By Linda Ditch, Special to the Capital-Journal
Dec 8, 2018 at 2:07 PM
Dec 8, 2018 at 3:58 PM
As we head toward the beginning of winter and the shortest day of the year, the darkness comes to life with beautiful holiday light displays around the area. Here are a few to brighten your night and get you into the jingle-bell mood.
Potwin Place Neighborhood: This historic district known for beautiful Victorian-style houses goes all out for Christmas with decorations of homes. The 2018 theme is International Celebration. The set and lights will be up until the morning of Jan. 5. Spend the evening driving around the area between Broadmoor Avenue on the east, Grove on the north, Woodlawn on the west, and Willow on the south. You may even see Santa.
Plaza Lights in Kansas City: The KCP&L Plaza Lights at the Country Club Plaza officially fired up on Thanksgiving night, and will stay on from 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. daily until mid-January. This 89-year tradition features 15 blocks of holiday lights, along with music and horse-drawn carriage rides. Shops in the area have extended holiday hours, and all of the plaza’s parking garages are free. For information: bit.ly/KCPLplaza18.
Illuminations in Wichita: This is known as the largest holiday display in Kansas. Stroll through holiday lights that adorn 18 acres of gardens that make up Botanica Wichita. Find musical light shows, live musical performances, and Santa every night through Dec. 31, except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The lights are on from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Adult tickets are $10, and youth and military tickets are $7. For information: botanica.org/illuminations.
Downtown St. Marys: When you drive down US-24 highway through the heart of St. Marys, enjoy an old-fashioned light display in the small downtown area reminiscent of what you might see in the movie “The Christmas Story.”
Manhattan Festival of Lights: Located at Blue Earth Plaza, this light festival features a 50-foot animated Christmas tree surrounded by holiday lights. Enjoy the show nightly until the New Year’s Eve apple drop celebration in Aggieville. For information: bit.ly/MHKlights.
Downtown Topeka: If you have been on S. Kansas Avenue downtown after dark, then you know the area already puts on a good light show with colorful archways and various pocket parks. (Hint: Push the silver button on the big pencil at the corner of 9th and S. Kansas Avenue to watch the entire building put on a light show!) At Christmas time, it is even more colorful with the large community tree in front of Westar Energy and holiday window displays in many of the shops.
Topeka Bible Church Discover the Wonder Light Show: A combination of lights, special effects, and live music fills the church’s auditorium at 1135 S.W. College Ave. Show times are 6, 7, 8 and 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14, and 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 15 and 16. Arrive 30 minutes before your desired showtime. Admission is free on a first-come, first-served basis. Complimentary refreshments and children’s activities are also provided. For information: discovertbc.com/light.
Winter Wonderland: Take a relaxing drive through 2 miles of holiday lights at the Lake Shawnee Campground. The $10 per car and $20 per bus admission donation benefits TARC, which provides services for children and adults with developmental, intellectual and related disabilities. The lights are on nightly from 6 to 10 p.m., including Christmas. For information: winterwonderlandtopeka.com.
Cortez Holiday Light Show: The Cortez family has wowed Topeka citizens since 2008. The lights come on at 6 p.m. each day and turn off at 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and at 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Tune in to radio station 107.3 FM to hear the music synced with the lights, or there are speakers set up for people on foot. View the show at 3919 S.E. 30th Terrace. For information: cortezhls.weebly.com.
Evans Christmas Lights: Another family light show, this one is located at 4300 S.E. Michigan Ave. in Topeka. The lights come on from 6 to 10 p.m. each evening. This year, the family is collecting monetary and canned goods for the Topeka Rescue Mission and the Kansas Army National Guard Family Program. Place your donation in the blue tub next to the radio sign. For information: bit.ly/EvansLights18.
Parkside Light Show: Mary Ann and Gary Martin’s Parkside Christmas is one of the best-known animated Christmas light displays in Lawrence. At 1132 Parkside Circle in Lawrence, tune in to 96.9 FM to listen to the music coordinated with flashing lights. Helpful tip: Approach from the south as there is usually no line.
Downtown Lawrence/Massachusetts Street: Each year, the street and nearby parks are filled with lights, which are turned on the Friday after Thanksgiving. A favorite attraction is the South Park blue Christmas tree, a huge tree decorated with blue lights on the branches, as well as icicles, flashing stars and hanging strings of lights that flow in the wind. There are also penguins, snowpeople and an igloo in the park.