Make these DFW Christmas traditions annual events for your own family. With so many holiday events in Dallas-Fort Worth, your kids won’t be able to stay up late on Christmas Eve – they’ll be too worn out! Warning – make sure you have your story straight as to why there are so many Santas around before the Big Night!
#1 – See Your City or Suburb Light Up their Tree or Square
Many of our own communities in Dallas-Fort Worth host eye-popping holiday festivals to mark the beginning of the season. Most of these occur the weekend after Thanksgiving or the first weekend in December. To make it easy for you, MomsOutLoud.com has compiled a list (of course) of the DFW area Holiday Parades, Festivals, and Tree Lighting Ceremonies. Check it out – but remember, some are worth defecting for (like Fort Worth, Dallas’s Fair Park, or Frisco’s Merry Main Street).
#2 – See the Trains at NorthPark Center in Dallas
Have your children take their picture with the Santa who was named “one of the country’s premier Santa’s” by CBS News. Arriving the day after Thanksgiving along with the Salvation Army parade, this Santa has a new Tudor house in 2009. But even better – yes BETTER – than Santa is the annual train exhibit, which starts on Nov 21 in 2009. NorthPark is home of the most elaborate toy train exhibit in Texas. Proceeds of tickets to the exhibit benefit the Ronald McDonald House of Dallas. Read more about things to do at Christmas at NorthPark Center on MomsOutLoud.com.
#3 – Drive through one of the Best Holiday Light Displays in DFW
Everything is bigger in Texas, including light displays. Check out the MomsOutLoud.com list of the Best Holiday Light Displays in Dallas-Fort Worth. You’ll be sure to find a great one close to you…..or, worth the drive! Pack up the kids, a thermos of hot chocolate, gingerbread cookies and a Christmas CD and have fun!
#4 – Go to the Dallas Capital One Bank Adolphus Children’s Parade
Experience the colorful, musical and MOMentous extravaganza that is an Internationally acclaimed Parade, and at the same time – it functions as a fundraiser for Children’s Medical Center Dallas. General admission is free and open to the public, but reserved bleacher seating is $20 per seat (free for kids under 2 who sit on laps). Please visit www.childrens.com/parade for ticket info, directions, and other FAQ’s to plan your memorable day at the parade.
#5 – Do a Family Fun Run
The holidays don’t have to be about packing on pounds, and in fact, there are several area fun runs this time of year to help you stay active with your family (don’t you love living in Texas with this crisp-not-too-cold-winter-weather?!?). The annual Turkey Trot,held in downtown Dallas on Thanksgiving Day, attracted 35,000 participants this year. Allen’s Rudolph Run, held the first Saturday after Thanksgiving (this year that’s Dec 5) isn’t nearly as big, but is just as fun and may be less intimidating to little ones.
#6 – Celebrate Christmas by Candlelight at Dallas Heritage Village
Dallas Heritage Village at Old City Park is holding its annual Christmas by Candlelight event on the weekend of Dec 12-13. Bring your entire family to celebrate
the holiday as it would have been celebrated in the years between 1840-1910. See City Park residents in period costumes, ride on a donkey-drawn wagon, hear caroling in the streets. This is a very special event at one of DFW’s treasures, and one you will want to experience at least once – but preferably every year. Dallas Heritage Village is also holding its monthly Family Past Times on Dec 6 with free admission and tons of seasonal family activities (Past Times / free admission always the first Sunday of the month).
#7 – Ride the North Pole Express in Grapevine
All aboard! Grapevine’s Vintage Railroad becomes the North Pole Express depot every Thanksgiving through December. Children of all ages will love the onboard sing-a-long show, story time, and visit (and gift) from Santa. Even before departure, there are a slew of festive activities at the North Pole Fun Park. Click here for tickets information: or call (817) 410-3123.
#8 – Put Your Holiday on Ice at the Gaylord Texan
Every holiday, Gaylord Texan Resort transforms into a magical, winter wonderland. Their Lone Star Christmas officially kicked off on in November with the lighting of their 50′ tall Christmas tree and over 1.5 million lights adorning atriums and lobbies.
This part is free – but you’ll want to also check out the ICE! exhibit. Two million pounds of ice has been hand-carved and kept at a frosty 9° (they provide polar-grade coats, but you may still be chilly inside!). This year, the exhibit features “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” and opens Thursday, November 12th, 2009 and run through Sunday, January 3rd, 2010. Read more about the Lone Star Christmas at the Gaylord Texan.
#9 – Visit a Christmas Tree Farm
One of my family traditions growing up was to cut our own Christmas tree. (Easier back then, with four older brothers and farms around us everywhere that wanted their evergreens cut down.) But while you may still be faithful to your artificial tree – it isn’t biodegradable anyway, so you might as well use it as long as possible – you could still visit a farm for the fun family togetherness. Here are local options around DFW to choose and cut your own trees.
#10 – Skate next to the Tallest Christmas Tree in the U.S.
Okay, so the rink at the Dallas Galleria isn’t Rockefeller Center, but you have to admit that skating next to an 95’ tall Christmas tree is pretty cool – in fact, it’s the tallest in the US! At Christmastime, the ice skating rink at the Galleria is transformed into a magical winter wonderland with a giant, beautiful Christmas tree right in the middle, lit by 250,000 lights. On special dates/times this holiday season, you can see figure skating champions perform, including reps on our 2010 Olympic team like the U.S. National Pairs and Ladies Champions; see website for dates/times for other skaters/times. Oh, yeah….you can skate, too. Admission to the “coolest ice in town” is $8 and skate rental is $3.
#11 Take a Carriage Ride through the Arboretum
The Dallas Arboretum Holidays at the Arboretum is full of fun activities for families during the holiday season. From Nov. 28 – Dec 31, they will showcase spectacular holiday decor, including an amazing collection of nativity scenes on display in the DeGoyler House. (Tours begin daily at 9:30am, last tour at 4pm). Special events on the weekends include holiday music, photos with Santa by a professional photographer ($15/each), horsedrawn carriage rides ($5/person). Children will love the holiday crafts, meeting Frosty & Rudolph, and story time with Mrs. Claus. See the website for special events each weekend that your kids will love. Enjoy the holidays with your family in this special Dallas landmark of 66 beautiful acres by White Rock Lake.
#12 See a Special Holiday Story Performed Live
There are so many holiday performances that you could make a part of your annual traditions. Dallas-Fort Worth attracts leading traveling performances, like the Radio City Christmas Spectacular with the Rockefeller Rockettes, Disney’s Rockin’ Road Show, and others. But we also have wonderful, engaging theater, ballet, and music just for kids. (See our article on The Nutcracker performance by the Dallas Repertoire Ballet for a particularly friendly family option, reviews of the The Best Christmas Pageant Ever and Santa’s Holiday for Strings – both holiday shows at the Dallas Theatre Center, or check out a perennial favorite – Slappy’s Puppet Playhouse which is producing the Nutcracker SWEET! through December.) Our calendar of events on MomsGo highlights all the big performances and events; check it frequently so you don’t miss out (and don’t forget to browse by city or click a date on the calendar image to see ALL of the events in our database vs. just the ones we hand pick to highlight!!
#13 Visit a Real Santa Village
Santa’s Village in Richardson is like being at the North Pole! Located on the lawn at the City Hall in Richardson, Santa’s Village is a magical place where your children can visit adorable cottages in the village to write a letter to Santa, make an ornament, see Santa’s house, pet the reindeer, watch a Marionette show, and lots more, all for free. Santa’s Village kicks off on December 5 with the 38th Annual Christmas Parade beginning at 9am.
Another local “village” to see is Frisco Fire Safety Town, which gets decked out for the holidays each year and is open to the public on two weekends – Dec 11-13 and Dec 18-22. This miniature-sized village (just right for pre-schoolers and elementary-aged kids to practice traffic safety on their bikes or scooters) will feature Santa in the mini fire station and live performances from area children’s groups.
Rebekah Cooksey, Founder and Chief Executive Mom ofMomsOutLoud.com, is a Plano Mom of 3. Her favorite holiday is Christmas, and she has 33 boxes of Christmas decorations to prove it. She is looking forward to spending time with her family this season seeing many of these attractions. You can reach her firstname.lastname@example.org.