Holiday celebrations in the Black Hills

“The holidays” — it means something different to every individual. For some it is a time for tradition and others this time of year is an opportunity to make new memories with our loved ones. We’ve compiled a little something for everyone with a list of time-honored Black Hills traditions and perhaps something new to try this holiday season.

The Holiday Express

Photo courtesy of 1880 Train

Experience the magic of a round trip journey to the North Pole. The one-hour train ride will leave from Hill City and lead travelers to the North Pole, where Santa will board the train and ride back to Hill City taking the time to visit with each child along the way. Passengers enjoy hot cocoa, a sugar cooking and a special story on the way to the North Pole. Also, Santa hands out a special gift to each child on the journey home. The 1880 Holiday Express train is a local favorite and a must-do for visitors, traveling through the Black Hills and getting into the holiday spirit is anticipated every year by the whole family. For dates and boarding times of the Holiday Express check out their website HERE.

Ice skating at Main Street Square

The Main Street Square Ice Rink is a great gathering place for the entire family during the colder months in the heart of Downtown Rapid City. Locals look forward to making lifelong memories with friends and family while skating on the outdoor rink larger than the one at Rockefeller Center. On Saturday, Dec. 14 the Main Street Square big screen will be showing the movie “Elf” where you can cozy up to the fire pit or skate to your favorite scenes. The ice rink also is having an ugly sweater skate party on Friday, Dec. 20. Entertainment, prizes and more will make the night fun for all ages. On Christmas Eve the ice rink provides special hours, open from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. For a complete list of skating activities at Main Street Square, visit their website HERE.

Storybook Island

Photo courtesy of Storybook Island Facebook

Every year, Storybook island lights up the park for the Holidays. Stroll through the Christmas wonderland and the children can visit Santa. This has been a local favorite for years due to the beauty of lights at every corner of the park, the whole family can appreciate the magic of the season. Admission is $3 per person, and you can ride the train through the park for $2 per person. For a list of dates, visit their website HERE.

10th Annual Black Hills Cowboy Christmas at the Homestake Opera House

Photo courtesy of Historic Homestake Opera House Society.

This is one of the area’s most highly anticipated events of the year. Nearly 1,500 guests travel from across the region to enjoy 15 award-winning musicians, singers, and storytellers for this concert and dance. Their stage is filled with 30 majestic towering ponderosa pines and white aspens, plus performers and instruments including a grand piano. Following the evening performance, dance to down-home country music until 11:00 p.m. They are featuring a matinee at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday Dec. 14, and evening shows on both Saturday and Sunday Dec. 15 at 7:30 p.m. Find tickets by visiting the Homestake Opera House’s website HERE.

Custer State Park Festival of Trees


Custer State Park is hosting its Third Annual Festival of Trees to celebrate the holiday season. Local businesses, civic organizations, and individuals display their trees at the new Custer State Park Visitor Center until Jan. 1, 2020. Have the chance to view the creative displays and vote on your favorite tree. Local residents look forward to this new yearly tradition because it is the perfect event to get the whole family into the holiday spirit, support local organizations and maybe spark some creative ideas for your own tree decorations.

New Year’s Eve in Deadwood

Photo courtesy of Deadwood Chamber of Commerce

Celebrate the New Year in Historic Deadwood. They feature live bands, nightclub music, drink specials, and tons of giveaways up and down their cobblestone streets. At midnight, bid farewell to 2019 as the ball drops at the veranda of the Historic Franklin Hotel on Main Street, a Deadwood tradition that locals have come to know and love. Check out some of the specials and events at this link.

This article is a sponsored content piece brought to you by Fort Hays Chuckwagon Supper & Show, a proud supporter of local tourism. For the past 40 years Fort Hays has been a destination for visitors to the Black Hills to experience the “old west” firsthand through authentic cuisine and hands-on demonstrations.

“My father created Fort Hays because he recognized people were coming to the Black Hills to see the ‘old west’ but the ‘old west’ is gone. We are keeping the old ways alive, providing a piece of the west that is otherwise gone,” said Clint Jones, owner of Fort Hays.

The Jones family has what can only be described as deep roots in the Black Hills as Jones explained his family has been here “forever”. He went on to say that his great-great-grandfather was the first superintendent of schools in Rapid City and the towns first Presbyterian minister. His connection to the history of the Black Hills area and passion for supporting others in the industry inspired the support of content pieces such as this.

Jones also stressed the importance of supporting tourism in South Dakota year-round, “Tourism is the second largest industry in the state and there is always something to do or see in the Black Hills area whether you are visiting in December or July.”

Categories: Local News