Light the night

Light the night

By Sydni Ellis

Christmas isn’t just one day — it’s a thousand little moments that make the end of the year so special. It’s taking your first sip of hot cocoa, hearing your favorite holiday song on the radio, stealing kisses under the mistletoe, feeling that jittery rush from finding the perfect gift. My favorite yuletide tradition has always been looking at magical Christmas lights! When I go light-gazing, warm nostalgia fills my heart with happy childhood memories. Learning how to wrap lights around the Christmas tree branches with my mom, staring at the dizzying kaleidoscope of colors my dad hung on the roof — it’s all so wonderful. 

Admiring dazzling lights has been a Christmas tradition since a few wise men followed a bright star to a baby in a manger. Now, you don’t have to look to the heavens for a glowing display — there are millions of twinkling lights right here in North Texas! Christmas parades, drive-thru shows, walking winter wonderlands and more will make the holiday season spectacular. Keep reading to discover a few of our favorite upcoming displays in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. 

Start your Christmas lights journey in the closest place the south has to the North Pole — Grapevine, AKA the Christmas Capital of Texas! The city boasts millions of lights and more than 1,400 Christmas events in 40 days, designed to make even the Grinch among us smile. Visit the Historic Grapevine Christmas Spectacular every day from 9 a.m.-11 p.m. through Jan. 10 to see hundreds of thousands of lights on Main Street, daily performances by a group of animated snowman called “The Chilly Dawgs,” and a Whoville display at the Town Square Gazebo. 

When the sun sets, stay in downtown Grapevine for the City Hall Light Show Spectacular! As snow flurries around you (it’s always snowing at this show!), take a moment to admire the 40-foot community animated

Singing Christmas Tree inside the Town Square Gazebo and the choreographed twinkling light show. This event is designed for all ages to enjoy the magic of Christmas! Admission is free. 

While you’re in Grapevine, be sure to stop by the Gaylord Texan Resort for its 17th annual Lone Star Christmas event. Just walking into the Gaylord is a breath-taking experience. With four-and-a-half acres of beautifully decorated indoor atriums — featuring two million dazzling lights, 15,000 shimmering ornaments, a Polar Express-themed train set and a new 52-foot tall towering Christmas tree — you could spend hours just walking around and admiring it. Unfortunately, you don’t have time, because there are so many fantastic holiday events and activities this year, including several new ones. 

Christmas movie junkies don’t want to miss the “I Love Christmas Movies!” multi-sensory exhibit, presented in collaboration with Warner Bros. Consumer Products. Walk through the enchanting lands straight from your favorite holiday movies, including Elf, A Christmas Story, The Polar Express, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, and The Year Without Santa Claus. These fantastic scenes are made with replicas of film props, audio clips and more to make you feel like you are really part of your favorite story. 

For more Christmas lights, head outside to the Gaylord’s other new event: Yuletide Bright! This delightful holiday lantern display includes over 50,000 square feet of merry and bright holiday characters and scenes to walk through and admire. Later, use real snow to build your own snowman, go on a ride down the snow tubing hill, and enjoy a delicious meal at the Elf on the Shelf Character Breakfast buffet. Advanced reservations are required for all ticketed events (you can also get 50% off tickets on select days to the “I Love Christmas Movies” experience with the code GAYLORD).

Next, head to Dallas for lights that are sure to make you feel holly jolly. For years, people have loved the Dallas Zoo Lights display, featuring lions, bears, giraffes, elephants and more, all made of lights. This year, you can experience the beloved animal-themed lights in a totally new way: by driving through this holiday safari in the safety of your own vehicle! 

To keep in line with social distancing guidelines, the Dallas Zoo constructed a new pathway through the zoo so guests can marvel at more than one million lights, silk-covered animal lanterns and an ice palace of penguins without leaving the car. You can also turn your radio to 1670 AM to hear fun holiday tunes and pre-order a holiday goodies option to get popcorn, sweets and hot chocolate upon arrival. Reserve your spot in advance for $65 per car for non-members. It’ll be open through Jan. 3.

Travel back in time to see a world with old-fashioned carolers, handmade gifts, beautifully painted displays, and gorgeous lights by going to Holiday at the Arboretum inside the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden through Dec. 31. During the day, you can see the 12 Days of Christmas display, with twelve 25-foot-tall elaborate Victorian-style gazebos representing a different day in the classic carol. But the gazebos come alive after dusk, when more than one million twinkling lights are turned on. Afterward, walk through the Pauline and Austin Neuhoff Christmas Village with 14 European-style shops reminiscent of a Christkindlmarket. For the first time, you can see the brand new, handcrafted Christmas pyramid that stands 23-feet-tall! This awe-inspiring pyramid was hand carved by German artists from the Erzgebirge region, with four levels that spin and glow by the light of candles. Nighttime admission is $25 for non-members and must be reserved in advance. 

In Frisco, you can visit Christmas in the Square, daily from 6-10 p.m. through Jan. 4. This free show — described as the largest choreographed holiday lights and music show in North Texas — includes over 180,000 lights and 200 dancing snowflakes, set to music blasting from 107.3 FM. You can also shop in the holiday vendor market, ride in a horse carriage, ice skate on the Square and more. 

If you have time this season, you can see some of the other impressive lights displays around town. For example, the fantastic Holiday Lights Parade in Arlington begins at 6 p.m. Dec. 12, followed by a tree lighting, pictures with Santa and a movie screening of Elf.

Vitruvian Lights in Addison is wonderful, with millions of colorful LED lights that make Vitruvian Park glow each evening from 5-11 p.m., through Jan. 3. 

Closer to home, don’t miss Farmersville’s  Lights, a special nightly light display starting Dec. 1. Take a drive along Farmersville Parkway and prepare to be amazed by the millions of lights that make the season merry and bright. When you’re ready to eat or shop, head to the quaint downtown area, where there’s plenty of options and plenty of charm.

Even though the COVID-19 pandemic has modified or canceled many of our plans in 2020, nothing will dim our spirits — or these beautiful Christmas light displays. With a few safety protocols, you can gaze at these sparkling lights and let all your worries melt away. Make celebrating the holiday season a priority this year — you deserve it.

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