Saint Charles and St. Louis—less than 30 miles apart on opposite sides of the Missouri River—could bookend a weekend of holiday light festivals.
Christmas festival
Saint Charles, Missouri, Christmas Traditions festival
| Credit: Emily Lansche Katski/@dogwoodchannelcat

Their personalities are completely different, but the historic riverside town of St. Charles and the major metro of nearby St. Louis both offer plenty of ways to celebrate the holidays.

St. Charles Christmas Traditions, in its 47th year, opens November 26 and runs Wednesdays through Sundays until December 24. Visitors can still expect Victorian carolers, shopping and dining along historic Main Street, storytelling and holiday lights.

U.S. Bank Wild Lights fills the St. Louis Zoo with a million lights on select nights from November 26 to December 30, 2021. (Closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day) In addition to seeing animal-themed light displays, you can buy s'mores to roast at a fire pit, ride on the Conservation Carousel, visit the Penguin & Puffin Coast, and hear holiday carolers and other live entertainment on the weekends.

The 2021 Holiday Fun at Grants' Farm offers a drive-through experience Thursdays through Sundays, November 19-January 2. The route starts at Inspiration Hill (where you might see Clydesdales in the distance), then enters the Tiergarten decorated as the North Pole, goes by other animals that live at the farm, and through a light tunnel on the way to the Busch Family Estate, which will be aglow in gold. Tune in to holiday music on your radio.

Garden Glow Missouri Botanical Garden
Garden Glow, Missouri Botanical Garden
| Credit: Tom Incrocci/Missouri Botanical Garden

Garden Glow at the Missouri Botanical Gardens runs November 13-January 8, 2022. A million lights twinkle and flash around the garden, illuminating landmarks like the greenhouse geodesic dome and water features. Look for hot chocolate, s'mores and other snacks to purchase along the Garden Glow path; a small-plates menu is sold on select nights at Café Flora. Advanced-sale timed tickets required.

The Steinberg Skating Rink—the largest outdoor ice skating rink in the Midwest—starts its winter season on November 20 and is scheduled to be open every day through February 28, 2022, including holidays. Masks are required.

Come to Holiday in the Park at Six Flags St. Louis for story time on the North Pole Train, a visit with Santa, live performances, and holiday treats such as fried Oreos and cinnamon sugar Bavarian pretzels. Select days in November and December.

In O'Fallon, about 35 miles west of downtown St. Louis, Fort Zumwalt Park is merry and bright with more than a million lights during the annual Celebration of Lights. Visitors can drive or stroll through the park, or, on designated nights, take carriage, train and sleigh rides. Advance tickets required. Open most nights November 26–December 30.