A Dallas Guide to Family-Friendly Holiday Events

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Large, crowd-gathering festivities like Santa’s Village can’t happen this year, unfortunately. But many event organizers have been able to reimagine things to keep everyone safer in these pandemic times. Here’s what they’ve come up with!

Note: Personal responsibility is huge here, as it is with any public activities during this time. Please wear your masks, social distance, and stay home if you’re sick or have been exposed to COVID. Double check before you head to a location to be sure they’re still proceeding as planned.

Dallas Christmas events

One-Time Or Limited

November 21 :: Deck the Plaza :: Dallas City Hall :: (5:30-8pm) Returning this year with a contactless twist, Deck the Plaza will be a festival of lights drive-thru event. Head downtown for lights, holiday music and messages on 101.1FM, and the 35-foot tree. No walk-ups, this is an in-vehicle event. Free!

November 23 :: Carol of Lights :: Grapevine :: (1-5pm) This holiday season kick-off show has pivoted to a drive-thru format for 2020. It’ll be held in the First Baptist Church Grapevine parking lot and will include Christmas characters, hot cocoa, and take-home crafts. Bring new sock donations and your letters to mail to Santa! Free admission but you must pre-register for your timeslot. Hurry, it’s booking up fast!

December 3, 10, 17 :: Christmas at the Perry :: Carrollton :: (5:30-8pm) Stroll through the park at the A.W. Perry Homestead Museum for lights and photo ops. Take a tour of the Perry house to see the Victorian Christmas decorations and Santa’s elves at work. Pre-registration is required for the tour, which you can do at the link. Free!

December 5 :: Deck the Walls :: A Virtual Wreath Making Event :: (10am) Get in your cozy clothes and join Dallas Moms for an online wreath making class today! Your ticket includes all the materials you’ll need (plus more cool swag), or you can opt for a digital-only package – all the fun of the event but without the wreath kit. We’ll have gabbing and giveaways and lots of holiday cheer as we learn how to construct our wreaths. See link for all the details and to get your ticket!

December 5 :: Santa on the Square :: Carrollton :: (10:30am-4pm) This annual event in Historic Downtown Carrollton has been reimagined for your safety, offering Zoom With Santa, a mobile Scavenger Hunt, and take-and-make crafts. See the link for details, including how to register for your Santa visit. Free!

December 5 :: Christmas in the Branch :: Farmer’s Branch :: (5-9pm) This tree lighting event at Liberty Plaza includes outdoor ice skating, kids activities, shopping from local vendors at the Holiday Marketplace, and a small but mighty 2-minute fireworks show. Lots of info at the link. COVID requirements here. Free admission.

December 5-6 and 12-13 :: Candlelight at Dallas Heritage Village :: (3-9pm) Now spanning 4 nights, this year’s event has been modified for social distancing. Experience an old-timey Christmas with traditional holiday activities, blacksmith and cooking demos, strolling carolers, bake sale, and more. $20/adults, $10/ages 4-12, under 4 free. $2 off any ticket with advance purchase. UPDATE: CANCELLED

December 6, 11-13, 18-20 :: Holiday Show and Tree Lighting :: Klyde Warren Park :: (6pm)  This year they’ve added extra public tree lighting events, plus a menorah lighting on December 10. Activities and entertainment include socially-distant photos with Santa, Frosty, and Rudolph; stories with Mrs. Claus; live performances; balloon animals for kids; and more! Note: The kickoff tree lighting and show on December 5 is NOT open to the public, rather it will be filmed and broadcast by CBS11 on December 20.

December 25 :: Dallas Holiday Parade :: Televised :: (10am) The annual downtown parade will be broadcast locally this year on CW33. Enjoy NEW production numbers and clips from the Emmy-nominated 2019 Dallas Holiday Parade. It’s like our own Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade but for Christmas Day!

All Season Long

November 7 to December 31 :: Holiday at the Arboretum, Presented by Reliant :: Dallas :: Lots going on at the Arboretum this winter, most notably The 12 Days of Christmas, a series of Victorian-style gazebos depicting moving scenes from the classic carol. After Thanksgiving you can also visit the newly-expanded Christmas Village featuring charming shops and façades inspired by European Christmas markets and a new 23-foot-tall German-built authentic Christmas Pyramid with animation on every level. Admission varies by date, see here for details and to purchase tickets. Advance registration required.

November 20 to January 3 (select nights) :: Dallas Zoo Lights Presented by Reliant :: Dallas :: (6:30-9:30pm) Now a drive-thru experience! After the animals go to bed, the zoo becomes illuminated with a mile of twinkling lights and silk lanterns depicting all your Zoo favorites, Santa’s candy cane lane, a trio of penguins on an Antarctic adventure, and so much more along the way! Priced per car, $50/members, $65/non-members. Tickets must be purchased online, in advance. See the link for “Know Before You Go” information. Tickets are limited and will sell out!

December 4 to 31 :: Reliant Lights Your Holidays :: Sammons Park, AT&T Performing Arts Center :: (5:30-8:30pm) This outdoor family event has been reimagined in 2020 for your safety. Enjoy a month of sparkling lights and more festive displays than ever before. Stroll through the Downtown Arts District, illuminated with holiday projections, and enjoy live performances every Thursday and Sunday night. See the link for schedules and further details. Free!

November 7 to December 24 :: Santa’s Wonderland :: Bass Pro Shops, Garland & Grapevine :: You can find a surprising number of gifts for people on your list at ‘ole Bass Pro Shop. While you’re there, explore a mini-wonderland filled with displays, children’s crafts, and a free photo with Santa if you’d like (reservations required). Get more info at the link. Free!

November 13 to January 3:: Lone Star Christmas at Gaylord Texan :: Grapevine :: Marvel at the 2 million twinkling lights, 15,000 ornaments, and dozens of lavish holiday displays filling the vast hotel atrium. They have cute activities like the new I Love Christmas Movies immersive experience, outdoor lantern and light walkthrough, a Christmas carousel, snow tubing, and more. Lots more details on the many activities and ticket packages at their site.

November 14 to January 3 ::Trains at NorthPark :: NorthPark Center, Dallas :: These trains have been a local favorite since 1987. The exhibit (located on Level II between Neiman’s & Nordstrom) features 1,800 ft. of track and cityscapes from across America. Lots of Dallas landmarks, too! All proceeds benefit Ronald McDonald House of Dallas. Be sure to take a close look at their COVID protocols – masks and advanced ticket purchase required; capacity guidelines enforced. See the link for varied hours of operation, including holiday hours. $10/adults, $5/children & seniors. Tickets are $10/adults, $5/children, under 2 are free. See our review from the archives here.

November 20 to January 3 :: SNOWDAY :: Dallas Galleria ::  This magical, multi-sensory event has moved to the Galleria. Staying space-conscious, they have doubled the square footage this year and are fully equipped with new touchless ticketing and photo booths. In order to ensure the safest experience, tickets are limited. $22/adults; $8/kids 4-12; 3 and under free.

November 21 to January 3 :: Holiday in the Park :: Six Flags Over Texas, Arlington :: Each year, Six Flags over Texas is transformed into a winter wonderland with sparkling lights, festive decorations, seasonal treats, plus lots of activities, rides, and heartwarming shows. Tons more details at the link.

November 23 to December 24 :: Christmas Capital of Texas :: Grapevine :: If you’ve been noticing a lot of Grapevine Christmas events popping up throughout this guide, that’s because Grapevine considers themselves the “Christmas Capital of Texas.” As such, they’ve got over a thousand Christmas events and activities scheduled throughout the month. I included the major stuff here, but do poke around at the link for even more ideas!

November 27 to December 23 (select dates) :: North Pole Express :: Grapevine Vintage Railroad :: Board a festively decorated train and enjoy elves, cookies, a visit from Mrs. Claus, and more as the train travels to the “North Pole.” Tickets from $28. Listen, as I’m writing this in early November, every single ride on this Christmas train is ALREADY SOLD OUT. It’s like that every year, that’s how popular it is. I’m including it here in case you aren’t aware, and you can set a reminder to get tickets early next year!

November 27 to December 26 (select dates) :: Candy Cane Lane is the NEW drive-thru attraction at the American Airlines Center (Silver Parking Garage). It’s a multi-level installation of holiday lights, classic holiday lantern characters, and a wonderland of surprises around every corner. Santa photo upgrades are available. See link for all the details. 6-10pm. From $35 per vehicle.

Thanks again to Reliant for sponsoring our holiday guide!

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