We always talk about how much we love winter, and it’s the truth. It’s also true that we love the festive holiday frolic the season brings. In Western Montana’s Glacier Country, we really know how to deck the halls and celebrate the season of giving with all things merry and bright.
So without further ado, here’s a look at Western Montana’s must-see happenings this holiday season.
Santa at Missoula’s Southgate Mall + Holiday Performances
Capture the magic of the season at Southgate Mall, the region’s largest shopping center, with a Santa visit and photos, as well as a gingerbread house contest display and holiday performances. For a complete rundown of holiday happenings at the mall, visit shopsouthgate.com. New this year: Holiday Hustle for Him on Wednesday, December 20 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Christmas at Kalispell’s Conrad Mansion Museum
November 24 – December 31
The home of one of Kalispell’s founders, Charles Conrad, gets completely decked out in seasonal splendor, and the mansion offers tours Fridays and Saturdays during the holiday season at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m
Old-Fashioned Forest Service Christmas at the National Museum of Forest Service History, Missoula
November 25, 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Join Santa Claus and his pack mule team, plus Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl, for Christmas stories and songs around the campfire, a candy cane hunt, holiday shopping at the Bungalow Ranger Station, plus Bill Moore’s book, “The Lochsa Story,” his documentary, “Bud’s Place,” and a book signing with author Vicky MacLean.
Carriage Rides in Downtown Missoula
Saturdays and Sundays November 25 – December 17, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Take a break from the holiday hustle for a festive horse-drawn carriage ride in downtown Missoula. The Resort at Paws Up brings two of their beloved horses to town for free carriage rides. Make your way to Missoula’s East Pine Street and hop in.
Polson Parade of Lights
December 1, 6 p.m.
Get festive in the Flathead Valley and celebrate the beginning of the Christmas season with Santa, a bonfire, food vendors and a parade. Downtown Polson shops stay open late so you can start checking names off your gift list.
Lantern Tours at the Historical Museum at Fort Missoula
December 1 – 3, 5:30 p.m.- 7:00 p.m.
The Historical Museum at Fort Missoula offers guided lantern tours providing a look into past winters (complete with plenty of Christmas moments) and ends with cocoa and cookies. Book early! Call 406.728.3476 (extension 1) to purchase tickets.
Whitefish Christmas Stroll
December 8, 5:30 p.m. – 9 p.m.
The quintessential mountain resort town of Whitefish decks its halls and kicks off the holiday season with a downtown Christmas Stroll featuring concerts, a tree-lighting ceremony, Santa, and wagon rides from Bar W Guest Ranch.
Christmas Light Trolley Tours in Kalispell
December 8 – 31
Hop aboard a cozy trolley and set out to view the holiday lights in Kalispell with Montana Trolley Co. Click here for specific times and additional info.
Christmas in Bigfork
Located on the bay of Flathead Lake, the quaint (and beyond adorable) community of Bigfork goes all out for Christmas. Two days to note: Saturday, December 9 and Saturday, December 16. On those days, Santa comes to Bigfork, along with carolers and free live music dowtown, and the Bigfork Playhouse Children’s Theatre presents “White Christmas.”
Dolce Canto’s Light, Beauty, Peace at the Historic St. Ignatius Mission
December 10, 7 p.m.
One of the most beautiful churches in the state, the St. Ignatius Mission hosts Missoula’s a cappella (though sometimes accompanied) choir, Dolce Canto, for a holiday concert encouraging listeners to meditate on the notion of hope this holiday season.
Handel’s Messiah with Glacier Symphony + Chorale
December 15 – 17, 7:30 p.m.
A popular holiday tradition, the Glacier Symphony and Chorale performs Handel’s Messiah in Bigfork, Whitefish and Kalispell.
The Nutcracker in Missoula
December 15 – 17
A beloved holiday tradition, Montana’s Garden City Ballet performs “The Nutcracker.” Check specific times here for this treasured Missoula community event.
Community Christmas Party
December 16, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Hamilton’s historic Daly Mansion hosts a Community Christmas Party complete with a visit from Santa and activities for the whole family.
Yuletide Affair 14 at Alpine Theatre Project
December 21-23, 7 p.m.
This sellout show stages once again at the Whitefish Performing Arts Center with a mix of holiday music, Broadway-caliber performances and hilarious satire. You can snag tickets here.
Christmas Eve Torchlight Parade at Whitefish Mountain Resort
A Christmas Eve tradition, Santa visits the slopes of Whitefish Mountain Resort, leads a torchlight parade on snow-covered Big Mountain, and gives out gifts at Ed & Mully’s after the parade (so hopefully you’ve been good this year).
You can also check out a full listing of holiday events at glaciermt.com/events.php.
May your days be merry and bright! (If you’re in Montana, all of your Christmases will probably be white, too. We just can’t help ourselves.)