Annual Christmas Tree Lighting Around Omaha:: A Thanksgiving Tradition

Christmas Tree Lighting

I love spending Thanksgiving in Omaha.

Before I lived in the Omaha area, we would travel to Nebraska and spend every turkey day with my dad’s family.  Every time I think of Thanksgiving approaching, my heart is so full. My family is similar to the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding in comparison to size and how loud we tend to be. No, we are not Greek. We are just farm people stemming from Auburn, Nebraska. My father is the fifth of ten children. We have always reunited on two major holidays: Thanksgiving and the big reunion is every Fourth of July. Fast forward to the present day and we have four generations of Hennings that gather around the table for Thanksgiving. And what I look forward to the most? Christmas tree lighting ceremonies.

Lighting Traditions

My sister, Stephanie, and I would drive by the 35 foot Christmas tree displayed every year at Shadow Lake. Growing up, I used to think the tree was comparable to the perfectly-trimmed fresh Norway Spruce, standing anywhere from 69-100 feet tall, in Rockefeller Center. Of course, I can’t compare the two since I’ve never been to New York, let alone visit during the holidays. It IS on my bucket list! Until then, this is as close as I can get.

When I moved to Omaha, I found Christmas tree lighting ceremonies in and around town on Thanksgiving weekend. We have since made it a tradition every year to attend. 

I know what you are thinking . . .

Please just let me get through Thanksgiving without strangling someone or busting the button on my favorite pair of jeans before I even considering getting into the Christmas spirit.

Well, sister, I have a solution for you . . . that’s what wine and leggings are for!

The memories that I formed my sister along with the small-town feel of Christmas tree lighting ceremonies just give me all the holiday feels!

Here are a few tree lighting ceremonies around the Omaha metro that you should mark your calendar for if you are home for the holiday!

Christmas 1

Wednesday, November 27th
6:30 pm

Entertainment, a Santa parade, and tree lighting all with free admission. Don’t forget to drop off your Santa letters in the North Pole mailbox!


7775 Olson Drive, Ste. 205
Papillion, NE 68046

Tree Lighting

Friday, November 29th, 2019
6:00 pm to 10:00 pm

Admission is free! You can enjoy a family concert, and the Santa parade begins at 7:00 pm which features the arrival of Santa with the lighting ceremony the follow. There will be free hot cider, cookies, and carriage rides!

17305 Davenport St.
Omaha, NE 68118


Friday, November 29th, 2019
4:00 pm to 8:00 pm

If you haven’t been to the Durham to view the region’s largest indoor Christmas tree, this is the tree lighting for you and yours! Escape the cold and enjoy cookie decorating, holiday crafts, live music, and Santa. The tree lighting will begin at approximately 7:00 pm. Admission rates do apply.

801 S 10th Street
Omaha, NE 68108


Saturday, November 30th, 2019
5:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Free bonfires along with s’ mores, popcorn, hot cocoa, live entertainment, carriage rides, photos with live reindeer, and more!

107 E. 2nd Street
Papillion, NE 68046

Which event is your favorite Omaha Christmas tree lighting tradition?