Branson gets into the holiday spirit with the enthusiasm you’d expect from such an entertaining destination. The town has been lighting up the hills for the holidays since 1949, when two local businessmen created a lit “adoration scene” on the bluff across from downtown Branson. It became an instant hit, drawing visitors from across the Midwest to gaze at a Nativity with figures as tall as thirty feet. The Adoration Celebration and Parade, during which the scene is lit, endures to this day. (Feature photo: Silver Dollar City’s An Old Time Christmas. Flickr/Branson Convention and Visitors Bureau)
Today Branson’s Christmas traditions still light up the night, now with huge Christmas light displays. The drive-through light productions, which feature animations, elaborate sets, and millions of sparkling lights, delight with their massive scale and child-like whimsy. If you’re looking for a way to recapture the awe you felt as a child when the neighborhood was lit with colorful strands for the holidays, Branson is definitely your destination.
For an epic view from above, head to The Shepherd of the Hills, a family park that’s home to the long-running “Shepherd of the Hills” live show in the summer months. The Ozark pioneer story closes as the days grow short, but the long nights are perfect for the two and a half-mile Trail of Lights. You’ll drive through dozens of glittering sets, including scenes with moving figures and dancing lights. Once you’ve experienced it all at ground-level, your family can travel by glass elevator to the top of Inspiration Tower, where you can view the entire spectacle from more than two hundred feet in the air. A pass for the entire car, which includes the visit to Inspiration Tower, is $35.
The Shepherd of the Hills also offers up old-fashioned entertainment with Christmas on the Trail Chuckwagon Dinner Show, a cowboy Christmas celebration with singing, humor, stories, and a hearty chuckwagon dinner. The Christmas activities begin November 1st, 2016. You can find more information at the Shepherd of the Hills website.
For an entire evening of family fun, visit the Ozark Mountain Christmas Lights and Village. Get out the car and hop aboard a horse-drawn carriage for your ride under the lights. Then explore the village, which includes vendors offering up everything from holiday treats to pony rides, and of course a meet-and-greet with Santa Claus. Join the fun on Facebook and keep up with their updates as the 2016 season nears.
If you’re still looking for more lights, visit Branson’s Gift of Lights. This entire one-mile display is crafted with LED lights, for a more environmentally-friendly experience. You can drive through the display, or for a special treat, view the lights from as you’re whisked past on The Polar Express, a holiday-only offering from Branson Scenic Railway. Make your reservations online ahead of time and get a two-dollar discount, bringing the cost per car down to $18.
And while you can’t drive through the middle of them, Silver Dollar City’s Christmas lights bear mentioning in any list of great holiday displays. Not just in Branson, but in the country – in 2015, Silver Dollar City’s An Old Time Christmas was voted the Best Theme Park Holiday Event in a USA Today reader poll… for the second time in a row! (An Old Time Christmas actually beat Christmastime at Santa’s Village. Let that sink in for a second – it’s better than Santa’s own village.) You can join the fun of An Old Time Christmas with your regular theme park admission. Check out the impressive list of festival offerings at the Silver Dollar City website.
Branson is truly a special town at the holidays! There’s so much to do, from holiday shows to Christmas parades, that we’ve only just scratched the surface. Start planning your holiday vacation in Branson. Click the Destinations tab to visit our Branson locations, and start making your holiday dreams come true.