Whether it’s Liza Minnelli or Santa you seek, there are plenty of holiday activities to satisfy every sugarplum fairy. Grinches, this is not necessarily a place for you.
Grand Tree Lighting Celebration. Not only is the Galleria home to the tallest indoor Christmas tree in the United States, but the mall also managed to find the world’s nimblest Kris Kringle. Missile Toes, as this back-flipping Santa is called, performs daredevil stunts on the ice alongside former Olympic champions, angels, elves, and sugar plums every time the 95-foot tree sparkles to life. Galleria Dallas, Dec. 7, 14, 21.
Santa Claus in His Village. Santa Claus takes up residence in this cozy cottage for photos and gift requests. We’d like everything on the Neiman Marcus fantasy gift list, including, but not limited to, the personalized medieval falcon hunting experience that obviously includes a backgammon set. Please and thanks. Galleria Dallas, through Dec 24.
Visits and Portraits With Santa Claus. NorthPark isn’t as snowy as Santa’s headquarters in the North Pole, but his home away from home is every bit as cozy. Believers of all ages can take a seat by the fireplace to share holiday wish lists and take photos with the man of the hour before he mounts his sleigh on Christmas Eve. NorthPark Center, through Dec. 24.
Holiday at the Arboretum. The Arboretum’s magical Christmas display at the DeGolyer House offers a collection of more than 400 angel figurines to admire along with the chance to tell Santa Claus how good you’ve been all year. His (live) reindeer might even make a special appearance. The photo opportunities are endless, so bundle up and don’t forget your camera. Dallas Arboretum, daily through Dec. 31.
Lone Star Christmas. Our coldest nights may be too weak to produce a decent snowman, but the folks at Gaylord Texan Resort have pulled off a winter wonderland that rivals the North Pole itself. The annual celebration features old holiday favorites, such as their 54-foot Christmas tree, a life-size gingerbread house, and an army of toy soldiers on stilts. This year’s event also includes “ICE!: The Nutcracker,” a 14,000-square-foot exhibit featuring figures and scenes hand-carved by master artisans from Harbin, China. Ride the virtual roller coaster at the 5D cinema, where all five senses get the full Christmas experience as you explore the Holiday Candy Castle. If you’re craving a little thrill, slide down the tubing hill on freshly-made snow. You’ll want to bring mittens and a coat to the exhibit—it’s kept at a chilly 9 degrees. Gaylord Texan, daily through Jan. 4.
The Trains at NorthPark. It’s a yearly holiday tradition that’s not to be missed. The intricate toy train exhibit, made up of 1,600 feet of track, takes small pints on a magical trip across America’s most iconic landmarks. Experience the glowing cityscapes of Dallas, New York City, and Washington, D.C., as well as the natural wonders of the Grand Canyon and autumn in New England. NorthPark Center, through Jan. 5.
Gift of Lights. If we were planning the Texas Motor Speedway’s big holiday display, we’d need at least a dozen lists checked way more than twice. The drive-through Christmas wonderland features more than two million LED lights that depict everything from festive dinosaurs to flying reindeer. You can also hop out of the car for winter wonderland activities like snow tubing and visits with Santa. Texas Motor Speedway, through Jan. 5.
AT&T Performing Arts Center Holiday Festival. The big holiday party starts with Christmas carols and ends with a massive display of fireworks with all sorts of fun in between. There will be zoo animals and a winter play area for the kiddos (complete with snow), plus performances by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s brass quintet and songs sung by members of the cast of Dallas Theater Center’s A Christmas Carol. Country star Jack Ingram takes the main stage at 6:15 p.m. After, stick around the Arts District for a spirited performance of The Nutcracker or A Christmas Carol. Sammons Park outside the Winspear Opera House, Dec. 13.
Fair Park Holiday. Fair Park’s yearly holiday celebration is a three-day event featuring lots of places to shop, children’s activities like ornament decoration, a tree lighting ceremony, hot chocolate and cider, music, dancers, and so much more. We hear the big man himself may make an appearance. Don’t miss out on the fun. Fair Park, Dec. 6.
White Rock Lake Local Market. Every holiday season, we gaze longingly at other people’s pumpkin-flavored baked goods and decide that this will finally be the year we use our oven for something besides frozen pizza. After spending an afternoon salvaging a burnt pie or two, we can always count on the folks at White Rock Local Market to save the day. The fifth annual WRLM Holiday Extravaganza is your one-stop shop for food, crafts, and artsy gifts, all brought to you by the best local farmers, artisans, and artists Dallas has to offer. Breads, cheeses, salsas, coffee, candles, jewelry, bird-feeders, art, handmade ray guns—you name it, they’ve got it. Join the cakewalk and raffle, and enjoy live music from Dave Burris Group while you shop. Lakeside Baptist Church, Dec. 7.
Christmas in the Stockyards. Fort Worth’s Stockyards provide the perfect backdrop for tradition and celebration, with its annual Christmas tree lighting, pony rides, petting zoo, holiday parade, and much more. Saint Nicholas – a big fan of the stockyards – will be donning his cowboy gear for the occasion. Bring the whole family. Fort Worth Stockyards, Dec. 7.
Children’s Medical Center Holiday Parade. This annual holiday tradition starts the season off right. Join a crowd of thousands to see a procession of floats, dancers, marching bands, and other performers make its way through the streets of downtown. If you want to fork over some extra cash, you can reserve bleacher seats online, which will make it all the better to see Santa slip by on his sleigh. Proceeds from the ticket sales and donations benefit Children’s Medical Center Child Life services, a division of patient care that helps sick kids cope with extended stays in the hospital as well as work through diagnoses. Downtown Dallas, Dec. 7.
Camp Gingerbread. Get a crash course in edible-cottage-making with this two-day boot camp. The whole family can decorate gingerbread abodes with frosting, candies, nuts, and other goodies. NorthPark Center, Dec 7 & 8.
Neiman Marcus Adult Crawl. It’s the happiest day of the happiest time of the year: the day adults get to experience the whimsical holiday magic of the Neiman Marcus crawl tubes. (Every other day, it’s like Trix. Just for kids.) Proceeds from this special evening benefit Color Me Empowered, an organization that targets art-risk kids and commmunities through public art projects. Downtown Neiman Marcus, Dec. 12.
Candlelight at Dallas Heritage Village. Strolling carolers will entrance you with the cheerful sounds of the season while you enjoy holiday crafts, baked goods, live music, and more. Kids will have a chance to tell St. Nick what they want for Christmas. Dallas Heritage Village, Dec 14 & 15.
Holiday Trail of Lights. Take your adorable little family to a gorgeous display of lights and synchronized music down a half-mile nature trail. You can sip hot cocoa and other holiday treats along the way. The Heard’s outdoor ampitheater will be lit up by local performers. Indulge yourself in Christmas cheer. Heard Natural Science Museum, Dec. 14.
Donny and Marie Christmas. Brother and sister entertainers Donny and Marie Osmond revive the beloved aspects of their 1970s variety show for a new Christmas tradition that includes seasonal hits and favorites such as “A Little Bit Country, A Little Bit Rock and Roll.” Verizon Theatre, Dec 4.
How the Edge Stole Christmas. It’s that blessed time of year when Michael Bublé’s voice hijacks radio stations across the country. But if you’re craving something besides the usual calm, cozy melodies, 102.1 Edge has you covered. This year’s winter concert features alt-rock favorites like Thirty Seconds To Mars, Blue October, Panic! At The Disco, Capital Cities, New Politics, and Stone Temple Pilots with Chester Bennington. Verizon Theatre, Dec. 5.
Christmas Celebration. The Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the Dallas Symphony Chorus, and the Christmas Celebration Children’s Choir combine their collective talents for a family-friendly concert featuring the season’s greatest hits. Santa Claus will ditch the North Pole a little early to appear in person. Meyerson Symphony Center, Dec. 6-8, Dec. 13-15, Dec. 19-22.
Parade of Flesh Holiday Benefit Show. If your least favorite thing about the holidays is having to hear Alvin and the Chipmunks sing “The Christmas Song” in that inhumanly high pitch for the umpteenth time, don’t fret. The line-up for the Holiday Benefit Show in Deep Ellum features local bands like Pinkish Black, Nervous Curtains, and Vulgar Fashion. It’s good music for a good cause–all proceeds go towards holiday meals for needy families. Club Dada, Dec. 7.
Christmas at the Meyerson. The Dallas Wind Symphony puts on a spirited holiday concert featuring Christmas classics, caroling, and a visit from Santa. You’ll even hear Leroy Anderson’s popular “Sleigh Ride.” If that doesn’t get you in the Yuletide frame of mind, we don’t know what will. Meyerson Symphony Center, Dec. 11.
Preservation Hall Jazz Band – Creole Christmas. There’s no room for the blues during this outsize concert featuring the sounds of the Crescent City. The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, named for the famous French Quarter venue that many New Orleans jazz musicians have called their musical home since the early 1960s, will put a brassy, swing-filled spin on Christmas favorites. Meyerson Symphony Center, Dec. 12.
Decembersong. There are plenty of high-tech light shows and pyrotechnic Santa Clauses to go around, but there’s nothing wrong with a good, old-fashioned concert to get into the holiday spirit. The Turtle Creek Chorale knows how to spread a little yuletide cheer with classics like “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” Dallas City Performance Hall, Dec. 12, 13, and 22.
A Big Brassy Christmas. Ask and ye shall receive. Back in August, The Dallas Morning News‘ classical music critic Scott Cantrell lamented how little the Meyerson’s resident symphony orchestra employs its magnificent Fisk organ, an expensive gift from the Lay family more than 20 years ago. (Cantrell made a similar complaint in May of 2012, calling the 4,535-pipe organ’s underuse a “scandal.”) This Christmas concert shakes the dust off with longtime principal organist Mary Preston at the keys. Don’t miss your chance to hear Preston accompany the DSO’s brass section in a performance of popular carols. It’s not quite a solution to the problem, but it’s something. Meyerson Symphony Center, Dec. 17.
Robert Earl Keen’s Merry Christmas From the Fam-o-lee. If you’re dreaming of a Texas Christmas, look no further. Country legend Robert Earl Keen wrote a salty holiday tune a few years back that proved so popular that it spawned a tradition—Keen, his guitar, a stage, and all the holiday hits you could ever want. The song that inspired the whole shebang, “Merry Christmas From The Family,” offers a vision of drunk family members, awkward interactions, and flipped breakers. Sounds hilariously familiar. House of Blues, Dec 19.
Naughty & Nice: A Very Turtle Christmas. What does Liza Minnelli want for Christmas? We’ll give you a hint: it’s not another date with Buster Bluth from Arrested Development. In case you missed last year’s A Very Turtle Christmas antics—which included a three-minute Nutcracker, complete with a Sugar Plum Fairy in drag and Gangam Style dance moves—the Turtle Creek Chorale is bringing Liza (played by BJ Cleveland) back on stage for a holiday show unlike any other. In addition to “guests” Joan Crawford, Marilyn Monroe, and Patsy Cline, A Very Turtle Christmas II: Liza’s Wish List will feature performances by Soundbytes, Camerata, and Voices of Eight. Dallas City Performance Hall, Dec. 19, 20, 21.
Kenny G Holiday Show. The curly-haired king of smooth jazz will play holiday hits with the backing of the full Dallas Pops orchestra. Kenny G and his soprano sax have intrepreted Christmas classics many times and in different ways over the years, and we can’t wait to hear what this contemporary musician has in store. Winspear Opera House, Dec. 23.
Polyphonic Spree. The Spree puts on their beloved Christmas show, complete with Tim DeLaughter and his many merry elves playing two sets: one for seasonal tunes and the other for the band’s original rock. Lakewood Theater, Dec. 21.
A Spune Christmas. A Spune Productions tradition that dates back to 2004. Shining North Texas stars Midlake, Air Review, Bethan, and Datahowler make the bill. There will be food, cocktails, and plenty of seasonal cheer. Texas Theatre, Dec. 21.
Michael W. Smith. You probably don’t need much convincing to see Michael W. Smith—the Grammy Award-winning performer has had no trouble maintaining his popularity among pop and gospel audiences alike. The Dallas Symphony and Angie Miller from American Idol join the contemporary Christian musician for an uplifting concert experience that celebrates the holiday spirit. Meyerson Symphony Center, Dec. 9 & 10.
Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Before the trademark rock-holiday song was making Halo 3 sound cool on Xbox commercials, “Christmas Eve(Sarajevo 12/24)” debuted in TSO’s triple-platinum rock opera, the first part of a Christmas trilogy. In “The Lost Christmas Eve,” the trilogy’s third installment, TSO recounts the story of one man’s opportunity for redemption after abandoning his newborn son. It’s a powerful narrative made been more memorable by TSO’s spectacular fusion of rock, classical and Broadway-styled sounds. American Airlines Center, Dec. 30.
The Nutcracker, Winspear Opera House (Through Dec 8) and Bass Hall (Dec 13-Dec 27). Let the Texas Ballet Theater transport you to a magical night filled with battling mice, exotic sweets, and snowflakes that twirl to one of Tchaikovsky’s most beloved compositions. Reserve your tickets to see Stevenson’s dazzling sets, lavish costumes, and stunning choreography bring this holiday classic to life. If you can’t get enough, FrontRow has a list of other Nutcracker productions worth your time.
Frosty the Snowman. Everyone loves the tale of a jolly, fashionably-attired snowman named Frosty. Now the story comes to life in a musical form perfect for the whole family. Casa Manana, through Dec. 15.
Irving Berlin’s White Christmas. Irving Berlin’s White Christmas is dusted off just about every holiday season for a quick, crowd-pleasing run on Broadway. And there’s nothing wrong with that. The musical recounts a heartwarming story of love and cheer (two showbiz friends meet the women of their dreams while performing at a cozy Vermont inn) set to Berlin’s classic tunes. It’s proven irresistible to everyone whose heart isn’t two sizes too small. Fair Park Music Hall, Dec 17-29.
The Nutty Nutcracker. What goes well with anthropomorphic nutcrackers, life-size mice, and spinny sugar plum fairies? A sense of humor. Don’t miss the Texas Ballet Theater poking a little fun at their own expense with The Nutty Nutcracker, a spoof on the original that the company will perform one night only as part of the traditional ballet’s overall run. The show changes every year to reflect the past twelve months in pop culture. Bass Hall, Dec. 20.
The Nutcracker at the Dallas Children’s Theater. Lamb Chop, King Friday, and Kermit the Frog aren’t getting much air time these days, which is all the more reason to check out the Dallas Children’s Theater’s latest puppet production of this holiday classic. Brought to life by Kathy Burks and Company, the show’s exquisitely crafted puppets captivate the young and young-at-heart. Rosewood Center for Family Arts, through Dec. 22.
‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. In a new holiday musical based on the story behind Clement Clarke Moore’s well-known poem, the writer still hasn’t come up with a holiday feature for the New York Evening Post just four days before Christmas. Classic! As his household gets increasingly caught up in the holiday festivities, Moore gets a little writerly inspiration from sugar plum fairies, toys that come to life, and St. Nick himself. Rosewood Center for Family Arts, through Dec. 22.
A Christmas Carol. Charles Dickens’ classic tale of greed and redemption graces the stage every year courtesy of the Dallas Theater Center, but this is the first time the DTC will present a completely new version inside the Wyly Theatre, complete with flying advice-giving ghosts and special effects to mimic the soft fall of snow. Directed by Kevin Moriarty and choreographed by Joel Ferrell, the cast will regale us with the story of how old Ebenezer Scrooge’s heart of stone softens as he’s offered a look at his past, present, and future. Wyly Theatre, through Dec. 24.
Jubilation. Lee Roy, Jubilee Theatre’s mascot and host of Lee Roy’s Night Club, throws a big Christmas celebration that doubles as a Harlem-style rent party. Expect your favorite seasonal songs with a gospel twist. Jubilee Theatre, through Dec 29.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Despite the festivities, the holidays can occasionally get us down. We take comfort knowing that the stop-motion animation classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer will inevitably pop up on our TV at some point in December. Like stockings on the mantle and rum in our eggnog, it’s a tradition worth keeping. If you love this story about one physically anomalous reindeer’s quest for acceptance by his peers as much as we do, you’ll snag tickets to this live adaptation featuring puppet versions of all the North Pole’s beloved inhabitants. Majestic Theatre, through Dec. 29.
The Santaland Diaries. Back before David Sedaris became David Sedaris the ridiculously famous humorist, he worked, briefly, as an elf in a Macy’s department store. His experience, expanded and exaggerated for laughs in his essay “Santaland Diaries,” earned him his first stint on NPR and a brush with fame that turned into a successful career. As for that essay, it’s now a one-man play and an offbeat holiday tradition that appeals to both our better angels and our inner Grinch. WaterTower Theatre Center, through Dec. 29.
Compiled with assistance from web editorial intern Paulina Lopez. Graphics by interactive designer Renee Blostein.