The Dallas-Fort Worth area is full of holiday cheer from mid-November through January each year. From elaborate holiday toy train exhibits to diverse festivals celebrating the winter season, there's no shortage of great events and activities happening in DFW to get you and your family in the holiday spirit. If you need a break from shopping, baking, and mailing holiday cards, visit one of these great holiday-themed entertainment venues in the DFW area.
Located on Level Two's Nordstrom Wing between Sephora and Free People in the NorthPark Center just off the North Central Expressway in downtown Dallas, the Trains at NorthPark has been a tradition in DFW for over 30 years. Benefitting the Ronald McDonald House of Dallas (RMHD), this special exhibit features an elaborate holiday toy train display featuring over 1,600 feet of track rolling from coast to coast on a replica map of the United States.
Model locomotives whiz on a journey across America, from San Fransico, past the Dallas skyline, and then onto New England's Washington D.C., Boston, and New York City. Along the way, the trains also pass replicas of natural wonders in the American Southwest including the Grand Canyon and the Garden of the Gods.
Over 70,000 people visit NorthPark Center each year to see the Trains at NorthPark, which is on display daily from November 16, 2019, through January 5, 2019. However, the exhibit is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day and closes early on Thanksgiving Eve, Christmas Eve, New Year's Eve, and New Year's Day.
Holiday at the Arboretum
Each year, the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden host a variety of special exhibits to celebrate the holiday season including the 12 Days of Christmas outdoor exhibit, the DeGolyer House “Christkindlmarket Treasures," and a new-in-2019 Christmas Village built by Pauline and Austin Neuhoff.
The 12 Days of Christmas exhibition—which is on display from November 9 through December 31, 2019—is the centerpiece of holiday celebrations in the arboretum that features an elaborate collection of 26-foot Victorian gazebos filled with the charming costumed characters and whimsical animals that are made famous by the beloved "12 Days of Christmas" carol. Each gazebo is encased in glass and extravagantly decorated on all sides to provide a dramatic, three-dimensional experience and features mechanical parts and festive music that helps bring the characters to an even more life-like state.
On November 23, 2019, the arboretum debuts its newest holiday exhibit, a Christmas Village that is made up of 12 charming shops and façades that represent a quaint European hamlet. Kids and adults alike can explore these themed houses to experience holiday businesses including a candy shop, bakery, and the house of Santa Claus himself. On weekends and evenings throughout the holiday season, costumed volunteers are also on-site to work in each shop and pass out samples of their wares.
Meanwhile, the historic DeGolyer House also hosts its annual "Christkindlmarket Treasures" exhibit, which features a collection of holiday decorations, nativity scenes, angels, nutcrackers, wooden Santas, and Christmas trees from Junior League of Dallas members and Mary Templeton.
The Galleria Mall's Christmas Tree
Located just north of downtown Dallas, the Galleria Mall is home to the largest indoor Christmas tree in the world. Featuring over a half-million lights, 10,000 ornaments, and a 100-pound, 10-foot-tall LED star, this magnificent tree towers at over 95 feet tall and is placed in the Center Court towering over the Galleria's Ice Skating Rink.
The Christmas Tree also lights up daily throughout the holiday season during the Galleria Dallas Illumination Celebration, which features choreographed lights set to a variety of carols and Christmas tunes. Showtimes for the daily illumination events take place every two hours on Mondays through Saturdays from 12 to 8 p.m. and on Sundays from 12 to 6 p.m.
Before you head out of the mall (or continue your Christmas shopping adventure there), be sure to stop by the Christmas Village on Level Two, near Saks Fifth Avenue, to visit Santa Claus and get your holiday picture taken. After you're done, you can also stop by the indoor ice rink for free skating hours throughout the month as well as a variety of special workshops and classes for beginner skaters on select days in December.
Christkindl Market in Arlington
Modeled after the tradition of holiday markets held throughout Germany during the winter season each year, the Christkindl Market in Arlington is an enchanting family market featuring authentic German cuisine, beverages, entertainment, arts, crafts, and a variety of holiday gifts.
Located at the North Plaza at Globe Life Field, this special holiday market runs daily from November 29 through December 22, 2019. The market is free to attend and open to all ages, but you'll have plenty of opportunities to spend money on exclusive Käthe Wohlfahrt Christmas decorations and designs from the renowned Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas Village in Germany as well as a variety of local food vendors and holiday craftspeople.
If you're looking for more entertainment while you're there, the Christkindl Market in Arlington is also home to an outdoor ice rink, which is open on select days from November 29, 2019, through January 12, 2020.
ICE! Featuring "A Charlie Brown Christmas"
The Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center in Grapevine presents a signature holiday attraction each year in its annual Christmas Village. Known as ICE!, this special indoor installation features over two million pounds of hand-carved ice sculptures and six ice slides housed in an environment kept at a chilly 9 degrees Fahrenheit—well below the average temperature in North Texas this time of year!
In 2019, ICE! features characters and stories from the beloved holiday film "A Charlie Brown Christmas" as well as a separate area with the Nativity scene carved out of crystal-clear ice by over 40 artists from Harbin, China. The event runs from November 15, 2019, through January 5, 2020, and the self-guided walk-through experience lasts approximately 15 to 30 minutes.
Holiday in the Park (Six Flags Over Texas)
Holiday in the Park is the seasonal transition where Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington transitions into a winter wonderland each year. Enjoy spectacular seasonal shows, tasty holiday treats, and an unprecedented Christmas celebration like none other in North Texas. Sled down a Frosty's Snow Hill and participate in crafts and sing-alongs, and don't miss the daily parade 30 minutes before closing.
Highlights of the event include the Holiday Tree of Trees Light Spectacular, a giant outdoor tree covered in thousands of LED lights; the Merry Marketplace, a holiday food and gift vending area inside the park, and the Deep in the Heart of Christmas lighting display, which features over eight and a half miles of Christmas lights arranged to make a canopy of the Texas flag and decorated with Texas-sized ornaments. Holiday in the Park is open every weekend and some select weekdays beginning on November 23, 2019, and running through January 5, 2020.
The Moscow Ballet's "Great Russian Nutcracker"
Each year, the Moscow Ballet tours around the world to present special performances of its version of "The Nutcracker" ballet, "Great Russian Nutcracker." Featuring over 200 beautiful costumes, nine larger-than-life puppets, and an entire company of amazing ballet dancers, this holiday classic showcase takes place at Southern Methodist University's McFarlin Memorial Auditorium in Dallas on Saturday, November 16, 2019, at 3 and 7 p.m. and on Sunday, November 17 at 1 p.m.
Home for the Holidays
Downtown McKinney’s premier festival, Home for the Holidays, is an old-fashioned Christmas festival featuring horse-drawn carriages, strolling carolers, visits with Santa Claus, a Christmas tree lighting ceremony, and activities for all ages. Periodically during the month of December, the shops in downtown McKinney also stay open for extended hours for holiday shopping with over 100 boutiques, art galleries, bookstores, apparel, gifts, and antiques.
Home for the Holidays is free to attend and takes place on Friday and Saturday, November 29 and 30, 2019, from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and on Sunday, December 1 from 12 to 5 p.m.