"Have yourself a merry little Christmas, let your heart be light.
Next year all of our troubles will be out of sight.
Have yourself a merry little Christmas, Make the yuletime gay.
Next year all your troubles will be miles away."
(Judy Garland, Meet Me in St. Louis)
A lawyer and his wife are raising a family of four girls and a boy in St. Louis, a city busily preparing for the Louis Purchase Fair (World's Fair) in 1903. The eldest daughter, Rose, expects a proposal from a local young man named Warren. The second daughter, Esther, played by Judy Garland, has a crush on the next door neighbour, John, played by Tom Drake.
The family's plans are upset when the father announces that they will be moving to New York City due to his work schedule. The children, however, do not want to leave their beloved St. Louis and they don't want to miss the upcoming World's Fair.
On Christmas Eve, the family is invited to an elegant ball. Esther is disappointed that John can't go since he has no tuxedo. However, her grandfather offers to escort her instead. At the ball,k Esther fills up a visiting girl's dance card with losers when she sees her as a rival to her sister Rose. Esther is pleasantly surprised when her neighbour, John, shows up after all and they dance the night away. Later in the evening, John proposes and Esther accepts.
Esther returns home to a distraught younger sister, Tootie. She calms her down with her rendition of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas". Tootie however becomes upset again at the prospect of the family moving to New York City and she runs out into the snow and starts destroying the snowmen in the family's yard. Esther consoles her amidst a family of snowmen.
The final scene features the family, complete with the two fiances,heading to the World's Fair in two carriages. Upon arrival the group gazes at the Grand Lagoon as the lights illuminate the grand pavilions.