Festive Things to Do in the Black Hills and Badlands that are Actually Awesome | Black Hills Travel Blog

Festive Things to Do in the Black Hills and Badlands that are Actually Awesome

  • Festive Things to Do in the Black Hills and Badlands that are Actually Awesome
    Festive Things to Do in the Black Hills and Badlands that are Actually Awesome
Tuesday, November 13, 2018
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The holidays are upon us! Whether you wait until the Thanksgiving leftovers are stored safely in the refrigerator, or you’re someone who plays Christmas music the day after Halloween, there’s no denying that the holiday spirit is alive and thriving in the Black Hills and Badlands. From holiday markets to parades and everything in between, there are plenty of events, festivals, and attractions that you can visit while you’re in the area for Thanksgiving. There’s no doubt your family will want an outing to work off those Thanksgiving calories and let off some steam.

For those looking to enjoy some holiday cheer, check out these popular attractions and events.

Parade of Lights

Light up the night with the wonder of the holidays at various festive Parade of Lights. Each community hosts their own parade to spread festive cheer, and most are held over the Thanksgiving weekend. You know the holiday season has kicked off when Santa comes rolling down the street with his trusty reindeer pulling him along!

Check out all of the area’s Parade of Lights in our events calendar, including Rapid City Festival of Lights, Hill City’s Olde Thyme Lighted Parade, Newcastle’s Lighted Parade, and Sturgis’ Winter Frostival Parade of Lights.

1880 Train Holiday Express

Nothing says Christmas quite like a trip through the snowy Black Hills to the North Pole while Santa visits you in your train car. The 1880 Train has held the tradition of hosting the Holiday Express train for years and escorts kids each weekend in December to the North Pole, where Santa hops on board to visit with everyone. If you’re looking for a fun adult night out, check out the Spiked Holiday Express where you’ll be treated to an adult beverage!

Storybook Island Night of Lights

One of the most magical aspects of the holiday season is the shimmering lights adorning houses and trees throughout town. Each year the beloved Storybook Island decks out their storybook sculptures in Christmas lights, turning them into a magical display. Get lost in the twinkling lights while strolling through Jonah the Whale, Pinnochio’s house, and Winnie the Pooh’s tree house. Santa and his reindeer usually make an appearance as well! Take a look at our events calendar for information. Night of Lights will be open Nov. 23-25, Nov. 30-Dec. 2, Dec. 7-23, and Dec. 26-31.

Winter at Main Street Square

Communities in the Black Hills bring the holidays to life in their own unique way. One place to really celebrate the winter season is at Main Street Square in Rapid City. The ice skating rink opens on Nov. 17, for kids and adults alike to show off their twirling skills. Browse through the many shops available and revel at the 35-foot blue spruce tree that is placed in the square and decorated for the holidays. On Nov. 24, Main Street Square will also host a Holiday Celebration & Winter Market with local vendors, ice skating, a tree lighting ceremony, and general holiday merriment. Make sure you get to enjoy a magical holiday season at Main Street Square!


Nothing beats the winter blues like a good hike or expedition in the great Black Hills and Badlands. After stuffing your face with turkey, green bean casserole, and pumpkin pie, take a stroll outside. Work off all those calories by exploring our great national and state parks and monuments. #OptOutside for a family outing and create a new Thanksgiving tradition.

#ShopSmall – Small Business Saturday

One of the greatest joys of the holiday season is gift-giving. Get out and show your support for the local ma and pa businesses on Small Business Saturday when doing your holiday shopping. By participating in Small Business Saturday, which is always the Saturday after Thanksgiving, you are helping to ensure that local business owners are able to put food on their tables and are supporting the local economy. There’s a shop that has something for everyone in each of our communities. Check out our shopping section for some local favorites.

Festival of Trees

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, how lovely are your branches? Join in the spirit of the holiday with various Festival of Trees events throughout the Black Hills and Badlands. Take a gander at the many different elaborately decorated trees and even get some inspiration for your own tree.

A jolly good mood is infectious when celebrating the holidays in the Black Hills and Badlands!

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Main Street Square
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Main Street Square

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