2018 Fort Riley Holiday Events Guide

Photo of Manhattan's Festival of Lights contributed by    Sigle Photography

Photo of Manhattan's Festival of Lights contributed by Sigle Photography

Of all the military installations to spend the Holidays, Fort Riley, Kansas is one of the very best. Well, it is for anyone who loves the chance of a White Christmas, anyway! It will be cold, but it will also be beautiful.

A large portion of Fort Riley features gorgeous historic homes and buildings built in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Taking a walk or drive around Historic Main Post after a snowfall when all the streets are quiet is truly remarkable. Plus, even the Grinch himself can get in the holiday spirit after seeing all the homes decorated for Christmas!

And in the surrounding cities like Manhattan, Junction City and as far as Wichita and Kansas City, there are tons of holiday events to check out. Here’s a list of some of the best options for you and your family!

Photo by:    HASFR

Photo by: HASFR

Holiday Events on Fort Riley

The Historical & Archaeological Society of Fort Riley will host its Tour of Homes December 1. For this annual event, a handful of historic homes and buildings are decorated to festive perfection. Visitors are welcome to walk through the homes and learn about the architecture of each location. Typically the fanciest houses on post are featured, including the Commanding General’s sweet digs.

On December 6, the post will have its annual Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony. It'll be held at Garrison Headquarters, Ware Parade Field starting at 5:30 p.m. The ceremony will include the tree lighting, holiday carols and the arrival of Santa. Children will have an opportunity to visit Santa and his elves inside the foyer of Garrison Headquarters. Hot beverages and cookies will be served during the visitation and ceremony. The ceremony is open to Soldiers, families, civilian employees and community members.

On November 29 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Fort Riley Spouses Club will host a Winter Bazaar at the famous Custer House. Admission is free, and you're welcome to check out more than 20 venders selling items like Mary Kay and Origami Owl products.

Right and Up tip:If you don’t have a military ID, go to the Visitor’s Center at the Henry Gate to get your visitor pass. Passes or military IDs are required to get on Fort Riley. The day of the Tour of Homes will be especially hectic since it’s so popular, but you can avoid waiting in line by getting your pass a day early.

Manhattan and Junction City Events

Junction City will host its annual Christmas Parade the day after Thanksgiving, November 23 at 5:30-6:30 p.m. The route will start at Junction City High School and make its way down 6th St. from Eisenhower Drive to Washington Street.

If you're into theater, Junction City's CL Hoover Opera House is hosting a production of A Christmas Carol starting November 29 with its last show on December 2. Tickets are $25 apiece.

The CL Hoover Opera House will also host the 1st Infantry Division Band's Holiday Concert on December 14 and 15. The shows start at 7:30 p.m. on both days and admission is FREE! Santa himself will be there for free photo opportunities one hour before each show.

After Thanksgiving Day, check out the Festival of Lights in downtown Manhattan. This year's tree will be the tallest in Kansas! The lighting ceremony will start at 7 p.m. on Friday, November 23. Santa Clause himself will even make an appearance for the kickoff. Throughout the holiday season, the festive area will be host to a number of events, including ice sculpting and a Christmas Carnival on December 1.

Also on December 1, the community is invited to take home red cedar trees to decorate. Red cedars are invasive, so this is a great way to help the park (and score a tree for the holidays!). The event runs from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at Roger Schultz Community Park (formerly known as the Park at Lee Mill Heights). Bring your own handsaw!

On December 7 is Manhattan's Mayor's Spirit of the Holidays Lighted Parade. The parade begins at 5:30 p.m. on Poyntz Avenue and ends in City Park. After the parade, Aggieville's Triangle Park will have its annual Tree Lighting Ceremony.

The City of Manhattan businesses will be hosting a wide variety of holiday-themed events throughout November and December. Check out the city's website to see what’s happening soon.

Events Within an Hour Drive

Wamego: Home of the Wizard of Oz Museum, this town has a lot going on during the holiday season. The city will host its Season of Lights event on December 9. It'll include a light display, carriage rides, live music, appearances from Santa and Mrs. Claus and more. Check out Wamego's website for details!

Abilene: This cute town is about 30 minutes from Fort Riley. Its main strip features incredible historic homes, and its downtown looks like something out of a 1950s TV show. A number of holiday events will happen here, including a Santa Train Ride on December 8.

Events More Than an Hour Away

Photo by:    Brent Flanders

Photo by: Brent Flanders

Topeka:The state capital has a variety of events happening around the holidays. There’s the 2-mile light show at Lake Shawnee, the lighting of the community tree and Miracle on Kansas Avenue Parade on November 24 and more!

Kansas City:Considering it's one of the biggest cities in the Midwest, it’s no surprise Kansas City is slammed with holiday events. Here you’ll find Christmas shows, choirs, orchestras, ballets, nativities, craft shows and so much more. KC Parent put together an incredibly thorough guide that’s perfect for families, couples and singles alike.

There are a number of lighting ceremonies, but perhaps the biggest is the Plaza Lighting Ceremony in the Country Club Plaza. This year’s event, which features fireworks and 287,000 lights, happens on Thanksgiving Day starting at 5 p.m.

Wichita:Wichita is also busy, as it features events like a Holiday Display Drive-Thru and more. Check out 360 Wichita’s event calendar for more information.


about the author

Rachel is the editor of Right and Up. She is an Auburn grad (War Damn Eagle!) and holds a degree in journalism. While working as a sports writer covering the Tigers, she met a cute, tall officer stationed at Fort Benning. A few margaritas, some conversations about why a no-huddle offense is superior and 18 months later, they got married. They have PCS’d to Fort Huachuca, Fort Riley and are now in the National Capital Region.