From the "gobble, gobble" of Thanksgiving to the "ho, ho, ho" of the Christmas season, Central Missouri's Lake of the Ozarks is the place to celebrate the holidays.
For those who don't want to cook - but do want to eat - on Thanksgiving Day, a number of the Lake area's resorts and restaurants offer turkey and all the trimmings. Visit www.funlakeevents.com for a list of Thanksgiving buffets open around The Lake on November 27th.
In addition to Thanksgiving meals, there are special activities to kick off the holiday season at two of the area's full-service resorts. The Lodge of Four Seasons offers carriage rides through the resort to enjoy the festive holiday decorations. The carriage rides are available Nov. 27th–29th, December 5th & 6th and December 12th & 13th. Breakfast with Santa on December 6th and 13th is another holiday treat at The Lodge. Learn more at www.4seasonsresort.com.
Thanksgiving Day at Tan-Tar-A Resort will feature a Tailgate Party and a bonfire and sing-along before the lighting of the resort's Christmas decorations. And if you're feeling over-stuffed from your Thanksgiving feast, get out to burn some calories in Tan-Tar-A's Turkey Trot 5K on November 28th. For more on Tan-Tar-A's festivities, visit www.Tan-Tar-A.com.
Visitors can enjoy holiday lights throughout the Lake of the Ozarks area at several drive-through parks featuring lighting displays that encompass thousands of brightly burning bulbs.
From November 17th to January 1st, the City of Laurie presents the Enchanted Village of Lights at the Laurie Fairgrounds. The Fairgrounds' 27 acres will be filled with displays, from small ones to towering displays over 30 feet high. Six new displays will be added this year and LED lights make them shine even brighter than ever. The smiles on the faces of the visitors shine the brightest, however, as they enjoy this holiday tradition. "Even a Scrooge smiles when he comes here," says Laurie's Events and Parks Coordinator Susann Huff. The Enchanted Village of Lights opens each day at 5:00 pm. The park will stay open until at least 9:00 pm on weekdays and 10:00 pm on weekends. There is no charge to drive through the village, but any donations will be put to use in refurbishing and preserving the displays for the future. More information about the event, including exact hours of operation, can be found at www.CityofLaurie.com/EnchantedLights.
Also in Laurie, and opening Thanksgiving Day, The Festival of Lights at the Shrine of St. Patrick on Hwy. 5 is the oldest light park in the area. Started in 1981, the festival has continued to grow each year, with thousands of lights decorating the buildings and grounds. The site is also 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 6:00–10:00 pm from Thanksgiving through January 1st. There is no charge for the beautiful light display; it's simply a gift to the community. Learn more at www.ShrineOfStPatrick.org.
Lights shine brightly in the City of Versailles, as well, with the city park aglow for the Unity Circle of Lights. Beginning November 26th and continuing through January 1st, the holiday light park will feature approximately 40 glowing and animated holiday scenes. The light park is named for the "Unity Circle," a monument at the park entrance that shows cooperation among community members. For more information, visit the website at www.CityOfVersailles.org.
The day after Thanksgiving is the busiest shopping day of the year. The Lake's Osage Beach Premium Outlets mall offers extended hours and special savings on that day to make holiday gift-buying easier. In addition, specialty shops around the area offer gifts for the home, unique clothing, jewelry and other personal items. 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.
Thanksgiving weekend offers family fun in Versailles, which hosts Olde Fashioned Christmas on the Square on Saturday, November 29th, from 5:00–8:00 pm. Vendor booths will line the historic Courthouse Square and the Versailles Choir will sing on the courthouse steps. Santa will arrive on the Versailles Rural Fire Department's fire engine then adjourn to the Royal Theater. His lap will be ready for sitting and his ears ready to hear children's gift requests. Guests can view and bid on silent auction items in the theater's Annex. Learn more at www.VersaillesChamber.com/Christmas-on-the-Square.
Also on November 29th, Laurie's 13th annual Lighted Christmas Parade begins at 6:00 pm at Central Bank, traveling north on Hwy. 5 to the Laurie Mall. Santa will ride on a float in the parade, then visit with the children inside the mall.
The music of the holiday season is featured each year as Main Street Music Hall in Osage Beach presents Christmas on Main Street. Holiday carols, gospel hymns, musical impersonations and comedy are all included in a great show offered by Thom and Sandy Gumm, along with their cast of talented singers and musicians. The show is offered on weekends beginning November 7th and continuing through December 21st. For 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.
The Lake of the Ozarks' newest winter attraction, an outdoor ice rink aptly named "The Ice," opens to the public on December 4th at Old Kinderhook Resort in Camdenton. And on December 5th, a 9:00 pm ceremony will feature the lighting of the grand Christmas tree on The Ice. The skating rink is located next door to The Lodge at Old Kinderhook, a new 84-room expansion at the resort, which is scheduled to open early in 2015. For more information, visit www.OldKinderhook.com.
Camdenton offers a day of family fun at Christmas on the Square, December 6th. This all-day event features food, games, gifts and, of course, a visit from the season's guest of honor - Santa. For more information, visit www.CamdentonChamber.com.
The 30th Annual Lake Ozark "Christmas Magic" Parade will be held on December 13th at 1:00 pm. The procession will line up at Hwy 242 starting at t he HH & Bagnell Dam Blvd. intersection in Lake Ozark, and will turn right to proceed down Bagnell Dam Boulevard to the Dam. The Parade will be lead by the Maine Corp League Honor Guard with the Grand Marshall and all parade participants following them. Again this year, Santa will be available immediately after the Parade at the White House on Bagnell Dam Blvd. for pictures with the children. Christmas Stockings, will be handed out to all the children who stop to see him, and hot chocolate and cookies will be served to all waiting in line to see Santa!
Whether visitors are coming to the Lake to see the lighting displays, check items off the holiday gift list or just escape the demands of the season, the area'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, 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.
The Lake of the Ozarks is also the perfect place to ring in the New Year. Ask your favorite lodging establishment about their New Year's Eve specials.
For information about all events and activities at the Lake of the Ozarks, as well as information on dining and accommodations, visit our award-winning website at FunLake.com, or call 1-800-FUN-LAKE.