Dr. Hawley and the Hawley Orthodontics team are getting in the holiday spirit. With so many Omaha family events going on, there’s plenty of festive fun to be had. It’s a wonderful time of year and we hope all of our patients and their families enjoy every second of it. To help you do just that, we’ve compiled a list of 10 Omaha holiday activities that will leave you feeling merry and bright.
1. 32nd Annual Gingerbread Festival
Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters, 3215 State Street – The Gingerbread Festival at the Mormon Trail Center is always one of our favorite free Omaha Christmas events and it’s in its 32nd year. From 10am to 8pm through Sunday, December 31, visitors can peruse over 150 intricate gingerbread and candy displays as well as decorated trees while also enjoying live music and scavenger hunts for the kids. The 2017 theme is “Pioneer’s Christmas.”
2. Lights of Aksarben
Aksarben Village, Stinson Park, 67th and Center Streets – The Lights of Aksarben celebration is another one of the most highly anticipated free events in Omaha this month. Warm up in the heated tent while sipping on hot cocoa or coffee and snacking on holiday treats. There will be free horse and carriage rides, carolers, face painting, live music, crafts and an appearance by Santa and Mrs. Claus. Up next for the event:
- Friday, December 8 from 6 to 8pm – Backwoods Art Activity
- Friday, December 15 from 6 to 8pm – Santa and Mrs. Claus
3. Hanukkah Extravaganza
JCC Omaha Auditorium, 333 S. 132nd Street – On Sunday, December 10 from 12n to 2pm, the Jewish Federation of Omaha and the JCC will host a Hanukkah Extravaganza in the JCC auditorium complete with face painting, games, prizes, crafts, a bounce house and more. This Omaha Hanukkah event is free and open to the public, though donations will be accepted for the organization’s “Hanukkah for Houston” fundraising efforts. Attendees will also have the chance to work on a hands-on project called “Wish for Wheels,” which donates bikes and helmets to kids in kindergarten through second grade at Omaha’s Mercy Housing. Latke and grilled cheese lunches provided by Star Catering will be available for purchase.
4. Festivities at the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium
3701 S. 10th Street – The zoo is full of holiday activities. On Saturdays through December 16 from 10:30 to 11am, head inside the Scott Aquarium to see holiday characters dive into the shark tunnel. The cost is included in the price of admission and free for zoo members. Supper with Santa will be held from 6 to 8pm daily from Thursday, December 14 through Sunday, December 17 also in the Scott Aquarium. Dine on spaghetti and take part in cookie decorating, craft stations, story time, pictures with Santa and, of course, the opportunity to explore the aquarium. The cost is $18 per person for zoo members, $23 per person for non-members and free for children two and under. Be sure to make a reservation. Lastly, Noon Year’s Eve will be held in the Aquarium Conference Center on Sunday, December 31 from 11am to 1pm. It’s the ideal Omaha New Year’s Eve event for kids because instead of having to stay up until midnight, families can watch a beach ball drop at noon. The party will include fun activities, entertainment from Joe Cole’s Magic Show and a special countdown. The event is included in the cost of admission and free for zoo members.
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5. Holiday Lights Festival
Stroll around downtown Omaha where more than 40 blocks are currently twinkling with lights for the Holiday Lights Festival, which runs through Sunday, December 31. The festival includes an array of events. On Saturdays through December 23 from 7 to 8pm, local choral groups of all ages will serenade attendees at Sounds of the Season performances. The concerts will be held at various outdoor locations throughout the Old Market and Gene Leahy Mall. The festival will close with the T-Mobile New Year’s Eve Fireworks Spectacular, a stellar Omaha New Year’s family event, at Gene Leahy Mall (14th and Farnam). It’s absolutely free and one of the biggest New Year’s Eve fireworks displays in the area. More than 30,000 people are expected to attend, so try to arrive early. The doors will open at 6:30pm and the show will start at 7pm with fireworks exploding on cue to a musical score that was written especially for the occasion.
6. Holiday Storytimes
Various Locations – Kids and their parents have several different free Christmas story times to choose from that include stories, visits from Santa and sometimes Mrs. Claus, treats and fun. Storytime with Santa at Village Pointe will be held at Janie and Jack on Tuesday, December 12 at 10:30am, at Best Buy on Saturday, December 16 at 2pm and at Evereve on Tuesday, December 19 at 10:30am. Storytime with Santa and Mrs. Claus at Shadow Lake Town Center will be held from 10:30 to 11:30am at Texas Roadhouse on Wednesday, December 13 and Hallmark on Thursday, December 14. Mrs. Claus Storytime Thursdays will take place in Regency by Pottery Barn Kids at 10:30am on Thursdays, December 14 and 21st.
7. Christmas and New Year’s Fun at the Durham Museum
801 S. 10th Street – The Durham Museum really gets into the spirit with a number of Omaha Christmas family events. The cost of each celebrations is included with museum admission and free for members. Family Night with Santa is held on the first three Tuesdays in December from 5 to 8pm. Santa and his reindeer stop by for photos and families can create holiday crafts at the David M. Mangelsen’s Craft Corner and enjoy live performances by local ensembles and choirs. In addition to the Tuesday musical entertainment, the holiday concert series also features shows by entertainers, school musicians and choirs weekly in December on Saturdays from 10am to 3pm and Sundays from to 1 to 3pm. On Saturday, December 30 from 10am to 2pm, there will be an early Noon Year’s Eve celebration with live music by Dino O’Dell and the T-Rex All-Stars as well as special activities and crafts. At noon, guests will count down to a balloon drop while wearing handmade party hats and taking part in a celebratory bubble wrap stomp in the Suzanne and Walter Scott Great Hall.
8. NRG Energy Ice Rink in the Capitol District
10th and Capitol Avenue – For yet another option for a family-friendly New Year’s Eve in Omaha, you can celebrate at the NRG Energy Ice Rink in the Capitol District. It will be open from 1 to 8pm on December 31, leaving you enough time to get home to see the ball drop. Admission is $8 (plus tax) and includes skate rental. Proceeds will benefit the Food Bank for the Heartland. The rink will be open through February 14.
9. Holiday Happenings at the Omaha Public Library
Various Branches – The Omaha Public Library is a great source for free Christmas entertainment and activities for the whole family. You can see the full schedule here but a few notable happenings include:
Winter Family Craft –The library will provide supplies to make winter and holiday-themed decorations. Sessions will be held on Saturday, December 9 from 11:15am to 12:30pm at the W. Clarke Swanson Branch and Sunday, December 10 from 1:30 to 2:30pm at the Milton R. Abrahams Branch.
Kwanzaa Feast – On Wednesday, December 27 from 6 to 8pm, visit the Charles B. Washington Branch to celebrate the Kwanzaa principle of Kuumba and then enjoy entertainment and a feast.
Holiday Music Performances – Cecilia Jensen will be at the Willa Cather Branch on Saturday, December 9 from 10:30 to 11:30am, Grace Spath will perform harp music combined with vocals on Wednesday, December 13 from 4 to 5pm at the Milton R. Abrahams Branch, Joyce Millers’ Bit of Bronze will entertain at the Millard Branch on Thursday, December 14 from 12n to 1pm and Robert Glaser will play jazz piano at the South Omaha Library on Friday, December 15 from 12n to 2pm.
Gingerbread House Making – Attendees of all ages can try their hand at building gingerbread houses out of graham crackers, icing and candy. The events will be held on Saturday, December 16 from 10am to 1pm at the South Omaha Library and Thursday, December 28 from 2 to 3pm at the Charles B. Washington Branch.
Noon Year’s Eve – On Saturday, December 30 from 10:30am to 12:30pm, the Saddlebrook Branch will host a Noon Year’s Eve party. There will be a dance party, bounce and play in the gym, gaming in the teen room and a countdown at noon that culminates with a 1,000-balloon drop.
10. Free Holiday Movie Screenings
Hollywood Candy, 1209 Jackson Street – Hollywood Candy will be holding a bunch of free screenings of holiday family movies at its Hollywood Theater through Saturday, December 30. Titles range from Polar Express to It’s a Wonderful Life. You can find the schedule on their Facebook page.
Happy holidays from the Hawley Orthodontics family!