Here are some activities for people who are ready to hit the ground running and start celebrating Christmas:
Busch Brewery Lights
Anheuser-Busch Brewery in St. Louis will light up its historic brick complex from 5 to 10 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays beginning this week and continuing through Jan. 1. People of all ages can take free, self-guided walking tours with fire pits along the way ($2.50 s’mores kits). Ages 21 and older get five 5-ounce beer samples. New this year is an 84-by-40-foot ice-skating rink with hot cocoa and kettle corn available for purchase and skate rentals for a small donation to the St. Louis Blues 14 Fund. There will be sand sculptures, ice sculptures and food served in the Biergarten. The brewery is at 1200 Lynch St. For more information, call 314-577-2626 or go to brewerylights.com.
Lebanon Victorian Holiday
Lebanon will step back in time with its Victorian Holiday celebration from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, 1:30 to 9 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday (shops open longer). The Ole’ Lamplighter will stroll St. Louis Street, lighting up rooftops and the town’s Christmas tree at 6 p.m. Friday. Other activities include music by carolers, madrigal singers and community groups, horse-drawn carriage rides ($5 per person), Mermaid House tours, children’s games, photo opportunities with Father Christmas and a dessert sale in the visitors center. For a complete schedule of events, visit http://www.lebanonil.us/victorian-holiday or call 618-537-8420.
Maeystown will celebrate Frauenabend (Ladies Night Out) from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday. The village’s downtown will be lit with luminaries. New and returning vendors will sell clothing, accessories, jewelry, decorations, ornaments, pottery, candles, soaps, handmade cards and other Christmas gifts at Preservation Society Mill and Corner George Inn. Other activities include chair massages and free carriage rides. Restaurants and shops will offer samples and discounts. For more information, call 618-458-7463 or 618-458-6660 or visit www.maeystown.com. Sponsored by Historic Maeystown.
Way of Lights display
The National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville will kick off its Way of Lights display on Friday. Hours are 5 to 9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and 5 to 10 p.m. Fridays through Sundays through Dec. 31 (closed Christmas Eve and Christmas). More than a million white lights can be viewed from vehicles on a 1.5-mile route depicting Joseph and Mary’s journey to Bethlehem. Admission is free; donations are welcome. Other activities include children’s crafts, puppet shows, music, storytelling and a Christmas tree and wreath display with a silent auction in the visitors center, as well as carriage rides, a big LEGO display in the Guild Hall, petting zoo and camel, donkey and pony rides. Family discounts on Tuesdays. For more information, call 618-397-6700 or visit www.wayoflights.org.
Highland Christmas parade
The Highland Lighted Christmas Parade will step off at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Highland Elementary School; go west on Lindenthal and north on Washington, ending at the Highland Square. Santa will join Mayor Joe Michaelis to turn on the town’s Christmas lights. Other activities include free hot chocolate from the Lion’s Club and madrigal singing. For more information, call Highland Chamber of Commerce at 618-654-3721.
Granite City Santa parade
The 20th annual Santa’s Holiday Avenue Parade in Granite City will step off at 1 p.m. Saturday at 27th and Madison Avenue and go west on Madison, ending near City Hall. It will be followed by a chili cook-off in the park ($1 a bowl) and a Willie Nelson tribute by Paul Jarvis and the Old Barn Boys from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. in front of Granite City Cinema, 1243 Niedringhaus. Other activities include photos with Santa inside the cinema ($7), as well as game trucks, pony rides, free face painting, balloon art, juggling, magic, crafts, vendors and food trucks. For more information, email to firstname.lastname@example.org, visit the Facebook page or call 618-452-6200.
Missouri Botanical Garden’s Gardenland Express will open Saturday and continue through Jan. 1. A G-scale model train will chug through a floral wonderland of more than 500 colorful poinsettias and other traditional plants. This year’s theme is “Home for the Holidays.” Victorian touches will include a gazebo that makes a good photo backdrop. Hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily (closed Christmas Day). Admission is $5 during the day and $2 at night with a Garden Glow ticket (free for ages 2 and under and members), in addition to garden admission. For more information, visit www.mobot.org/gardenlandexpress.
Missouri Botanical Garden’s fourth-annual Garden Glow exhibit will open Saturday and continue through Jan. 1. The grounds will be decorated with more than a million lights and interactive installations. Hours are 5 to 10 p.m. daily with last entry at 9 (closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day). New this year, Santa will visit on Mondays and Tuesdays through Dec. 13. Food and drink stations will be available, including a Blizzard Bar with alcoholic beverages and fire pits for s’mores making. Ticket prices range from $3 to $18, depending on date, in addition to garden admission. No tripods, monopods or selfie sticks allowed. For more information or order tickets, visit www.mobot.org/glow.
Millstadt Gardens, the Heimos Family and N.G. Heimos Greenhouses are opening their facility at 6667 Route 158 in Millstadt to the public for a Poinsettia Wonderland Open House on Sunday. It’s billed as the largest poinsettia display in the area. Hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Members of the professional growing staff will lead guided tours and answer questions from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Santa also will be on hand, along with holiday entertainment, crafters and cookies. Admission is free. A percent of sales will benefit Millstadt Optimist Youth Club.
Belleville Parks and Recreation invites the public to preview entries in its 27th annual Gingerbread Contest during a Gingerbread Creation Preview and Holiday Vendor Show from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday in the Jubilee Room at Fischer’s Restaurant, 2100 W. Main St. in Belleville. Awards will be announced at 1:30 p.m. There also will be vendor booths with holiday crafts and other gifts. Admission is free. Gingerbread entries will later be distributed for viewing in store windows along Main Street. For more information, call 618-233-1416.