2019 Holiday Happenings

November 27, 2019 | by rebecca stewart

From here to there and there to here, there is Christmas fun EVERYWHERE! We’ve mapped out the holly jolly good times for you and yours to mark your calendars and make the most of this holiday season. 

Scroll through for: 
Christmas Strolls | Santa Sighting & Memory Makers | Sounds of the Season | New Year's Eve

asterisks indicate new/updated information

Strolling to the Holidays…

Christmas to Remember @ Laurel, MT | December 1 @ 12pm | Get your map: www.laurelmontana.org/local-events/

Laurel’s Christmas to Remember is a beloved piece of the small-town holiday puzzle. This year, families can start their stroll at the Christmas Bazaar at the Laurel Middle School (725 Washington Ave, 10am-4pm). Throughout the community, from 12-5pm, families can take part in Shopping, Raffles, Hayrides, S’more Roasting/Warming Huts, pose for photos with Cindy Lou-Who and the Grinch, and drop off toys for Toys for Tots at the Laurel Chamber while checking out the Mini Horses.

The grand finale is the Lighted Christmas Parade (down Main Street) that starts at 5:15pm, with fireworks after the parade because, well, Laurel. Kiddos can also get their photo taken with Santa at Santa’s Workshop at Fireman’s Park.

*Christmas Stroll featuring ArtWalk @ Downtown Billings | December 6 @ 5-9pm

Downtown Billings’ annual Christmas Stroll delivers holiday joy in spades, businesses and local hotspots offer special holiday-centric programming, while local shops extend their shopping hours, offering special holiday deals and serving holiday snacks and beverages.

  • Photos with Santa – in the lobby at the Northern Hotel (photos provided by volunteer photographer, Ashlie Tate Photography)
  • Billings Special Olympics Polar Plunge on Billings Depot’s grounds
  • Look for a pop-up Holiday Market inside a current vacant downtown space, filled with holiday gift vendors
  • Wise Wonders Children’s Museum - open and offering free admission
  • Yellowstone Art Museum - special holiday programming and free admission to current exhibits
  • Youth Entrepreneur Market in the Old Montana Bank Building under Skypoint. This first ever Youth Entrepreneur Market consists of youth merchants from Billings Senior & Skyview High School's Entrepreneurship Classes

Red Lodge Christmas Stroll @ Downtown Red Lodge | December 6 & 7 @ 6pm

For two evenings in December, the downtown shops in Red Lodge keep their doors open late while offering goodies and treats for the strollers to enjoy. On Friday night only, families will also enjoy the ever-popular Blade Parade (think snowplow). Stores stay open until 9pm, so bundle up the kiddos and make a weekend of it. It’s winter wonderful with skiing, the Stroll, and perhaps an overnight adventure! 

Santa’s Merry Mile Fun Run & Jingle Bell Fitness Fundraiser for Toys for Tots @ Granite Health & Fitness, West End | December 7 @ 8am-12pm

While you might be compelled to do more than stroll through Granite’s Merry Mile Fun Run, regardless your pace this is a day filled with fun and fitness for the whole family. Participation is free for all ages, simply bring a Toys for Tots donation (new, unwrapped toy).

  • Free Fitness Classes for Kids and Adults (8:15am- Les Mills BodyAttack & Les Mills RPM | 8:30am- Aqua Works | 9:15am- Les Mills RPM & Les Mills BodyJam)
  • 1-mile Fun Run (10:15am)
  • Awards for best Holiday Attire (which means, dress it up and get your jingle on!)
  • Free pictures with Santa by the fireplace

Memory Makers & Santa Sightings…

Moss Mansion Magic:
  • Christmas Tree Tours | Tuesdays-Sundays, Nov 15-Jan 5 @ 12-3pm – Christmas Around the World has descended upon the Mansion! See trees inspired by countries across the globe! Not only will you see these spectacular places and their Christmas traditions come to life on beautifully and creatively decorated trees, you’ll get to learn about their different traditions. Discover which nation celebrates Christmas dinner with Kentucky Friend Chicken and which countries leave out stockings and much more!
  • Not So Silent Night: Stories with Santa | Dec 12 @ 5-6:30pm, Dec 15 @ 3:30-6pm | Tickets: $25/child+1 accompanying adult – Enjoy time with Santa, a story from Mrs. Claus, and visit all the amazing trees filling the Mansion this holiday season. Wrap things up with milk and cookies and voting for your favorite tree. Tours run every half hour and have room for 10 children on each tour.
  • See calendar for more: Toys for Tots Family Day, Christmas Spirits at the Moss, Evening Tours

Wishes & Photos with Santa @ Rimrock Mall Center Court | November 15-December 24

Santa is available during regular Mall hours, though families should be aware that he occasionally needs to take breaks to feed his reindeer.

In addition to Santa being available for your traditional photos with the big man in red, there are other options that families should be aware of.

  • Soothing Santa- On December 1 & 8 at 9-11am, During these times, Santa is available for children with all spectrums of special needs and their families to experience this time-honored tradition with Santa in a soothing, sensory-friendly environment. Held in partnership with Autism Speaks. Visits with Santa are free, photo packages available for purchase. Space is limited, pre-registration is required: www.eventbrite.com/e/rimrock-mall-121-soothing-santa-tickets-79021257709
  • See the calendar for additional special Santa opportunities at the Mall: Santa Paws Pet Photos, Treats & Story Time with Santa
You can also catch Santa at…

Festival of Trees @ MetraPark Expo Center | December 6 & 7

While you can bring the family to tour the beautifully decorated trees at The Family Tree Center's annual Festival of Trees throughout the day, it's the evening hours on Friday night that get the family fun rolling. 

From 5-8pm on December 6, it's Family Fun Night in the Arctic Art and Playland, sponsored by St. Vincent Healthcare. There are games and activities for children and families, complete with a visit and pictures with Santa. While you're there, stroll through the trees and shop at the holiday Gift Boutique, all while being entertained by local choral and dance groups. 

On Saturday, December 7, families can enjoy Children's Activities from 9am-8pm in the Arctic Art and Playland. Expect holiday craft projects and assorted carnival-type games. 


Festival of Trees

Friday, December 6, 2019

4:00 PM 3:00 AMUTC


Festival of Trees

Saturday, December 7, 2019

4:00 PM 3:00 AMUTC

Community Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony @ Community Park, 820 Division Street | December 6 @ 6-7pm

We might not have the Rockefeller Center’s Christmas Tree, but there’s still something special about gathering together for the lighting of our Community Christmas Tree, found in Community Park. The ceremony features a visit from the North Pole with free refreshments and more! The official lighting will take place at 6:30pm sharp, don’t miss it!

HoliZOONights @ ZooMontana | December 6 & 7 @ 6-9pm

Whether or not you’re taking in the sights of ZooLights, you’re invited to pop by the Zoo’s Wild Side Gift Shop for a visit with Santa (free pictures by Vande’ Studios). You’ll find holiday shopping specials, along with cookie decorating and holiday card/gift bag making. This is a free event!

ZooLights @ ZooMontana| December 6-7, 13-14, 20-24 @ 6-9pm | Admission: $10/car, $15/van and $20/bus (Zoo members receive $2 off admission)

One beloved holiday season tradition is certainly to load the family up in the car and cruise around taking in the spectacle of twinkling lights. ZooLights is certainly a must-stop on those adventures, as you’re invited to take a ride on the wild side. With some of the displays on the move, you’re in for a fresh experience this year! 

*Wagon Rides under ZooLights @ ZooMontana | December 6-7, 13-14, 20-23 @ 6-9pm

If you’re looking to take your ZooLights experience to the next level, then you’ll surely want to bundle up for a ride through the lights via horse-drawn wagon! Reservations are recommended: (elkriveradventures.com). Be sure to dress for the weather and bring blankets to snuggle under. You can bring a warm beverage to sip along the way or purchase one at the Elk River tent.

Swim with Santa! @ The Reef Indoor Waterpark | December 12 @ 4-7pm | $14.95/4 ft and taller; $12.95/under 4 ft tall; Free/2 and under

You know what, this holiday season is A LOT and sometimes even the Big Guy needs a break, so bring out the kiddos for some swimming with Santa!

  • Crafts with Reindeer in the Big Birthday Room, 4-7pm
  • Pictures with Santa by the lobby tree, 4:30-5:45pm
  • Swim with Santa, 6-7pm

*The Big Horn Resort (home to the Reef) is also offering: Stories with Santa on December 20 @ 6:30-8pm and December 21 @ 3-4:30pm. Kiddos are invited to join Santa and some of his reindeer for some storybook fun along with cookies and hot cocoa.

Holiday Playapalooza @ Western Heritage Center | December 14 @ 10am-4pm | Free

Take the family on a trip down memory lane with WHC’s Holiday Playapalooza! It’s a day of live music, holiday-themed story readings, old school games like Tiddlywinks, Pick-Up Sticks, and Checkers, to name a few; crafts, and a visit from Santa. The museum’s gift shop will be open with holiday specials.

Live Nativity @ Open Bible Christian Center, 302 19th Street West | December 20 & 21 @ 6-8pm

This special Christmas tradition allows families to experience the wonder of the birth of Jesus in a lowly manger. After you’ve had a chance to pet the animals, pop in for hot cider and cookies. 

Sounds of the Season…

From theater and movies to beautiful carols, the sounds of the season come to us in a variety of ways.

A Christmas Story @ Billings Studio Theatre | December 1, 5-8, 12-15; 2pm, Sunday matinees; 7:30pm, Thursday-Saturday performances | Tickets: $21/adult; $19/student/senior/military. www.billingsstudiotheatre.com

Filled with quotable moments, the 1983 Christmas classic A Christmas Story is making its way from film to the stage at Billings Studio Theatre this holiday season. Join 9-year-old Ralphie Parker in his quest to get a genuine Red Ryder BB gun nestled under his Christmas tree.

A Christmas Carol @ NOVA Center for the Performing Arts | December 6-8, 13-15; 2pm, Sunday matinees; 7:30pm, Friday/Saturday performances | www.NOVAbillings.org

Talk about a Christmas classic, NOVA presents Dickens’ A Christmas Carol by Frederick Gaines, adapted by Ed Monk with permission by Samuel French this holiday season. A tale nearly 200 years old, it still resonates with audiences today with themes such as forgiveness, compassion, family, memories, and personal growth. Come along on this adventure that is presented in an original way with a combined cast of youth and adults.

Holiday Tour of Homes | December 7 @ 10am-3pm | Tickets: $25

Billings Symphony Orchestra & Chorale’s 15th annual Holiday Tour of Homes is featuring five homes this year, plus Gainan’s! At each stop along the tour, expect live music provided by BSO&C musicians.

A few of the highlights along the way:
  • The Baar Edwards Home | 4205 Laredo Place – A winter delight with a Holiday Village and tree after dazzling tree.
  • The Morrison Home | 43 Clark Home – Built in 1905 and completed in 1922 by B.J. Martin, this home is featured in Historic Homes of Billings by Kathryn Wright; it’s a Victorian Era wonder that will transport you back in time.
  • Avenue C Apartments | 1607 17th Street West – The sights and sounds of the holidays welcome you in the beautifully decorated modern lobby of the Avenue C Apartments. Don’t miss the festive courtyard and pool area! Tour a fully decorated model apartment on your way to enjoy snacks and refreshments in the 4th floor Sports Lounge.

Friday Night Fun: Interactive Film- Elf @ Billings Public Library | December 13 @ 6:30-8:30pm | Free

You’ll certainly want to gather the family around for this more recent addition to holiday must-sees with the Library’s showing of Elf. But this, my friends, isn’t just your typical viewing, it’s an interactive experience, with script in hand, allowing attendees to immerse themselves in and engage with the movie.

*Celtic Christmas @ Lincoln Center | December 21 @ 7:30pm | tickets

Back by popular demand, award-winning Jeremy Kittel, Billings’ favorite fiddler, violinist, and Celtic-influenced composer, is bringing some friends to celebrate the Holiday season! 

See You Next Year!

Noon New Year’s Eve Celebration @ ZooMontana | December 31 @ 11am-1pm | Regular Zoo admission, free for members

A midnight celebration just not going to happen for the littlest (or oldest or anywhere in between) of your brood? Then the Zoo’s annual Noon New Year’s Eve Celebration is where it’s at! Kiddos will get to craft to their heart’s content in the main building and experience a ball dropping (complete with a celebratory toast of apple juice/ginger ale) at noon under the ZooPavilion.

The Zoo will be open regular hours, 10am-2pm, so guests can come early and stay after to wander the Zoo and visit the animals. 

*New Year's Luau @ The Reef Indoor Waterpark | December 21 @ 12-5pm 

Keep the early Eve celebrations rolling for your littles with the Reef's New Year's Eve Luau! Families can get their swim on at this event that also includes a dropping of the New Year's Beach Ball! 

Originally printed in the December 2019 issue of Simply Family Magazine

Never miss an issue, check out SFM's digital editions here! 

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