Dec 1, 2021 Communities

14 Ways You Can Celebrate the Holidays in the Omaha Area This Year

Festive jingles fill the air, twinkle lights are adorning Omaha’s streets—the holiday season is finally here! This time of year the Omaha area is buzzing with exciting things to do, from holiday festivals to light shows and everything in between.

To help you maximize the season this year, we’ve compiled a mini-bucket list filled with the things you should do over the next month in the Omaha area. Have a happy holiday season!  

Watch Santa go to space

Photo courtesy of Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum

Santa Claus and Star Wars join forces for a fun-filled family day! At this special annual event at the Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum, which will take place on December 4th from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., enjoy space-related booths, pictures with Santa and Star Wars characters, activities, make-and-take ornaments, and holiday music. Come out and experience a holiday event on that is out of this world! The cost of the event is general admission to the museum.

Drive through Santa’s Rock N Lights

For a socially distanced holiday event you won’t soon forget, head to Werner Park in Papillion for a drive-through wonderland, complete with a light tunnel, massive light sculptures, displays timed to music, and more. There will be a limited amount of vehicles allowed in every night, so you’ll want to get your tickets as soon as possible. Click here for more information.

And the KETV Family Festival

To keep the community safe this year, the annual KETV Family Festival will be a drive-through experience at the Omaha Police Mounted Patrol Barn on December 5th from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.! Drive through to see police riding their horses, Santa, receive craft kits, and so much more. Volunteers will be on hand to collect food donations for the Shine the Light on Hunger campaign, so be sure to bring a nonperishable food item with you to contribute.

Take a Christmas bus tour of the city

Worried you won’t be able to see everything Omaha has to offer this season? Don’t worry! During the Classic Omaha Christmas Bust Tour on December 5th, has stops at Lauritzen Gardens, Joslyn Art Museum, Old Market, the Omaha Community Playhouse and more that will help you capture the magic of the season in just one day. Click here to purchase your tickets!

Explore Bright Nights at Lauritzen Gardens

Once again, Lauritzen Gardens is making the holiday season merry and bright! Head to the botanic gardens to explore a variety of festive installations, from a 20-foot tall poinsettia tree to a tropical paradise, all adorned with lights. You can attend December 3-5th, 10-23rd and 26-30th. Standard garden admission rates apply for this exhibit.

Hit the Holiday Market at Aksarben Village

Shop from all your favorite Omaha businesses in one place at this year’s Holiday Market at Aksarben Village! All of the fun is going down on December 4th and 5th, with vendors from all across Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa. Click here for all the information!

Attend the Hanukkah Extravaganza

If you’ll be celebrating Hanukkah this year, don’t miss the Hanukkah Extravaganza on December 5th at the Jewish Community Center from 3-5 p.m. This year, you can expect Lego dreidel making, a toy drive, games provided by FUN Services and more. Click here for all the information and to purchase your tickets.

Catch a holiday performance

From Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol to It’s a Wonderful Life, live holiday performances are a part of many families’ annual traditions. Luckily, after having to postpone many shows last year, the festivities are back on at many performing arts centers across town—with mask requirements and social distancing in place, of course.

A Christmas Carol | November 19-December 23, The Omaha Community Playhouse

American Midwest Ballet’s The Nutcracker | December 4 & 5, Orpheum Theater

Omaha Symphony Christmas Celebration | December 16-19, The Holland Center

Mannheim Steamroller | December 22 & 23, Orpheum Theater

Make some stovetop potpourri

There’s just something about the smell of evergreen sprigs, cinnamon, cranberries and more that put us in the holiday mood! Whether you just want to add a touch of the holiday spirit to your weekday or want to add some spice to your upcoming holiday party, check out our blog post “3 Stovetop Holiday Potpourri Recipes | Making Your Home Smell Like The Holidays“.

Buy locally made gifts for friends and family

We love shopping local for our holiday gifts! And because Omaha is packed full of talented makers, artists, chefs and other creatives, it’s not hard to find high-quality gifts to give our loved ones. We have a list of some “Local Omaha Gift Ideas” that includes things like a candle from Wax Buffalo, a new bag from Artifact and everything in between. Click here to read it and to start shopping!  

Watch holiday classics at Film Streams

While watching your favorite holiday films at home is fun, it’s even more exciting to catch them on the big screen! This season, Film Streams, Omaha’as local indpendent theater company, is hosting holiday movie screenings of The Muppet Christmas Carol and It’s a Wonderful Life. Click here for information and to purchase your tickets!

Paint ornaments at That Pottery Place

That Pottery Place is a make-and-take pottery studio that allows you to pick out a pre-made piece of pottery (from mugs to figurines and even Christmas ornaments!), paint them, and then have them glazed and fired before picking them up at a later date. While their studio is currently open, if you’d rather stay at home, they are also offering to-go pottery, canvas and wood plaque kits. Just pick out your child’s favorite piece online, pick it up curbside with everything they’ll need to decorate it at home, and then drop it off again to be glazed and fired. Click here for all of the information and to peruse their current selection.

Peruse holiday lights at local public displays

Photo courtesy of Midtown Crossing

From massive, downtown light shows to family-made, animatronic displays, Omahans really know how to get into the holiday spirit. Even if you don’t do anything else to celebrate the holidays this season, we still recommend bundling up, grabbing a cup of hot chocolate and walking around some of Omaha’s most iconic light displays!

Season of Lights | November 14-February 14, Midtown Crossing

2021 Omaha Lights Festival | November 20-January 3, Old Market, Between 24th & Lake and 24th between L & Qu Streets

Lights on Dundee | December 2 through the end of the year, Historic Dundee

For more holiday light shows, check out our guide to holiday light displays in the Omaha area!

Pick out a Christmas tree

We can’t think of anything better than a freshly cut Christmas tree! There are a lot of reasons to choose a real Christmas tree over an artificial one, including the amazing smell, but mostly because you can support a local business while you’re at it. We just happen to have a handy list of our favorite places to buy a fresh Christmas tree in the Omaha and Council Bluffs area—which includes an interactive map. You can read it here

Happy Holidays!  

What are you planning to do to celebrate the holidays in Omaha? Let us know in the comments below!  

Dec 1, 2021 Communities
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