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Arts & Entertainment

101 Things You Must Do In Dallas This Christmas: The 2021 Edition

Here is our comprehensive guide to the best Christmas lights, holiday shows, and festive activities across North Texas.
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Dallas lights up a Christmas tree downtown in 2014. Photo by Dave Hensley via Flickr.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. With less than three weeks away until Santa’s big day, there’s plenty of time and activities to get you into the holiday spirit. As your eyes and ears on Dallas, here’s our annual 101(ish) Things To Do, from the best holiday immersive experiences for Instagram to cultural performances of The Black Nutcracker.

Christmas Lights and Holiday Displays 

Fair Park transforms into Enchant Christmas, a Nordic-inspired winter wonderland. The interactive Christmas experience includes an ice skating rink, Santa’s village, light maze, polar bar and 80 foot Christmas tree. Now through January 2.  Visit Grapevine, the Christmas Capital of Texas®, for the city’s first-ever Merry & Bright Christmas Drone Show. December 12-19.  Take a Holiday Tour of the elegant Winspear Opera House and you’ll get to see the dazzling Moody Foundation Chandelier Light Show. The one-hour guided tours are free, but a $3 donation to the North Texas Food Bank is encouraged. Tours are December 19-21. The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden continues its holiday tradition of depicting The 12 Days of Christmas in the Main Garden. A dozen Victorian-style gazebos are transformed with animated characters and stunning decor to illustrate every verse of the carol. This year, the Arboretum debuts a charming addition to the festivities, the 50 foot tall Dazzling Musical Tree. Both displays will be open through December 31. Grand Prairie’s Prairie Lights is a massive holiday light park around Joe Pool Lake. Walk two miles of pathway illuminated by 4 million lights; stop by the Holiday Village for shopping and Santa visits; and check out the all-new indoor holiday show. Admission to the park is $45 per car. Now through December 31.  The Gaylord Texan Resort goes all out for the holidays with Mission: Save Christmas featuring Elf. The interactive attraction invites kids into Buddy the Elf’s world to complete fun-filled challenges to muster enough Christmas cheer to power Santa’s sleigh. Tickets are required for entry. Now through January 2.  The Dallas Zoo has decked its “halls” with a million twinkling lights and stunning silk lanterns depicting animals. The zoo is open late for the holidays with light shows, Santa meet-and-greets, live music, s’mores, and more. Find more info on Zoo Lights, open through January 2. Fort Worth’s only outdoor ice skating rink, Panther Island Ice, is open seven days a week from November 22 through January 17 (holidays included). Addison’s Vitruvian Park has its famous Vitruvian Lights on display from through January 2. Check the event calendar for live performances and special celebrations. NorthPark Center is a one-stop shop for Christmas cheer. There are elaborate decorations like a gingerbread town, the Scrooge Puppet Theatre, and the Twelve Days of Christmas Clock. The Trains at Northpark are a must-see for children (or full-grown train enthusiasts). There are also special events throughout the season, like a free performance by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, on December 15. Even Santa Claus is known to frequent the posh mall. Six Flags Over Texas has its magical Holiday in the Park setup through Jan. 2. There’s a frosty snow hill to sled down, decorations to admire, and festive, seasonal treats. Texas Motor Speedway has its drive-thru display, Gift of Lights, through Jan. 2. The park costs $30 per car. SNOWDAY and Santaland, an immersive experience in Santa’s magical cabin, brings holiday spirit to Dallas all season long. The pop-up is fun for kids, teens, grown-ups, and even Scrooges. Buy tickets here. The Museum of Memories, an Instagram-friendly pop-up, has created all-new holiday-themed displays. There are pretty murals, sky-high gift stacks, and even a human-sized mug of hot chocolate for photo backdrops. Buy tickets here. Frisco transforms its quaint downtown with holiday lights, an ice skating rink, a Christmas tree maze, and more for Christmas in the Square. The decor is up through January 3. Find details here.
Enchant-Christmas Esplanade Fair Park
Enchant Christmas at Fair Park, seen from the Esplanade.

The Best Neighborhoods for Christmas Lights 

Highland Park is a classic option for Christmas light viewing. The swanky neighborhood is known for its holiday decor. Drive, walk, or book a carriage ride via one of these companies In Plano, Deerfield is your best bet for glitzy lights. There are carriage rides through the neighborhood, or you can simply drive your car. Here’s some important info before you go. Plano Moms also created a handy Google Map to help guide you through the city. More than 200 homes in Arlington are illuminated for InterLochen Lights, the neighborhood’s festive display. It’s free to drive through; find the travel route here

Parades, Tree Lightings, and Festivals 

If you didn’t know, Galleria Dallas houses the largest indoor Christmas tree in the nation. The tree is the centerpiece of the mall’s ice skating rink, and there are tree lighting ceremonies every day through Christmas Eve. The shows are at noon, 2 p.m., 4 p.m., and 6 p.m. Arlington hosts its annual Holiday Lights Parade on Saturday, December 11 at 6 p.m. Mayor Jim Ross will light the town’s 65-foot Christmas tree at Founders Plaza after the parade ends. Latino Cultural Center hosts its annual Posada, a Mexican tradition that reenacts Mary and Joseph’s trip to Bethlehem. The event is free to public and will be held on December 12 at 4 p.m. Visit McKinney for its annual Christmas Parade of Lights. This year’s theme is Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree. The parade will start at 6:30 p.m. on December 11. Dallas Heritage Village hosts its 49th year of Candlelight. The festival features face painting, hay rides, and Victorian carolers on December 11 and 12. Celebrate Holidays at The Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary. The nature preserve has an animal friendly Christmas Lights display and North Pole Children’s Village for the family. Holidays at the Heard is on display from December 17 – 18. Radiance!, the self-proclaimed No. 1 Christmas Lights spectacular in the state returns to Frisco. The light-filled attraction includes two story ice tubing, bumper cars on ice, and a 108 foot Ferris Wheel. The outdoor winter carnival runs through January 1. Jump in the car to gaze upon hundreds of Christmas light displays at The Light Park, a mobile drive through experience in Grand Prairie. Now through January 2.  The Dallas Cowboys hosts its annual Cowboys Christmas Extravaganza. Every Friday and Saturday evening, the Tostitos Championship Plaza hosts a 20 minute show with performances from The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, Dallas Cowboys Rhythm and Blue Dancers and Danceline, Cowboys Rookie Squad and much more. Now through December 18. The Heritage Farmstead Museum presents Lights on the Farm. The holiday event features Santa’s farm shop, an illuminated tunnel of lights, and holiday s’mores on the farm.
Silva and a fellow TBT dancer in the Nutcracker. Photo: Amitava Sarkar

Theater, Dance, and The Nutcracker

The NTPA Repertory Theatre presents its eleventh annual take on Charles Dickens’ classic with Scrooge the Musical from December 8-19. Paddington Saves Christmas will take place at Dallas Children’s Theater performed by the DCT Academy all-teen cast. The Dallas Black Dance Academy presents the Espresso Nutcracker on Saturday, December 11 at 7 p.m. at the Majestic Theatre. The Bishop Arts Theatre Center presents Black Nativity: The Musical. The Langston Hughes classic will tell the unforgettable story from an African American perspective. The play runs until December 18. Join in on the fun as the Galleria Dallas invites over 50 local musicians, dancers, vocal ensembles, carolers, and acting troupes to entertain attendees for the holiday season. Click here for a schedule of events. Pocket Sandwich Theatre brings us Ebenezer Scrooge through December 23. Dallas Ballet Company brings its 35th annual Nutcracker to the Granville Arts Center December 3-12. Elf on the Shelf will make its musical debut at the Winspear Opera House with The Elf on the Shelf-A Christmas Musical on December 11. The Potter Rose Performance Hall at the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre will host A Christmas Carol, adapted by Kevin Moriarty, to bring to life the family-favorite through December 26. For the first time, Avant Chamber Ballet presents Paul Mejia’s production of The Nutcracker. The company will perform from December 9-12 at the Moody Performance Hall.

Concerts 

The Trans-Siberian Orchestra will perform all your favorite holiday hits at American Airlines Center when they come to Dallas on December 11. The Polyphonic Spree Holiday Extravaganza will take over the Majestic Theatre on December 18. Arlington Music Hall will host The Texas Tenors on December 09 for the group’s Deep In The Heart of Texas Christmas Concert. You can buy tickets here. Experience A Nashville Christmas at Casa Mañana Theatre in Fort Worth on December 19. The band will play country versions of classic Christmas tunes. A cappella group Pentatonix will bring their aptly named A Pentatonix Christmas tour to The Theatre at Grand Prairie for two nights, December 22 and 23, for double the holiday fun. Granada Theater will host the Ricki Derek Christmas Show on December 17 at 8 p.m. This show is perfect for lovers of a modern day Frank Sinatra with a Christmas twist. The Dallas Symphony Orchestra has its Dallas Symphony Christmas Pops from December 3 to 12. Celebrate Christmas at the Meyerson. The Dallas Symphony Orchestra will perform a series of Christmas carols on December 22 at 7:30 p.m. Grammy Award-winning singer LeAnn Rimes hosts Home for the Holidays, an intimate Christmas concert at the Winspear Opera House, on December 17 at 8:30 p.m. The Legendary Count Basie Orchestra will perform A Very Swinging Basie Christmas. The orchestra will play classic holiday songs and selections from A Very Swingin’ Basie Christmas! on December 21 at 7:30 p.m

Bars 

Enjoy rooftop views of Dallas with holiday-inspired cocktails and appetizers at Winter Wonderland at St. Henry. 2301 N. Akard St.  Sip on a Kris Kringle Colada at Sippin Santa in Deep Ellum, 2816 Elm Street. In heart of Bishop Arts resides The Tipsy Elf, a Christmas pop-up cocktail bar. 308 N. Bishop Ave.  Bring your furry friend to Santa Paws at Toller Patio. The outdoor bar lounge will have holiday drink specials, and photo opportunities for your pups. 3675 Ross Ave. Bundle up under an igloo at Miracle at the Adolphus. Order from its Christmas themed cocktail menu. Editor’s pick: The Honey Bear Eggnog. 1321 Commerce St.  Stop by Hotel Vin for Carl The Snowman, one of their signature fireside cocktails. It’s in Grapevine at 215 E. Dallas Rd.  Visit Miracle at Royal38 for festive hot and cold alcoholic beverages, 2301 N. Akard St.  One of Dallas’ most revered holiday traditions, Holiday Tea at The Adolphus, presents a three courses, two teas, and a glass of Champagne. Now through January 15. 1321 Commerce Street.

Read on for more Dallas Bars and Restaurants That Get You Into the Holiday Spirit.

Movies 

Klyde Warren Park plays The Polar Express for its Movies in the Park series on December 11 at 5:45 p.m. The Majestic Theatre brings a two-part holiday series this December; Christmas Vacation on December 22, and It’s A Wonderful Life on December 23. The Texas Theatre hosts a five-part holiday series: Home Alone on December 12, Nightmare Before Christmas on December 18, Die Hard on December 19, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation on December 22, and It’s A Wonderful Life on December 23 (in collaboration with The Majestic Theatre). Palace Theatre in Grapevine will be showing movies throughout the month, including favorites like Miracle on 34th Street, Home Alone, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Find out when they are playing your favorites here. The Alamo Drafthouse theaters has:
  • A Christmas Story
  • Black Christmas
  • Christmas Vacation
  • Elf
  • Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch
  • The Holiday
  • It’s A Wonderful Life
  • Love Actually
  • The Polar Express 

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