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8 Magical Things to Do in Big D During the Holidays

November 14, 2018 by Mary McKinny
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Everything becomes a little more magical during the holidays — not to mention busier. Make time in between parties and marathon baking sessions to get out and see the city all dressed up for the season. There’s plenty to see, after all.

Galleria Dallas’s Christmas tree
Everything’s bigger in Texas, and that includes Christmas trees. The one at Galleria Dallas is the largest indoor tree in the country, measuring four stories high (or 95 feet), and is topped with a 100-pound LED star. If that wasn’t impressive enough, remember that it sits on the shopping center’s ice rink, and that setting gets put to good use with the six Grand Tree Lighting Celebrations, running Saturdays through Dec. 22. Each free holiday show features the ice-skating, back-flipping, pyrotechnic Santa Claus known as Missile Toes, plus live performances from Olympic, World, and National champions such as ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White, singles stars Patrick Chan and Jeremy Abbott, and pairs performers Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford.

12 Days of Christmas at Dallas Arboretum
This outdoor exhibit (yes, you can buy hot chocolate and apple cider) reimagines the classic carol as larger-than-life displays throughout the gardens. The elaborate, 25-foot, Victorian-style gazebos are filled with costumed characters and whimsical animals, each one encased in glass and featuring mechanical parts and festive music. If you wander through this winter wonderland at night, you’ll be surrounded by 500,000 twinkling lights and a 30-foot Christmas tree at the center of the property.

Peppermint Park at Hilton Anatole
Another outdoor experience is the immersive park for both kids and adults, which covers everything from a holiday train chugging its way around the property to the chance to make green slime with the Grinch. Hotel guests have access to special extras, like breakfast with Santa and Mrs. Claus, and also get to exclusively view the holiday-themed fireworks finale on Dec. 7.

Visit with Santa at NorthPark Center
Jolly St. Nick might be seen popping up all around DFW, but the main place to spot him is at this shopping mecca. Line up to snap a picture in his cozy cottage, or swing by for story time with Santa. While at NorthPark, you can also view the impressive display of Trains at NorthPark, catch a holiday concert from the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, or get the giggles while watching Santa’s Toy Shoppe Puppet Theatre or Scrooge Puppet Theatre. Making its return this year is a cheerful favorite that’s not been seen since 2006. The 28-foot-tall 12 Days of Christmas Clock originally made its debut in 1979, and was handcrafted by Bill Reed in the tradition of animated clocktowers in Europe.

Watch the Dallas Holiday Parade
On Dec. 1 at 10AM, nearly a half a million people will be lined up along Commerce, Harwood, and Young streets to watch a beloved tradition make its way through downtown Dallas. The parade began in 1987 as a fundraiser for Children’s Medical Center Dallas, and the hope and good cheer it brings has led to the parade being given the title “Miracle on Commerce Street.” Floats, balloons, dance teams, and marching bands are all part of the magic, which ends — of course — with a visit from Santa.

Christmas at the White House
The George W. Bush Library and Museum recreates the presidential holiday decorations of 2006, when the theme was “Deck the Halls and Welcome All.” Visitors can enjoy recreations and decorations of the Christmas White House holiday, behind-the-scenes photos, and a replica of the Blue Room White House Christmas tree, which twinkled with crystals, snow, and ornaments of iridescent glass.

Christmas by Candlelight
Dallas Heritage Village recreates Texas life from 1840-1910, and during Christmas it brings the season to life with pioneer and Victorian costumed interpreters. At the 1860s Farmstead, attendees see how early Dallas pioneers enjoyed a modest Christmas as the country approached the Civil War. Cowboys tell tales at the roaring bonfire, while root beer and dominoes are available at the Alamo Saloon. The candlelit paths provide a perfect opportunity to take a stroll and tour the historic structures.

A Wild Wonderland
During the day, the Dallas Zoo is a haven for all sorts of animals, but at night during November and December it becomes a sparkling menagerie of lighted creatures. Zoo Lights illuminates the park with more than one million lights, and this year it has expanded to include realistic, silk-covered lanterns in the shape of your favorite animals.