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. The best part? It's completely free. The only drawback is that it's extremely popular, so expect it to be crowded. The fun takes place Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights from 6 to 9 p.m., December 7-22, 2019.
Recommended for Things to Do in December because: Santa's Village appeals best to kids under 12 years of age.
Ilene's expert tip: There is a concession stand selling hot chocolate and snacks. Restrooms are available inside the library building near the entrance.
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 illuminate 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 ops and Santa meet and greets. There will also be a carousel, mini-train rides and holiday treats on offer. The event takes place from 5 to 9 p.m. every weekend as well as select weeknights from November 15 to January 5, 2019. General admission to the zoo is $17 for adults (age 12-64) and $14 for children (age 3-11).
Recommended for Things to Do in December because: The Dallas Zoo holiday festival offers entertainment for the entire family.
Ilene's expert tip: Dallas Zoo Lights tickets also includes general admission for the Zoo that day, so come before 4 p.m. to enjoy the animals.
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, trackless train rides, live entertainment and even a parachuting Santa. Oh, and there will be snow flurries coming down every 15 minutes on Fridays and Saturdays. The yuletide celebrations run daily from 6 to 10 p.m., November 29 through December 31, 2019. Admission is free, though some attractions require a fee.
Recommended for Things to Do in December because: Frisco's Christmas on the Square boasts the largest choreographed lights and music display in North Texas.
Ilene's expert tip: Should inclement weather occur, check Facebook or Twitter for updates. There's free parking outside the City Hall.
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 23, 2019 and January 5, 2020. Admission at the gate is $84.99 for adults/$69.99 for children under 48" and free for kids ages 2 or younger.
Recommended for Things to Do in December because: Six Flags offers a sleigh full of festive fun during the holidays.
Ilene's expert tip: You can save on admission by purchasing your tickets online before you go.
One of area's largest German-themed holiday markets is back this year and with it comes brats, potato pancakes, German beer and gluhwein plus polka dancing, ice skating and live music, too. Not to mention, the market features a slew of stalls peddling everything from handcrafted gifts to decorations and one-of-a-kind finds. Speaking of handcrafted gifts, keep an eye out for exclusive Käthe Wohlfahrt Christmas decorations and designs from the renowned Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas Village in Germany. Best of all, there's no admission charge to get in. Christkindl takes place daily, from November 29 to December 22, 2019. Note that the ice-skating rink stays open through January 12, 2020.
Recommended for Things to Do in December because: Christkindl Market is a great place to scoop up unique gifts.
Ilene's expert tip: Free guest parking is in Lot B located on the east side of Randol Mill Road and Stadium Drive (B-1 entrance off Randol Mill). There is an entry fee for the ice-skating rink.
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 to cruise through four million lights and hundreds of custom displays set along 2 miles of path. Additional activities include a holiday village where you can hang with Santa, an indoor holiday show and a 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 from 6 to 9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 6 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, from Thanksgiving night until December 30, 2019. Admission is $45 per car.
Recommended for Things to Do in December because: Prairie Lights boasts one of the most spectacular holiday lights 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.
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 29 and December 30, 2019, Dallas by Chocolate offers a Christmas Lights, Chocolate and Sips tour package that kicks off with a visit to a variety of top local dessert venues before continuing on to view some seriously decked out 'hoods. The excursions last for 3.5 hours and include private bus transportation, dessert samples and beverages. Tours are held every evening except Christmas Eve and Christmas and are priced at $47 per person.
Recommended for Things to Do in December because: Dallas by Chocolate is an ultimate foodie excursion at any time of the year.
Ilene's expert tip: Tickets can be purchased online. Score a 5% discount on tickets by entering the code 5EAT. There are also a variety of other tours listed on the website.
The Gaylord Texan always pulls out all the stops for the Christmas holidays: think 1.5 million holiday lights, a 54-foot rotating Christmas tree, 15,000 ornaments, a life-sized gingerbread house plus ice skating, snow tubing, scavenger hunts, games, build-a-bear workshops, Santa sightings and cookies with Mrs. Claus. But wait, there's more, including the resort's signature holiday attraction, ICE!, a walk-through winter wonderland featuring two million pounds of hand-carved ice sculptures showcasing favorite scenes from A Charlie Brown Christmas. Admission to ICE! starts at $14.99 child/$23.99 adult. Note that additional fees apply to other various activities. The festivities run from November 15, 2019 to January 5, 2020.
Recommended for Things to Do in December because: The Gaylord Texan offers an enormous amount of family-friendly Christmassy things to do.
Ilene's expert tip: Marriott Rewards members can score 25% discounts on ICE using code MBICE19 when you book online.
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 close to one million 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 transformed into a European style Christmas Village featuring a variety of themed houses to explore. Also expect to find Santa sightings, musical performances, seasonal tastings plus an assortment of activities geared for the entire family. Holiday events run from November 13 through December 31, Wednesday through Sunday from 6-9pm. General admission is $12 for children (ages 3-12) and $17 for adults.
Recommended for Things to Do in December because: The Arboretum is a magical place for all ages to visit during the holidays.
Ilene's expert tip: Save $6 on parking by purchasing tickets online. Check the website for a complete schedule of events.
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. And the fun doesn't stop there, Grapevine Vintage Railroad is also running a North Pole Express for the kiddos and Christmas Wine Trains for adults. Did we mention that the historic downtown area is home to over 80 locally owned shops, cafes and wine tasting rooms?
Recommended for Things to Do in December because: Grapevine offers the best holiday activities in the metroplex.
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.