'Tis the Season: Ten Top Holiday Happenings Around The Dallas Area

It may not always be a white Christmas, but it's always a bright Christmas around Big D– where the metroplex 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.

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.


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 annual Christmas in the Square this year. And there's a sack-load of festive fun planned as well, including carriage rides, an outdoor ice rink, an enchanted Christmas tree maze, a trackless train rides, live entertainment and even a parachuting Santa. The yuletide celebrations run daily from 6 to 10 p.m., November 23 through December 31, 2018. The skate rink will be open from November 23 through January 7 (except on Thanksgiving and Christmas). Admission is free, though some attractions require a fee.

Recommended for Holiday Attractions because: Frisco's Christmas on the Square is one of the only places in DFW where you can ice skate on an outdoor rink.

Ilene's expert tip: Check Facebook and Twitter for updates.

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

During the holidays the lawn next to the Richardson City Hall gets transformed into a dazzling Christmas village-- complete with walk-through, gingerbread-style houses featuring a variety of fun-filled activities for kids to participate in. And that's just the half of it. There's also a miniature train, Santa photo ops and nightly performances by local choirs, singers, musicians and dance groups. Better yet, the entry is free. The only drawback is that it's extremely popular, so expect to be braving some serious crowds. The fun begins December 1 and runs on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights through December 16, 2018.

Recommended for Holiday Attractions because: Santa's Village offers a heap of free festive fun for kids and little ones.

Ilene's expert tip: There is a concession stand offering hot chocolate and snacks. And restrooms are available inside the library building near the entrance.

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Christmas at the Anatole
Photo courtesy of Hilton Anatole

There's Christmas family fun aplenty at the Anatole this year. And the best part is you don't have to be a hotel guest to get in on the action. From November 23 to December 23, 2018, the hotel is home to Peppermint Park, an outdoor holiday playground that features endless light displays, magical train rides, a petting zoo, live entertainment, crafts, games, Santa visits and more. As if that's not enough to get everyone in a festive spirit, Geppetto's Marionette Theater (located in the basement of the hotel) is also putting on a special "Winter Wonderland" show that runs every weekend from Nov 24 to Dec 23. If you want to elevate the experience, the hotel is offering family getaway packages starting at $270 per night which includes breakfast with Santa as well as extra perks like movie nights and private Santa meet and greets. Check the website for more information on pricing and availability.

Recommended for Holiday Attractions because: Peppermint Park is a terrific place to take children ages 3 - 12 years.

Ilene's expert tip: Be sure to get your parking ticket validated if you dine here. Children's menus are available at all the hotel's restaurants.

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GeO-Deck the Halls at Reunion Tower
Photo courtesy of Reunion Tower

Of course, anytime is a good time to visit the city's most iconic landmark, but Reunion Tower's sky-high viewing platform becomes even more merrier at Christmastime. From November 24 to December 22, 2018-- the GeO-Deck will be featuring a slew of fun events, ranging from Ugly Sweater Bingo (December 11, from 7 to 8:30 p.m.) to encounters with furry friends from the Dallas Zoo (December 2, 7, 9 and 14 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.). There will also be kid's crafts and tasty treats at Cloud Nine as well as photo-ops with Santa and his elves (Saturdays from 12 to 3 p.m.). All the festivities are included with general admission tickets ($17 adults/$14 seniors/ $8 children ages 4-12).

Recommended for Holiday Attractions because: Reunion Tower's GeO-Deck is where to go for panoramic views of the city.

Ilene's expert tip: Save 40% or more general admission to the GeO-Deck plus 3 more top attractions with DALLAS CityPASS. Check the website for more information.

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South Dallas
Dallas Zoo Lights
Photo courtesy of Dallas Zoo Lights

Make the season even more magical for your little ones by heading over to this after dark holiday experience at the Dallas Zoo. While the zoo's furry friends snooze, wild animal light sculptures and over a million sparkling lights will ping into action, illuminating ZooNorth throughout the season. Along with light shows and nightly musical performances, guests can enjoy everything from ornament-making and scavenger hunts to animal encounters, holiday photos stops and Santa meet and greets. There will also be a carousel, mini-train rides and holiday treats on offer. The event takes place every weekend as well as select weeknights from November 16 to January 1, 2018. Check the website for dates and times. General admission to the zoo is $15 for adults (age 12-64) and $12 for children. Pro tip: Come before 4 p.m. to enjoy the animals, then stay for holiday festivities at night.

Recommended for Holiday Attractions because: The Dallas Zoo holiday festival offers fun entertainment for the entire family.

Ilene's expert tip: Dallas Zoo Lights tickets also includes general admission for the Zoo that day. Dallas Zoo is also one of the attractions offered on CityPASS.

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Six Flags Over Texas Holiday in the Park
Photo courtesy of Six Flags Over Texas

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 park is open on weekends as well as select days during the week between November 16 and December 30, 2018.

Recommended for Holiday Attractions because: Six Flags is a real treat for anyone feeling the spirit of the season.

Ilene's expert tip: Don't miss the parade 30 minutes before closing. You can also snag a great deal on admission by purchasing your tickets online before you go.

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Enchant Christmas
Photo courtesy of Dale Klippenstein

This Christmas season, Arlington's Globe Life Park is going to be even more festive with Enchant, a Texas-sized holiday festival featuring everything from Santa appearances and a Christmas artisans' market to an ice-skating trail and over 2 acres of lighted displays. Expect to also find holiday-themed food and drinks as well as nightly live music and entertainment. Oh, and speaking of light displays, Enchant is home to the world's largest holiday light maze. The festivities begin for the 2018 holiday period on November 23 and run through December 30. General admission tickets start at $19.99. Check the website for additional pricing options.

Recommended for Holiday Attractions because: Enchant offers a sleigh-full of holiday activity for the entire family.

Ilene's expert tip: Be sure to purchase tickets online in advance to assure you'll get in. Children ages 3 and under get in free and parking is free.

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Grand Prairie
Prairie Lights
Photo courtesy of Prairie Lights

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 30, 2018.

Recommended for Holiday Attractions because: Prairie Lights boasts one of the most spectacular holiday light displays in the Dallas area.

Ilene's expert tip: Plan on spending at two hours. Weekdays are less busy than weekends and try to arrive early when the lines are shorter.

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Holiday at the Arboretum
Photo courtesy of Dallas Arboretum

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 500 créches from over 50 countries, all part of this year's "The Artistry of the Nativity" exhibit. 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 9 through December 31, 2018. General admission ranges from $10 for children (ages 3-12) to $15 for adults. Additional discounts are available on the venue's website.

Recommended for Holiday Attractions because: The Arboretum is a magical place to visit during the holidays.

Ilene's expert tip: Buy one, get one admission every Wednesday through December 26 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

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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 found at the Gaylord Texan Hotel where visitors can stroll through 14,000-square-feet of hand carved ice sculptures at ICE! as well as enjoy everything from snow tubing to ice skating. 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 for the full schedule of all the events going down this season.

Recommended for Holiday Attractions because: Grapevine is always a hive of activity during the holidays.

Ilene's expert tip: Grapevine is located near DFW Airport, around 20 minutes from downtown Dallas. Be sure to check the website before coming, there are many more events than listed here.

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Meet Ilene Jacobs

As a perpetual wanderer, foodie freak and wannabe chef, Ilene is always on the lookout for the best places to see, eat, drink and sleep. When she's not writing about the latest happenings in...  More About Ilene