'Tis the Season: Ten Top Holiday Happenings Around Dallas

Photo courtesy of Christmas in the Square at Frisco Square
Photo courtesy of City of Richardson Parks & Recreation
Photo courtesy of The Hilton Anatole
Photo courtesy of Six Flags Over Texas Facebook
Photo courtesy of Dallas By Chocolate Tours
Photo courtesy of Prairie Lights Facebook
Photo courtesy of Holiday Wonder at Fair Park
Photo courtesy of Magical Winter Nights at Lone Star Park
Photo courtesy of Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden Facebook
Photo courtesy of Visit Grapevine
By Ilene Jacobs, Dallas Local Expert

It may not always be a white Christmas, but it's always a bright Christmas in Big D– where the city goes all out for the holidays. And for a perfect example, look no further than Prairie Lights, a drive-through holiday park that showcases one the most impressive Christmas light displays in North Texas. Want to see the city’s most decked-out neighborhoods in style? Then take a ride aboard a luxury van with Dallas By Chocolate Tours. Visit Clark Griswold-esque haunts and score scrumptious sweets from some of Dallas' most delicious dessert destinations. 

There's also nothing more enchanting than the magnificent gardens at the Dallas Arboretum– which celebrates the season with thousands of twinkling lights and elaborate Victorian gazebos filled with whimsical characters inspired by the story, A Christmas Carol.
 
And if any place knows how to let the good tidings roll, it's Grapevine. Dubbed the "Christmas Capital of Texas," this Dallas suburb boasts a wide variety of holiday events and attractions, including the largest lighted Christmas parade in North Texas.

We're just getting the party started, there's lots more seasonal fun to be had. From street festivals to Santa chats to snow hills, keep reading–10Best has your ultimate holiday spirit checklist all wrapped up.

10. Christmas in the Square at Frisco Square
Photo courtesy of Christmas in the Square at Frisco Square

Over 175,000 lights choreographed to music set the scene for Frisco's Christmas in the Square this year. And there's a sack-load of festive fun planned as well, including open-air carriage rides, an outdoor ice rink, a snow maze, trackless train rides, a tubing snow slide, live entertainment and even a parachuting Santa. The yuletide celebrations run daily from 6 to 10 p.m., November 24 through December 31, 2017. The skate rink will be open from November 18 through January 3 (except on Thanksgiving and Christmas). Note that many activities will only be available during the special event night on December 16. Admission is free, though some attractions require a fee. Oh, and there will be snow, at least the man-made kind, every Friday and Saturday through Christmas.

9. Santa's Village
Photo courtesy of City of Richardson Parks & Recreation

Every holiday season the City of Richardson transforms the lawn next to the city hall into a virtual winter wonderland, complete with extravagant lighting displays and miniature gingerbread-style houses offering a variety of fun-filled activities for kids to participate in. To top it off, there's also a miniature train, Santa photo ops and nightly live performances by local choirs, singers, musicians and dance groups. It's the perfect place to make the holiday season even more magical for your little ones, plus you can't beat the price (everything is free). The only drawback is that it's extremely popular, so expect to find crowds. The fun begins December 2 and runs on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights through December 17, 2017.

8. Christmas at the Anatole
Photo courtesy of The Hilton Anatole

Your fast track to getting in the holiday spirit begins with the ultimate Santa meet and greet experience. Kicking off the Friday after Thanksgiving, the Anatole puts on its epic Breakfast with Santa series, complete with a decadent brunch, Santa story time and of course, a visit with the jolly old fellow himself. And newly added this year is Peppermint Park, an outdoor interactive family holiday adventure that features live entertainment, light displays, miniature train rides, crafts, cookie decorating, dance parties, games and more. As if that's not enough action-packed holiday fun, Geppetto's Marionette Theater (located on the hotel property) is also putting on a special "Winter Wonderland" show that runs every weekend from November 25 through December 30, 2017. Better still, the hotel is offering family holiday getaway packages starting at $209 per night. But you don't need to be a hotel guest to get in on the fun, the activities are open to the public. Just be sure to check the website for more information on pricing and availability.

7. Six Flags Over Texas
Photo courtesy of Six Flags Over Texas Facebook

Millions of twinkling lights, thrilling rides, live performances, plus visits with Santa are what you'll find at Six Flags amusement park's massive tribute to festive fun. This year's Holiday in the Park features everything from a spectacular lineup of seasonal shows to a Christmas train ride and a racing hill made of snow. Along with the tallest steel hybrid roller coaster in the world and an assortment of rides to keep thrill seekers of all ages happy, expect to find reindeer dance parties, choreographed light shows, Christmas crafts, holiday karaoke and s'more cookouts around a real campfire. The festivities go on select days during the week and every weekend between November 17, 2017 and January 7, 2018.

6. Dallas By Chocolate Tours
Photo courtesy of Dallas By Chocolate Tours

We can't think of a more surefire way to get in a festive mood than by seeing holiday lights while indulging in hot cocoa and premium chocolates. Between November 24 and December 30, 2017, Dallas by Chocolate offers a Christmas Lights, Chocolate and Sips tour package that kicks off with a visit to a variety of top local desert venues before continuing on to view some seriously decked out 'hoods. The tours last from three to four hours and include transportation via private bus, dessert samples, beverages and a tour guide. Other holiday light tours on offer include a pizza and chocolate experience as well as a taco and margarita tasting. The tours are held every evening except Christmas Eve and Christmas and start at $43.

5. Prairie Lights
Photo courtesy of Prairie Lights Facebook

If you want to see as many lights as possible, this twinkling drive-through wonderland in the Dallas suburb of Grand Prairie never disappoints. Every year, folks pile in by the carload ($35 per car during the week and $45 on weekends) to cruise through four million lights and hundreds of custom displays set along 2 miles of path. The park also features a holiday village where you can hang with Santa; refuel with hot chocolate and snacks; enjoy an indoor laser show and trek through a lighted walk-through forest. And as if that weren't enough, the place boasts the world's largest animated light tunnel at the end of the drive. The park is open nightly (6-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 6-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday) from Thanksgiving night until December 31.

4. Holiday Wonder at Fair Park
Photo courtesy of Holiday Wonder at Fair Park

Fair Park gets in the holiday spirit this year as it debuts Holiday Wonder, a 17-acre winter wonderland featuring a two-story-tall arctic slide, live performances, international food, a holiday market and more than 2 million lights. Guests will also be treated to a snowflake corridor, a 48-foot-tall Christmas tree and illuminated displays made from lanterns. The festivities kick off November 21, 2017 and run daily through Jan. 7, 2018. Ticket are available both online and at the event. Prices are $20 for adults and $12 for children ages 3 to 12. There are also family value packs (2 adults and 2 children) available for $54.

3. Magical Winter Nights at Lone Star Park
Photo courtesy of Magical Winter Nights at Lone Star Park

Talking about spectacular holiday light displays. This year, Lone Star Park is being transformed into a massive winter wonderland featuring carnival rides, games, food, nightly acrobatic performances, and of course, photo ops with Santa. The event is an offshoot of Houston's annual lantern festival and holiday celebration, so expect to also find themed sections boasting larger-than-life Chinese lanterns in the form of everything from the Great Wall of China to well-known Dallas landmarks. The festival runs from November 17, 2017 to January 7, 2018. Tickets are available at the box office or you can save a few bucks by ordering online. Prices start at $13 (for seniors and children ages 4-12) and $21 (for adults 13-64). Wristbands good for unlimited carnival rides can also be purchased for $18 online with admission. Check the website for additional prices and daily schedules.

2. Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden
Photo courtesy of Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden Facebook

Though anytime of the year is magical at the Dallas Arboretum, this stunning 66-acre acre oasis becomes even more enchanting during the holidays when it undergoes a magnificent seasonal makeover. Along with over 500,000 lights illuminating the gardens, the Arboretum is bringing back its ever popular 12 Days of Christmas, an outdoor exhibit featuring twelve illuminated Victorian gazebos filled with elaborate scenes and whimsical characters. Meanwhile, the historic DeGolyer House will be decking the halls with more than 800 nutcracker figures, all part of this year's new exhibit, the "Nutcracker Suite." Also expect to find Santa sightings, musical performances, live reindeer, a holiday market and an assortment of activities geared for the entire family. Holiday events run from November 4, 2017 through January 8, 2018 and general admission ranges from $10 for children ages 3-12 to $15 for adults. Additional discounts are available on the venue's website.

1. Christmas in Grapevine, the Christmas Capital of Texas
Photo courtesy of Visit Grapevine

When it comes to getting folks into the ho-ho-holiday spirit, few places do it better than the Dallas suburb of Grapevine (AKA: the Christmas Capital of Texas). Beginning Thanksgiving weekend, the downtown area will transform into a magical dreamland filled with huge decorations and millions of twinkling lights. Expect to find over 1,400 daily events and activities, ranging from live street performances and tractor-drawn wagon rides to choreographed light shows, strolling carolers and parades. Additional holiday fun can be had with a ride on the Grapevine Vintage Railroad or a stroll through 14,000-square-feet of hand carved ice sculptures at ICE!–an annual event put on by the Gaylord Texan Hotel. The Gaylord's other holiday happenings include a Santa's snowball throwing workshop, snow tubing, gingerbread decorating, ice skating and more. Oh, and did we mention that Historic Downtown Grapevine has more than 80 locally-owned shops, boutiques and wine tasting rooms? Be sure to check the website to get the full schedule of all the events going on in town.