I don’t know why, but every year it seems the time between Halloween and Christmas gets shorter and shorter. Forget the leftover turkey sandwiches for lunch; we still have staff bringing in leftover Halloween candy around here. For some reason, the idea that Christmas is just a little over three weeks away has left me in a bit of a tizzy. I walk around proclaiming to whoever will listen, “Christmas is almost here! Christmas is almost here!” like some sort of holiday Chicken Little. Clearly, I need to take a chill pill (or a big ol’ swig of Grannie’s rum punch) and enjoy the season.
Don’t get caught up in the holiday hub-bub, relax with your nearest and dearest at one of these fun, free and festive events.
There’s nothing more magical than twinkling colored light displays. Head out to Farmers Branch Historical Park Friday night for a double dip of magic and holiday spirit at the annual Tour of Lights animated light show. The drive through show features over half a million flashing lights synced to music creating a veritable winter wonderland. The tour ends with Kris Kringle himself greeting each car. On Saturday, Dec. 3, come for the annual Christmas tree lighting. Highlights on this special night include tubing on a real snow hill, free hot chocolate and a countdown to the tree lighting and fireworks. Tour of Lights will be on display through Dec. 30 and is just a $5 donation which goes to various non-profit groups and agencies working the tour each night.
Embrace the spirit of the holiday season right with a small-town celebration. There’s no better celebration than the Holiday Lighting Festival on Denton’s Historic Courthouse Square. The 28th annual event kicks off this Friday evening at 5:30 p.m. with a community sing-along and the lighting of the giant Christmas tree. You and the tinies can stroll around the courtyard and peek in the windows of the festive shops, or for a few bucks, you can have your picture taken with Santa, or take a ride in a horse-drawn wagon. There will also be live musical performances from local musicians and the Denton Community band that take place all around the Square that begin at 6 p.m.
No doubt about it, it’s going to be rainy and chilly on Saturday morning. If you and the kids laugh in the face of old man winter then bundle up and head to downtown Dallas to catch the 29th annual Children’s Health Holiday Parade. The event draws an estimated 350,000 spectators and includes marching bands, giant helium balloons, spectacular floats and unique performances. Our personal favorites are the clowns that entertain the crowds before the start of the parade. Here are a few tips before you go: 1. Get there early. Parking can be challenging and all the good viewing areas get snapped up, so plan to arrive an hour and 1/2 before the parade starts. 2. Bring blankets and lawn chairs to sit on (little tushies don’t like sitting on cold pavement). 3. Lastly, it goes without saying to dress warmly. If the outside temperature reads 35 outside, it’ll feel like -35 with the wind blowing.
After the parade, grab your tribe and mosey over to Klyde Warren Park for Celebrate the Holidays at Klyde Warren Park. The event is a collaboration, combining AT&T Performing Arts Center’s annual Reliant Lights Your Holidays with the park’s family holiday event. The day-long festivities include music, children’s activities, visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus and demonstrations from arts organizations. Following the park’s tree lighting at 5:45 p.m., Santa and Mrs. Claus will lead the crowd to the AT&T Performing Arts Center where the Reliant Lights Your Holidays festivities will be underway. The fun starts at 3 p.m. Saturday afternoon.
The Macy’s Grand Tree Lighting Celebration at Galleria Dallas is one of my favorite holiday events. Each show features live performances from Olympic, World and National skating champions and cute kids in pretty costumes performing around a 95-foot-tall Christmas tree. The 30-minute show leads up to the grand finale of Missile Toes, the Galleria’s ice-skating, back-flipping, pyrotechnic Santa Claus who lights the tree. Much like the parade, this is one of those things where it pays to be the early worm and get there way in advance. The show starts at 6 p.m. on Saturday night but you’re going to want to have your claim staked by 5 p.m. The best viewing is from the 1st or 2nd level.
Speaking of malls, NorthPark also has a passel of free events that the tinies will love. Get to the mall early Saturday so you can catch Storytime with Santa at 10:30 a.m. Some mall Santas can be a little bit lame, but this Santa is the real deal. Besides having a genuine beard and a hearty laugh, he has a gentle manner with children that is magical to watch. After story time, hurry over to the Scrooge Puppet Theatre for a little comic relief from the famous Christmas curmudgeon.
It’s time to get your list together for Santa! For families of children with special needs, Santa Cares at Galleria Dallas will be hosting private visits with the jolly old elf this Sunday morning starting at 830 a.m. The session will be be set up to help support the functional and developmental needs of those with special needs. Reserve your spot at Eventbrite.com