Your ultimate holiday guide to Christmas lights and displays, Tree lightings and Festivals, Concerts, Nutcrackers and Carolers, and so much more.
Christmas Lights & Holiday Displays
Fair Park becomes a Holiday Wonder from Nov. 21 through Jan. 7, the fairgrounds filled with Christmas-themed Chinese lanterns, illuminated for the holidays. Santa’s scheduled to be on site, along with an impressively sized Christmas tree and glowing swans in the Fair Park pond. Activities include a “snowball throw,” a slide, food, and a holiday market. Tickets are $12 for kids, $20 for adults.
To see Highland Park’s finest homes gussied up for Christmas, hop in the car and drive into the neighborhood at Armstrong and Preston. Alternately, book a carriage ride (starting at $175) that loads up at Knox and Cole and takes you to see the HP lights. Highland Park Christmas carriages run from Nov. 24 through Dec. 31.
Speaking of carriage rides, the same company offers tours of Deerfield, a Plano neighborhood known for its Christmas lights, and downtown Dallas, which is presently sparkling for the holidays.
From Nov. 17 through Jan. 7, Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie flips the switch on its Magical Winter Lights, a “multicultural” holiday festival full of themed lighted and lanterned areas including “Dionsaur Land,” “Christmas Candy Land,” and “Mystery of the East.” When you’re not walking around and marveling at the decorations, you can catch a Chinese acrobatic show or hit the carnival at this big celebration, a sort of wintery State Fair. Tickets are $13 for kids, $1 for adults.
The Gaylord Texan resort and Convention Center in Grapevine has already kicked off its Lone Star Christmas, which runs through Jan. 1. This covers an outdoor ice skating rink, indoor snow tubing (yes, really), Santa Claus appearances, a build-a-bear workshop, and other Christmasy activities. But the main highlight, as always, is ICE!, a refrigerated walkable attraction featuring lots of fun, vibrant, and brilliantly colorful ice sculptures. This year’s ICE! theme is “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,” which is fitting. Tickets range from $20 to $30.
Your favorite flowers may not be in bloom, but the Dallas Arboretum is as beautiful as ever decorated for the 12 Days of Christmas, with exhibits in gazebos mirroring the action of the holiday song. Those exhibits are up through Jan. 7. And from now through Dec. 30, on evenings Wednesday through Sunday, the Arboretum will be open at night so you can see the botanical gardens illuminated by Christmas lights.
Vitruvian Park in Addison gets distinctly more magical starting on Nov. 24 (through Jan. 1) with the Vitruvian Lights, a rainbow of Christmas decorations to turn your walk through the park into something wonderful. Special musical performances at the park fall on Nov. 24, Dec. 2, and Dec. 9. Entry is free.
From Nov. 17 through Jan. 2, on weekend nights and certain weeknights, the Dallas Zoo celebrates the holidays with Dallas Zoo Lights. Once the animals turn in for the evening, a switch is flipped, illuminating overhead lights and custom-made 3D light sculptures. A special music-set holiday light show is planned, as well as live entertainment. The holiday festivities are from 5 to 9 p.m. on certain nights.
Six Flags goes big on the lights and decorations, and probably throws a Santa hat or something on Yosemite Sam, for its Holiday in the Park on select days from Nov. 17 through Jan. 7.
Drive through more than 4 million lights in Grand Prairie with Praire Lights, a wonderful Christmas course at Lynn Creek Park by Joe Pool Lake. Halfway through, park and hop out to go get a pic with Santa at the holiday village, stroll through the “lighted walk-thru forest,” and mosey through the snow maze. Prairie Lights runs from Thanksgiving through Dec. 31. Tickets range from $30 to $40 a car.
With Enchant, the “world’s largest outdoor Christmas light maze” and market fill Lot F of Globe Life Park in Arlington from Nov. 24 through Dec. 31.
The Farmers Branch Tour of Lights is a drive-through display in Farmers Branch, with lights on every night between Nov. 24 and Dec. 30. Cars should start the tour at I-35 and Valley View Lane. A suggested $5 donation is welcome.
We’re also fond of the neighborhood decorations of the Interlochen Lights (Dec. 15-25) in Arlington.
Drive slow at Texas Motor Speedway to appreciate the Gift of Lights, the drive-through light park that begins Nov. 23 and continues through Dec. 30.
Fort Worth’s most popular, and as far as we know, only outdoor ice skating rink opens at Panther Island Pavilion on Nov. 17. Panther Island Ice runs through Jan. 15.
The Trains at NorthPark are back for the popular exhibition’s 30th anniversary. The exhibition, raising money for the Ronald McDonald House of Dallas, runs from Nov. 18 through Jan. 7 on NorthPark’s second level, between Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus.
NorthPark has a dizzying number of other events on deck for the holidays. Santa’s posted up in his cottage for photos from Nov. 24 through Dec. 24. Scheduled performances feature the Turtle Creek Chorale (Nov. 30), Bruce Wood Dance (Dec. 2), the Dallas Symphony Orchestra Christmas Pops (Dec. 7), the Metropolitan Winds (Dec. 9), and the Dallas Ballet Center (Dec. 16). Make a donation at the Salvation Army Angel Tree (through Dec. 6), meet Rudolph at the Reindeer Park and Festival (Nov. 24), watch the Scrooge Puppet Theatre (Nov. 24-Dec. 24), or try one of these other activities.
The Galleria’s Christmas tree, apparently the tallest indoor Christmas tree in the U.S., is already standing tall at the mall’s skating rink. A “grand tree lighting celebration” will take place Nov. 24, and then every Saturday through Dec. 16, each featuring Olympic gold medalists or other incredible nationally recognized skaters. A light show, synchronized to music, flits across the tree every day (Nov. 24 through Dec. 24) at noon, 2, 4, 6, and 8 p.m. Elsewhere at the Galleria, Slappy’s Holiday Circus has several carnival-esque family-friendly shows on Nov. 24 and then every Saturday through Dec. 23. Live shows are scheduled through Christmas, and from Dec. 12 through 20, every day another candle is lit on a large Menorah for Chanukah. (A full accounting of holiday events at the Galleria can be found here.)
Parades & Tree Lightings & Festivals
Klyde Warren Park lights its tree after a day of live holiday music, a Santa and Mrs. Claus joint appearance, and other activities on Dec. 2. Once the tree is lit, walk around the Arts District for the AT&T Performing Arts Center’s Reliant Lights Your Holidays, a concert, light show, and then fireworks from Sammons Park.
On Dec. 10, the Latino Cultural Center will host a posada, a Mexican tradition that reenacts Mary and Joseph’s trip to Bethlehem and their search for an inn. Live entertainment will follow the procession for Posada Dallas.
The Denton Holiday Lighting Festival brings Christmas to that city’s square on Dec. 1.
Fort Worth celebrates Christmas in the Stockyards on Dec. 2 with a cattle drive and gunfight show, as well as some less-cowboy-oriented holiday activities.
Fort Worth lights up the big Christmas tree at Sundance Square on Nov. 18.
Fort Worth’s downtown Parade of Lights is Nov. 19.
The Shops at Legacy lights its tree on Nov. 19.
Grapevine, self-proclaimed Christmas capital of Texas, goes big for the holiday. Downtown alone, there’s the Carol of Lights on Nov. 20, the Parade of Lights on Dec. 7, and a nightly light show spectacular from Nov. 22 through Jan. 7.
Downtown McKinney’s Home for the Holidays festival runs from Nov. 24 through 26.
Frisco lights up its downtown tree on Dec. 2. And Frisco’s Christmas in the Square keeps the holiday cheer in the city from Nov. 24 through Dec. 31, with manufactured “snow flurries” on Fridays and Saturdays, an outdoor ice rink, and neat Christmas lights.
Light Up Lowest Greenville on Nov. 25 with a tree lighting, drink samples, and a Santa appearance.
Christmas revelers will Light Up Oak Lawn Park (FKA Lee Park) on Nov. 28.
The Plano Lions Christmas Parade is on Dec. 9.
Arlington’s Holiday Lights Parade glows through downtown Arlington on Dec. 9.
Dallas Heritage Village is lined with candles, the historic buildings are decorated in (time period accurate?) holiday dress, carolers and performers walk the grounds, and other activities are planned for Candlelight on Dec. 9 and 10.
McKinney’s Parade of Lights is Dec. 9 in the city’s downtown.
The Richardson Christmas Parade is Dec. 2, starting at the Richardson Square shopping center and ending at Huffines ballfield.
The city of Garland presents Christmas on the Square on Dec. 7.
At McKinney’s Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary on Dec. 15 and 16, lights and decorations bring some holiday cheer to the beautiful nature path.