Branson is known as a budget-friendly vacation destination, but enjoying several days of shows and activities can still be expensive, especially for larger families.
Luckily, there are plenty of things to do and see during the holiday season in Branson (which runs Nov. 1 – Jan. 1) that will get you in the Christmas spirit without emptying your wallet. We can’t guarantee you won’t spend a few dollars once you’re there, but at least admission is free!
1. See the gingerbread village at Chateau on the Lake
You’ve probably never seen gingerbread done quite like this. This edible village, hand crafted by chef Doug Knopp and kitchen staff, stands more than three feet tall and is made of more than 300 pounds of sugar, 120 pounds of egg whites, and 600 pounds of candies, cookies, pretzels, and more.
Check out photos from the 2014 display here. Also be sure to also check out the nativity scene (a twin of the set featured in Home Alone) just around the corner from the village.
LOCATION: 415 N State Highway 265, Branson, MO 65616
WHEN TO VISIT: Lobby is open 24/7; Village is on display early November through end of December
2. Shop at Dicks 5 & 10
For over 50 years, Dicks 5 & 10 has been a pillar in downtown Branson. The shop is home to an incredible selection of nostalgic and novelty candy, a vast assortment of gifts, crafts, and merchandise, historic collections, and an ever changing “fun aisle.” Keep an eye out for the Dicks 5 & 10 Express train, which runs around its track overhead the store aisles.
LOCATION: 103 W Main St, Branson, MO 65616
WHEN TO VISIT: Open daily 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. year-round
3. Cruise “The Strip” Highway 76
Most of the theaters, shops, and other attractions deck out their buildings for the holidays. Take some time to cruise the strip to soak up all the twinkling lights. Because traffic can be brutal before and after nightly shows, 9 p.m. is likely the perfect time to make the drive.
LOCATION: Highway 76 Country Blvd, Branson, MO 65616
WHEN TO VISIT: Dusk to 11 p.m.; 9 p.m. is prime time to avoid traffic before and after theater shows.
4. Take a self-guided tour of 700 trees in “America’s Christmas Tree City”
As part of Branson’s commitment to being “America’s Christmas Tree City,” area businesses have teamed up to construct nearly 700 colorful, creative, and unique Christmas trees throughout the city.
You’ll find traditional evergreens adorned in lights, tinsel, and ornaments, but also dancing trees of lights, naturally growing trees illuminated with colorful lighting, and creative trees made from wine bottles, racing flags, library books, and more.
The 2018 Branson Christmas Tree Tour guide lists the specific locations and includes an interactive map, allowing you to take a self-guided tour at your own pace. Read more about the community effort here.
5. Enjoy the decorations and water show at Branson Landing
The Branson Landing shopping and restaurant district will become adorned in holiday lights and decorations for the annual “Winter Wonderlanding” celebration. Iconic silver reindeer sculptures welcome guests at the entrance and a 50-foot Christmas tree serves as the central attraction in Town Square. Don’t miss the free “Most Wonderful Time of Year” parade on Nov. 14 and visit with Santa under the tree from Nov. 14 through Dec. 24.
LOCATION: 100 Branson Landing Blvd, Branson, MO 65616
WHEN TO VISIT: Nov. 1-Dec. 31; Late afternoon/early evening to enjoy both day and night decorations
6. Discover the culinary creations and decor at Sugar Leaf Bakery
This bakery and cafe inside the Grand Village Shops is known for their incredible unique cake creations and giant homemade marshmallows. Stop by for a sweet treat and enjoy their holiday decor too.
LOCATION: 2800 W 76 Country Blvd, Branson, MO 65616
WHEN TO VISIT: Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays
7. Get a free photo with Santa at Bass Pro Shop
The outdoor-focused retailer will again host “Santa’s Wonderland” inside their store at Branson Landing. Stop by free crafts, games, and activities, plus get a free photo with Santa!
LOCATION: 1 Bass Pro Drive, Branson, MO 65616
WHEN TO VISIT: Nov. 15-Dec. 24; Open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays
Bass Pro is just one location you’ll find Mr. Claus and his helpers this season. Visit our Where to visit Santa in Branson page for the full list.
8. See the horses at Dixie Stampede
Dixie Stampede is one of the area’s most popular dinner and show attractions, featuring a cast of 32 horses and riders. If catching the show isn’t in your budget, you can still stop by the theatre to enjoy the holiday decor and see some of the horses who perform in the show from their stables along the building’s exterior.
LOCATION: 1525 West Highway 76, Branson, MO 65616
WHEN TO VISIT: Oct. 29-Jan. 2; Late afternoon/early evening to enjoy both day and night decorations
9. Drive by the 230-foot-tall Christmas “tree”
This “tree” is more formally known as the Inspiration Tower at Shepherd of the Hills, but twinkling lights are strung from the top of the tower to the ground to form the largest Christmas tree in the area. You can take an elevator ride to the top of the tower for impressive views of the area, day or night. Entrance to the tower is included in admission to the Trail of Lights drive-through light display.
LOCATION: 5586 Highway 76 Blvd, Branson, MO 65616
WHEN TO VISIT: Nov. 1-Dec. 30; After dark, before 11 p.m.
10. Shop at Kringle’s Christmas Shop
The largest Christmas store in Missouri, Kringle’s at Grand Village Shops features 125 designer decorated Christmas trees and countless collectables throughout its sprawling 9,000-square-feet of retail space. From specialty ornaments to Christmas villages to nativity sets, it’s all here.
LOCATION: 2800 W 76 Country Blvd, Suite 103, Branson, MO 65616
WHEN TO VISIT: Open year round, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays