'Christmas Express' is theme for this year's 46th annual event

"Christmas Express" is the theme for this year's Christmas in the Hills, Hot Springs 46th annual event. A traditional start to the Southern Hills Christmas Season, the entire community is invited to take part on Dec. 1-2, 2023, for in these wonderful 'small town' festivities. There's something for everyone: a fun parade, Santa and Mrs. Claus, great food, shopping for handcrafted items with free gift wrapping, a quilt display and our wonderful free to the public concert, “Manger Melodies.”

Celebrate the season by enjoying this wonderful Christmas Musical Show for all ages and the Children’s Living Nativity at the Mueller Center Theater. Bring the whole family and join the holiday spirit in Hot Springs.

Friday, Dec. 1 Events 

Downtown Cookie Cruise (Sponsored by the Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce)

Anytime between 4:00 and 6:00 pm, visit stores participating in the Cookie Cruise to taste and judge cookies created by local bakers.  While tasting, check out their great merchandise to help you fill the wishes of those on your Christmas list.    

Downtown Business Window Decoration Contest

Sponsored by the Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce, enjoy beautifully decorated storefronts as you walk through downtown prior to visiting the American Legion to enjoy festive seasonal music and the Journey of Lights Parade. Light Up Our Town continues this year with a goal of 100% of all storefronts lit, so business owners be sure to complete your decorations by Friday, Dec. 1.  Judging categories are “Lightest and Brightest” and “Most Creative – Christmas Express”.

New Venue

The new venue for the Friday evening program will be at the American Legion. 

The Sandstone Singers will continue with Friday evening’s activities beginning at 4:30 pm inside the American Legion (1045 Jennings Ave.) event room. This musically talented group of local ladies will be performing their entire program of a variety of Christmas melodies for all to enjoy. 

The traditional tree lighting ceremony will take place inside the American Legion event room with Mayor Bob Nelson reading the Christmas Proclamation to kick off the official start of the Hot Springs Christmas season.

Santa & Mrs. Claus are scheduled to arrive at approximately 5:30 pm. Children of all ages will have the opportunity to visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus and share their Christmas wish lists. While Santa and Mrs. Claus are listening to excited children’s Christmas wishes, Floyd and Connie Gorsuch will entertain with additional Christmas songs. They have been part of our Friday evening program for several years and we appreciate their contribution to our festivities.

Complimentary cookies and beverages, sponsored by the American Legion Family group will be available for your enjoyment.

Journey of Lights Parade

The Journey of Lights Parade is sponsored by Black Hills Energy. Categories for parade entries include: 

• Best representation of theme “Christmas Express” (overall winner) 

• Brightest 

• Best non-profit/religious 

• Best business 

A cash prize of $50 will be awarded to one winner in each category and $100 to best overall, chosen by a three-judge panel. Clubs, service organizations, schools, churches, businesses, and interested parties are invited to participate. Please request your parade application by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  Participants must be lined up at the SD State Veterans Home driveway by 5:15 pm in order to be considered for a prize. The parade leaves the State Home promptly at 6:00 pm, circles the State Home building and then proceeds to 23rd St. travelling to University Ave. The parade will turn left and end at the intersection of University Ave. and Chicago St.  Please see map on this page.

Parade entrants and community are invited to the United Churches Fellowship Hall for a complimentary Soup Supper (also sponsored by Black Hills Energy) and the awards ceremony immediately after the parade.  Donations are requested from non-parade participants for the Soup Supper.

Saturday, Dec. 2 Crafters' Marketplace ($2 admission) and Food Court

Visit the Mueller Center (801 So. 6th St.) for a full day of fun and enjoy the decorations throughout the center celebrating “Christmas Express”.  Shop for a variety of handcrafted gifts for everyone on your list, then drop your treasures off at gift wrap. While you wait for your treasures to be wrapped, support our local food vendors, located in the lobby, by purchasing something for breakfast or lunch. Check out the impressive quilt display near the theater and if your children are with, stop in the theater to have their picture taken with Santa and Mrs. Claus.  

The Marketplace offers a variety of handcrafted items in a wide price range.  A number of the vendors are new this year.  The vendors’ products are beautiful, unique, high quality, handcrafted gifts for everyone on your list. These offerings include:  leather embossing, wood and metal art, fun gifts for kids including stuffed toys, dolls, clothes, nightgowns, mittens and scarves, wooden toys and South Dakota Rocking Buffalo. Additionally, there will be wood turned items including pens, seam rippers, coasters and more. There will be an assortment of jewelry, fine needlework, skin care products, hand painted items, machine embroidered kitchen and baby items, Christmas ornaments, holiday décor, candles, repurposed glass, photography, quilted items, knitted, sewn and crocheted items, purses, homemade jellies, salsas, mustards, baked goods, hot roasted pecans, cashews and almonds, fudge, and kettle corn and other assorted flavored popcorn, along with baskets made from a variety of materials. There will also be candy apples, outdoor decor, wreaths, small lighted trees and much more. Be sure to start your day at the CITH booth by signing up for the hourly door prize. Remember, you have to be present to win a door prize. 


Food Court at the Marketplace

Enjoy morning refreshments and or a tasty lunch in the beautifully decorated Food Court area.  There are many menu items to choose from with drinks available for purchase. Proceeds help support these local non-profit organizations. An inviting, decorated annex welcomes you to sit and visit with old and new friends while enjoying your meal.  The complete list of nonprofit community organizations and their delicious menu items are as follows:

Rotary of Hot Springs: Brats, Burgers and Soda 

Kiwanis of the Black Hills:            Buffalo Stew, Soup & Baked Goods with Coffee & Water

Lions Club: Donuts and Coffee             

Fall River Swim Team: Loaded Baked Potatoes, Candy, Soda & Water

The Masonic Lodge: Walking Tacos, Hot Chocolate and Soda

St. John’s Lutheran Church: Breakfast Burritos & Breakfast Rolls with Coffee & Juice

Pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus  

Children can have their pictures taken with Santa and Mrs. Claus from 10 am to 2 pm in the Theater.  The Fall River County 4-H Members Assembly will be providing this special opportunity. 

Carriage Rides

Need some fresh air and fun to help you decide on that final gift?  Take a horse-drawn carriage ride with Dan and Joyce Barcus.  Rides will begin around 10 am, weather permitting. 

Minnekahta Quilters’ Guild Display  

The Guild has been partnering with Christmas In The Hills for over 20 years. This year, they will be hanging quilts of all sizes along with other quilted items. Usually, a few special Christmas items are included in their display. This is an excellent show of our local quilters' talents. The guild will also hold its annual raffle for a quilt which will be on display. Raffle tickets will be available for purchase and the winner will be drawn at the conclusion of the show. 

“Manger Melodies”

A FREE Christmas Music Show – Mueller Center Theater 7:00 p.m.

Saturday evening, you are invited to enjoy a variety of Christmas entertainment for all ages at our 8th annual “Manger Melodies” show! This year’s entertainers will bring you the musical spirit of Christmas. Opening the show for Paul Larson, The Singing Cowboy and friends, will be The Legends Band, featuring members from the Legends of Dakota Country Music Hall of Fame: Donnie Williams, Katie Sprague, Pegie Douglas, Dan Chapman, and Roy Hendrickson. Brian powers will host as Master of Ceremonies for this special presentation. The ever-popular Children’s Living Nativity will be presented by “The Good News Club” from The United Churches. FREE ADMISSION for all!  

Fall River County Herald Star

EDGEMONT OFFICE: 410 2nd Avenue   Edgemont, SD 57735-0660 | 605.662.7201
HOT SPRINGS OFFICE: 334 S. Chicago St.  Hot Springs, SD 57747 | 605.745.3930
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