Christmas comes to the heart of the Hills

Laura Lindblom
The weekend forecast looks a little chilly, but the hot cocoa is flowing in Hill City. Christmas is barely a month away, and Hill City is kicking off the countdown with a wonderful lineup of events. Grab your family or friends and find a new tradition to get into the Christmas spirit. 
Avoid the Black Friday madness and head to the Hills to cut a Christmas tree with a permit from, then warm up at the Hill City School by taking in the Kris Kringle Vendor Fair. Hill City’s largest craft fair of the year is a great way to start (or finish) your Christmas shopping, while supporting local artisans and small businesses. If you’re a crafter or small business, keep this show in mind for next year. The craft fair can be browsed Friday, Nov. 24, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday, Nov. 25, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. And while you’re shopping the vendor fair, check out the Gingerbread House Contest, and cast your ballot for the best edible architecture.
The 1880 Train will begin its Holiday Express runs, a family favorite, with round-trip tours from Hill City to the North Pole starting Nov. 24 and offered multiple times throughout the day Friday and Saturday, as well as other dates in December. Kids can visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus, and everyone can enjoy a sugar cookie and warm up with some hot cocoa. Want something a little different for a group of adults? Check out their Holiday Express Spiked tours, offered at select times. Tickets can be booked online at 
After your North Pole adventure, check out the “Trees and Trains” exhibit at the South Dakota State Railroad Museum, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and select dates through Dec. 28. Browse the nostalgic exhibit of themed trees and decked out displays, and even get a picture taken with Santa Claus, in the library. Adults get a discount on admission if you present your Holiday Express ticket and kids 10 years old and under are free.
Also on Friday, Nov. 24, is Snacks with Santa, an opportunity for kiddos to meet Saint Nick and share a Christmas wish, at the Hill City Center from 2-4 p.m. 
If you’re planning on taking in the Old Tyme Christmas Lighted Parade through Hill City at 6 p.m., Friday, why don’t you stop by the Alpine Inn beforehand at 5 p.m. and enjoy Cider and Chestnuts, “a time-honored tradition in Hill City, compliments of the Alpine Inn.” 
If you get chilled at the old-fashioned parade, head over to the Hill City Center afterward for hot beverages, cookies, and a 7:30 p.m. screening of “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” a 1989 comedy about a family’s Christmas disaster. It is rated PG-13, and is one hour and 37 minutes long. Doors will open at 7 p.m. This free event is hosted by the Black Hills Film Festival, but a silent auction will be held to benefit the Film Festival. 
Or perhaps you’re preferring something a little less crowded to get into the holiday mood. Don’t forget about walking or driving the famous Lane of Lights, where Museum Drive is lit up with  festivity, starting Nov. 24 and running through the end of December. Hill City’s Holiday Lights Contest also starts Nov. 24, another opportunity to spy out the best of the best lights displays. 
And if you make it through Friday and have any Christmas shopping to do after the Kris Kringle Vendor Fair, finish up by supporting more local businesses on Shop Small Saturday, and frequent some of the many incredible small businesses that Hill City has to offer.

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