It’s never too early to start celebrating the holidays – in fact, you better get going if you don’t want to miss out on all the fun festivities Dallas has to offer this year. The city has an array of seasonal plays and concerts coming up: dozens of parades are planned throughout North Texas, the museums are decking their halls, the malls are bringing out Santa, and Grapevine is being typically extra in fulfilling its role as the “The Christmas Capital of Texas.” (Who said you have to rely on Mother Nature for the gift of a white Christmas? Not Grapevine, which imports millions of pounds of ice and manufactures snow flurries each year.)
Here’s a healthy sampling of North Texas’ best holiday wonders. You don’t have to do all 101-ish items on this list – but we recommend shooting for 90 or so. Merry Christmas!
Christmas Lights & Holiday Displays
The Winspear Opera House offers free tours of the theater along with a special Moody Foundation Chandelier Light Show on December 19 – 22. The tours are free, but donations to the North Texas Food Bank are encouraged.
The Dallas Arboretum brings the holiday cheer, even though winter is not often thought of as garden season. Its 12 Days of Christmas outdoor exhibit features several ornately decorated 25-foot tall gazebos. The experience runs from November 6 – December 31, and it will stay open Wednesday through Sunday nights from November 14 until December 30 so that you can experience the spectacle in all its glory.
The Gaylord Texan Resort’s ICE! and Lone Star Christmas displays are open from November 9 through January 5. The ever-popular holiday wonderland brings a whopping 2 million pounds of ice sculptures, 1.5 million twinkling lights, snow tubing, a 54-foot Christmas tree, and Mr. and Mrs. Claus to Grapevine. Find a full schedule of events here.
The Perot Museum of Nature and Science is transforming for the holiday season with a light show projected over its dinosaurs at the top of every hour, and the temporary addition of Carmen Menza’s installation “The Velocity of Light – A Kaleidoscopic Journey.”
Grand Prairie’s holiday display Prairie Lights opens on Thanksgiving night and runs through December 31. A two-mile road along Joe Pool Lake will be decked out in over 4 million Christmas lights, and a Holiday Village with tons of photo ops at the one-mile mark.
The stately homes of Highland Park are known to provide some of the most elaborate Christmas lights of any neighborhood in Dallas. View the fancy magic in the comfort of your own vehicle (Armstrong and Preston is a good starting point), or book a carriage ride through one of the many competing companies.
Plano’s Deerfield is another North Texas neighborhood known to go all out when it comes to Christmas decor. Drive through the spectacular display, or opt for a carriage ride or Segway tour. Here are specifics for navigating the area.
Addison’s famous Vitruvian Lights are on view Friday, November 23 through January 1 in Vitruvian Park. Access to the park in all its sparkling wonder is free. There’s an official opening party on November 23 at 6 p.m. with food trucks, live entertainment, and more.
After the animals have been safely tucked in for the night, the Dallas Zoo turns on its Christmas lights display to reveal a wonderland of creature-shaped silk lanterns, sparkling lights, and holiday treats. Dallas Zoo Lights is select nights November 16 through January 1. Find details here.
Fort Worth’s only outdoor ice skating rink, Panther Island Ice, is open 7 days a week from November 16 through January 14 (holidays included).
NorthPark Center is a must-visit during the holiday season, especially if you have children. The mall has fun decorations throughout, plus Santa, an extremely elaborate miniature train display, Santa’s Toy Shoppe Puppet Theatre, Scrooge Puppet Theatre, The Twelve Days of Christmas Clock, and so much more. Holiday cheer rolls out on Black Friday, November 23. Don’t miss the Gingertown Dallas Live Build (a huge gingerbread house building competition) on Monday, December 3, or check out the completed product, on view unti Christmas Eve.
Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine presents Snowland from November 24 to January 4. There will be indoor snow showers that melt into the cozy water park, a life-size gingerbread house, crazy decorations, visits with Santa, and more.
Six Flags gets even more lit on November 16, when Holiday in the Park officially begins. There will be a giant Texas flag made of Christmas lights, musical light shows, storytime with Mrs. Claus, and more.
The Interlochen neighborhood in Arlington is well-known for its holiday displays, which span two miles and 200 homes with Christmas characters and sparkling lights. Visit between December 14 and Christmas to get the full effect. Start at Westwood Dr. at Randol Mill Rd.
Texas Motor Speedway is giving us the Gift of Lights this holiday season. The drive-thru light park is open seven days a week starting November 29, and running through December 30.
Enchant Christmas opens in Arlington on Friday, November 23, bringing the world’s largest Christmas light maze, an ice skating trail, Christmas market, live entertainment, and yummy food. Find tickets here.
Farmers Branch has reimagined its drive-thru Christmas light display to be a more interactive experience. In addition to touring the lights, you can now ice skate under the stars in the outdoor rink.
Parades & Tree Lightings & Festivals
Klyde Warren Park’s 2018 Holiday Show and Tree Lighting takes place on the 1st of December from 2-6 p.m. on the Ginsburg Family Great Lawn. Bring the family for a festive day of activities and entertainment, photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus, holiday music, and the annual tree lighting.
Also on December 1, and not too far from Klyde Warren, the AT&T Performing Arts Center presents Reliant Lights Your Holidays concert and fireworks spectacular. The free festival will feature Sheila E., Anita N. Martinez, Ballet Folklorico, and Santa Claus himself. The event kicks off at 5:30 p.m.
The annual Dallas Holiday Parade tours through Downtown Dallas on Saturday, December 1 at 10 a.m. The parade is free to attend, and tickets for bleacher seats are available for purchase if you want guaranteed seating.
Denton is hosting its 30th Annual Holiday Lighting Festival on Friday, November 30 from 5:30 – 9:30 p.m. The historic downtown square will be bustling with local music, festive decor, food, and holiday joy! It’s a free event. Bring a donation for the toy drive benefiting Elves Shelves.
Celebrate the holidays in true Texas fashion at Christmas in the Stockyards on Saturday, December 1. The event starts off with a cattle drive at 11:30 a.m. and includes carolers, dance performances, children’s activities, live music, an appearance by Santa, and a rodeo.
Downtown Fort Worth’s Sundance Square has its Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on Saturday, November 17 at 6 p.m.
The 2018 Parade of Lights spreads holiday cheer throughout Fort Worth on Sunday, November 18 at 6 p.m. Seats are available for purchase starting at $12.95.
The Shops at Legacy in Plano kicks off the holiday season on Sunday, November 18 with a theatrical Christmas tree lighting, free train rides, a visit from Santa, and holiday movies. Find details here.
All the high schools in Plano are banding together for a big parade with marching bands, cheer squads, drill teams, JROTC, and more. The Plano Lions Christmas Parade will go down on Saturday, December 8 at 9 a.m., beginning at the Plano ISD Administration Building and ending at Plano Senior High School.
Christmas in the Square returns for its 14th year in Frisco on November 23, and will provide merriment daily through December 31. It’s North Texas’ largest choreographed lights and music show, and it’s free. There will also be an ice skating rink in Frisco Square.
Grapevine calls itself the Christmas Capital of Texas, and it has 1,400 holiday events to back up that claim. There are three parades in the mix: The Carol of Lights and official lighting of Historic Downtown Main Street on Monday, November 19 at 7 p.m.; the Twinkle Light Boat Parade on December 1 (6 – 9 p.m.) at Lake Grapevine; and the Parade of Lights in downtown Grapevine on Thursday, December 6 at 7 p.m.
Downtown McKinney has its Home for the Holidays festival the weekend of November 23, starting with the Christmas tree lighting ceremony on Friday evening and going through Sunday. Swing by for children’s arts and crafts, food, live music, a petting zoo, a ferris wheel, and more.
Southlake Town Square turns on the holiday spirit at its Christmas tree lighting on Saturday, November 17 at 6 p.m. Festivities start at 4:30.
With holiday shopping to be done, there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself at the Galleria Dallas in coming weeks. The mall is home to the nation’s tallest indoor Christmas tree – and it has elaborate lighting ceremonies everyday at noon, 2 p.m., 4 p.m., 6 p.m., and 8 p.m. (on Sundays, the last show is at 6).
If you’re willing to drive a bit out of the way for small town Christmas vibes, Waxahachie’s Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting on November 27 is a good option. The historical courthouse is a charming background for the community’s tree.
The 12th annual University Park Tree Lighting will take place in Snider Plaza on Sunday, November 18 from 1 to 6 p.m.
The oldest community Christmas tree lighting tradition is in Highland Park at the 140-year-old “Big Pecan Tree” on Armstrong Parkway. The ceremony takes place Thursday, December 6.
Arlington’s Holiday Lights Parade takes place on Saturday, December 8 at 6 p.m. The procession starts at the corner of Main and Center streets.
Farmers Branch has its Christmas tree lighting and holiday marketplace on Saturday, December 1 from 4 – 8 p.m. at Liberty Plaza.
Multiple Grammy nominee Martina McBride brings The Joy of Christmas to the Majestic on December 7.
Brian Wilson, the co-founder of the Beach Boys, will sing the Beach Boys’ Christmas album with bandmates Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin, along with his solo Christmas album. Head to the Majestic on December 14 for this holiday treat.
Grammy Award-winning country icon Clint Black has 29 years of hits under his belt, including two Christmas albums. He’ll perform Christmas songs and welcome his wife, actress and singer Lisa Hartman Black, to the stage at the Winspear Opera House on December 3.
Voice of Hope Ministries hosts Sing! An Irish Christmas at the Winspear Opera House, featuring modern hymn writers Keith and Kristyn Getty on December 7.
The Dallas Symphony Orchestra has a free holiday concert at NorthPark Center’s NorthCourt (level one between Nordstrom and Macy’s) on Wednesday, December 12 at 7 p.m.
The Dallas Symphony Orchestra teams up with the Children’s Chorus of Greater Dallas for A John Williams Christmas, featuring fun music from Harry Potter and Home Alone, plus holiday favorites. Concerts run November 30 – December 2; find tickets here.
The Dallas Symphony Christmas Pops returns from December 7 – 16, bringing your favorite Holiday music to the Meyerson. Here are concert dates.
The Trans-Siberian Orchestra plays Christmas hits like you’ve never heard them before at American Airlines Center on Saturday, December 22. Tickets start at $50.
A cappella group Pentatonix brings its Christmas is Here! tour to Grand Prairie’s Verizon Theater on November 25 at 7 p.m. Find tickets here.
106.1 KISS FM’s annual Jingle Ball is back at American Airlines Center on November 27. The lineup includes Shawn Mendes, Calvin Harris, Alessia Cara, and more. Tickets start at $41.
Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis presents a heartfelt holiday concert at the Meyerson Symphony Center on December 5 at 7:30 p.m. Read more here.
The Dallas Symphony Orchestra has its Big Brassy Christmas & Organ Extravaganza on December 10 at 7:30 p.m.
Does Star Wars count as a Christmas tradition? We think so. The Dallas Symphony Orchestra performs the Oscar-winning music from Star Wars: A New Hope on December 20-22. Buy tickets here.
Local choral rock band The Polyphonic Spree will celebrate the holidays with fanfare at the Majestic on December 15. Bring a donation for Toys for Tots – and, if you want, bring your own tots. It’s all ages.
The Dallas Symphony Orchestra performs Tchaikovsky’s famous scores for The Nutcracker and Sleeping Beauty from November 23 – 25. Find details here.
A Merry Little Christmas Show with Ricki Derek will celebrate Sinatra’s hits at Palace Arts Center in Historic Downtown Grapevine on December 1. The show starts at 8 p.m.
The Richardson Symphony Orchestra hosts its Holiday Classics Concert at the Eisemann Center on December 1 at 8 p.m.
A Very Judy Christmas pays tribute to icons like Judy Garland, Liza Minnelli, and Ethel Merman with an assortment of yuletide classics. The Uptown Players present the show at Kalita Humphreys Theater from December 1 – 16.
Voices of Fort Worth put on their free holiday show, Christmas at the Cathedral at the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe on December 2 at 6:30 p.m.
Folk duo The Oh Hellos bring their Christmas Extravaganza to the Granada Theater on December 9 at 7 p.m.
Theater & Dance & The Nutcracker
Texas Ballet Theater brings their annual Nutcracker production to Dallas and Fort Worth with performances at the Winspear Opera House from November 24 – December 2, and at the Bass Performance Hall December 7 – 24. The classic tale will be presented with choreography by Artistic Director Ben Stevenson, O.B.E. For a more rambunctious take on the story, head to the Nutty Nutcracker on December 14 at Bass Performance Hall.
Avant Chamber Ballet brings a your favorite parts of the holiday ballet to White’s Chapel in Southlake in the form of Nutcracker: Short and Suite on November 15 at 7:30. They also will bring The Nutcracker Suite to Moody Performance Hall for a matinee on December 8.
Dallas Theater Center will present A Christmas Carol at the Wyly Theater. Enjoy this Dickens’ tale in musical form from November 21 – December 23.
Christmas with Michael W. Smith and special guest Melinda Doolittle comes to the Majestic on November 28.
For fans of Charles Schulz and his lovable characters, A Charlie Brown Christmas will be live on stage at the Majestic on November 30.
Radio City Rockettes will come to the Majestic for its annual Rockefeller Christmas. It will include your tap-dancing, jazz-swinging favorites along with the second act of the Nutcracker.
Company of Rowlett Performers present Irving Berlin’s White Christmas on December 14 – 22 at Plaza Theatre. This holiday staple is super cute, especially considering that their Bob and Betty are actually engaged in real life. Talk about stage chemistry!
Experience some Christmas shenanigans with the musical version of A Christmas Story at the Winspear Opera House December 12-16. Based on the hilarious 1983 movie, the Tony Award winning musical features songs by the same team that brought us La La Land and Dear Evan Hansen. On December 12, Neiman Marcus Kids’ Night will let you bring your kids in for free when you buy a full price adult ticket, and will offer kid-friendly activities in the lobby before the show.
The Moscow Ballet brings the Great Russian Nutcracker to SMU McFarlin Memorial Auditorium on November 17 and 18.
Dallas Ballet Company has its 32nd annual performance of the Nutcracker this holiday season. Find dates and tickets here.
Disney On Ice: Frozen comes to the Allen Event Center November 21 – 25. Find details here.
Elf the Musical brings your favorite holiday comedy to life at the Music Hall at Fair Park November 27 – December 2.
Plano’s Art Centre Theatre presents It’s a Wonderful Life (A Live Radio Play) December 14 – 23.
The Ballet Ensemble of Texas performs the Nutcracker at Irving Arts Center November 30 – December 2.
Momentum Dance Company performs the Nutcracker at Irving Arts Center November 23 – 30.
The First Noel is an emotional holiday musical set in 1985 Harlem, featuring gospel music, pop and more. See it at Jubilee Theatre from November 23 – December 23.
A Drag Queen Christmas – The Naughty Tour comes to the House of Blues on December 20 at 8 p.m.
Dallas Children’s Theater celebrates the holidays with the Magic Tree House’s Holiday Musical: A Ghost Tale for Mr. Dickens, showing November 16 – December 23, and The Snowy Day and Other Stories by Ezra Jack Keats, showing December 8 – January 20.
The Bishop Arts Theatre Center presents the Langston Hughes classic holiday gospel celebration Black Nativity from December 6 – 23.
Catch Home Alone at the Majestic Theatre on December 6. This is the first time that the Majestic has shown the antics of Macaulay Culkin in this classic comedy. The Majestic will also show Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas on December 13 and Frank Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life on December 20.
The Texas Theatre will show the National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation on December 1 and Edward Scissorhands on December 2.
Landmark’s Magnolia Theatre continues its Big Movie Series with It’s a Wonderful Life on December 18 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Palace Theatre in Grapevine has a slew of holiday movies lined up for November through January, including classics like Home Alone, A Christmas Carol, White Christmas, It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street and more. Find details here.