The season is upon us, much like a fast-moving thing, and it’s time to get on Santa’s good side if you’re not there already. Raya has your go-to gift shops, I have your yuletide cheer. A separate post for events with a charitable bent and ways to give back will follow, but until then, jump for the best celebratory activities.
Visits and Portraits With Santa at NorthPark Center. Each year, Santa Claus kindly moves from the North Pole to NorthPark. He takes up residence near Macy’s to delight kiddos and help make their Christmas wishes come true. Parents can snap their own photos, or pay for a professional one. For something extra special, drop by at 10:30 a.m. Monday through Saturday and noon on Sunday for story time with Kris Kringle himself. NorthPark Center, through Dec. 24.
Santa in His Galleria Village. If you haven’t been good for the last eight months or so, you still have time to shape up before Santa attempts to wedge himself down your chimney. Take the kids (who, of course, have been perfect angels all year long) for a visit with St. Nick and his elves. Galleria Dallas, through Dec. 24.
Light Up Lakewood. There’s a brand new tree to light, plus performances from surrounding schools, Studio B, and neighborhood favorite Restoration Blues. Face painting, pictures with Santa, and other family activities will keep you busy at this festive event. Lakewood Shopping Center, Nov. 30.
Holiday at the Center. Outside the Winspear Opera House in Sammons Park, you’ll find a life-size snow globe, ice-skating rink, craft booths, food trucks, and live music. Plus, don’t forget the official tree lighting, photos with Santa, and a special performance from Cirque Dreams Holidaze, a holiday circus show coming to Winspear later in December. Sammons Park at the Winspear Opera Center, Nov. 30.
Dallas Handmade Holiday Show. This market not only offers the chance to do some holiday shopping, but Santa Claus will be on hand for free (yup) professional photos. There’s also free warm mulled Lebanese wine, hot chocolate, and cookies. Dallas Handmade, Nov. 29-Dec. 2.
A DSO Family Christmas. This Dallas Symphony holiday tradition goes beyond carols and sleigh bells by transforming the lobby of the Meyerson into a winter wonderland. Kids will find arts and crafts, an instrument petting zoo (which sounds awesome to us), and Santa himself. Meyerson Symphony Center,Â Dec. 8.
Holiday at the Arboretum. This year’s display of Christmas cheer centers around George Dvorsky’s extensive collection of nativity scenes that range from the traditional to the exotic. Along with the picturesque DeGolyer Estate, where the scenes are housed, signs of the season are evident in everything from Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph roaming the grounds to photo ops with Santa. Don’t forget to check out the real live reindeer, too. Dallas Arboretum, through Dec. 23.
Arlington Holiday Lights Parade. This annual tradition started in 1993 and continues to dazzle parade-goers today. Enjoy hot chocolate and Christmas floats decked out in spectacular lights that will be sure to get you excited about the holidays. Thousands of people gather each year to witness the lighting of the Christmas tree on the steps of City Hall and to meet and greet with Santa. Downtown Arlington, Dec 1.
Brunch of the Sugar Plum Fairy. The ballroom will be transformed into a winter wonderland, and besides the festive brunch buffet, there will be cookie-decorating stations and a performance of scenes from The Nutcracker ballet by students of the Texas Ballet Theater School. Children are encouraged to dress their best and bring an unwrapped toy, book, or teddy bear to donate to Children’s Medical Center. The Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Dec. 1.
Ben Stevenson’s The Nutcracker. Christmas comes but once a year. Similarly, once a season, the Texas Ballet Theater trots out this crowd-pleasing classic. The ballet, set to Tchaikovsky’s beautiful music, promises to take you to a winter wonderland of anthropomorphic nutcrackers and spinny sugar plum fairies. Winspear Opera House, through Dec. 2, or Bass Hall, Dec. 7-23.
Children’s Medical Center Parade. Gather up your brood and join a crowd of thousands to see this procession of floats, giant inflatable balloons, dancers, marching bands, and other performers make its way down Commerce Street. Bleacher seats are also available for purchase. Downtown, Dec. 1.
Children’s Gingerbread Classes. In this Rosewood holiday tradition, kids learn the tips and tricks to make their house festive with an array of candies and icing. And who’s to say only kids get to have all the fun? Adult classes are available, too, if you you prefer making edible characters to scouting out discounts at the mall. We don’t blame you. Sugar usually trumps everything. Rosewood Crescent Hotel, various dates through Dec. 20.
Christmas in the Square. With more holiday lights than the North Pole, carriage rides, an inner-tube snow slide (it is Texas after all–that’s about as close as we get to sleigh rides), food trucks, train display, ice skating, and much more, what’s not to love? Frisco Square, through Jan. 6.
Cirque Dreams Holidaze. It’s all the acrobatics of a circus show featuring some of our favorite holiday characters. You’ll get to see gingerbread men doing acrobatics, toy soldiers walking tight ropes, snowmen conquering their hefty shape to balance like pros, reindeer flying across the stage, and more. With an original score and over-the-top stage setting, you’ll come out of the theater full of holiday cheer. Winspear Opera House, Dec. 18-23.
Comfort and Joy. The nearly 200 men of the Turtle Creek Chorale keep the holiday spirit alive with a concert of Christmas classics. Meyerson Symphony Center, Dec. 5 & 10.
Dallas Theater Center’s A Christmas Carol. The story of how old Ebenezer Scrooge’s heart of stone softens as he’s led through his past, present, and future, ably staged each year by the DTC. Kalita Humphreys Theater, through Dec. 23.
A DSO Family Christmas. This Dallas Symphony holiday tradition goes beyond carols and sleigh bells by transforming the lobby into a winter wonderland. Kids will find arts and crafts, an instrument petting zoo (which sounds awesome to us), and Santa himself. Meyerson Symphony Center,Â Dec. 8.
Holiday at the Arboretum. This year’s display of Christmas cheer centers around George Dvorsky’s extensive collection of nativity scenes that range from the traditional to the rather exotic. Along with the picturesque DeGolyer Estate, where the scenes are housed, signs of the season are evident in everything from Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph roaming the grounds to photo ops with Santa. Don’t forget to check out the real live reindeer, too. Dallas Arboretum, through Dec. 23.
Lone Star Christmas. Ready for a real life winter wonderland? More than one million holiday lights, a 54-foot Christmas tree, 12,000 ornaments, a life-size gingerbread house, 25-foot tall nutcrackers, and two million pounds of hand-crafted ice from Chinese artisans make this resort one of our favorite attractions. Gaylord-Texan Hotel, through Dec. 30.
Fiesta Navidad Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano. This two-time Grammy Award-winning group is celebrating December with holiday songs and favorites from across the Americas. With all the traditional Christmas events every year, it’s easy to get a little jaded with the status quo. This could be a great way to spice up your holiday plans. Meyerson Symphony Center, Dec. 13.
It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play. This spin on the well-known holiday classic recreates the setting to mimic a 1940s broadcast, using the talents of five versatile actors. Mind you, they’ll be playing a grand total of 50 characters to bring Frank Capra’s classic film to life. Read our FrontRow review here. WaterTower Theatre, through Dec. 16.
Junie B. Jones in Jingle Bells, Batman Smells. Based on one of the books in Barbara Park’s beloved Junie B. Jones series, first-grader Junie B. Jones is struggling with the Christmas spirit. She’s excited about her school’s holiday gift shop, but she’s drawn her arch-nemesis’ name for their classroom Secret Santa exchange, and kinda wants to give the girl a lump of coal. What will Junie B. do? Through Dec. 22, Dallas Children’s Theater at the Rosewood Center for Family Arts.
The Polyphonic Spree Holiday Extravaganza. This is the 10th year of holiday festivities for Tim DeLaughter’s gang of Christmas carolers. This year’s line-up includes the Contemporary Cello Quartet, Dallas Zoo Animal Adventures, Syncopated Ladies, and Gustafer Yellowgold. Of course, The Polyphonic Spree will also be gracing the stage to perform a rock set and a holiday set. All ages (kids four and under are free), smoke free, awesomeness. Lakewood Theater, Dec. 22.
Radio City Christmas Spectacular. We’re told this year’s show is the most spectacular yet. We bet they say that every year. But with new scenes, costumes, sets, special effects, and finale, who’s to say it won’t be the best one you’ve seen? This spectacle has all the frills and thrills of the holiday season and it’s aÂ good time for the whole family. You’ll leave feeling like you just took a tour through the ultimate Christmas wonderland. Verizon Theatre, through Dec. 8.
‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. It’s not quite a faithful retelling of Clement C. Moore’s memorable poem, but it’s chock-full of yuletide spirit. Little Molly is sad because her father, who’s off to fight a war, can’t be home for Christmas. To cheer her up, Molly’s mom takes her on a fantastical treasure hunt that features all the familiar, well-loved song such as “White Christmas” and “The First Noel.” Along the way, they meet dancing elves, Frosty the Snowman, and Santa Claus himself. Casa MaÃ±ana, through Dec. 23.
Ben Stevenson’s The Nutcracker. Christmas comes but once a year. Similarly, once a season, the Texas Ballet Theater trots out this crowd-pleasing classic. The ballet, set to Tchaikovsky’s beautiful music, promises to take you to a winter wonderland of anthropomorphic nutcrackers and spinny sugar plum fairies. Don’t miss TBT having a little fun at their own expense with The Nutty Nutcracker, a PG-13 spoof on the original that the company will perform on Dec. 21 only as part of the overall run. Winspear Opera House, through Dec. 2, or Bass Hall, Dec. 7-23.
Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis Holiday Show. The married country singers are touring together and playing songs from their Christmas album, Happy Holidays. You can expect to hear some new solo stuff in there as well. After all, it’s not like that family is lacking in musical inspiration. Wyly Theatre, Dec. 14.
Christmas Celebration With the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.Â After exhaustive research, we’ve stumbled upon the perfect antidote to Grinch-itis: your favorite tunes, played to perfection by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra in a majestic concert hall. Meyerson Symphony Center, Dec 7, 8, 9.
Ebenezer Scrooge. This hole-in-the-wall theater revives a riff on Charles Dickens’ classic tale once a season. Pocket Sandwich Theatre, through Dec. 23.
Handel’s Messiah. It just wouldn’t be right to let the Christmas season pass without hearing Handel’s Messiah performed live at least once. Conducted by David Thyne, the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra is joined by the Southwestern Seminary Master Chorale and guest soloists. Bass Hall, Dec. 3.
Holiday Eve with Bob Schneider and the Moonlight Orchestra. Whether you’ve seen him a dozen times or never heard a note, Schneider is one musical act that never seems to get old. With the Moonlight Orchestra, he’ll be playing his holiday favorites with a few of his own songs mixed in. Kessler Theater, Dec. 1, an early and a late show.
How The Edge Stole Christmas. If you’re not into music that makes you want to fall asleep beside the fireplace, this is for you. Lineup includes: Silversun Pickups, Fun., Metric, Grouplove, Passion Pit, The Joy Formidable, and IAMDYNAMITE. Verizon Theatre, Dec. 14.
The Polyphonic Spree Holiday Extravaganza. This is the 10th year of holiday festivities for Tim DeLaughter’s gang of Christmas carolers. This year’s line-up includes the Contemporary Cello Quartet, Dallas Zoo Animal Adventures, Syncopated Ladies, and Gustafer Yellowgold. Of course, The Polyphonic Spree will also be gracing the stage to perform a rock set and a holiday set. Lakewood Theater, Dec. 22.
The Jingle Bell Run. Let’s face it: we could all use some extra working out this time of year. After the fuzzy hangover from all the Thanksgiving tryptophan and the sugar cookies you’re probably planning on baking this entire month, a little fun run wouldn’t hurt to get you back on your game. A one-mile run/walk takes place first, followed by a more competitive 5K race for those go-getters who want an extra workout. The run benefits the Trinity Strand Trail and the Mavericks Foundation and features food, drinks, and entertainment. Hilton Anatole, Dec. 19.
Mannheim Steamroller. For years we’ve operated under the mistaken impression that the folks behind Mannheim Steamroller were like Christmas elves, in that they only existed during the holiday season as purveyors of Yuletide cheer. Not true. Mannheim Steamroller offers a full line of bath products, hot chocolates, and grilling spices, plus one seriously spooky Halloween album. We stand corrected. But happily, this particular concert is devoted to the group’s distinctive arrangements of old and classic carols. We’ve been holding out for their version of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Meyerson Symphony Center, Dec. 27 & 28.
Michael W. Smith with the DSO. The Meyerson is getting into the holiday spirit with two nights of contemporary Christian musician Michael W. Smith. Smith, a three-time Grammy Award winner, got his start writing gospel songs for stars such as Amy Grant and Sandi Patty. Listen for his early `90s crossover hit “Place in This World” and other inspirational tunes. Meyerson Symphony Center, Dec. 17 & 18.
Naughty and Nice: A Very Turtle Christmas. A holiday special in the tradition of Judy Garland, but with a Turtle Creek Chorale spin, of course. It’s an evening of song, story, and dance that promises an escape from the NyQuil-esque effect of hearing “Silent Night” for the zillionth time. Dallas City Performance Hall, Dec. 20-23.
Santa Claus Vs. the Martians. Keeping with their tradition of turning trash into campy treasure, Level Ground Arts’ latest production is based on a really terrible 1964 movie called Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. Of course, it’s so bad that it’s almost good. The story goes like this: Santa is kidnapped by extraterrestrials for obvious reasons–Mars needs someone to bring its little Martian children presents, too, and Earth just needs to learn how to share. It’s a non-traditional Christmas tale, but that’s not to say it won’t be thoroughly entertaining. KD Studio Theatre, Dec. 7-29.
Trans-Siberian Orchestra. TSO always seems to show up around the holidays, ready and willing to perform “Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24).” If you don’t instantly recognize the first few chords, we’re going to assume you’ve been hibernating for the past decade. American Airlines Center, two shows, Dec. 23.
Winter Series. The Dallas Black Dance Theatre’s season opener offers a new, commissioned work by hip-hop artist Rennie Harris of the Rennie Harris Puremovement company in Philadelphia. The program also includes “Nascimento,” by David Parsons, and the solo piece “Reflections in D,” choreographed by Alvin Ailey and set to music by Duke Ellington. Wyly Theatre, Dec. 7-9.