It’s that time of year when the holiday spirit is everywhere. But, sometimes, it seems like we end up going to the same holiday events as last year. Looking for something new to do with the family this holiday season? The Dallas Morning News has some ideas to change up our holiday plans.
The top places to see Christmas lights and other holiday displays in Dallas-Fort Worth
Find sparkling displays and attractions across North Texas
The holidays in Dallas-Fort Worth are always bright with sparkling light displays shining across the area. At the Galleria, shoppers can gaze at what may be America’s tallest indoor Christmas tree. And in Grand Prairie, a drive-through attraction features around 4 million twinkling bulbs plus several new highlights this year. Other spots such as the George W. Bush Presidential Center also show holiday spirit with special displays. Here’s a roundup of places to catch holiday lights and cheer.
Centennial Park Lights
FREE The Irving Parks and Recreation Department creates a winter wonderland at this downtown park decorated with 60,000 lights winding around trees, fences, a bridge and walkways. In some spots, the lights create reflections in Delaware Creek, which runs through the park. Take a leisurely stroll while enjoying the display in this quiet park.
Dec. 7-25, nightly from dusk till 10, weather permitting, at Centennial Park, 444 W. Second St., Irving. Free. irvingevents.org.
Christmas in the Square
FREE More than 175,000 lights blink to holiday music in downtown Frisco. Visitors can drive through and turn their radios to 107.3 FM for the holiday tunes. For those who’d like to walk through the display, music will be played on speakers throughout the square. The event also includes the Skate the Square outdoor ice rink through Jan. 6, which costs $12 per person, including skates. And the Christmas Tree Maze will be back, with a path through about 250 flocked Christmas trees inside a tent. The maze is $8 per person.
Nov. 29-Dec. 31, nightly from 6 to 10, at Frisco Square, Main Street and Coleman Boulevard, Frisco. Free admission; some attractions require a fee. friscosquare.com/cits.
Dallas Zoo Lights by Reliant
More than 1 million lights illuminate the ZooNorth section. Kids of all ages can enjoy animal-shaped lanterns, light sculptures, holiday performances, crafts, animal encounters and, of course, Santa. New attractions this year include a forest of lighted holiday trees with a show set to music and a disco-themed strobe light display in the Wilds of Africa tunnel. The lights are on from 5 to 9 p.m. You can also visit the zoo during the day and stay without paying extra for the nighttime fun.
Through Jan. 5 on select nights at the Dallas Zoo, 650 S. R.L. Thornton Freeway, Dallas. $17 for adults, $14 for ages 3-11 and 65 and up, free for kids 2 and under. Parking is $10 per car. dallaszoo.com.
FREE Towering in the middle of a skating rink at Galleria Dallas stands what is said to be America’s tallest indoor Christmas tree, sparkling with nearly half a million lights and more than 10,000 ornaments. Starting Nov. 29, the tree’s daily Illumination Celebration light shows will be set to music. And on Grand Tree Lighting dates, free ice shows will feature Missile Toes, a Santa who shoots sparks from his skates and does back flips. Find more lights on Level 3, where 44 palm trees are wrapped in 50,000 lights. Lots of family festivities are scheduled throughout the season.
The tree is up through Jan. 5 at Galleria Dallas, 13350 Dallas Parkway. Most special events begin Nov. 29 and end Dec. 24. For a detailed schedule, go to galleriadallas.com.
Gift of Lights at Texas Motor Speedway
Texas Motor Speedway turns into a winter wonderland for this annual drive-through attraction, which stretches 2 miles and features nearly 3 million LED lights. There’s also a Santa’s Village with train rides, photos with Santa (through Dec. 24) and ice skating, all for small fees. This annual holiday event benefits local charities including the Ronald McDonald House of Fort Worth, KLTY-FM (94.9)’s Christmas Wish and Speedway Children’s Charities.
Through Jan. 5, nightly from 6 to 10, at 3545 Lone Star Circle, Fort Worth. $30 per car or truck, $50-$60 for larger vehicles. $2 off for first responders and military with ID or per car donating five canned goods. giftoflightstexas.com.
Holiday at the Arboretum
The Dallas Arboretum’s centerpiece holiday exhibit, “The 12 Days of Christmas,” is back. Visitors can stroll along a three-quarter-mile stretch to view 12 glass-encased gazebos that depict scenes from each verse of the popular holiday carol. The gazebos are decorated in Victorian style with whimsical animals and mechanical characters that move to festive music. At night, the displays are lighted, holiday music plays throughout the gardens, and visitors get a different experience with more than 1 million lights twinkling throughout the garden. A new Christmas Village includes more than a dozen 16- to 19-foot structures that visitors can enter. This year’s DeGolyer House exhibit is “Christkindlmarket Treasures,” with each room featuring Nativities, angels, nutcrackers and other items found in European Christmas markets.
The Dallas Arboretum is at 8525 Garland Road. dallasarboretum.org.
“The 12 Days of Christmas”: Through Dec. 31, daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Included with general garden admission: $17 for adults, $14 for seniors 65 and older, $12 for kids 2-12, free for kids younger than 2. Closed Dec. 25 and Jan. 1. Parking is $15 ($9 if purchased online in advance).
“The 12 Days of Christmas” at Night: Nov. 29-Dec. 29, on Wednesdays through Sundays from 6 to 9 p.m. $23 for adults, $18 for seniors 65 and older, $11 for kids 2-12, free for kids younger than 2. Closed Dec. 25. Parking is included with nighttime admission.
‘Holiday in the National Parks: Christmas at the White House 2007′
As an annual Christmas tradition, the president and first lady have chosen a theme for the White House holiday celebrations every year since 1961. In 2007, George W. and Laura Bush honored our nation’s landscapes and historical sites. This year, the George W. Bush Presidential Center revisits that decor, which features models of the Alamo, Mount Rushmore, the Frederick Douglass house, Spanish missions and more, as well as behind-the-scenes photos of the first lady’s 31 visits and 45 events in support of our national parks. Another treat is the replica of the official White House Blue Room Christmas tree, which will be adorned with 347 gold ball ornaments, each hand-painted by a National Parks artisan to reflect park treasures.
Through Jan. 5 at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, 2943 SMU Blvd., Dallas. Closed Dec. 25 and Jan. 1. Tickets are $16 for adults, $14 for ages 13-17, $13 for seniors 62 and older, $10 for children 5-12, free for children 4 and younger. bushcenter.org.
Holiday in the Park
The holiday spirit comes to Six Flags Over Texas as the park is filled with millions of twinkling lights wrapped around trees and along rooftops. One highlight is Lone Star Lights, “an animated holiday lights presentation filled with music and dazzling visual displays.” Guests can also take a sled down a snow hill, warm up by fire pits and shop at holiday markets. The park also offers seasonal performances, photos with Santa, Christmas-inspired funnel cakes and, of course, lots of rides.
Through Jan. 5 on select days at Six Flags Over Texas, 2201 Road to Six Flags, Arlington. At the gate, tickets are $84.99, $69.99 for kids under 48 inches, free for kids 2 and younger. Discounts available on the website. Parking is $30. sixflags.com/overtexas.
Lone Star Christmas
The Gaylord Texan’s 16th annual holiday celebration includes 2 million lights decorating its atriums, a 54-foot Christmas tree, a large outdoor skating rink, an eight-lane snow tubing hill and “Ice!,” the freezing but popular indoor exhibit of ice sculptures. This year, “Ice!” features the only theme to ever be repeated because of popular demand: “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” About 2 million pounds of ice has been hand-carved into sculptures of Charlie Brown and his friends, festive holiday scenes and five two-story ice slides. The resort also offers breakfast with Charlie Brown, a Snoopy scavenger hunt, gingerbread cookie decorating, Mrs. Claus storytime and an ice bar for adults 21 and older.
“Ice!” continues through Jan. 5 in Longhorn Exhibit Hall B at the Gaylord Texan, 1501 Gaylord Trail, Grapevine. Tickets are timed, and prices, which vary by date, start at $23.99 for ages 12-54, $14.99 for children 4-11, free for children 3 and under. Prices for other activities vary; viewing the Lone Star Christmas decorations is free. Parking is $15 per car. christmasatgaylordtexan.com.
The Modern Lights
FREE The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth and its tree-dotted grounds will be illuminated for the season. Most days, the museum closes before dark, but it’s open Tuesdays until 7 p.m. and Fridays until 8 p.m. Gallery admission is free on Fridays. Cafe Modern, which has dining room views of the display, is open on Tuesdays in December (except Christmas Eve) until 7 p.m. for “Lights, Flights and Bites” and on Fridays from 5 to 8:30 p.m. for “Dinner With Lights.” For reservations, call 817-840-2157.
Nov. 29-Feb. 2, nightly from 5 to midnight at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, 3200 Darnell St., Fort Worth. Free gardens admission; prices vary for gallery admission and dinners. themodern.org.
The Hilton Anatole transforms its outdoor park into a winter wonderland with light displays, train rides, interactive family entertainment, North Pole miniature golf, cookie decorating, a teddy bear factory, face painting and more. There will also be nightly tree lightings.
Nov. 29-Dec. 23 on Fridays, Saturdays and select dates from 5 to 9 p.m. at the Hilton Anatole, 2201 N. Stemmons Freeway, Dallas. $24.95, $19.95 for children 3-17, free for children 2 and younger. Some activities are included in the ticket price; others require coupons. peppermintpark.info.
Four million lights twinkle along a 2-mile path at this drive-through holiday attraction, which offers new displays in shapes of all kinds. Half way through, visitors can hop out at the Holiday Village to view the updated Holiday Magic Lighted Walk-Through Forest and a new Indoor Holiday Show, both included in general admission. Holiday Village also includes carnival rides, photos with Santa (through Dec. 23), concessions and a gift shop.
This whimsical, immersive holiday display in the Plaza at Preston Center includes photo op-ready seasonal scenes, six photo booths and Christmas costumed characters. Share selfies at social media stations or pay extra to print favorites in the gift shop. Organizers say to allow an hour for touring the exhibit, which has timed entry.
‘The Trains at NorthPark’
NorthPark Center has its share of lights and trees, but one of its most popular displays is “The Trains at NorthPark,” an elaborate model train exhibit set up in its own room. Admission benefits the Ronald McDonald House of Dallas. Free events and activities at the shopping center include Sights and Sounds of the Season holiday performances; Scrooge Puppet Theatre, Santa’s Toy Shoppe Puppet Theatre and the Twelve Days of Christmas Clock, starting Nov. 29; and, starting Dec. 10, Gingertown Dallas, a display that looks good enough to eat.
“The Trains at NorthPark” is on display through Jan. 5 on Level 2 between Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom at NorthPark Center, 8687 N. Central Expressway, Dallas. $7, $4 for children 2-12 and seniors 65 and up, free for children younger than 2. thetrainsatnorthpark.com.
FREE Stroll through Vitruvian Park’s 12 acres to see over 550 illuminated trees wrapped in 1.5 million sparkling LED lights. The lights will be turned on Nov. 29 at 6 p.m. and will be on nightly through Jan. 1. A Magical Night of Lights celebrations with live music, photos with Santa, food trucks and more will be Dec. 7 and 14 from 6 to 10 p.m.
Nov. 29-Jan. 1, nightly from 5 to 11 at 3966 Vitruvian Way, Addison. Free admission. Parking is free at Vitruvian Park and Bella Lane, Park Road and Ponte Avenue parking lots, except for event nights, when it’s $10 cash at the park and Alfred J. Loos Sports Complex, 3815 Spring Valley Road. vitruvianpark.com.
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