St. Vincent Healthcare Foundation’s annual Messiah Festival will see its 25th and final production Sunday at Alberta Bair Theater.
“After 25 years, this year’s performance will be the grand finale of this heartwarming, Christmas tradition in Billings,” read a press release announcing the event.
St. Vincent's spokeswoman Angela Douglas said the event planners felt that after 25 years, and with the theater set to undergo renovations next year, it was "the right time to conclude on a high note."
"When we started the Messiah Festival, we were told that these types of events typically 'run their course' after five to 10 years," Douglas said. "We're thrilled and humbled by the fact that the Billings community has supported this event" for so long, she said.
The Messiah Festival is a free community performance of the Christmas selections from George Frideric Handel’s “Messiah." The performance will feature four soloists accompanied by a 28-piece orchestra. The choir will be made up of local volunteers.
The performance will take place at Alberta Bair Theater at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 2.
Admission is free. There will be a pre-concert reception for cancer survivors that all cancer survivors are encouraged to attend at Seva Kitchen, 313 N. Broadway, from 2-3 p.m. Sunday immediately before the concert.
Locals are encouraged to join the choir and may attend three practice sessions: Nov. 30 at 7 p.m. at American Lutheran Church; Dec. 1 at 2:30 p.m. at Mayflower Congregational Church; or Dec. 2 at 2 p.m. at First United Methodist Church.
Guest soloists will be Carolyn Coefield (soprano), Anna DeGraff (mezzo), Daren Small (bass) and Brigham Timpson (tenor). The conductor will be Jan Kliewer.
The annual festival supports St. Vincent’s Meadowlark House, which opened in 2004 and provides free, temporary housing during treatment to traveling cancer patients and their families. All operating costs are raised from donations and sponsorships, according to the release.
Here are 29 ways to celebrate the holidays in Billings
Visit Santa at Rimrock Mall
Santa Claus at Rimrock Mall — Nov. 17-Dec. 24. Tell Santa your wish list and get your picture taken with him. He'll be at the mall Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m to 9 p.m. and Sundays noon to 6 p.m. from Nov. 17-Dec. 16, Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sundays 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Dec. 17-23, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve.
Other special Santa events:
Paws with Claus, 8 p.m. Nov. 26 and Dec. 3. Well-mannered cats and dogs are invited to visit Santa and have photos taken. Cats must be in a carrier at all times and dogs must be on a leash. Photos will be available for purchase.
Krispy Kreme with Claus, 9 a.m. Dec. 8. Enjoy storytime with Santa while you dive into some tasty Krispy Kreme doughnuts and milk.
Soothing Santa Photos, 9 to 10:30 a.m. Dec. 2 and 9. Individuals with all spectrums of special needs and their families are invited to a private photo session where extra care is taken to support the sensory, physical and other developmental needs to make this a magical holiday experience. Reserve your spot today by filling out this form:
Cinnabon with Claus: Dec. 15. Enjoy story time with Santa with Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls and milk.
Christmas at the Moss
Christmas at the Moss — The Moss Mansion is decorated with Christmas trees and decor Nov. 15 through Dec. 30. Lit and bedazzled trees in each room of the historic home at 914 Division Street. Tour guests vote for ‘People’s Choice’ while a ‘Best of Theme’ is chosen by staff and volunteers for small cash prizes to benefit charity.
Self-guided tours will be offered from 12 to 3 p.m., and guided tours are available on Fridays and Saturdays at 1 pm. Self-guided tours are $15 per person, $12 for seniors, military, and students age 6 to 18 (5 and under are free). Guided tours are $20 per person and last approximately one hour.
The Moss is closed Nov. 22, 23. The home is always closed on Mondays.
Run! Turkey Run
Run! Turkey Run — 9 a.m. Thanksgiving day, Thursday, Nov. 22. 5k and 1-mile road races in downtown Billings. Proceeds go to Meals on Wheels, Family Service Inc., The Billings Backpack Program and The MSU Billings Yellowjacket Emergency Pantry. For information, go to http://www.runturkeyrun.org.
Holiday Parade — 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 23. The parade is a longtime tradition for the community to usher in the holiday season on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Typically, more than 100 floats are decorated. This year's theme is “Peace on Earth.” The parade follows the regular route downtown. Learn more at downtownbillings.com/holiday-parade.
Billings Symphony’s Nutcracker Ballet
“The Nutcracker” ballet — 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 24, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 25. The ballet will be staged at the Alberta Bair Theater, 2801 Third Ave. N. The ballet features the San Diego Ballet and Billings Symphony Orchestra and Chorale, under the direction of Ming Luke. “The Nutcracker” has been a Billings Thanksgiving weekend tradition for more than 30 years. More than 80 local ballet students and members of local children’s choruses will participate. Tickets are $53.50, $48.50, $33.50, $28.50. Learn more by phoning 406-256-6052 or visiting albertabairtheater.org.
Cirque Musica Holiday presents "Wonderland" — 7 p.m. on Nov. 27 at Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark. Tickets are $35, $45, $65 and $85. The cast of Cirque Musica perform along with your favorite holiday songs performed by a live symphony orchestra. Tickets are available at metrapark.com.
Polar Express at the Billings Depot
Polar Express at the Billings Depot — 6 p.m. Nov. 29-30, Dec. 6-7; 12 and 4 p.m. Dec. 1 and 8; 1 p.m. Dec. 2 and 9. The historic train station transforms into a winter wonderland where children in footie pajamas snuggle on a fuzzy red rug, as a children's theater production brings the classic holiday tale to life. Kids get to have their picture taken with Santa, too. The cost is $18 per adult, $26 per child and $5 per infant under 1 year old. Everything is included in the ticket price, even the professional photo with Santa. For more information: billingsdepot.org.
Festival of Trees
Festival of Trees — MetraPark Expo Center. The annual fundraiser for the Family Tree Center includes:
A gala and live auction, 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 29. Cost is $75 per person. To RSVP, call 252-9799.
Tea in the Trees, 1-3 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30. Cost is $10 in advance, $12 at the door.
Tree viewing, 3-8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30, and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1. Cost is $3 per person or $10 per family (2 adults).
This massive event features a winter wonderland of decorated trees and wreaths, a craft show, many children’s activities and entertainment from choral and dance groups. For more information visit
Elf The Musical at Billings Studio Theatre
Elf The Musical — Billings Studio Theatre, 1500 Rimrock Road, Nov. 30-Dec. 2, Dec. 6-9, 13-16, 20-22. Show times are Thursday, Friday, Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Tickets are $22 for adults, $20 for students/seniors/military.
Rescued and Reclaimed Country Christmas
Rescued and Reclaimed Country Christmas antique and salvage market — 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 1 at the Montana Pavilion. Admission is $5. There will be dealers from all over the state of Montana and Wyoming presenting for sale their finest repurposed, rusty, shabby chic, primitive, vintage and antique items. For information call 670-5459 or 656-1111 or visit www.facebook.com/rescuedandreclaimed.
“A Christmas to Remember”
“A Christmas to Remember” — Sunday, Dec. 2. The daylong celebration features a craft show, community bazaar, musical entertainment and children activities from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Laurel Middle School, 725 Washington; a tour of local organizations’ Christmas trees from noon to 2 p.m. at The Crossings, 600 Roundhouse Drive; and a parade with fireworks and Santa, beginning at 5:15 p.m. at Altana Bank. For information contact Jean Carroll Thompson at 248-8557.
Cruising for Christmas lights
Cruising for Christmas lights — From traditions like Christmas Wreath Lane and Candy Cane Lane to individual homes that have been decked out for the holidays, Billings has a lot of opportunities to see elaborate Christmas light displays. For up-to-date information as the season continues, visit Billings Christmas Lights on Facebook.
Santa Shuffle — 10 a.m. Dec. 1 at Riverfront Park. The 5K run/walk will start and finish at the Riverfront Park Shelter and Fire Place area and loops around Norm Schoenthal Island. There will be a fun Santa Hat for the first 100 participants and a warm fire and hot cocoa served by the Salvation Army. This year’s run supports the Billings Salvation Army. More information
Holiday Pint Night at Last Chance Cider Mill and Pub
Holiday Pint Night — 5 p.m. Dec. 4, at Last Chance Cider Mill and Pub, 2203 Montana Ave. For every pint of beer or cider purchased, $1 goes to NOVA's Youth Conservatory. The evening includes improv, raffles and entertainment.
ArtWalk and Christmas Stroll
Christmas Stroll and holiday ArtWalk — 6-9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7, in downtown Billings. This Billings tradition includes gift shopping, strolling through downtown businesses, horse-drawn carriage rides, refreshments, and photos with Santa from 4-6 pm. at the Northern Hotel. Learn more at artwalkbillings.com and downtownbillings.com.
Community Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony
Community Christmas tree lighting — 6 p.m. Dec. 7 at Community Park on Division Street. There will be free hot cocoa and candy canes (while they last) at the free event, as well as Christmas music, and a visit from Santa.
'Miracle on 34th Street' radio play
The "Miracle on 34th Street" live radio play will be presented by local talent in the Main Hall at Moss Mansion at 7 p.m. on Dec. 7 and 8, 2 p.m. on Dec. 9, 7 p.m. on Dec. 15 and 2 p.m. on Dec. 16. Reservations are $35 per person and can be made by phone (406-256-5100) or online at www.mossmansion.com/calendar. Seating is limited.
"A Christmas Carol" at the NOVA Center for Performing Arts
"A Christmas Carol" — Dec. 7-9, 14-16 at the NOVA Center for Performing Arts, 2317 Montana Ave. This Charles Dickens classic contains a number of themes: forgiveness, compassion, choices, family, guilt and memories to name just a few.The most evident of all of these is probably the change Ebenezer Scrooge experiences because of the spirits he encounters. This production is presented in a new way with both children and adults. Purchase tickets at
"Twas A Girls Night Before Christmas"
"Twas A Girls Night Before Christmas" — 7:30 p.m. Dec. 14 at the Alberta Bair Theater. This musical is guaranteed to resonate with anyone who has survived the holiday season, from the long visits with in-laws to the overcrowded malls. Tickets are $55, $45, $37 and $25 for students. They can be purchased at www.albertabairtheater.org.
Last Chance Christmas
Last Chance Christmas Bazaar — 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 7 at the Shrine Auditorium, 1125 Broadwater Ave. More than 70 vendors sell their wares at this free event.
Take a drive on the wild side this holiday season and enjoy ZooLights at ZooMontana, 2100 S. Shiloh Road. Cars, trucks and buses can drive through a section of the zoo so the passengers can enjoy the delightful holiday light display while listening to festive music.
This year, ZooLights will be open from 6 to 9 p.m. December 7-8, 14-15, 19-24 and 26-27. Admission costs $10 per car, $15 per van and $20 per bus. Zoo members receive $2 off the cost of admission.
Elk River Outfitters will offer wagon rides through ZooLights this year. There will be two wagons running that seat approximately 16 people each and are pulled by a team of working draft horses. Bring your group and fill a wagon or join others as you see the lights and enjoy a festive evening. The cost is $12.95 for adults, $6.95 for children 12 and under, and free for kids 2 and under. Reservations are recommended. Buy tickets online at
Holiday Tour of Homes
Holiday Tour of Homes — 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 8. The Billings Symphony Orchestra and Chorale coordinates with homeowners around Billings to showcase festive homes and music. Tickets are $25. Tickets can be purchased by calling 252-3610, online at billingssymphony.org/holiday-tour-homes, or at Gainan’s, The Base Camp, First Montana Title, Cricket Clothing Co., Wetzel’s Quality Cleaners, and Berkshire Hathaway Home Services/Floberg Real Estate.
"A Christmas Story" with Longmire Author Craig Johnson
"A Christmas Story" with Craig Johnson — 5 p.m. Dec. 8 at This House of Books, 224 N. Broadway. The "Longmire" author will read his special Christmas story, hold a Q&A with the audience, and sign copies of his newest book "Depth of Winter.:
Happy HoliZooDays — 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 8 at ZooMontana. Visit the animals and do some holiday shopping and taste testing at the Wild Side Gift Shop while the kids do a craft. Free photos with Santa from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. $5 admission all weekend (free for members). If there is snow, bring the sleds!
“Holiday Pops: Diane Penning”
“Holiday Pops: Diane Penning” — Billings Symphony Orchestra and Chorale’s “Holiday Pops” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 15, at the Alberta Bair Theater.
Christmas party at Art House Cinema and Pub
Christmas movie with trivia — 6-9 p.m. Dec. 17. Art House Cinema and Pub will host a Christmas party with food, drinks and a Christmas movie with scene-it style trivia throughout the film. Ticket are $45 per person and include a full appetizer/dessert bar, two drink tickets for beer/wine and admission to the movie. Non-alcohol tickets are $39 per person.
Santa flies over Billings
Santa's flight — The Blain family has a long-standing tradition of flying over Billings with holiday lights and Santa in tow on Christmas Eve. "Santa" usually flies for 30 to 40 minutes over Lockwood, Billings and Laurel.
The tradition was started in 1981 by Gerhart Blain, father of Al and Gary, with help from community members. Stacey Robinson created the Santa Claus design on the light-up display that will be towed by the helicopter with a 100-foot cable.
Play Clue at the Moss Mansion
Clue game at Moss Mansion — New Year's Eve. The rooms of the mansion become the scene of the crime, and each guest/character will investigate as they mingle. Watch out, though – you could be the next victim! The game begins at 8 p.m. with a briefing on the rules, character assignments and dispersal of investigation material. Players must be 18.
A family-friendly, G-rated version will be played at 2 p.m. Children ages 12 and older accompanied by an adult can play. Reservations for both games are $30 per person and can be made at
Noon Year's Eve at ZooMontana
Noon Year's Eve — 11 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 31 at ZooMontana. This kid-friendly New Year celebration features crafts, animal encounters and a ball dropping with a celebration toast of apple juice at noon. If there is snow, guests can sled on the hills in Bison Field. The zoo will be open regular hours, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with regular admission prices. Admission is free for members.