Watts up in Kansas City
NOV. 15-JAN. 13
KANSAS CITY, MO.
Kansas City holiday lights: December is fast approaching, which means that Kansas City is gearing up for a big electric bill. The city known for fountains and steak puts on a light display that pretty much takes over all of its corporate and residential communities. It starts with the illumination of the downtown area centered around the Marriott, which will show off more than 30,000 flashing bulbs. On Sunday, Nov. 23, the mayor lights up KC's official Christmas tree, which is taller than the spruces at the White House and Rockefeller Center. On Thanksgiving night, you can check out the Country Club Plaza light display, which according to organizers, features 80 miles of illumination. For the sake of Kansas City's taxpayers, we hope those lights are energy-efficient. 816-274-8444, visitkc.com.
Trail of Lights: The city that prides itself on being weird calls its annual light display a family block party. About 400,000 people have shown up during the season to see more than 40 glowing scenes that depict Santa's journey, the Nativity, Candyland, and other pictures of winter. At the center of the event is the Zilker Tree, more than 150 feet tall and made of streamers, 19 utility poles, and 3,309 lights. The world's largest man-made tree, as they call it down there, is put together by local electricians. 512-974-6700, ci.austin.tx.us.
NOV. 20-JAN. 4
Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival: It's worth getting to this display on opening night, which is when the city features free live music and fireworks in Pere Marquette Park. You'll get to take a free ride on the city's "Jingle Bus," which takes you past light displays at local schools and parks. If you're guiding yourself, make sure you ride down Wisconsin Avenue, which will have 6-foot Moravian stars hanging over every intersection. 414-220-4700, milwaukeedowntown.com.
LAKE HAVASU CITY, ARIZ.
26th Annual Boat Parade of Lights: The theme for this year's competitive festival of illuminated boats is "Show Us What You've Got." We assume that means boat owners will be going over the top with their decorations. Past winners have used lights to make their boats look like glowing cars and trains. There are always a few who turn their vessels into giant illuminated sleighs with plastic Santas on top. There's a map of the parade route online. And to answer your question, it should be about 65 degrees. 928-854-5292, lhcboatparadeoflights.com.
MORRO BAY, CALIF.
Morro Bay Winter Bird Festival: After viewing nighttime lights in November and December, you should be ready to embrace the day by January. At this 13th annual event, co-hosted by the Morro Coast Audubon Society, you can take half-day tours of bird habitats and try to spot mountain bluebirds, red-breasted sapsuckers, and something called a California thrasher. There's also a free vendor show with new technology for birding enthusiasts. Passes for lectures and tours run $25-$70. 866-464-5105, morrobaybirdfestival .org.
Events are sometimes canceled, rescheduled, or sold out; call or check online to confirm. Meredith Goldstein can be reached at email@example.com.