It was beginning to look a lot like Christmas before Halloween in some parts of Fort Worth, but fortunately, most folks waited until the Thanksgiving turkey was purchased to actually flip the switch on the yuletide decor.
There's nothing more fun than loading the family into the car, stopping for hot chocolate, and driving through neighborhoods to see holiday lights. Here are some of the best Fort Worth-area commercial and neighborhood displays, plus a few individual homes worth pulling up to for spectacular music-and-light shows.
The Modern Lights
After you peruse the art inside, spend time in the evening meandering through the Modern Lights on the museum grounds. For the first time in its history, the Modern is illuminated with a spectacular array of festive lights in honor of the Museum's 125th Anniversary. Not only are passersby treated to a stunning display, visitors and families are invited to enjoy nightly viewing opportunities with extended museum hours (until 8 pm on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Fridays) for a complete "must-see" holiday experience. The museum is lit up every night, 5 pm-midnight, through January 6.
Starlight Symphony at Crockett Row at West 7th
Starlight Symphony celebrates the holidays through a five-minute music and light show held on the hour from 6-9 pm. The free show takes place all along Crockett Street, through December 31. While you're there, enjoy free horse-drawn carriage rides and holiday entertainment from local bands and schools on the weekends. Other fun activities on Saturdays include “Help Complete Santa’s List” featuring in-store offers, games, and a DJ. Santa Claus himself will make special appearances on certain days.
Texas Motor Speedway presents Gift of Lights
No, you don't actually get to drive on the track at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth during its annual Gift of Lights drive-through holiday lighting spectacular, but it's still impressive. The event includes over two miles of light displays, with almost 3 million lights, while visitors get to stay in their warm cars, listening to Christmas music on KLTY. After they finish with the drive, visitors can visit Santa’s Village on the inside track to get a picture with Santa, take a ride on the Reindeer Express miniature train, see a few retired race cars, and more.
Light Show Spectacular
Go to Grapevine for the blockbuster Lone Star Christmas at the Gaylord Texan Resort, but stay for all the other festive events and displays around town. The popular Light Show Spectacular is a synchronized light and sound display at the Grapevine Christmas Tree. It's located next to the Town Square Gazebo along Main Street in historic downtown Grapevine, at the corner of Main and Dallas streets. This free, fun-for-all-ages lights show is about 20 minutes long and runs continuously from 6-11 pm nightly through January 7.
Enchant: The World's Largest Christmas Light Maze & Market
A world of Christmas wonder awaits as Enchant: The World's Largest Christmas Light Maze & Market makes its U.S debut at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Guests can get lost in the world's largest light maze, take photos around the largest Christmas tree in North Texas, glide around the ice-skating pond, or waltz through the Enchant Christmas Market with over 85 vendors, including Arlington favorite Texas Christkindl Market Lane, now a part of the Enchant experience. The event will go on through December 31.
Daystar is a faith-based TV network that transforms its Bedford campus into a magical wonderland of more than 1 million LED lights for the Christmas holidays. Light displays are among the featured activities, which include a life-size nativity, Christmas Town children's area, Scratch Cafe, and pictures and stories with Santa. It's all open to the public through January 3, but check the website for daily activity schedules. You can't miss the display as you're driving along the freeway, but you might miss the exit; the address is 3901 Highway 121, Bedford.
People Generation presents Magical Winter Lights
Magical Winter Lights at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie is unlike any other holiday lighting event to take place in the DFW area. The festival bases its designs from Chinese lanterns and transforms them into larger-than-life remakes of well-known landmarks. The lantern festival embraces more than just the Chinese cultural elements by also creating lantern designs that speak to the local audience. The 2017 festival features several themed sections including Magical Wonderland, Christmas Candy Land, The Lone Star State, Dinosaur Land, and Mystery of the East. The DFW Magical Winter Lights will specifically include an entrance castle lantern inspired by the Dallas County Courthouse, a giant cowboy, and Dallas’ iconic Pegasus.
Prairie Lights is a two-mile, drive-through holiday park experience, situated along the shores of Joe Pool Lake in Grand Prairie, that boasts a stunning display of more than 4 million lights and other holiday attractions. This year’s event, which runs through December 31, features live reindeer; dozens of all-new, holiday-themed light scenes; out-of-car experiences; and the park’s famous grand-finale animated tunnel that guests drive through upon exit. Featured events and attractions include the Holiday Magic Lighted Walk-Thru Forest, Snowmazing Snow Maze, and Holiday Village. Hint: Cut down on wait time with a fast-pass, available on the website.
No tour of Fort Worth holiday lights would be complete without a stop in downtown's Sundance Square and a few pictures with the illuminated Christmas tree in the plaza. This year’s tree is a towering, 65-foot concolor fir from Michigan, and photos are great fun because it appears to be leaning, Pisa-style, just slightly to the east. Or is it south? Depends on how you look at it. The tree sparkles with 10,000 LED lights, snowflakes, and ornaments. The brightly colored, Nutcracker-themed Santa photo set sits below it, and giant illuminated ornaments help adorn the plaza. When the tree comes down after New Year's, it'll be recycled and donated to Habitat for Humanity.
Neighborhood displays and events
You can pick any night to drive around Fairmount and see historic homes lit festively for the season. But the best night of all is Festivus, the annual celebration "for the rest of us." It's 5:30-8:30 pm December 12 and begins at The Space at Kent & Co. There will be refreshments, hot chocolate, activities, and a holiday bus tour through the neighborhood to view Christmas lights. There also will be a stop at Santa’s Village at the Rosen House Inn for photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus, carolers, Christmas card ornament making, and more. Buses will run at intervals beginning at 5:30 pm, and tours last about an hour, including the stop at Santa's Village.
Interlochen Holiday Lights
Arlington's Interlochen neighborhood consistently ranks high in national polls of most spirited areas with holiday lights. Each year, more than 200 homeowners go all out with extravagant lights, decorations, and displays that are worth the trek. This year is the neighborhood's 42nd to stage the free event, which begins nightly at 7 pm. Find the entrance at Westwood Drive and Randol Mill Road and make your way slowly along the winding roads of the neighborhood. (Note: You'll want to plan for long lines as Christmas approaches, as December 25 is the last day for the display.)
Diamond Loch Christmas Lights Display
This North Richland Hills neighborhood has dressed up for the holidays for years. Drive through slowly to check out a "Whoville" presentation synched to music, Charlie Brown and Disney characters on the lawn, and thousands of colorful lights adorning trees for miles. To find it, navigate to the address 6300 Diamond Loch Dr., in NRH.
Ridglea Hills, Fort Worth
Folks who take walks and visit the ducks along Luther Lake in this westside Fort Worth neighborhood eagerly anticipate the arrival of the holiday lights on about 30 surrounding homes. The lights reflect in the water of the 10-acre lake, making for some pretty spectacular photo and video opps on clear nights. The best place to see them is along the bridge at Clayton Road.
Rushing Meadow Court and Harder Drive, Dalworthington Gardens
Homeowner Dave Kulesz started a neighborhood tradition when he lit up his property with hundreds of thousands of twinkling lights. Surrounding homes got into the fun and now attract visitors from miles around. Kulesz uses the exposure to raise awareness of Alzheimer's disease, to which he lost his mother. A sign in his front yard encourages people to make gifts to the Alzheimer's Association.
Homes worth visiting
The family homes at these addresses have spectacular set-ups of holiday lights, music, and more for passersby to enjoy.