more than my son)

The Ghost of Christmas Future might also scare kids. I remember the big things being a lot scarier, but it wasn’t so bad this time around. Maybe I’ve grown up.

My son’s a second grader and thought the music was one of the best parts of the show, so there you have it.

If your kid catches the acting bug while seeing this show (there are a TON of kids in the ensemble), then I recommend signing them up for the Henry Fonda Theatre Academy at the Playhouse. Here’s my post about the acting class for ages 4-6 and for acting class for ages 7-10.

What’s it about again?

The cast of "A Christmas Carol" at Omaha Community Playhouse
Photo courtesy Omaha Community Playhouse

“A Christmas Carol” is one of Omaha’s favorite holiday traditions. Grumpy and greedy Ebenezer Scrooge goes on a life-changing journey led by three ghosts.

If you go to “A Christmas Carol”

“A Christmas Carol”

Where: Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass St.

When: Nov. 15 through Dec. 23, 2020; performances are Wednesdays at 7 p.m., Thursdays-Saturday at 7:30 p.m., and Sundays at 2 and 6:30 p.m. There is no performance on Thanksgiving. Audio-described performance is Nov. 16 at 7:30 p.m. Sensory-friendly performance is Dec. 4 at 7 p.m. ASL-interpreted performance is Dec. 8 at 6:30 p.m. Spanish-translated performance is Dec. 11 at 7 p.m.

Special events around the show include a gingerbread house buildings parties on Nov. 24, Dec. 1, Dec. 8, Dec. 15 and Dec. 22 prior to the Sunday matinee ($15 per house).

Cost: $40-$50, adults; $26-$30, students. On sale now at the OCP Box Office, by calling (402) 553-0800 or online at www.OmahaPlayhouse.com or www.TicketOmaha.com.

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November 13, 2017

Omaha Gift Guide

Know someone who loves all thing Omaha? This Omaha gift guide is for that person. I’ve gathered a few of my favorite things this year that I think will make excellent presents, and the best part, they’re either made right here in Omaha or made by created by someone here.

Keep reading because I’m going to share details on giveaways for a few of these Omaha gifts!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Oh My! Omaha is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Omaha gifts from the top left going clockwise:

OffBeat Game of Rhythm (ages 5+), $19.95 – This looks like fun for the whole family. I got a game sent to me from Fat Brain Toys and I can’t wait for my kids to open it up this Christmas so we can try it out. Why is it on the Omaha list, though? Fat Brain Toys is based out of Elkhorn.

LULUBEE Artisanal Chocolates 12-piece assortment, $22 – LULUBEE was one of many Omaha/regional chocolatiers at the Omaha Public Library Culinary Conference I recently attended. All sweets I tried there were great, but LULUBEE had the most divine looking candy, almost too pretty to eat (but I did, and it was good).

“’Twas the Mouse Who Saved Christmas” MarbleSpark personalized book, $40 – I just learned about MarbleSpark, a local company that makes personalized books for kid. This one is particularly perfect for a Christmas present, right?

Win a FREE personalized book from MarbleSpark! Head over to my Facebook page today! I’m giving away one. (Giveaway starts at at 7 a.m. and ends Nov. 16)

Beard Balm, Oliver Ridge Co., $20 – This is a gift for the dapper, bearded man on your list. I wrote about this Omaha-based company earlier this year. Check that story out here.

ONElapse 2018 Desk Calendar, $20 – I follow ONElapse on social media and the photos of Omaha are always spectacular. No doubt the desk calendar will have some of those gorgeous photos (there’s also a wall calendar, I believe).

Artifact Campus Tote, $98 – I first ogled the locally-made, handmade bags by Artifact at an event at the CenturyLink Center, perhaps it was the horse show, I dunno. All I remember was a deep longing to have one of my own. It’s a good gift for the favorite blogger person in your life.

“Lost Restaurants of Omaha,” The History Press, $21.99 – My first ever book was just released by The History Press and it’s perfect for anyone who’s ever dined in Omaha. It contains stories and photos of beloved restaurants that have closed and some “forgotten” gems as well. Read more about the book on the blog here (you’ll find out where upcoming book signings are planned).

I’ll be giving away an autographed copy of the book! Giveaway starts November 27, so check back here for details.

* * * * *

Looking for more kids gift idea? Last week, I shared a popular post on STEM Gift Ideas for Kids. Check it out!

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November 1, 2017

Ultimate Omaha Holiday Events List {Updated For 2019}

Omaha is the best place for a family to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s Eve in 2019. You can find free kids’ activities, every kind of live performance from ballet to orchestra to rock, and a ton of chances to meet Santa around town. Read on for the 2019 Omaha holiday events list!

Note: This post was first published in 2017 and has been updated with 2019 holiday events. If you have an event to add or see an error in the schedule, please leave a comment or email me!

The ultimate holiday events list for Omaha {updated for 2019!} -If you want to find things to do in Omaha in November and December, for Christmas or New Year's festivities, this is the list! Find holiday concerts, theater, dance, and Christmas displays in Omaha and nearby. #holidays #Omaha #Nebraska #Christmas #Guide #USA

Got a kid-free night ahead of you? Good, I also included some activities that are perfect for a holiday date night or a friends’ night out.

Pin this post because I will add to this list often! I’ve divided the post into sections:

  • -Omaha holiday events (including tree lightings, parades, and holiday displays, New Year’s Eve events, and pretty much everything that’s not music, theater or food-related)
  • -Holiday concerts
  • -Christmas theater & dance
  • -Holiday food & drink
  • -Charitable events & gift drives

Having a difficult time choosing just one holiday event to attend? Check out this list of classic Omaha holiday traditions – they’re the kind of events that you should go to at least once in your life!

Omaha holiday events in 2019

Gingerbread on Parade

When: Through Dec. 15

Where: Ramada Plaza hotel, 3321 S. 72nd St.

What: Dozens of gingerbread creations built by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This event used to be held at the Mormon Trail Center in north Omaha.

Cost: FREE

Santa’s Wonderland

When: Through Dec. 24

Where: Cabela’s, 12703 Westport Parkway, La Vista, Neb.

What: Bring the family for a free 4×6 photo with Santa and free crafts.
Giveaways for the first 100 kids to have their photo taken Monday-Thursday beginning at 5 p.m.

Cost: FREE

Holiday Decor at General Crook House

When: Through Jan. 12

Where: Gen. Crook House Museum, 5770 N. 30 St., #11b

What: The house is decorated for the season and festivities are planned with the theme “Books: Keys to Life’s Treasures.”

Cost: $6, adults; $5, students/seniors/military; $3, children (ages 6-11); and FREE for children younger than 6.

Santa’s Rock N Lights

When: Through Dec. 31; event runs from 5 to 9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays (and some Sundays), and from 5 to 10 p.m. Fridays through Sundays (not all Sundays)

Where: Werner Park, 12356 Ballpark Way, Papillion, Neb.

What: It’s a drive-thru light show featuring nearly a full mile of 1,000 programmable elements and more than 100,000 animated lights dancing to Christmas music.

Cost: Online prices are $24.99 per vehicle up to six people on weekdays and $29.99 per vehicle up to six people on weekends and Dec. 19-24 (additional $5 per individual beyond the six)

Holiday Poinsettia Show

When: Through Jan. 5 (closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day); the Bright Nights is 5 to 8 p.m. on Dec. 14-23, 26-30 and Jan. 2-5.

Where: Lauritzen Gardens, First and Bancroft streets

What: This indoor flower show is perfect for the holidays, plus the indoor model train is always a hit with kids.

Cost: Included with admission, which is $10 adults, $5 children 6-12). Members are admitted FREE.

Holidays In The Old Market

When: Through Jan. 6

Where: 11th and Howard streets

What: Stroll the historic streets in the glow of thousands of twinkling lights. Historic buildings are lit up from top to bottom with lights, greenery, and bows.

Cost: FREE

Looking for holiday fun runs? Here’s the list of 2019 Thanksgiving and Christmas-themed races that are in or near Omaha.

Christmas at Union Station

When: Through Jan. 5

Where: The Durham Museum, 801 S. 10th St.

What: See the largest indoor tree in the region, as well as Holiday Cultural Trees Display. Christmas at Union Station includes several events, and live performances as well.

Cost: Included with museum admission

“Santa’s Magic”

When: Through Dec. 23, multiple shows daily

Where: Omaha Children’s Museum, 500 S. 20th St.

What: An interactive exhibit featuring Santa, the Snow Queen, elves and indoor snow. Be sure to come with your wish list.

Cost: Included with regular Museum admission, which is $14 for ages 2+, $13 for seniors, and FREE for children younger than 24 months and members

Related post: Insider’s Tips For Visiting Omaha Children’s Museum

Santa At The Durham

When: Through Dec. 22; Saturdays, Nov. 30 through Dec. 21, 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Sundays, Dec. 1-22, 1 to 4 p.m.; and Tuesdays, Dec. 3, 10 & 17 5 to 8 p.m.

Where: The Durham Museum, 801 S. 10th St.

What: Share your wish list with Santa beneath the largest indoor tree in the region.

Cost: Included with museum admission

Christmas At The Orchard

When: Through Dec. 21, Saturdays from 4 to 9 p.m. (outdoor lighting ceremony at 5 p.m.)

Where: Ditmars Orchard and Vineyard, 19475 225th St., Council Bluffs, Iowa

What: See the front of the orchard lit with a drive-by and walk-through display of lights. Lighting ceremony is at 5 p.m. and complimentary photos with Santa are from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Cost: FREE

A Log Cabin Christmas

When: Through Dec. 29, Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Where: The Durham Museum, 801 S. 10th St.

What: The museum’s historic log cabin will be decorated for Christmas, and a docent will be present to show guests the cabin and share pioneer holiday traditions.

Cost: Included with regular museum admission

Ugly Sweater Workshop

When: Dec. 12, 7 to 9 p.m.

Where: Bärchen Beer Garden, 6209 Maple St.

What: J.Diane Creations will provide everything you need to walk away with something creative and ugly for this holiday season. All you need to bring is a sweater from your closet or a thrift shop. Feel free to bring any extra materials you would like to add. Happy hour pricing on drinks will be available for participants. There will be holiday beats playing and a photobooth.

Cost: $15 in advance, $20 at the door

“Christmas Vacation” Movie Party

When: Through Dec. 12; two showtimes each day

Where: Alamo Drafthouse at Midtown Crossing in Omaha and the La Vista, Neb. location

What: “Christmas Vacation” gets the full Movie Party treatment with special props for the audience and special surprises that the host will be bringing into the theater throughout the event.

Cost: $14.98

Winter Wonderland at Sycamore Farms

When: Through Dec. 15; hours are Fridays from noon to 9 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Where: Sycamore Farms (Junkstock), 1150 River Road Drive, Waterloo, Neb.

What: Shop, enjoy photo opps and characters like Elsa and the Grinch, meet Santa at Santa’s Mountain, watch live ice carving and more.

Cost: $5, adults (weekend pass is $10), and kids 12 and under are FREE

Forever Young Film Series featuring “The Muppet Christmas Carol”

When: Dec. 12, 14, 15 & 19

Where: Film Streams at Dundee Theater, 4952 Dodge St.

Cost: $10, general admission; $7.50, seniors, students, teachers, military & those who arrive by bike or bus; $5, members; $2.50 for children ages 12 and younger

Story Time with Santa

When: Dec. 12, 10:30 a.m.

Where: Shadow Lake Towne Center, 72nd Street and Highway 370, Papillion, Neb.

What: Santa and Mrs. Claus will read one of their favorite Christmas stories and then take pictures with families.

Cost: FREE

Holiday Cheers

When: Dec. 12, 6 to 9 p.m.

Where: Lauritzen Gardens, First and Bancroft streets

What: This 21 and older event includes the holiday poinsettia show, the lights of Merry & Bright, games on the patio, Lite-Brite trees, and live music by Skretta etc.

Cost: $20, or $10 for members if purchased before Dec. 5

Santa At Hy-Vee

When: Dec. 14, and 21, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Where: Hy-Vee

What: Kids can visit with Santa.

Cost: FREE

Holidays At Hummel

When: Dec. 14, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Where: Hummel Park Nature Center, 3033 Hummel Park Road

What: An all-ages event with a nature story time at 10 a.m., nature bingo at 11 a.m., crafts, hikes, outdoor games, and hot cocoa. They will collect non-perishable food items to be donated.

Cost: FREE (pre-registration recommended)

Santa Visits Costco

When: Dec. 14, 1 to 4 p.m.

Where: Costco, 12515 Portside Parkway, La Vista, Neb.

What: Meet Santa and enjoy a cookie. Event is open to non-members, as well as members.

Cost: FREE

Classic Christmas

When: Dec. 14, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Where: Mahoney State Park, 28500 West Park Hwy, Ashland, Neb.

What: Classic Christmas is a fun event for the whole family that takes place in the Peter Kiewit Lodge. Families can participate with their children decorating a sugar cookie, making a holiday ornament, and creating a greeting card for a veteran. Enjoy a free trolley ride for a memorable and unique tour of the park, weather permitting. Free portraits with Santa.

Cost: FREE (valid 2019 Nebraska park entry permit is required)

Christmas by Candlelight Tour

When: Dec. 14, 6 to 9 p.m.

Where: Historic Gen. Dodge House, 605 S. Third St., Council Bluffs, Iowa

What: Experience Christmas as it was in the last quarter of the 19th century. Enjoy the General Dodge House and the Beresheim House with all the lights off illuminated only by flickering (artificial) candlelight and over a dozen beautifully decorated and lighted trees. Refreshments served in the Ballroom.

Cost: $15 in advance, $20 at the door

Las Posadas

When: Dec. 18, 6 to 8 p.m. (traditional Posada is at 6:30 p.m.)

Where: El Museo Latino, 4701 S. 25th St.

What: Celebrate the tradition of Las Posadas, with hands-on activities for children, music, and snacks.

Cost: FREE

Live Nativity & Reindeer

When: Dec. 21, 5 to 7 p.m.

Where: Scattered Joy Acres, 4966 Newport Ave.

What: This drive-thru, living Nativity gives families a chance to have one-on-one interaction and to be educated with the animals from the birth of Christ.

Cost: TBD

Family Safari – “Noon Year’s Eve” Safari 

When: Dec. 30, 7 p.m. to 9 a.m.

Where: Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium, 3701 S. 10th St.

What: Spend the night in the Scott Aquarium and then stay and ring in 2020 early (at noon on New Year’s Eve). Event is specially made for everyone who doesn’t want to stay up late to celebrate!. Cost includes include paid admission, overnight stay, special guided tours, evening snack, breakfast, free day at the zoo and a zookeeper talk. Children must be at least 4 years old, and one adult is required to attend with every 10 youth.

Cost: $45-$48 per person

Noon Year’s Eve

When: Dec. 31, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Where: The Durham Museum, 801 S. 10th St.

What: Children of all ages will enjoy this fun-packed party with live music by Dino O’Dell and the T-Rex All-Stars, special crafts and activities. Ring in the noon year in handmade party hats while enjoying the celebratory bubble wrap stomp and the balloon drop at noon in the Suzanne and Walter Scott Great Hall.

Cost: Included with museum admission

Bubbly New Year’s Eve Party

When: Dec. 31, 4 to 8 p.m. (bubble drop will be at around 7:45 p.m.)

Where: Omaha Children’s Museum, 500 S. 20th St.

What: Celebrate the New Year without staying out late! The celebration will include a lot of bubbles, and a “midnight” countdown at around 7:45 p.m.

Cost: Included with regular museum admission

Holiday Lights Festival – New Year’s Eve Fireworks Spectacular

When: Dec. 31, 7 p.m.

Where: New location near CHI Health Center and TD Ameritrade Park. Free parking to view the up-close show will be in Lot A, Lot B and Lot C of the CHI Health Center.

What: The New Year’s Eve fireworks display is one of the largest in the region and is the last signature event of the Holiday Lights Festival. The display is choreographed so that each shell explodes on cue to a unique themed medley of “One-hit Wonders.” Spectators are encouraged to tune in to STAR 104.5 to enjoy the accompanying music while watching the dazzling show. Visitors are encouraged to arrive early.

Cost: FREE

Looking for more things to do when it’s cold outside? Here are 30+ things to do in Omaha in the winter.

Omaha holiday concerts in 2019

Holiday Under Glass

When: Wednesdays and Fridays, Through Dec. 20, noon to 12:45 p.m. (optional tours of special exhibitions and the permanent collection follow the concerts at 1 p.m.)

Where: Joslyn Art Museum, 2200 Dodge St.

What: This annual concert series is held in the museum’s atrium and features concerts of holiday classics and classical arrangements performed by choral groups and high school groups. Arrive early for seating and if you plan on purchasing lunch.

Cost: FREE

Omaha Symphony’s “Physicians Mutual Christmas Celebration”

When: Dec. 19-22; performances are Thursday & Friday at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday & Sunday at 2 and 7:30 p.m.

Where: Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St.

What: It’s the merriest way to celebrate the season! Ernest Richardson, the Omaha Symphony, and a stellar cast of Broadway singers and dancers send your spirits soaring with festive favorites and Christmas classics.

Cost: $19-$91

Home Free “Dive Bar Christmas Tour”

When: Dec. 19, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Orpheum Theater, 409 S. 16th St.

What: Experience the rich Southern harmonies of Home Free this holiday season. It’s an evening of upbeat Nashville-dipped pop hits, country standards and quick-witted humor.

Cost: $19.50-$118.50

Mariachi Herencia de México “The Posada: A Christmas Tradition”

When: Dec. 20, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Orpheum Theater, 409 S. 16th St.

What: In a special holiday show, the ensemble brings the Latin American tradition of the posada to life. The celebration includes Mexican and American holiday favorites! Enjoy the songs of the season such as “Feliz Navidad,” “Los Peces en el Rio,” “Ave Maria” and “Jingle Bells.”

Cost: $10-$25

Mannheim Steamroller Christmas

When: Dec. 21 and 22; performances are Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 7 p.m.

Where: Orpheum Theater, 409 S. 16th St.

What: The group’s Christmas concert is full of multimedia special effects and has become an annual holiday tradition at the Orpheum Theater.

Cost: $38.25-$78.25

Christmas theater & dance in Omaha 2019

Omaha Christmas theater shows in 2019 include "A Christmas Carol" at Omaha Community Playhouse
Photo courtesy Omaha Community Playhouse

“Holidays at Hogwarts”

When: Through Dec. 21; performances are Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. (Dec. 20 performance is for adults only)

Where: Apollon, 1801 Vinton St.

What: Be transported to the Wizarding World for a Happy Holiday Feast at Hogwarts School. During your magical stay, you will receive lessons taught by the Hogwarts Professors and Wizards, visit Diagon Alley for wands and other necessary wizarding supplies and gifts, and enjoy a grand feast.

Cost: $35, general admission; $60, VIP ticket

“A Very Die Hard Christmas”

When: Through Dec. 22; performance are Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. Performance are also on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 11 and 18; and Sunday, Dec. 1, at 6 p.m., Dec. 8, at 2 and 6 p.m. and Dec. 22 at 2 p.m.

What: An outrageous take on the Most. Beloved. Christmas Movie. Of. All Time. You’re cordially invited to the company Christmas party at Nakatomi Plaza! All NYPD Blue’s John McClane wants is to come to the coast, get together with his estranged wife, and have some laughs. But when a team of well-choreographed, vaguely European terrorists start taking hostages as part of their nefarious plot to…who cares? John has to cowboy up!

Cost: $35

“Elf: The Musical”

When: Through Dec. 22; performances are Fridays at 7 p.m. and Saturdays & Sundays at 2 p.m.

Where: The Rose, 2001 Farnam St.

What: This fun-filled musical adaptation of the favorite holiday film that became an instant classic is a stuffed stocking full of song and dance that your family will most definitely want on your Christmas Wish List!

Cost: Main floor tickets are $20 for members and $27 for non-members; balcony tickets are $15 for members and $22 for non-members.

“A Christmas Carol”

When: Through Dec. 23; performances are Wednesdays at 7 p.m., Thursdays-Saturday at 7:30 p.m., and Sundays at 2 and 6:30 p.m. Sensory-friendly performance is Dec. 4 at 7 p.m. ASL-interpreted performance is Dec. 8 at 6:30 p.m. Spanish-translated performance is Dec. 11 at 7 p.m.

Where: Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass St.

What: This is an annual tradition on stage in Omaha. Read What To Expect If You Bring Kids “A Christmas Carol.” Special events around the show include a gingerbread house buildings parties on Dec. 8, Dec. 15 and Dec. 22 prior to the Sunday matinee ($15 per house).

Cost: $40-$50, adults; $26-$30, students

“A Drag Queen Christmas – The Naughty Tour”

When: Dec. 16, 8 p.m.

Where: Orpheum Theater, 409 S. 16th St.

What: Here come the queens from the VH1 reality TV in their biggest holiday costumes with back-up dancers and a full stage production. All ages welcome. Warning – adult content (because they’re drag queens).

Cost: $43.50 to $170 

Holiday food events 2019

Donuts With Santa

When: Dec. 10, 10 a.m. to noon

Where: Cabela’s, 12703 Westport Parkway, La Vista, Neb.

What: Meet Santa, and enjoy storytime with Mrs. Claus, crafts, hot cocoa and more.

Cost: FREE (pre-register children)

Lights of Aksarben – Cocoa With A Cop

When: Dec. 13, 6 to 8 p.m.

Where: Stinson Park at Askarben Village, 2232 S. 64th St.

What: There will be a heated tent, free horse and carriage rides, free face painting, free food and drink, and music.

Cost: FREE

Supper With Santa

When: Dec. 13-21; Fridays and Saturdays from 6 to 8 p.m.

Where: Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium; held at Lied Jungle and Durham TreeTops Restaurant on Dec. 13 & 14, and Scott Aquarium Conference Center on Dec. 20 & 21.

What: Enjoy a spaghetti dinner, activities, storytime, and of course, pictures with Santa.

Cost: $23, members; $28, non-members; and FREE for children ages 2 and young

Pancakes & Presents

When: Dec. 14, 8 to 11:30 a.m. (There are two timeslots from 8 to 9:30 a.m. and from 10 to 11:30 a.m.

Where: Werner Park, 12356 Ballpark Way, Papillion, Neb.

What: Tell Santa what you want for Christmas in person while you enjoy special holiday crafts and all-you-can-eat breakfast.

Cost: $13, children; $15, adults (RSVP by Dec. 6)

Penguins and Pancakes

When: Dec. 26-30; seating times are at 9 to 10:30 a.m. or 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. seating. 

Where: Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium at the Scott Aquarium Conference Center

What: Enjoy pancakes from The Pancake Man, an animal visit from an African penguin and keeper talk, as well as a special penguin plush to take home.

Cost: $20, adult members, and $25, adult non-member; $15, child member (ages 3-11), and $20, child non-member (ages 3-11); and FREE for children ages 2 and younger

2019 charitable events & gift drives in Omaha

Project Santa

When: Ongoing

Where: You host the drive, but it is connected with Open Door Mission. Drop-off toys at one of the Open Door Mission’s locations: Timberlake Outreach Center at 2107 E. Locust St., Elkhorn Outreach Center at 1620 N. 203rd St., Elkhorn, Neb., or Council Bluffs Outreach Center at 1612 Ave. D, Council Bluffs, Iowa.

What: Project Santa provides toys to needy boys and girls. As a host of the toy drive, you collect the toys and deliver them to one of the Open Door Mission locations. Here’s the overview of the program.

Cost: It’s free to register and host; you will have to rally friends, family, and co-workers to donate items.

Toy and Joy Personal Shopper

When: Dec. 10-21; held on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays

Where: Open Door Mission (which location TBD)

What: Volunteers ( 18+) will greet people with a warm and welcoming spirit by empowering and assisting parents in choosing free presents through the shop.

Cost: 2 hours of your time.

Cabela’s Wrapping Paper For Open Door Mission

When: Dec. 21

Where: Cabela’s, 12703 Westport Parkway, La Vista, Neb.

What: Sign up to wrap gifts at Cabela’s for free-will donations given to Open Door Mission.

Cost: 2 hours of your time.

Open Door Mission Christmas Eve Banquet

When: Dec. 24, 3 to 6 p.m.

Where: Open Door Mission Garland Thompson Men’s Center, 2705 N. 20th St. E

What: Open Door Mission will be holding a banquet-style meal on this special day to help hungry and homeless men, women, and children celebrate Christmas. Volunteers are needed to help serve the meal, prepare the food, and/or clean the kitchen. School-aged children are welcome to help at this family-friendly event, as long as they are accompanied by an adult.

Cost: 3 hours of your time.

Open Door Mission Christmas Day Brunch & Banquet

When: Dec. 25, 8 to 11 a.m. and 3 to 6 p.m.

Where: Open Door Mission Garland Thompson Men’s Center, 2705 N. 20th St. E

What: Open Door Mission will be holding a banquet-style meal on this special day to help hungry and homeless men, women, and children celebrate Christmas. Volunteers are needed to help serve the meal, prepare the food, and/or clean the kitchen. School-aged children are welcome to help at this family-friendly event, as long as they are accompanied by an adult.

Cost: 3 hours of your time.

Diaper Unloading Party

When: Dec. 27, 10 a.m.

Where: Timberlake Outreach Center at 2107 E. Locust St.

What: Help unloading diapers that were donated during 94.1’s annual Diaper Drive. After unloading, there will be chili, chicken noodle soup, and hot chocolate available. Please wear a hat, coat, gloves, and appropriate footwear. If you are not wearing appropriate attire, you will be re-assigned to an indoor job.

Cost: A few hours of your time.

Open Door Mission New Year’s Eve Brunch & Banquet

When: Dec. 31, 8 to 11 a.m. and 3 to 6 p.m.

Where: Open Door Mission Garland Thompson Men’s Center, 2705 N. 20th St. E

What: Open Door Mission will be holding a banquet-style meal on this special day to help hungry and homeless men, women, and children celebrate the new year. Volunteers are needed to help serve the meal, prepare the food, and/or clean the kitchen. School-aged children are welcome to help at this family-friendly event, as long as they are accompanied by an adult.

Cost: 3 hours of your time.

Open Door Mission New Year’s Day Brunch & Banquet

When: Jan. 1, 8 to 11 a.m. and 3 to 6 p.m.

Where: Open Door Mission Garland Thompson Men’s Center, 2705 N. 20th St. E

What: Open Door Mission will be holding a banquet-style meal on this special day to help hungry and homeless men, women, and children celebrate the new year. Volunteers are needed to help serve the meal, prepare the food, and/or clean the kitchen. School-aged children are welcome to help at this family-friendly event, as long as they are accompanied by an adult.

Cost: 3 hours of your time.

Please leave a comment or email me at ohmyomaha (at) gmail (dot) com if you know of an event or gift drive to include in this list!

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December 19, 2016

What To Expect At The Holiday Lights Spectacular

There are holiday lights and then there’s the Holiday Lights Spectacular.

In its third year, this is beginning to be a holiday tradition in Omaha and would you believe it, this is the first year I caught a full show? Midtown Crossing invited my family down to see it (and grab a treat) and I’m glad we went!

A still photo of the Holiday Lights Festival only hints at the whole production. There is music and a light show.

A still photo of the Holiday Lights Spectacular only hints at the whole production. There is music and a light show.

You can’t help but get into the holiday spirit with the pretty show. There’s Christmas music accompanying the light display projected on the buildings.

If it’s a cold night – and, boy, was it when we went – you can watch from the comfort of your car (you just can’t hear the music well).

The festively decorated interior of Delice, a European bakery in the heart of MIdtown Crossing.

The festively decorated interior of Delice, a European bakery in the heart of Midtown Crossing.

We topped off our night with some baked treats from Delice, one of my favorite bakeries in Omaha. It’s located right in the heart of Midtown Crossing. Try the French macarons! Hot cocoa is served there, too, which can be topped with homemade marshmallows.

We sampled cookies, a mint brownie and the macarons during our feast. My favorite, as well as Mooch's, was the macarons.

We sampled cookies, a mint brownie and the macarons during our feast. My favorite, as well as Mooch’s, was the macarons.

Every year, Midtown Crossing holds different events that add to the festivities of the light show. Here’s a list of this year’s events. They had a featured nonprofit each week, where a representative flipped the switch for each show and retailers collected donations for them. You’ll have to pay attention to next year’s dates – they always have a FREE family fun day.

 

If you go

Holiday Lights Spectacular

Where: Midtown Crossing, 31st between Dodge and Farnam streets

When: Through Jan. 1; shows are Thursday through Sunday, 7 p.m. (lasting 20 minutes)

Cost: FREE

Website 

 

Disclosure: I was provided a gift card for the hot cocoa for sharing details about the Holiday Lights Spectacular. I was not compensated for this post in any other manner. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

December 12, 2016

Gingerbread Festival In Omaha

Families looking for a quick, FREE, Christmas outing in Omaha can head to the annual Gingerbread Festival at the Mormon Trail Center at the Historic Winter Quarters in Florence. Each year, the gingerbread display typically runs from mid-November through Dec. 31.

Gingerbread houses on display during the holiday season at the Mormon Trail Center in Omaha
Gingerbread displays of all sizes can be found annually around the holidays at the Mormon Trail Center.

What to expect

This was our first year visiting, even the Historic Winter Quarters which is a landmark in our city. You can simply walk through the exhibit, admiring the details, or try the scavenger hunt.

Scavenger hunt at the Gingerbread Festival in Omaha
There’s a scavenger hunt for families do to at the Gingerbread Festival.

I recommend doing the hunt. The kids enjoyed seeking little details like a penguin and Tinkerbell. Upon completing the hunt, kids are given a small candy cane.

There is a stage there for occasional performances, but we didn’t catch any while we visited.

You’ll also find a few photo opps, which my kids cannot resist.

Outdoor "life-size" gingerbread house at the Gingerbread Festival at the Mormon Trail Center in Omaha

About the Historic Winter Quarters

If time allows, you can tour the Historic Winter Quarters. It is an interesting piece of Omaha history I knew very little about. The tour includes some interactive and hands-on elements.

Inside the Mormon Trail Center at the Historic Winter Quarters in Omaha, Nebraska
There’s a free tour at the Mormon Trail Center to learn more about the Historic Winter Quarters in Omaha.

The tour does, however, involve a short documentary, so factor in that for time (and your child’s patience).

The kids’ favorite part was the interactive map, that lit up to the corresponding short video clip about the Mormons’ journeys.

If you go

Gingerbread Festival

When: Typically, the annual festival runs daily from mid-November through Dec. 31, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Where: Mormon Trail Center, 3215 State St.

Cost: FREE

This is a great, free annual event each Christmas in Omaha! Get details on the Gingerbread Festival at the Historic Winter Quarters in north Omaha. #Omaha #Nebraska #Christmas #holiday