I look forward to Christmas Day every year. But it’s not for the reasons you’d think. No, it’s not the presents, holiday sweets, or even the carolers at my door. The reason I wait in gleeful anticipation for December 25 is that I can finally curl up by the fire with the 5 or so books I’ve been trying to read since October and relax. There’s no shopping to be done, no cookies to bake, no school pageants, concerts, plays, science fairs, etc to attend, it’s just me, my books, and the twinkling lights on our Christmas tree.
At some point during the day, my daughter will invariably ask, “What are we doing today?” She does this out of habit mostly because “holiday hustle and bustle” is a real thing in our house. I always reply, “Today my darling child, we relax and bask in the glow of Christmas.”
Speaking of basking in the glow of Christmas, the week between Christmas and New Years can be the perfect time to take in those fabulous light displays. The crowds have thinned out and the holiday pressure to get every experience in before Christmas day has magically disappeared. Instead of feeling compelled to rush, you have time to relax and really take in the beauty of the displays.
Here are some light displays you and the kiddos can check out. Hopefully, they’ll help the holiday glow last a teensy bit longer.
If Clark Griswold is your spirit animal and big light displays are your passion, don’t miss Prairie Lights in Grand Prairie. This drive-thru experience is the mother of all light displays. It features 4 million twinkling lights set along 2 miles of path, many of which arch over the roadway. At the halfway point you can stop at the Holiday Village for some hot chocolate and kettle corn. Let the little kiddies take a romp through the Holiday Magic Walk-Through Forest. Admission is $45 per car on weekends and $35 on non-prime days through Dec.31.
You know what they say, “Go big or go home.” Well, the Gift of Lights at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth is all that and a bag of chips. The Texas-sized drive-thru light show features more than 600-holiday displays in a nearly two-mile span at TMS. After you’ve gone through the drive-thru park, check out Santa’s Village on the inside track of the famous raceway. There are over 10k square feet of surprises for the kids and pictures with Santa. Open daily until Dec. 30.
If driving’s not your thing and you prefer to go walkin’ through your winter wonderland, check out Vitruvian Lights in Addison. You and the little kiddles can run, skip, or stroll through a beautiful 12-acre park that’s lit up with millions of lights wrapped around more than 550 trees. The lights remain on every evening through Jan. 1 and it’s free.
An often overlooked place to view lights is Klyde Warren Park. Get out of your car and let the tinies run off the sugar cookies on the path around the park, or head over to the ultra-modern playground for a little jungle gym action. A side note–this park is one of the few that I’ve seen with real bathrooms, not port-a-potties. Trust me when I tell you this is important information to have on hand during hot chocolate weather. If the kids are still extra energetic take a stroll over to the AT&T Performing Arts Center and check out the 72 trees in the center that are illuminated by 250,000 lights.
Looking for something really different? Head to the Dallas Zoo for Zoo lights. After the animals are tucked into bed for the night, the zoo will be transformed into a winter wonderland with nearly 1 million lights illuminating the park. Stroll along a path that covers 25 acres within the Zoo, and enjoy light-wrapped trees, overhead and hanging light displays, and lighted 2-D decorations. If the gang gets hungry, grab a treat from the s’mores station or some hot chocolate.
Ice skating! Carriage rides! Christmas Tree Maze! Whether you’re a kid or just a child at heart, there’s something for everyone at Frisco’s Christmas in the Square, the largest choreographed holiday lights and music show in North Texas. This display brings over 665,000 visitors a year to Frisco Square, but wait until after Christmas when the crowds have greatly thinned and you might have the 175,000 lights all to yourself. The best part is that no matter how balmy the Texas winter, it’ll be a white winter wonderland in the Square, thanks to their snow machines. This light extravaganza is on display until Dec. 31.
If you’re in Fort Worth head to Crockett Row at West 7th for Starlight Symphony. This a festive winter experience transforms the district into a twinkling wonderland with an hourly 5-minute music & lights show. Friday and Saturday evenings you can take a free horse-drawn carriage ride around Crockett Row and listen to local choirs, vocalists and musicians perform in Crockett Square. Starlight Symphony happens nightly through Dec. 31.
Is it 10 Pipers Piping, or 10 Lords A-Leaping? Find out at the Dallas Arboretum’s Holiday at the Arboretum. Their fantastical ’12 Days of Christmas’ display fills the garden with a dozen 25-foot glass gazebos, each filled with festive mechanical mannequins, holiday music, and elaborate props. Our favorite is the whimsical 8 Maids A Milking. The kitties sleeping in the hay seem almost life-like. The best time to see the display is at night. Don’t worry about finding your way through the dark garden. The .75 mile path through the exhibit is illuminated. See the popular Christmas carol come to life through Dec. 31.
For even more light displays check out Art&Seek’s Holiday Event Guide.