Omaha holiday season includes lights, gingerbread and poinsettias

Holidays in Omaha

“Christmas is all around us,” so sings Billy Mack in the 2003 movie “Love Actually.”

In Omaha, Christmas celebrations come in the shape of gingerbread houses, poinsettias, lights and even song. We’ve enjoyed the pleasure of taking in some of the events this season.

We kicked off the holiday season with our annual sojourn to Lauritzen Gardens to take in the poinsettia show. More than 5,000 poinsettias are featured in the exhibit, which lasts until Jan. 4th.


More than 25 varieties are on display – ranging from deep red to sparkling white, multi-hued and speckled.

Variety of Poinsettias at Lauritzen Gardens

The show’s main attraction is the 20-foot tall tree made from poinsettias.

Lauritzen Gardens

The Magnolia Hotel near downtown Omaha outdid itself this year with a gingerbread display featuring Omaha attractions. Among the attractions are: Welcome to Omaha, The zoo’s desert dome, downtown skyline, Old Market, Bob Kerrey pedestrian bridge, TD Ameritrade baseball stadium and the Magnolia, itself.

Gingerbread model at Magnolia Hotel

Not to be outdone in the gingerbread arena, the Mormon Trail Center has hundreds of gingerbread designs on display. The center highlights the Mormon Trail and Omaha’s role as the trail’s winter headquarters.

Gingerbread Houses at Mormon Trail Center

The gingerbread exhibit features a variety of designs – from an airplane to an elaborate castle with a ship in the bay. It also includes more traditional gingerbread houses.


Nebraska football gets a shout out with a gingerbread Memorial Stadium, home of the Huskers.

Gingerbread Memorial Stadium

We even took in a couple of new events this year.

Lauritzen Gardens Midtown window

Midtown Crossing has changed its holiday celebration a bit. It still has its window displays. The displays are fund raisers for local charities. A couple we really liked were ones for Laurtizen Garden’s Lego sculptures exhibit in 2015 and the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium.

Henry Doorly Zoo Midtown window

One new display at the shopping area is the nightly Holiday Lights Spectacular. Buildings and trees in the Turner Park concert area are lit up with choreographed music for about 20 minutes starting at 7 p.m.

Holiday Lights Spectacular at Midtown Crossing

We jumped at the chance to take part in Omaha Culinary Tours’ initial holiday lights tour, “Cookies, Carols and Cocoa: Holiday light seeing tour.” We have written about several tours with OCT this year. The holiday tour just added a cherry to the center of the Christmas cookie.

Our tour started at Cuppycakes inside the Atomic Bombshells clothing store. Both are unique merchants.

Atomic Bombshells

Atomic Bombshells is a vintage-inspired pin-up clothing store, based on 1940s style clothing. The owner even dresses in the vintage outfits as a way of life. For more information on the store, please visit

Atomic Bombshells

Cuppycakes occupies a back section of the store. The owner makes the treats at the northwest Omaha store and brings treats to the Midtown Crossing store to sell, because, according to her – who doesn’t like sweets and shopping?


We tried a ginger snap cookie (delicious) and a brownie mini cupcake (also excellent).

Ginger Snap cookie from Cuppycakes

For more information on Cuppycakes, please visit

The tour takes guests around Omaha checking out the holiday light displays in the city. We made our way through Midtown and its light show. Our next stop was downtown and a view of the holiday lights in the Gene Leahy Mall. The city sponsors a white-light display that spans blocks and offers up more than a million lights.

Gene Leahy Mall holiday lights

We worked our way to West Omaha and a view of some fantastic displays in some of the wealthier neighborhoods. The exhibits were some of the best we’ve seen – lights choreographed to holiday music, large yard displays and trees decorated as part of landscapes.

Holiday Lights in Omaha

While we traveled around the city, our hosts led us in Christmas carols. When people weren’t singing or playing games (our side of the bus won the movie quote line contest. But, who would expect anything less with Steph, Mal and I on the same side?), holiday music was played.


We finished the tour with a delicious final dessert treat of balsamic vinegar reduced and used as a sauce over vanilla ice cream at Chef 2 (Squared). The store ( sells a variety of vinegar and oils, and related products. This was our second or third visit to the store. I never understand why we don’t spend more time there. We really like it.

Holiday Decorations

For more information, on Omaha Culinary Tours, please visit its website at

We’ve had a great time taking in the holiday sights and sounds this year, and look forward to new adventures next year. This year’s activities add to the fun experience we had last year when we had a “holiday staycation,” taking in attractions like visitors (

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone!

Disclaimer: Thank you to Lauritzen Garden for the complimentary tickets. However, all opinions and views are ours.