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Kansas Shines Brightly this Holiday Season

TOPEKA, Kan., Nov. 13, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Kansas celebrates the holidays with the sparkle and splendor of the prairie, plains and cities.  From the spirit of imagination to reflective childhood recollections, kids of all ages share the holiday excitement in Kansas.  The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism invites you to join the excitement and surprises of the season. 

Kansas festivals, lighting ceremonies, craft markets, musical events and shopping extravaganzas help visitors quickly fill their holiday wish baskets with food, fun, gifts, celebrations and lots of memories for the future.  Kansas is alive with holiday excitement with an extensive statewide listing available at http://www.TravelKS.com.  But, here is a sampling of some favorites to add to your must see and do holiday list this year. 

Fort Scott http://www.FortScott.com kicks off the annual Homes for the Holidays weekend in historic downtown on Thursday, December 6.  Merchants and eateries along the famous brick streets remain open late into the evening to accommodate shoppers and revelers as they prepare for the coming holiday season.  The magical Moonlight and Mistletoe Homes Tour continues Friday, December 7 when visitors marvel at the illuminated and delicately adorned abodes.  On this evening's tour, a light buffet and beverages will be served at a featured home that is in addition to those included on the home tour.

Other Homes for the Holidays weekend festivities include the Stocking Stuffer Craft Show complete with a BBQ lunch, the family favorite Christmas in the Gunn Park and the enchanting candlelight tours of the Fort Scott National Historic Site.

A visit to historic Fort Scott, conveniently situated on Highway 69 along the eastern border of Kansas, would not be complete without riding Dolly the Trolley who will be making her rounds around town throughout the weekend.

The Homes for the Holidays celebration runs December 6 – 8.  For reservations, tickets and more information visit www.FortScott.com or call 800-245-FORT.

Along I-70 in northwest Kansas, discover WaKeeney http://www.WaKeeney.org, a small town brimming with holiday spirit and townsfolk eager and proud to share the 62nd year as "Christmas City of the High Plains." This annual tradition lights up the prairie skies with colored lights, fresh greenery and garlands creating what is considered the largest display between Kansas City and Denver.  

Each November, WaKeeney is magically transformed into a holiday wonderland.  A magnificent handmade, 35-foot tree of fresh greenery rests under a canopy of heavenly blue lights in the middle of the downtown intersection.  A four square-block area around the tree is draped with fresh garlands, handcrafted decorations and thousands of twinkling lights.  A recent addition to the festivities includes the staging of a live nativity scene on the eve of the tree lighting, on November 24.

A soup supper opens to the public at 5 p.m., featuring a live nativity prior to the official tree lighting by Santa Claus at 6 p.m.  A visit with Santa Claus, special treats, horse-drawn wagon rides, and holiday music complete the evening.  The holiday display is free to the public and remains lit through January 1, 2013.  To help plan travel arrangements and for photos please visit http://www.wakeeney.org or call 877-972-7248.

In southwest Kansas, Dodge City http://www.VisitDodgeCity.org  is the place to experience the holidays in true western style.  Witness an original Parade of Lights featuring illuminated entries presented on horseback.

November 26 is the date and historic downtown Dodge City is the site for one of the most special events of the season.  The sumptuous evening begins with a community chili cook-off contest and supper feed where attendees can sample them all!  Then sit back and savor the beautifully lit parade.  The event is free and is capped off with a campfire cobbler at world famous Boot Hill Museum.  The Museum also hosts a community breakfast on December 1, including a visit from Santa and family activities for kids of all ages.

An early holiday treat this year includes a Christmas concert by the Oak Ridge Boys in the new United Wireless Arena.  Relax to favorite holiday tunes as well as some of their classic hits on Sunday, Dec. 16 at 5 p.m.  For tickets and information about other holiday bazaars, home tours, theater productions and concerts visit http://www.visitdodgecity.org or call 800-OLD-WEST.

Historic Abilene http://www.AbileneKansas.org, often recognized as a stagecoach stop, a cow town and the home to President Eisenhower offers unique and entertaining Christmas and holiday activities for the entire family.  You will enjoy a special holiday performance at the only live professional theatre between Kansas City and Denver.

Visitors to the Seelye Mansion will find themselves enraptured in a miniature dreamlike Christmas spirit while viewing the biblical magi from the East watch over George Washington, even as Mickey Mouse rests near a classic soldier. Standing at attention nearby are 700 colorful nutcrackers on top of mantles, beside more than 100 red poinsettias, and under the twinkling lights of dozens of decorated Christmas trees in this spectacular 1905 historic mansion. 

Visitors are encouraged to time their tour of the Seelye Mansion for the first weekend in December in order to enjoy the ultimate holiday experience.  December 1 – 2, peek inside several private residences during Homes for the Holidays. Take a horse-drawn trolley ride and watch the lighted parade, part of Saturday's Night of Christmas Magic activities. Be sure to view the city's new holiday lights and banners and drive down Christmas Tree Lane.

On Sunday, listen to the Abilene Municipal Band Concert at the Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home, and then help settlers celebrate the holidays in historic style at the Heritage Center's Christmas in the Cabin.

Abilene is conveniently located in northeast Kansas just over two hours west of Kansas City.  For information about tours, tickets and times visit http://www.abilenekansas.org or call the Abilene Convention & Visitors Bureau at 785-263-2231.

For more information on these and other Kansas holiday events visit http://www.TravelKS.com.

SOURCE Kansas Travel & Tourism

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