Whether you live in the area or plan on visiting Dallas during the holiday season, one thing is true – there is no shortage of Dallas Christmas events!
From shopping at a Christkindl German market to a ride aboard the North Pole Express®, there’s something for everyone, especially in one suburb which has been nicknamed the Christmas Capital of Texas.
So to help you with your planning, I’m bringing you the best Dallas Christmas events and activities.
Best Dallas Christmas Events and Activities
The Trains at NorthPark
While there are many Dallas Christmas events every year, there is one perhaps more special than the rest – The Trains at NorthPark.
For thirty years, this seasonal Dallas event has benefitted the Ronald McDonald House of Dallas, raising more than 13 Million dollars to help local families.
This is an event both children and adults adore and you’ll often spy many generations. Why? Over 1600 feet of track to watch as trains travel from coast to coast in an American themed exhibit. The trains travel through different parts of the country in gorgeous miniature sets. Past cityscapes I’ve adored include San Francisco with an incredible Golden Gate Bridge, New York City, and of course Dallas, Texas!
Located at NorthPark Center, the 2018-2019 exhibit runs from November 17, 2018 – January 6, 2019.
ICE! and Lone Star Christmas at the Gaylord Texan Resort
One simply cannot visit Dallas during the holidays and not head just a few minutes north of the Dallas/Ft Worth International Airport, to what is known as the Christmas Capital of Texas – Grapevine! Historic Downtown Grapevine provides a unique Christmas experience with parades, shopping and more, but you’ll want to look beyond Main Street to the most magical of holiday events.
It’s at the Gaylord Texan Resort where you’ll find magic at every turn. No need to stay at the resort to enjoy the festivities, though I dare say it makes it that much more fun (I’ve done it both ways).
If you’ve never been to the Gaylord Texan Resort, it is massive with the hotel surrounding a large atrium, filled with incredible restaurants, Texas-themed locations, and photo-opps. It is here where you’ll be transported to the merriest place around.
You’ll spy 2 million twinkling lights, 15,000 ornaments, an incredible 54-foot-tall Christmas tree. We’ve enjoyed a character breakfast (last year was with Rudolph and Clarice), and decorated gingerbread cookies. Don’t forget the outdoor ice skating rink, a scavenger hunt, and cookies with Mrs. Claus. Each year brings a new set of activities that will keep you entertained for hours and hours and hours.
But there’s more…
Each year, the Gaylord Texan hosts ICE!, a walk-through attraction kept at a chilly 9 degrees. The attraction features two million pounds of ice sculptures hand-carved by artisans from Harbin, China.
Coats are provided for this winter-y activity and it’s what brings travelers everywhere to Grapevine each holiday season. Each year is themed and the different Gaylord Resorts around the country rotate the themes. One fun year was “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” as you see above. This year, it’s “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”.
It is not to be missed! Trust me, it will be a highlight of your holiday!
Read my Gaylord Texan Christmas – 11 Must-Do Activities post!
Located inside the Gaylord Texan Resort, the 2018-2019 exhibit runs from November 9, 2018 – January 1, 2019.
TIP: Find out how I get Gaylord Texan ICE Free Parking.
Texas Christkindl Market
I’ve only dreamed about visiting the Christkindl markets in Germany, but you can now enjoy a similar experience right here in Texas.
You’ll want to head to Arlington, Texas. The Christkindl market features the most amazing traditional German foods (oh, the strudel), authentic shopping, and entertainment for kids and adults.
We’ve attended twice, and though it might be chilly outside, hot German mulled cider will warm you right up!
Read more about the Texas ChristKindl Market!
Located this year at a new venue, at the new Texas LIVE!, the 2018-2019 exhibit runs from November 23-December 23, 2018.
Texas Motor Speedway Gift of Lights
Heading out on the west side of the Dallas/Ft Worth area, you’ll want to make a nighttime stop at the Texas Motor Speedway. No, you won’t find racing cars here.
The Gift of Lights will be heading into the 4th season. A Santa’s Village is worth a stop with activities and of course, a visit with Santa Claus, but it’s the drive that you will enjoy most here. You’ll drive your own car through the speedway through the most spectacular display of lights.
Check out our Texas Motor Speedway Gift of Lights experience!
Dates for the new 2018-2019 season are November 29th, 2018 – December 30th, 2018.
Christmas at the Anatole, featuring Peppermint Park
Near the downtown area is an upscale hotel you’ll want to visit – the Hilton Anatole. While there’s no need to be a hotel guest to experience the Christmas activities, guests are given guaranteed access, while non-guests must grab the limited amount of tickets available to the public.
We’ve visited Christmas at the Anatole both as hotel guests and not, and it’s an incredible experience to add to your holiday. I will say that it has changed every single year we’ve attended, so I look forward to seeing what this year holds.
Highlights include a beloved Breakfast with Santa, train rides and more! Just a walk around the Anatole presents incredible photo opportunities for the whole family. We love seeing our favorite reindeer (above) each year.
But there’s more…
Geppetto’s Theatre is one event we love year-round, but it’s extra fun during the holidays. It’s a small theatre now built into the Anatole hotel, with all the charm you can imagine.
We literally just visited for a birthday party and saw “The Little Mermaid”, but this holiday season, kids will delight in watching the performance of “Winter Wonderland”.
Winter Wonderland features a cast of over 60 hand-carved marionettes, including the Winter Wizard, the North Pole dancing elves, the magic toys of Santa’s workshop and favorites like Rudolph and Frosty. The last time we went even Elsa made an appearance!
Be sure to check out our visit in years past to Christmas at the Anatole.
Located at the Hilton Anatole hotel in Dallas, the 2018-2019 event runs from November 23, 2018 – December 23, 2018.
Holiday at the Arboretum – Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens
The Arboretum, known for its incredible fall pumpkin patch, is not to be missed in December either.
Holiday at the Arboretum is enjoyable for kids and adults, both for different reasons.
Kids will love the appearance of sweet treats, animals and holiday fun.
Adults will love brunch and walking through the famed DeGolyer House, which last year was decorated with an unbelievable amount of Santa Claus items! Little ones might not be ideal for this portion of the Arboretum, as there are plenty of breakables, but it is breathtaking.
12 Days of Christmas
Everyone will adore the return of the much-loved 12 Days of Christmas, “a collection of 25-foot Victorian style gazebos filled with the charming costumed characters, whimsical animals and music made famous by the beloved Christmas carol.”
Breathtaking and something you must see in person. Both daytime and nighttime experiences are incredible.
Yes, and last year there were real reindeer too!
Located at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, the 2018-2019 event runs from November 9, 2018 -December 31, 2018.
Galleria Tree Lighting
The Galleria Mall hosts an annual tree lighting event that the city comes inside to see.
The extra large Christmas tree is situated in the middle of their famous ice skating rink. The ceremony has some fun surprises and one recent year we went included children skaters and famed Olympic skater Johnny Weir.
For 2018, the tree lighting is set for Saturday, December 1 at 6pm.
North Pole Express
Also located in the heart of Grapevine, Texas, is one spot which holds perhaps one of my favorite Christmas-time memories – the North Pole Express.
Many kids wear their pajamas as they board the train with their families. It’s as if you’ve stepped right into The Polar Express movie, complete with hot chocolate, Christmas carols, and a silver jingle bell. Yes, a bell. Just like in the movie. You see, guests ride the North Pole Express to the North Pole and meet Santa Claus, who gives them the special bell.
For lovers of the best-selling story, this is one event you cannot miss.
Play Street Museum
On a smaller scale, Play Street Museum is must if you have younger kids. With 7 locations and growing quickly (to other Texas cities and other states too), they throughout the year focus on providing younger children with quality play and educational experiences in I dare say the cutest environments ever. Of course, I happen to know the owners incredibly well, and can hands down recommend Play Street Museum!
During the holidays they happen to step it up a notch. How? Special events throughout the season. While the events aren’t yet posted for the upcoming season, I have no doubt they will be impressive. You’ll want to RSVP as soon as possible as these events are kept small and intimate.
In the past, we’ve attended a special event with none other than Santa Claus! He read the kids ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas, the kids made an ornament and enjoyed treats. The highlight though, was Santa Claus himself presenting a very special gift, unique to each child. The magic of Play Street Museum!
Each location has a specific theme year-round: Frisco (Town Square); McKinney (The Farm); Plano (Great Outdoors); Allen (On the Go). Check out all their locations and events here.
Do you have any Dallas Christmas Events that you would add to this list?
Leave them in the comments below!