Christmastime is hands-down our favorite time of year in Ozark Mountain Country. The Branson Christmas season begins immediately after Halloween on Nov. 1 and runs at least through Jan. 1.
Below is our full list of the many must-see Christmas activities and attractions that you’ll be able to experience this year. Bookmark or share this page as it is often updated, and let us know if we missed one of your favorite activities or attractions.
An Old Time Christmas at Silver Dollar City
We could talk for days about the spectacular display of lights, Broadway-style shows, comfort foods, and generally warm feelings one finds at Silver Dollar City’s (SDC) “An Old Time Christmas” celebration. Proclaimed the “most illuminated park on Earth,” SDC will be adorned in over 6.5 million lights this year with the addition of the “Christmas in Midtown Light Spectacular.” The 2023 festival runs Sat., Nov. 4 (with a special “white glove” charity preview event on Nov. 3) through Dec. 30.
See our Ultimate Silver Dollar City Christmas Guide for an extensive rundown of everything the park has to offer.
America’s Christmas Tree City Tour
Area businesses and residents are teaming together to make Branson “America’s Christmas Tree City.” Launched in 2016, the Branson Christmas Tree Tour will give you the opportunity to see and visit over 100 of the area’s largest, most interesting, colorful, and unique Christmas tree displays.
You’ll find traditional evergreens adorned in lights, tinsel, and ornaments, but also dancing trees of lights, naturally growing trees ablaze in color, and creative trees made from life jackets, racing flags, library books, and more.
Drive-Through Light Displays
There are three immersive drive-through light displays that welcome guests from dusk until late-night: Let There Be Lights at Promised Land Zoo, Branson’s Lights of Joy, and The Trail of Lights at Shepherd of the Hills. Big Cedar Lodge has also added a paid drive-through display.
Visit our Branson Christmas Light Displays page for dates/times of operation and prices.
If you prefer to let someone else do the driving, Branson VIP Holiday Lights coach tour takes you through two light displays, a view of the Branson lighted nativity scene, and ends with hot chocolate and treats from the Backstage Cafe at the historic Branson Hotel.
Snow Tubing at Wolfe Mountain
The Branson Zip Lines and Canopy Tours is now also home to Wolfe Mountain, a Snowflex synthetic snow tubing hill. The year-round attraction is nestled in the natural beauty of the Ozark Mountains yet just a few miles north of the city along Highway 65. The 400-foot-long slope allows up to six tubes to run down simultaneously and is open to all-ages.
Pricing, reservations, and more info is available at wolfemountainbranson.com.
The Polar Express Train Ride
Immerse yourself in the 1985 classic holiday story as you ride aboard the Polar Express on the Branson Scenic Railway. The popular experience includes a reading of the story, sounds and carols from the motion picture soundtrack, and complimentary hot cocoa and cookies.
Polar Express tickets often sell out VERY early (starting in July!), so make reservations as soon as possible. Ticket information and more details can be found here.
Live Reindeer at Promised Land Zoo
Pet, feed, and take photos with Sven, Rudolph, Prancer and all your other favorite reindeer at Branson’s Promised Land Zoo, home to the region’s only reindeer herd. A petting zoo featuring live nativity animals, christmas shops, and a two-mile drive-through light display are also part of the Zoo’s Christmas season offerings.
More details on Christmas at Promised Land Zoo here.
Visit or Eat Breakfast with Santa
There are multiple venues hosting one of Santa’s helpers all season long. Some even offer special Breakfast with Santa opportunities.
Visit our Where to visit Santa in Branson page for dates and details.
Christmas on the Showboat Branson Belle
Cruise aboard the Showboat Branson Belle and enjoy a three-course meal, live entertainment, and stunning views of Table Rock Lake.
Tickets for the Showboat Branson Belle can be found here.
The Showboat offers “Santa’s Pancakes and PJs” cruises at 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. on select days Dec. 4-23. In addition to a hearty breakfast, the experience includes a visit with santa and a variety of kids activities before and during the cruise. Tickets are $50 for ages 10+ and $34 for ages 2-9.
Winter Wonderlanding at Branson Landing
The Branson Landing’s many shops and restaurants adorn themselves in holiday lights and decorations, while iconic silver reindeer sculptures welcome guests at the entrance, and a (new in 2020) 63-foot state-of-the-art LED animated Christmas tree serves as the central attraction in Town Square with shows every 20 minutes from dusk until 10:50 p.m.
The fountain shows continue to run at the top of every hour throughout the season, weather permitting.
Visit our Branson Landing Winter Wonderlanding page for details.
Adoration Scene/Lighted Nativity above Branson Landing
Sitting atop the bluff overlooking Lake Taneycomo and the Branson Landing, the Branson Adoration Scene dates back to 1949. That’s when businessman Joe Todd met with artist Steve Miller at a Downtown Branson cafe to sketch their plans to honor the Christ child with a large Christmas card-style display. The scene was rebuilt in 2012 and stands 28-feet-tall, where it can be seen from miles away.
The annual lighting of the area’s largest nativity scene precedes the Branson Adoration Parade on Sun., Dec. 3, 2023.
Branson Christmas Parades
Branson and other cities in the surrounding area host community parades each season. Visit our Branson Christmas Parades page for dates and details.
Miracle of Christmas at Sight & Sound Theatres
Sight & Sound Theatres are well known for breathtaking musical productions of Biblical stories, and their Miracle of Christmas show is no exception. Their portrayal of the extraordinary journey of Mary and Joseph and the miraculous birth of Jesus is one of their most popular shows.
The production features majestic flying angels, live and animatronic animals, spectacular sets, stunning special effects, and a soaring musical score. Since this show doesn’t appear every year, it’s an absolute must-see for the Branson Christmas season.
NOTE: Miracle of Christmas will not be shown in 2023, but will return for the 2024 season. You may be interested in Sight & Sound’s production of Queen Esther, which will run during the 2023 Christmas season.
Miracle of Christmas tickets are on sale now. Be sure to make reservations early as many shows (especially on weekends) do sell out in advance.
Live Christmas Shows
Known for its many performance theaters, Branson offers a show for all types and tastes during the Christmas season. Some of our favorite Christmas shows include Dolly Parton’s Stampede, the Hughes Family Christmas Show, The Haygoods, as well as the broadway-style production of A Dickens’ Christmas Carol at Silver Dollar City.
Visit our Branson Christmas Shows page for a full rundown.
Gingerbread Houses at Chateau on the Lake
From early November through the end of the holiday season, the lobby at Chateau on the Lake transforms into a candy lover’s paradise with the creation and display of a mouth-watering gingerbread village.
The (mostly) edible village stands more than three feet tall and includes four store fronts, two houses, and a church. The ingredient list includes over 330 pounds of powered sugar, 120 pounds of egg whites, and 600 pounds of candy, cookies, pretzels, Pop Tarts, and more.
While at Chateau, also check out the beautiful nativity scene (a twin of the set featured in Home Alone) just around the corner from the village, and catch a glimpse of Santa sliding in from the rafters!
Christmas at Big Cedar Lodge
Big Cedar Lodge offers a variety of Christmas activities for hotel guests and visitors. The main lobby is beautifully decorated and features a moving train set circling a scale model of the property. Activities include wreath and ornament making, gingerbread house decorating, holiday wagon light tours and carriage rides, snowman ice cream socials, elf tuck-ins, breakfast with Santa, and more. An outdoor tree lighting ceremony takes place in early December. Some activities are open to hotel guests only and/or require additional reservations and fees.
In 2017, Big Cedar introduced a new ice skating rink open from mid-November through early January. The rink is made of a synthetic “Xtraice” material, meaning it’s useable on even the warmest days. Skating is $15 per person (including skate rental). Hours are 4 to 8 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday-Sunday (and Thanksgiving Day).
Visit Big Cedar’s “Home for the Holidays” page for details.
Branson Ferris Wheel
The Branson Ferris Wheel runs their “Electrify Christmas” light display multiple times each night throughout the holiday season.
Located at the Track Family Fun Parks along Highway 76, the Branson Ferris Wheel is the same 150-foot attraction that was housed at Chicago’s Navy Pier for the past two decades. It was moved, refurbished, and reopened in Branson in 2016. In addition to offering rides for up to 240 passengers on its 40 gondolas, the wheel is equipped with 16,000 LED lights to create a dazzling light show after dark.
Discounted Branson Ferris tickets are available here.
The two-story Titanic Museum opened in 2006 and is housed in a half-scale model structure of the Titanic itself. Anchored in water to create the illusion of the Titanic at sea, the museum holds 400 pre-discovery artifacts in 20 galleries. The interior is decorated for the holiday season and on Thanksgiving weekend the exterior is often adorned in the light of 1,500 luminaries (also known as festival lights).
Discounted Titanic Museum tickets are available here.
Christmas at Dolly Parton’s Stampede
Touted as the “most fun place to eat in Branson,” Christmas at Dolly Parton’s Stampede features a four-course holiday dinner served while 32 horses and a cast of riders perform tricks and stunts in a 35,000-square-foot arena. The live nativity scene is a fan favorite with flying angels and live camels, sheep, and more.
Christmas at Dolly Parton’s Stampede tickets are on sale now.
Santa’s Wonderland at Bass Pro Shop
Located at the Branson Landing, Bass Pro Shops hosts “Santa’s Wonderland,” a festively decorated area featuring free crafts, games, and activities, plus free photos with Santa himself.
Visit basspro.com for details.
North Pole Adventure at Shepherd of the Hills
This walk-through experience takes you on a journey through thousands of twinkling lights, a tree lot maze, oversized candy canes, falling snow, and a 200-foot trip to the top of the “North Pole” — also known as Inspiration Tower and the area’s tallest Christmas tree. North Pole Adventure is open weekends and select weekdays Nov. 10 – Dec. 30, 2023.
Shepherd of the Hills is again hosting their annual Trail of Lights drive-through display, a ‘Santa and Pancakes’ breakfast and show on Saturdays, continuing the production of “A Shepherd’s Christmas Carol” dinner show, and debuting a new show this year: “A Christmas Story.”
The iconic Shepherd of the Hills Inspiration Tower is also open during the holiday season from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Visit theshepherdofthehills.com for details.
Carriage Rides at Shepherd of the Hills
Back for the 2023 season, Shires For Hire will offer holiday carriage rides with shire draft horses (known as the Shepherds Shires) at Shepherd of the Hills homestead. Rides start at $50 per carriage load (max 6 guests) and are available select dates Monday-Thursday from Nov. 13 through Dec. 19.
Reservations should be made in advance here.
Kringle’s Christmas Shop
This year-round Christmas shop is the largest in the state and features 125 designer-decorated trees and countless ornaments and decor pieces throughout the 8,000-square-foot retail space. Kringle’s also hosts meet-and-greets with well known artists and designers throughout the year.
Read more on our Year-Round Branson Christmas Shops page.
Christmas at the Butterfly Palace
The Butterfly Palace gives you the chance to see over 1,000 live butterflies, with over 50 different species from across the world in the facility’s botanical garden. At Christmastime, enjoy a special display of live butterflies, live holiday music, the living angel statue, and more.
Chauffeured Holiday Lights Tour
Want to let someone else do the driving while you enjoy the lights? Branson Holiday Lights Tour will chauffeur you in a luxury Mercedes-Benz Sprinter coach, taking you through two of the most popular drive-through light displays followed by the lighted nativity scene on Mt. Branson. The tour ends at the historic Branson Hotel for hot chocolate and holiday treats from Backstage Cafe.
Tours can be booked Tuesday through Saturday nights and start at $46.50 per person. Book a reservation and find more details on the Branson Holiday Lights Tour here.
Helicopter Christmas Light Tours
Soar over the local light displays with special holiday helicopter tours. There are now two companies offering this service.
Branson Helicopter Tours: Choose from a 10-mile or 20-mile flight, with flyovers of Silver Dollar City, Shepherd of the Hills, 76 Strip, the Branson Ferris Wheel, Branson Landing, Let There Be Lights drive-through display, and more. Enjoy holiday music in provided headphones along the way. Branson Helicopter Tour tickets start at $59 per person.
Chopper Charter: You’ll see the Adoration Scene, Branson Landing, Branson’s Gift of Lights, Shepherd of the Hills, Silver Dollar City, the Branson Ferris Wheel, and the Branson Strip, all the while listening to Christmas music in noise cancelling headphones. Guided tours depart from the M. Graham Clark Downtown Airport after sunset and are priced at $119 per adult and $109 per child 12 and under. For reservations and more information, call 417-332-1545 or visit choppercharter.com.
‘The Polar Express’ FlyRide at Beyond the Lens
From Nov. 1 – Jan. 3 you can take a virtual journey to the North Pole with ‘The Polar Express’ FlyRide experience at Beyond The Lens, located at 3115 W. 76 Blvd., Branson, MO 65616.
FlyRide is a full-motion virtual 4D experience with seats that dip, turn, and soar while you immerse yourself in imagery projected on a four-story-tall and 60-foot-wide curved screen. You’ll feel the chilling ice of the North Pole and see and smell the serving of hot chocolate.
Purchase discounted FlyRide and Beyond the Lens tickets here.
Christmas at the Keeter Center
Students at the College of the Ozarks are known for hand-making delicious fruit cakes during the holiday season, but the Keeter Center on campus also offers a variety of lodging, entertainment, and dining options in addition to a full course of spectacular holiday decor.
Visit keetercenter.edu for details.
There’s no shortage of dining options in Branson, with something for almost everyone.
Holiday Coffee Drinks
Need a caffeine boost while you’re out enjoying all the beautiful sights and sounds? Several area Branson coffee shops offer a special selection of holiday drinks throughout the season.
At the top of our list of festive coffee shops is Expresso Branson (2010 W 76 Country Blvd., Branson, MO 65616). They have a full menu of Christmas drinks including Snickerdoodle in a Cup, Ultimate Peppermint Mocha, Salted Caramel S’More, Gingerbread Macchiato, and Doug Gabriel’s “Mr. Branson” Latte, which features butterscotch, caramel, cinnamon, and smoked sea salt. Not a coffee drinker? They also offer hot apple cider, a peppermint hot chocolate, and a Christmas punch sparkler with cranberry, orange, cardamon, and sparkling water over ice. Expresso Branson is open 7 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 7 a.m. – 3 p.m. on Sunday. Note that this is a drive-through or walk-up shop only, with no indoor seating.
Check out our list of Best Branson Coffee Shops for more ideas.
Santa Adventureland at Seasonal Encounters Branson
Enjoy cookies with Mrs. Claus, meet Santa Claus, attend Elf University, build a toy in the workshop with elves, play Christmas games, meet real reindeer, write a letter to Santa and receive a reply, throw snowballs in the snow activity area, and enjoy the petting zoo and nativity Scene. Admission is $20 per person. Seasonal Encounters is located at 3125 Green Mountain Drive, Branson, MO 65616 (the old Mount Pleasant Winery building).
More info at seasonalencountersbranson.com.
World’s Largest Toy Museum
Explore over six museums inside the complex filled with every style of antique, rare, and modern toy imaginable.
Branson’s Festival of Trees – Nov. 3 – Dec. 3, 2023
Visit the Branson Landing to view and purchase elaborate trees and wreaths decorated by local businesses, all benefitting Christian Action Ministries, operators of Taney County food pantries and mobile food outreach programs. A variety of Christmas decor items can be purchased, and you can vote on your favorite tree. The storefront is located across from H&M, and is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mon-Sat and 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays.
Visit the Branson Festival of Trees website for details.
Branson Market Days – Nov. 17-18, 2023
This pop-up market at the Branson Hilton Convention Center will feature food trucks and concessions, unique Christmas shopping items from over 175 vendors, and gift wrapping services. Admission is $5, and kids 5 and under are free.
Visit the Branson Market Facebook page for details.
Other Attractions to Consider
While these aren’t necessarily Christmas-themed, there are many other year-round attractions worth checking out while you’re visiting during the holiday season.
Museums & Interactive Experiences
- Wonder Works
- Aquarium at the Boardwalk
- Fritz’s Adventure
- Hollywood Wax Museum
- Beyond the Lens
- Veterans Memorial Museum
- Wonders of Wildlife Museum & Aquarium (in nearby Springfield, Mo.)
Mountain Coasters & Ziplines
- Copperhead Mountain Coaster
- Runaway Mountain Coaster
- Shepherd of the Hills Vigilante Ziprider
- Zipline Canopy Tour
- Adventure Ziplines of Branson
More Branson Christmas resources
For more information about holiday activities and attractions in Branson, check out these popular articles:
- Branson Christmas Activities & Attractions
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- Branson Christmas Shows
- Ultimate Silver Dollar City Christmas Travel Guide
- Branson Christmas Parades
- Branson Christmas Light Displays
- Watch Branson Christmas TV
- Listen to Branson Christmas Radio
- Branson Hotels & Lodging
- 10 fun and free things to do in Branson this Christmas season
- Where to visit Santa in Branson
- Where to feast on Thanksgiving Day in Branson
- What’s open on Thanksgiving Day in Branson
- Where to eat on Christmas Day in Branson
- What’s open on Christmas Day in Branson
- Where to celebrate Christmas in Branson after Dec. 25
- Find the best prices on SDC tickets