The holiday season is a joyous time of coming together and celebrating with friends and family. But, sometimes the stress of planning parties and meals and frantic last-minute trips to crowded markets can make the season lose its luster. The activities and attractions at the Lake of the Ozarks can be just the thing to breathe new life into seasonal traditions. The Lake offers family and friends the opportunity to relax, reconnect and even add a little extra spice to their holidays.
Thanksgiving is especially festive at the Lake of the Ozarks as many of the businesses around the area get into the holiday spirit. Several resorts and hotels offer bountiful Thanksgiving meals with all the trimmings, but without the hassles of cooking and cleaning up. The Lodge of Four Seasons and Camden on the Lake Resort, both located in Lake Ozark, as well as The Inn at Grand Glaize in Osage Beach, will have full-blown Thanksgiving buffets on Thursday, Nov. 26. To make reservations for overnight stays, Thanksgiving meals and other activities, contact The Lodge of Four Seasons, call 800-THE-LAKE or visit www.4SeasonsResort.com; for Camden on the Lake, call 888-365-5620 or visit www.CamdenOnTheLake.com; for The Inn at Grand Glaize, visit www.InnAtGrandGlaize.com or call 800-348-4731.
Tan-Tar-A Resort, located in Osage Beach, will host its Winter Holiday Festival over Thanksgiving weekend. Guests and the general public can enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner buffet on Thursday, Nov. 26 along with a bonfire, sing-along, comedy show, visits with Santa Claus, a ceremonious lighting of the resort's wealth of Christmas decorations and tram rides throughout the resort property that evening. For guests staying at the resort, the entire holiday weekend is packed with activities, including a "Midnight Madness" shuttle to the Osage Beach Premium Outlets, "Black Friday" sales at Tan-Tar-A, a Turkey Trot 5k race, stations for writing letters to Santa, a duck drop race at the resort's indoor water park, tailgate parties, a scavenger hunt for the kids and additional holiday tram tours. To make reservations for lodging or the Thanksgiving day meal, visit www.Tan-Tar-A.com or call 800-826-8272.
Guests at Old Kinderhook Resort can enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday, Nov. 26 at The Trophy Room; and on Friday, Nov. 27, the resort will transform into a Christmas "village." The new village will be open to the public on weekends until December 20 and will feature Santa Claus and story-telling elves, carolers, s'mores, gingerbread house-making stations and horse-drawn carriage rides. Small fees may apply for some activities. Old Kinderhook's new outdoor ice rink will be open to all visitors that want to do some holiday skating. For reservations for lodging and Thanksgiving dinner at Old Kinderhook, or for more details on their holiday offerings and prices, call 573-317-3560 or visit www.OldKinderhook.com.
One of the Lake's most popular and enduring holiday traditions involves the area's different drive-through light parks. Admission to the light parks is free, but donations are welcome.
The Lake's largest light park, The Enchanted Village of Lights, meanders through 27 acres of the Laurie Fairgrounds and is celebrating its 22nd season of warming hearts. The Enchanted Village opens on November 20 and runs through January 2. The light park is open daily from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. on weekdays and closes at 10 p.m. on weekends. Complete details can be found at www.CityofLaurie.com/EnchantedLights.
Also in Laurie, just a mile from the Enchanted Village on Highway 5, is the Festival of Lights at the Shrine of Saint Patrick. Started in 1981, the festival is now in its 32nd year and has continued to grow each season, with thousands of lights decorating the buildings and grounds. The site is the home of the National Shrine of Mary, Mother of the Church, so this display focuses on Jesus and His mother, Mary. The St. Patrick Festival of Lights will be open daily from 6-10 p.m. from Thanksgiving through January 1. Learn more at www.ShrineOfStPatrick.org.
Versailles joins the lighting celebration from Nov. 26 through Jan. 1 with its own Unity Circle of Lights, featuring 40 lighted holiday exhibits in the city park, at the junction of Highways 5 and 52 in Morgan County.
In Osage Beach, the city park and many businesses along Osage Beach Parkway will be dressed in holiday lights from November 28 through January 3. And, on December 12, children of all ages can meet Santa Claus from 3-5 p.m. at the Osage Beach city park. For more information, visit www.OsageBeach.org.
Other fun holiday events around the Lake include the City of Eldon's "Home for the Holidays" celebration on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 20 and 21, consisting of a holiday parade, face painting, craft-making stations, dance performances, live concerts from the Eldon High School Jazz Band and Chamber Choir, and, of course, a visit from Santa.
The City of Versailles' "Olde Fashioned Christmas on the Square," which takes place from 4-8 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 28 in its historic downtown, features many craft and food vendors, live choir performances, a silent auction and an appearance by Old Saint Nick.
Also on November 28, visitors can watch a processions of fun floats decked out in lights during the 14th Annual Lighted Christmas Parade in Laurie.
Children of all ages can enjoy Breakfast with Santa on December 5 and 12 at HK's Restaurant located on property at The Lodge of Four Seasons.
Camdenton offers a day of family fun at Christmas on the Square, December 5. This all-day event features food, games, gifts and, of course, a visit from the season's guest of honor - Santa.
In addition, on December 12, Lake Ozark celebrates its 31st "Christmas Magic" parade, which will wind along the historic Bagnell Dam Boulevard. Following the parade, families can join Santa's Caravan, by meeting Santa at Prewitt's Point and following his sleigh to Bagnell Dam. Children will have the opportunity to visit with Santa and receive a free stocking stuffed with goodies from the merry-maker himself.
For more information on these and other holiday events around the Lake, visit the event calendar at www.FunLake.com.
Another popular Lake of the Ozarks tradition is taking in all the sights and sounds of "Christmas on Mainstreet," an annual presentation by the talented performers of the Main Street Music Hall in Osage Beach. The show is designed to be a treat for all in attendance with beautifully decorated sets, glamorous costumes, special effects, musical impersonations, comedy skits and the best songs of the season. The Main Street Music Hall audience will enjoy every style of holiday music, from the latest in contemporary songs to favorite Christmas hymns and carols. The show is offered Tuesdays through Sundays, beginning Nov. 27 and continuing through Dec. 20. To order tickets and to get more information, including show dates and times, as well as ticket prices, call the Main Street Music Hall box office at 800-348-9501 or visit www.LakeMusicHall.com.
Those looking for the perfect gifts for their friends and loved ones will appreciate the wide variety of shops available at the Lake. Osage Beach Premium Outlets, the largest outlet mall in Missouri with 110 name brand stores, offers extended hours and special savings throughout the season to make holiday gift-buying easier. In addition, the boutique stores found at The Landing on Main Street, a picturesque Victorian-themed village, offer gifts for the home, unique clothing, jewelry and other personal items, as well as homemade confections. Antique shops are packed with treasures from the past and handmade crafts. For more information about shopping at the Lake, click on the "shopping" tab at www.FunLake.com.
Visitors to the Lake can also ring in the New Year in style as area resorts offer dining specials and festive overnight packages complete with live music, dancing, champagne toasts at midnight and more. Call your favorite lodging property to ask about their New Year's Eve specials.
Whether coming to the Lake to enjoy festive lighting displays, check items off the holiday gift list or to escape the demands of the season, the Lake's lodging properties offer the gift of off-season savings. Winter and holiday special lodging rates are some of the lowest of the year at Lake-area resorts, hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, condos, vacation homes, campgrounds and RV parks. In some cases, travelers can save as much as 40 percent off in-season rates and give themselves the gift of a good night's rest and relaxation. For a complete list of lodging options, visit www.FunLake.com.
To find out about all the fun holiday events, year-around attractions as well as dining and accommodations at the "Best Recreational Lake" in the nation, call the Lake of the Ozarks Convention & Visitor Bureau (CVB) at 800-FUN-LAKE, or visit the CVB's award-winning website www.FunLake.com.