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Things to Do in Dallas

10 Free Things To Do In Dallas This December

It's the season of giving and goodwill.

Depending on your family’s gift-giving policy and physical distance from each other (plane tickets are expensive), the holidays can be a costly and stressful time. But all that Christmas cheer and merry goodwill toward all also results in a number of free events to partake in. In the spirit of giving, here are 10-plus free things to do in and around Dallas this December.

We have a full guide to tree lightings and other bright and free seasonal events throughout North Texas right over here, but it’s worth singling out a few again:

  • The Vitruvian Lights in Addison are lit up every night throughout the season, creating one of the most colorful holiday parks in the region.
  • A big Dec. 3 blowout at Fair Park includes live music, carolers, reindeer, and a light show, and culminates in a big tree lighting.
  • Watch the lights come on at the tree at Klyde Warren Park before strolling over to the AT&T Performing Arts Center, where Reliant Lights Your Holidays will string up spectacular displays on Arts District buildings while a fireworks show illuminates the night sky and live music — courtesy of the Polyphonic Spree and others — rings out below.

The Dallas Children’s Health Holiday Parade downtown is Dec. 5 at 10 am, although the fun and family-friendly activities get started a couple hours before at Main Street Garden, Belo Garden and City Hall Plaza. The holiday parade itself, one of the largest of its kind, will also be broadcast live on Channel 8 if you can’t make it in person.

Krampus is the devilish opposite of Santa Claus, a legendary and legendarily ugly creature who punishes naughty children come the holiday season. The Krampus Walk in Deep Ellum on Dec. 5 encourages people to dress up as the cloven-hoofed fiend and party. Strut your evil stuff or observe the procession of Krampuses, but consider leaving the kids at home so that their souls are not snatched — and so that they’re not at a bar past 9 pm on a Saturday night. The event kick off at Wits End.

“Beware of the Dandelions” is described as a “mobile art installation that functions as a performance, workshop space, and visual arts exhibition.” Housed in a dome-like temporary structure at Fair Park, the show from the Detroit art collective Complex Movements is rooted in themes of social justice and community activism, with music, storytelling, and more combining with projected visuals. It’s free, but register ahead of time because space is limited. There are several more performances from Dec. 3 through 5.

Cross your fingers for balmy weather or just bundle up adequately for a free screening of The Muppet Christmas Carol at Arlington’s Levitt Pavilion on Dec. 5.

Take a long lunch break or play hookie from work to catch Caroling in the Arts District from Dec. 7 through 12. North Texas choral groups will perform at noon each day at the Dallas City Performance Hall. The performances, which will be broadcast live on the classical music radio station WRR 101.1 FM, come courtesy of the Turtle Creek Chorale, Plano Civic Chorus, the Womens Chorus of Dallas, the Texas Boys Choir, and the Dallas Symphony Chorus — in that order. For more info, go here.

Photographer Sally Mann, whose black-and-white photos of her children brought her widespread acclaim and some controversy, will talk about her new memoir at the Fort Worth Modern for the Dec. 8 edition of the art museum’s “Tuesdays at the Modern” lecture series. Tickets will be at the front desk for free the day of the lecture, but if you want to ensure yourself a spot, you can reserve one ahead of time for $5.

Indicted Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price’s annual KwanzaaFest at Fair Park returns for the 25th year. The two-day festival begins Dec. 12. Admission is free, but you should grab tickets ahead of time to ensure entry. Guests can expect to find live music, local and national vendors, a 5K, a health event, a carnival for kids, and other activities.

Catch a free teaser of the Turtle Creek Chorale’s holiday concert at the Fort Worth Modern on Dec. 13. The big shows are at Dallas City Performance Hall from Dec. 17-20.

Treat it less like a mall and more like Dallas’ Central Park, and you can enjoy a number of free events at NorthPark throughout the month, including daily puppet shows and more. A full schedule of performances at the mall can be found here. Of note: the Dallas Opera on Dec. 19, Dark Circles Contemporary Dance on Dec. 12, and Texas Ballet Theater on Dec. 5.