When O Magazine, Architectural Digest and Huffington Post call a city one of “America’s most Christmassy towns,” then you know it’s good.
A Branson Christmas visit is a MUST this holiday season. The shows, the trees, the Lights of Joy…Branson has it all.
Pack your bags. This is going to be your most favorite Christmas vacation yet!
Here are nine ways to get festive this Christmas season, when visiting Branson, Missouri.
Christmas at Silver Dollar City
Silver Dollar City is Branson’s theme park — and it takes the holiday season seriously! An Old Time Christmas at Silver Dollar City has 6.5 million lights, in addition to an eight-story, custom-designed Christmas tree! The 80-foot tree is the centerpiece of “Joy on Town Square” and features hundreds of thousands of dancing high-resolution lights combining color, music, light and animated imagery.
From November 7 – December 30, 2020, visitors can stroll among the lights and take on 40+ of the park’s rides, enjoy seasonal shows, and find the perfect gift while Christmas shopping. You are guaranteed to have a wonderful time
1,700 Stellar Christmas Trees
Branson showcases over 1,700 trees and has proudly owned the title of being America’s Christmas Tree City since 2017.
“United We Stand” is the name of a 39-foot-high, 25-foot-wide tree that was designed to serve as a symbol of peace, hope, joy and love.
In a year that’s been marked by a health crisis, economic struggles, social issues, natural disasters and other tremendous challenges, Branson’s Christmas Coalition (yes, such a thing DOES exist outside of a Hallmark movie) was determined to unite the community and the entire country this holiday season.
This spectacular tree is the very epitome of that cooperative spirit; giant ornaments were sent in by all 50 states. Each ornament measures nearly two feet, and many were crafted to look like the unique shape of their state. Several feature notable wildlife, from Alaska’s moose to South Dakota’s bison to Georgia’s sea turtles, while others are adorned with their state’s very recognizable flag (props to you, Maryland!).
The tree also features 2,592 LED white lights; the words “PEACE,” “HOPE,” “JOY” and “LOVE” surround its base; and a 6-foot-tall, 3-D “snowburst” light tops the mammoth artificial evergreen.
The tree stands adjacent to the Branson Wheel, a giant Ferris wheel that was relocated from Chicago’s Navy Pier in 2016. The wheel itself is electrified year-round, but for Christmas there at 16,000 LED fixtures holding more than 144,000 individual lights that all “dance” to favorite Christmas tunes. The light show takes place every hour on the hour once night falls.
There’s another new addition to the Wheel complex this holiday season! This year, Branson has added a 7,200-square-foot ice rink — that’s just a smidge larger than the rink at New York’s Rockefeller Center!
The rink will operate from mid-November through New Year’s Day, perhaps longer. The goal is to keep the rink open both day and night.
New and Classic Christmas Show Favorites
From country music to Broadway-style productions, the lineup of holiday entertainment is spectacular. Dolly Parton’s Stampede -with their 32 majestic horses- takes guests on a festive Christmas journey while they enjoy a four-course, country-style meal.
Silver Dollar City’s Broadway-style production shows include original adaptations of A Dickens’ Christmas Carol and It’s a Wonderful Life (which happens to be my personal favorite!) And the legacy of Mr. Christmas himself, Andy Williams, continues with a beautiful holiday tribute by The Lennon Sisters, David Osmond and illusionist Rick Thomas during the Andy Williams Ozark Mountain Christmas Show.
Showboat Branson Belle’s new show features Christmas music and favorites from the 1960s to today. Your experience also includes a three-course meal and time on beautiful Table Rock Lake.
These are just a sampling of many, many shows. See the full list here.
Local Crafts and Gifts
One of America’s most Christmas-y towns is the ideal place to shop for gifts and stocking stuffers.
Dicks 5 & 10, one of the country’s last remaining authentic dime stores, features aisle after aisle of 250,000 nostalgic items that you may have thought no longer existed. And Silver Dollar City’s Jingle Bell Junction is home to a colony of 100 resident crafters who demonstrate and sell such one-of-a-kind creations as woodcarvings, hand-blown glass, pottery, candles and more.
Another fun place to shop is Branson Landing, which features a scenic boardwalk along the 1.5 mile Taneycomo Lakefront plus an adorable “town square” hosting several holiday activities like the Winter Wonderlanding lights, a search for Elfie, and more.
Nuts For Fruitcake
Each year, students at College of the Ozarks bake 25,000 world-famous fruit cakes in the Fruitcake & Jelly Kitchen. The tradition of producing these fruitcakes on campus dates back to 1934 and helps students offset the costs of their education. The kitchen is open for public tours and fruitcakes are available for purchase Monday through Saturday, 8-5
Fruitcake not your thing? At Silver Dollar City, such festive holiday foods as root beer-glazed ham, traditional turkey and dressing, wassail, apple dumplings and hot chocolate can be found at venues throughout the park.
Twinkling Light Displays
Drive-through Christmas displays can be found shining brightly throughout this Ozark Mountain town. Trail of Lights on Shepherd of the Hills Expressway is a two-and-a-half-mile route through the historic 160-acre Homestead. They also have a walk-through experience, “North Pole Adventure,” that takes families on a journey through thousands of twinkling lights.
Let There Be Lights! at Promised Land Zoo features a two-mile LED display and a living nativity with animals to pet and feed.
Finally, Branson’s Lights of Joy, (formerly Gift of Lights) is the area’s traditional festival of Christmas lights, and features more than 300 scenes including a Magical Mile with the 12 Days of Christmas and a nativity scene.
Strolling through the streets of Silver Dollar City twice a night is Rudolph’s Holly Jolly™ Christmas Light Parade, led by the most famous reindeer of all. With nine musical lighted floats and animated features, the parade is illuminated with 200,000 ultra-bright LED lights.
Toys & Trains for Kids (and Kids at Heart)
Step inside a classic Christmas tale aboard the renowned Polar Express on the Branson Scenic Railway After boarding an authentic locomotive at the 1906 Branson depot, you’ll experience a journey with character reenactments, a reading of the classic book, a visit with Santa, and plenty of hot chocolate and cookies. Wear your jammies!
Whether you’re 1 or 101, you can make your dreams come true at the World’s Largest Toy Museum, where more than a million dolls, trains, teddy bears, action figures, collectibles – and everything else you can remember from your earliest Christmases – are all in one location.
Awesome Christmas Overnights
Throughout December, Chateau on the Lake, Branson’s modern-day “Castle in the Ozarks,” features fun activities and events like ornament making, caroling by the fire, story time, holiday movies and more. It’s also home to an amazing candy village made by the Chateau’s culinary team and displayed in the hotel’s lobby.
From November 7 through December 30, 2020, guests at Big Cedar Lodge can enjoy festivities including ice skating, holiday baking workshops, visits from Santa and more.