Are you looking for all the details on Kansas City’s Plaza Lighting Ceremony? There’s a lot to know – after all, it’s the Country Club Plaza’s most attended evening of the year! Let us midtown Kansas City locals give you all the details and our suggestions from years of attending the event.

Don’t eat too much turkey on Thanksgiving Day because this is an event that you’re going to want to get off the couch for! Keep reading for our Complete Guide to Kansas City’s Plaza Lighting Ceremony for 2023.

The 2023 Evergy Plaza Lighting Ceremony

Drawing on the vibrant tradition that has illuminated Kansas City for over 90 years, the Plaza Lights ceremony is a 15-block holiday spectacle on the iconic Country Club Plaza.

It takes place on Thanksgiving night, November 23rd with festivities taking place from 5:00pm to 8:00pm and the lighting happening at 7:05pm.

The extensive preparation for this event involves a crew of electricians starting work after Labor Day to ensure that every light gleams in unison for the ceremony.

This year, the ceremony is even more special. Tech N9ne, one of Kansas City’s prodigal sons, is taking center stage as the honorary switch-flipper. A local legend in his own right, Tech N9ne’s journey has taken him from the city’s heart to the heights of hip-hop notoriety.

Attendees can expect a blend of music, spectacle, and the warmth of holiday spirit in an outdoor event that’s free and open to all​​​​.

Plaza Lights History: A Time Honored Tradition

It began with a single strand of lights over one of the plaza shops in 1925. In 1930, that humble strand inspired the rest of the shopping district to begin the time-honored lighting display. This tradition encapsulates not only the joy of the season but also the unity and history of the community.

Opening in 1923, Country Club Plaza itself is a historical gem, often considered to be the country’s first shopping center designed to accommodate shoppers arriving by automobile.

As the light switch flips on, the Plaza bursts into a tableau of lights, transforming the Spanish-inspired architecture into a dazzling winter wonderland. The towers and domes, etched against the night sky, become canvases of light.

The ambiance of the event is electric, with the streets filled with onlookers, including children perched atop shoulders, eyes wide with wonder. It’s a scene that replicates year after year, yet each ceremony feels as fresh and exciting as if it were the first.

The ceremony not only marks the beginning of the holiday season but also symbolizes the community spirit of Kansas City. It’s a time-honored tradition that bridges generations, inviting all to partake in a moment of collective celebration and to make memories that will light up the years to come.

What to Expect at the 2023 Plaza Light Ceremony

The city has put quite a bit of time and planning into the highly-anticipated 94th annual Plaza Lighting Ceremony! Below are all the details you’re wanting to know.

Where Is The Best Place To See The Plaza Lights?

The best views can be found along Nichols Road between Pennsylvania and Broadway. Alternatively, consider the top floor of nearby parking garages for a panoramic perspective. The main stage will be at the Nichols Road and Pennsylvania intersection.

Plaza Lighting Schedule 2023

Here’s what attendees can expect from the evening’s schedule:

  • Pre-Show Festivities (5–6 p.m.):
    First, the evening will commence with pre-lighting performances that will set the stage for the main event.
  • The Main Event (6–7:05 p.m.):
    Then, the 94th Annual Evergy Plaza Lighting Ceremony will officially begin, captivating the audience with live performances by local artists.
  • The Lights Are On (7:05 p.m.):
    Next, Tech N9ne, a Kansas City icon himself, will have the honor of flipping the switch, immersing the Plaza in a stunning display of lights, followed by an exhilarating fireworks show.
  • Post-Ceremony Festivities (7:15–8 p.m.):
    Afterwards, the celebrations will continue with a post-ceremony concert featuring The Elders, offering a blend of folk, rock, and Americana.

Throughout the evening, attendees can expect to be enchanted by performances from Quixotic, a group known for their gravity-defying aerial acts and dynamic dance routines. Additionally, the sounds of DJ Kirby will keep the energy high with his beats.

Make the Most of The Plaza Lights

The Kansas City Plaza Lighting Ceremony is an annual holiday tradition that attracts thousands of spectators. That means it is crowded. To fully appreciate the experience, it’s crucial to plan ahead, especially when it comes to securing the best vantage point and navigating the throngs of holiday revelers.

Where Do You Park For The Plaza Lights?

Basically, the free parking garages are first come, first serve. Our recommendation is simple: arrive early. This is the only way you will get a parking spot in one of the several free parking garages on the Plaza. Another option is to arrive by Uber or Lyft, but you can expect the rates to be surging.

If you do arrive early, there will be some shops open. Our favorite is Made in KC. Walking into the store feels like stepping into a showcase of the city’s spirit. You’ll find a wide array of locally made products ranging from housewares to apparel, jewelry, and gourmet foods. They also have a bar where they serve local beer, wine, and cocktails made with locally distilled spirits. For the Plaza Lighting Ceremony, they will be open from 5pm – 9pm.

Which Plaza Restaurants Are Open Thanksgiving Day?

If you have not completely stuffed yourself with turkey and mashed potatoes, consider having an early dinner on the Plaza. We checked with the most popular restaurants, and the below ones will be open that evening:

  • Gram & Dun: 11:00am – 8:00pm
  • Capital Grille: 11:00am – 8:00pm
  • Seasons 52: 10:00am – 9:00pm
  • Eddie V’s: 10:30am – 8:00pm
  • McCormick & Schmicks: 11:00am – 9:00pm, regular menu will be available as well as a Thanksgiving inspired menu
  • Stock Hill: 12:00pm – 8:00pm, technically located in South Plaza but you could park at the Plaza and walk to Stock Hill

You will want to make a reservation – like, now – if you plan to visit any of these on Thanksgiving Day.

What Time Do They Turn On The Lights At The Plaza?

If you want more of the lights, you’re in luck. The Plaza Lights will continue to dazzle spectators from Thanksgiving through mid-January. They turn the lights on at 5:00pm and off at 3:00am daily.

Ultimate Insider Tip: Get A Plaza Hotel Room

The best way to not have to worry about the hassle of parking and getting in and out with traffic is to get a hotel room for the night! All of these suggestions are on the Plaza.

Aloft Country Club Plaza

We personally like the trendy Aloft, a newer hotel on the Plaza. When we have family visit, this is our recommendation, and they have always reported a positive stay experience. In addition, the hotel has over four stars in reviews.

where to stay for the kansas city plaza light ceremony

The Fontaine

The Fontaine is a lovely luxury hotel on the west end of the Plaza.

where to stay for the kansas city plaza light ceremony

Cascade Hotel

Another new hotel on the Plaza.

where to stay for the kansas city plaza light ceremony


The 2023 Plaza Lighting Ceremony is more than just an event; it’s a showcase of Kansas City’s vibrancy and a herald of the festive season. We hope you found our Complete Guide to Kansas City’s Plaza Lighting Ceremony for 2023 helpful.

And don’t miss out on all the other holiday events and festivities that Kansas City has to offer!