Christmastime is hands-down our favorite time of year in Ozark Mountain Country. The Branson Christmas season begins immediately after Halloween (and sometimes before!) and runs through New Year’s Day. Below is our full list of the many must-see Christmas activities and attractions that you’ll be able to experience this year. 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 2017 festival runs Sat., Nov. 4 (with a special “white glove” charity preview event on Nov. 3) through New Year’s Day.
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.
Branson Christmas Parades
Visit our Branson Christmas Parades page for dates and details.
Snow Tubing at Wolfe Mountain
New for 2017, the Branson Zip Lines and Canopy Tours is now 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. The grand opening celebration is planned for Dec. 1.
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.
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, Branon’s Gift of Lights, and The Trail of Lights at Shepherd of the Hills.
Visit our Branson Christmas Light Displays page for dates/times of operation and prices.
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.
On Saturdays and Sundays, the Showboat offers “Santa’s Pancakes and PJs” cruises at 9 a.m. from Nov. 4 through Dec. 23, and the addition of Noon cruises on Sundays from Nov. 26 through Dec. 17. 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 $35 for ages 10+ and $27 for ages 2-9.
Tickets for the Showboat Branson Belle can be found here.
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 50-foot Christmas tree serves as the central attraction in Town Square. Watch the fountains come alive every 15 minutes as they “dance” to a variety of choreographed musical numbers including Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas is You.”
Santa also sets up residency in Town Square from early November through Christmas Eve.
Visit our Branson Landing Winter Wonderlanding page for details.
Adoration Scene/Lighted Nativity above Branson Landing
Sitting atop the bluff overlooking Lake Tanyecomo 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.
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 will return to the theatre in Nov. 2017 for the first time in four years.
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, this is an absolute must-see for the 2017 Branson 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 Miracle of Christmas, Maxine’s Christmas Carol, the Hughes Brothers Christmas Show, the Andy Williams Christmas Spectacular, the Bretts Song of Christmas, Dixie Stampede, the Haygoods, as well as the broadway-style productions of It’s A Wonderful Life and 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.
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.
Visit bransontracks.com for details.
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).
Visit titanicbranson.com for details.
Christmas at Dixie Stampede
Touted as the “most fun place to eat in Branson,” Christmas at Dolly Parton’s Dixie 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 Dixie 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.
Inspiration Tower at Shepherd of the Hills
This 230-foot observation tower at the Shepherd of the Hills Homestead is transformed into the area’s tallest Christmas tree each year. While a spectacle on the outside, you can also ride to the top of the tower for a birds-eye-view of the Ozarks’ Christmas displays. Admission to Inspiration Tower is included in the Trail of Lights drive-through light display tour.
Visit theshepherdofthehills.com for details.
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. For 2017, don’t miss Ann Dezendorf of Department 56 on Nov. 11, Mario Tare’ of Christopher Radko on Nov. 18, and Emanuele Fontanini on Nov. 25.
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.
Visit thebutterflypalace.com for details.
Carriage Rides at Shepherd of the Hills
Shires For Hire will offer holiday carriage rides with shire draft horses (known as the Shepherds Shires) at Shepherd of the Hills homestead this year. Rides are available first-come-first-served every day except Tuesdays and start at $25 per carriage load. Reservations can be made with groups of 10 or more. Santa rides will be offered on weekends by appointment.
Visit shiresforhire.com for details.
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 Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights and start at $36.50 per person. Book a reservation and find more details on the Branson Holiday Lights Tour 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.
World’s Largest Toy Museum
Explore over six museums inside the complex filled with every style of antique, rare, and modern toy imaginable.
Visit worldslargesttoymuseum.com for details.
Run to the Lights 5K Charity Walk/Run – Nov. 9
This annual nighttime charity fundraiser takes place inside Silver Dollar City. Hundreds of participants run through over 6.5 million twinkling lights while benefitting The Caring People, a nonprofit supporting single mothers.
The 2018 Run to the Lights starts at 9 p.m. on Fri., Nov. 9, 2018.
Register at runtothelights.com.