Photo by Ebru Yildiz

Thanksgiving weekend around Fort Worth will start off with many holiday-related events, including a light display, ice skating, Christmas train ride, a theater production, and a symphony event. It will end with a quintet of concerts, headlined by an iconic band, as well as an appearance by a well-known character actor.

Below are the best ways to spend your precious free time this weekend. Want more options? Lucky for you, we have a much longer list of the city's best events.

Thursday, November 24

Texas Motor Speedway presents Gift of Lights
Texas Motor Speedway will open its gates to the public for the annual Gift of Lights drive-through holiday lighting spectacular. There are 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. Taking place through January 1, there will be special theme nights with discounts offered for participating vehicles.

Friday, November 25

Stockyards Rodeo Rink
The Stockyards Rodeo Rink will feature an all-new ice skating rink, Cowboy Santa's Winter Wonderland, live music, theme days, activations, Coco Corral, and more. There will be five 90-minute skating sessions Mondays through Thursdays, with an extra 9 pm session Fridays through Sundays. Ice skates are included at the venue, which will be open through February 5, 2023.

Grapevine Vintage Railroad presents North Pole Express
Guests can don their favorite pajamas and experience the magic of Christmas onboard Grapevine Vintage Railroad’s North Pole Express. Mrs. Claus takes guests on a holiday adventure to Santa’s Workshop. All guests will receive a cookie and a taste of Santa’s Frosty Chocolate Snow Milk served in a keepsake Memory Mug. Children will also receive a “We Believe” bell. The event takes place through December 23 at Grapevine Cotton Belt Depot.

Casa Mañana presents A Christmas Carol: A New Musical Comedy
Casa Mañana presents a new, fresh twist on a classic Dickens tale that will have children ages 4 to 100 laughing alike. A Christmas Carol: A New Musical Comedy features a contemporary pop score and current pop culture references that are guaranteed to have audiences dancing in the aisles. The production runs through December 23.

Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra presents "Home for the Holidays"
Audiences can catch a glimpse of jolly old St. Nick with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra for another installment of "Home for the Holidays," the favorite holiday tradition that comes complete with magical snowfall and Christmas carols. The concert, conducted by Stuart Chafetz and featuring vocalist N’Kenge and the Lone Star Youth Chorus, will have three performances through Sunday at Bass Performance Hall.

Eagles in concert
The legendary band Eagles, with the lineup of Don Henley, Joe Walsh, Timothy B. Schmit, and Vince Gill, come to Fort Worth as part of their Hotel California tour. The concert will feature them playing their iconic album Hotel California in its entirety, accompanied by an orchestra and choir. After an intermission, they'll return with an entire additional set of the band’s other greatest hits. The concert will be at Dickies Arena.

Aaron Watson in concert
Country singer Aaron Watson has been recording music for over 20 years, but it wasn't until 2012 that he hit it big with his 11th album, appropriately titled The Underdog, which went to No. 1 on the country charts. He's been near the top of the charts ever since. He'll play at Billy Bob's Texas in support of his new album, Unwanted Man.

Saturday, November 26

Downtown Cowtown at the Isis presents An Evening with Barry Corbin
Downtown Cowtown at the Isis presents a special evening with Emmy-nominated actor and Fort Worth friend Barry Corbin. Corbin will enchant the audience during the first act with his razor-sharp wit and wisdom as he recaps 81 years of outrageous, sobering, and true stories from his life and experiences on film, TV, and stage. The show’s second act will allow the audience to participate in a moderated Q&A.

Joshua Ray Walker in concert
Rising star Joshua Ray Walker may just be the next big thing to come out of the Dallas-Fort Worth area. His honky tonk-infused music has struck a chord since his 2019 debut album, Wish You Were Here. His latest release, 2021's See You Next Time, is the conclusion of a trilogy of records that share characters and vibes. He'll play at Tannahill's Tavern and Music Hall.

Eli Young Band in concert
Eli Young Band is a prime example of how some college bands can actually make it big in the music world. After forming at the University of North Texas, they quickly gained notoriety, opening for the likes of Miranda Lambert. Six albums later, three of which reached the top 10 on the Billboard Country charts, the band remains one of the bigger success stories to come out of the Dallas-Fort Worth area. They'll play at Billy Bob's Texas in support of their new album, Love Talking.

Sunday, November 27

Pat Green in concert
After rising through Texas' dancehall scene years ago, Pat Green earned himself major label support in Nashville and became the poster child of Texas music for a whole generation of fans. Green’s explosive live shows have made him a fan favorite, and the San Antonio native and Fort Worth resident has sold over 2 million albums and been nominated for three Grammy Awards. He'll play at Tannahill's Tavern & Music Hall.

Photo by Ebru Yildiz

Eagles will play at Dickies Arena on November 25.

Photo courtesy of Louie Murillo

Here comes Santa House, back to Grapevine for a very charitable 2022 Christmas season

The nice list

After taking a much-needed break last year, Louie Murillo and his family are once again decking their halls, yard, and rooftop to bring back the Grapevine Santa House — a smash hit during the 2020 holiday season.

The half-acre property in the Western Oaks neighborhood of Grapevine is a "Where's Waldo?" maze of more than 1,000 Santa statues, which visitors can walk among, snap photos with, and then, they hope, make a donation to Grace Grapevine's Christmas Cottage program.

The charity's seasonal initiative provides new, unwrapped gifts to Tarrant County families facing financial hardship.

“You just see the joy in people’s faces,” Murillo says of the Santa House display. “They’re getting some great photo ops, but hopefully making memories out of all this.”

The 2020 Santa House — which came together as a pandemic-year project for the family — saw thousands of visitors and became a top attraction in DFW that holiday season. Murillo's search for special "blow mold" Santa statues had taken him around the country that year. Blow molds are hollow, plastic figures that were popular in the '50s, '60s, and '70s. They're rarely made now, and considered collectibles, costing anywhere from $30 to $140 apiece.

The decorations were set up around the property in vignettes, illuminated merry and bright with LED lighting. It was nothing less than a Santa spectacle.

Grapevine Santa House The Santas are "blow molds," which were popular in the '50s. Photo courtesy of Louie Murillo

After a break in 2021, the Murillos decided to bring the Santa House display back this year, even bigger in size and mission.

Their goal in 2020 had been to raise $15,000 for Grace, which would help 120 kids. By December 1 that year, just a few days after turning the lights on, they were already at $9,000.

Murillo's “Grownup Christmas Wish” for 2022 is to raise $70,000 or more through Santa House to support Grace services and programs.

He expects at least $35,000 to come from an online Santa House Benefit given by visitors, guests, and well-wishers, he says. The rest, he hopes to raise from seven donors with generous hearts enough to give $5,000 each to be a part of this holiday cheer.

"The hope is, on Christmas Morning (or Christmas Eve, as some family traditions observe) the children open presents selected especially for them by their parents," the organization says. "The children do not need to know their Christmas came from a charity, only that their parents gave them a holiday merry and bright.

Grapevine Santa House Guests can walk around the Santa displays each night. Photo courtesy of Louie Murillo

The Santa House lights will switch on Thanksgiving night and will be illuminated dusk-to-10:30 pm, Sundays through Thursdays, and dusk-to-11 pm, Saturdays and Sundays, through December 29.

The home is on a cul-de-sac in Grapevine's Western Oaks neighborhood, and visitors can park along the street.

The exact location is 3373 Spruce Lane, Grapevine. Follow the Grapevine Santa House Facebook page for updates.

Those interested in being matching donors should contact Mark Woolverton at Grace, 972-743-8556 or mwoolverton@gracegrapevine.org.

Photo by Michael Merry

What to expect at 'Lightscape,' Fort Worth's new walk-thru winter wonderland

Lights fantastic

Fort Worth’s most Instagrammable new holiday lights display is best enjoyed without clinging to a phone. “Lightscape,” making its North Texas debut at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden on Friday, November 18, walks visitors through a winter wonderland experience unlike any other in DFW.

As the name says, the event features “lights” in “landscape,” so the natural surrounds of the garden are the stage on which the light features shine. The third star of the show is music, and the major supporting character is strategic use of … darkness.

Yes, darkness.

What makes "Lightscape" different from other modern Christmas light attractions is that it’s not a constant, over-the-top, bombastic blast of LEDs. There are high-lights and low-lights, moments of razzle dazzle and moments of quiet contemplation. Parts are whimsical, parts are worshipful.

The holiday season is not (for most people) one steady dousing of joyful Christmas spirit. In the same way, “Lightscape” evokes the many different spirits of Christmas: the wonderment, the majesty, the mysticism, the reverie, the joy, and all the merriment.

Yes, of course, snap those selfies and record those reels, but then tuck that phone away and take it all in as a total sensory experience.

Feel the chilly air hit your face as you pose in the bluebonnet field with a Texas country serenade. Sip your hot chocolate and linger on a bench, watching the reflection in the water of trees changing colors to “Silent Night” in the Japanese Garden.

And if you start to think, “This part of the path seems dull,” look up at a sky-high tree lit purple or green and, think, “I wonder why, out of all the trees, they chose that one?”

Below are five highlights of the mile-long walking path through the display, based on a sneak-peek visit. If you don’t want spoilers, skip to the bottom for some valuable “know before you go” information. (You’ll want to know about the spiked hot chocolate.)

Winter Cathedral – This is the feature in all the ads and every influencer reel. An 18-foot-tall, 110-foot-long cathedral guides guests through a long tunnel illuminated by tens of thousands of LED light globes. You might think it’s the grand finale - It’s not; there’s still much more to come. Andrea Bocelli singing “O Holy Night” adds to a true “cathedral” experience; pause and take in the light-filled spectacle when he gets to the rousing line, “Oh Night Divine.”

The Rose Garden – What makes this fun is that it’s actually in The Rose Garden. A sprawling installation of 5,000 handmade color-changing roses with life-like silk leaves fills the garden where many in Fort Worth have celebrated weddings, engagements, and celebrations of life. This whimsical botanical playground also looks a bit like a retro “Light Brite” board.

Fire Garden – Perhaps the most surprising feature of the whole event is a field of structures that fill the landscape with real fire, created from hand-poured candles, flickering in the breeze. Set to an a capella choral rendition of “Auld Lang Syne,” it feels like a candlelight worship service at a church. It’s a beautifully contemplative moment.

Bluebonnets – Merry Texmas, y’all. A field of 2,000 bluebonnets twinkle and shine and bathe the landscape in bold blue and white LED pixel lights, while a country crooner sings, “Merry Texas Christmas, You All.” An entirely different way to take iconic bluebonnet photos. (You can’t actually plop down in the field, but there are plenty of spots for shots.)

Japanese Garden – Whatever you do, don’t skip this at the end. The entire garden is transformed into a space both meditative and majestic. Trees are lit in various colors and change colors to the soft sounds of “Silent Night.” Water features that look like falling leaves in the pond “dance” to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. It’s an awe-inspiring finale to the entire experience.

Good to know:

  • "Lightscape" runs November 18-January 8 at Fort Worth Botanic Garden; information and tickets are here.
  • No shows on: November 21-22 & 24, November 28-30, December 5-6, December 12-13, December 25, and January 2-3.
  • The entire event is outdoors and uncovered, and about a mile long. It’s an all-walking experience so wear comfy shoes and dress appropriately for the elements.
  • The average tour time from start to finish is 1.5 hours, although there is no time limit.
  • Concessions (charcuterie cones, turkey legs, veggie burgers, hot and cold beverages) are sold at stands throughout the event. Various kinds of spiked hot chocolate and apple cider are available for adults; they’re $12 apiece.
  • There are a few gravel spots and dark pathways, especially walking to and from the parking lot. If you’re not sure-footed, you might keep your phone flashlight handy.
  • Strollers and wheelchairs were able to navigate the entire event.
  • Tickets (timed every 15 minutes) run $28-$30 for adults, $18-$20 for children (ages 3-12), and free for infants (0-2 years old). FWBG members receive $5 off of each ticket.
  • Prices do not include parking, which runs $15-$20, according to the website. A $60 VIP ticket package includes parking.

Photo by Michael Merry

The Fire Garden is like a candlelight worship service.

Photo by Michelle Watson CultureMapSnap

These are the 13 best things to do in Fort Worth this weekend

Weekend Event Planner

The holidays are already in full effect in Fort Worth the weekend before Thanksgiving, with four events celebrating the season, but a visit from the King of Country overshadows them all. Other options include concerts at a ranch, a trio of well-known comedians, a classical music concert, and two smaller-scale concerts.

Below are the best ways to spend your precious free time this weekend. Want more options? Lucky for you, we have a much longer list of the city's best events.

Friday, November 18

Fort Worth Botanic Garden presents Lightscape
Taking place within the Fort Worth Botanic Garden and set along a beautifully illuminated walking trail custom-designed for Fort Worth, Lightscape will feature spectacular artistic installations that come to life after dark with color, imagination, and sound. Visitors will walk a one-mile-long path with suspended strands and tunnels of light, a fire garden, undulating wave of bluebonnets, singing trees, treetop sculptures, and artistic installations, while toasting marshmallows over a fire and drinking hot chocolate and other seasonal drinks at stations along the trail. The event will run through January 8.

Artisan Center Theater presents The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
Based on the best-selling book, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever follows the outrageous shenanigans of the Herdman siblings, or “the worst kids in the history of the world.” The siblings take over the annual Christmas pageant in a hilarious yet heartwarming tale involving the Three Wise Men, a ham, scared shepherds, and six rowdy kids. The production runs through December 23 at Artisan Center Theater in Hurst.

Dallas Symphony Orchestra presents Circle T Ranch Music Festival
The Dallas Symphony Orchestra will present the second annual Circle T Ranch Music Festival, a three-day concert series featuring performances by The Steep Canyon Rangers on Friday and contemporary and classical music from the orchestra on Saturday and Sunday. Along with performances, the family-friendly festival will feature food trucks and a number of pre-concert activities, ranging from face-painting to instrument demonstrations. All concerts will be at Circle T Ranch in Westlake.

Improv Arlington presents Shawn Wayans
Shawn Wayans was born into one of Hollywood's largest and most successful comedic families, so he was naturally gifted with the ability to make people laugh. He carved his own acting career with a starring role in the sitcom The Wayans Bros., along with movies like the Scary Movie franchise. He'll perform four times through Saturday at Improv Arlington.

Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra presents "Wagner Highlights"
Audiences can marvel at some of the greatest moments in the operatic repertoire as Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra Music Director Robert Spano delves into the music of Richard Wagner, including “The Ride of the Valkyries” from Die Walküre, the Prelude to Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, and “Siegfried’s Rhine Journey” from Götterdämmerung. The program will include images by famed British illustrator Arthur Rackham. There will be three performances through Sunday at Bass Performance Hall.

Hyena's present Helen Hong
A fan favorite on the hit NPR podcast Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, Helen Hong has been a recurring character on HBO's Silicon Valley, CBS' The Unicorn, and others. She will perform four times through Sunday at Hyena's in downtown Fort Worth.

George Strait in concert
Country superstar George Strait may have retired from touring way back in 2014, but he's by no means finished playing concerts. He helped open Dickies Arena in 2019, and he's also played big shows in the past couple of years at the Houston Rodeo and in Austin alongside Willie Nelson. He's back at Dickies Arena for two special concerts - one Friday and one Saturday - where he'll be joined by opening act Tenille Townes.

The Panhandlers in concert
The Panhandlers are a Texas country music group made up of William Clark Green, Cleto Cordero, Josh Abbott, and John Baumann, four solo artists who've had a good amount of success in their own right. They'll play at Billy Bob's Texas in support of their new EP, West Texas is the Best Texas.

Saturday, November 19

Fort Worth Zoo presents 30th Anniversary Festival
The Fort Worth Zoo will celebrate the 30th Anniversary of their reopening with a special festival, where visitors can spend the day with favorite animals, enjoy a variety of live musical acts throughout the park, take advantage of photo ops, interact with strolling characters, enjoy giveaways (while supplies last), and check out themed animal enrichment activities in habitats across the zoo. Admission will be half-price all day long.

13th Annual Funky Finds Holiday Shopping Experience
The 13th Annual Funky Finds Holiday Shopping Experience will feature Santa as he wears shades, swimming trunks, and his Hawaiian shirt in holiday market surf side. The flamingos are rounding up the best in handmade and vintage funky finds for shoppers' tropical holiday pleasure. Visitors can also float over to snag the best finds before they're swept away with the tide. The event takes place on Saturday and Sunday at Will Rogers Memorial Center.

George Lopez: OMG Hi! Comedy Tour
Few comedians have enjoyed the type of success that George Lopez has over the past 20 years or so. He has had not one, but three eponymous sitcoms — George Lopez, Saint George, and Lopez. He was also the host of the short-lived talk show, Lopez Tonight. Obviously, the man knows funny, which he'll show in two performances at Will Rogers Auditorium.

Josh Weathers Band in concert
Josh Weathers is a Fort Worth-based soulful singer-songwriter. He has spent close to 20 years honing his craft of combining songs of hope with a high energy rock n’ soul live show. With his band or not, he's no stranger to the various stages around Fort Worth. They'll play at Tannahill's Tavern & Music Hall.

Sunday, November 20

40th Annual GM Financial Parade of Lights
The GM Financial Parade of Lights will take over the streets of Downtown Fort Worth for the 40th year, with more than 100 illuminated floats, an array of festive performers, holiday decor, live music, and hundreds of thousands of sparkling lights. The lighting of the Christmas tree in Sundance Square will take place an hour prior to the start of the parade, at 5 pm. For things to know before you go (including road closures and parking), go here.

Photo by Michelle Watson CultureMapSnap

George Strait will play at Dickies Arena on November 18 and 19.

Photo by Joan Marcus

These are the 12 best things to do in Fort Worth this weekend

Weekend Event Planner

This is a big weekend around Fort Worth, with an annual film festival, the return of a beloved pianist, a national tour of a Broadway musical, two opera productions, larger-than-life Hot Wheels cars, the city's annual marathon, awards honoring the best in Texas country music, and more.

Below are the best ways to spend your precious free time this weekend. Want more options? Lucky for you, we have a much longer list of the city's best events.

Thursday, November 10

Lone Star Film Festival
The 2022 Lone Star Film Festival will feature eight narrative feature films, nine documentary feature films, and over 50 short films across four days. Highlights include opening night film Butcher's Crossing starring Nicolas Cage; a showcase screening of Living starring Bill Nighy; and a retrospective screening of Pedro Almodovar's 2006 film Volver. Most screenings will take place at Downtown Cowtown at the Isis. The festival will also include a gala on Friday honoring Yellowstone creator Taylor Sheridan with the Larry McMurtry Award.

Chamber Music Society of Fort Worth presents Beethoven Quartet Cycle
The Chamber Music Society of Fort Worth presents Beethoven Quartet Cycle, featuring the Miro Quartet. The concerts, going on through Sunday at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, highlight all 16 of Beethoven's string quartets. Bill McGlaughlin, host of Exploring Music will be a special guest at this event presenting the pre-concert talks about the works being performed.

Theatre Wesleyan presents Wonder of the World
Theatre Wesleyan will present Wonder of the World by David Lindsay-Abaire, a laugh-out-loud comic confection intended for mature audiences. The play follows the exploits of Cass as she flees from her troubled marriage in a frantic search for the life she thinks she missed out on. Cass heads to the natural wonder of the world - Niagara Falls - crossing paths with a shipload of nutty characters. Does all of the comedic chaos push Cass over the water's edge ... literally? The production runs through November 19 in Thad Smotherman Theatre on the Texas Wesleyan University campus.

The Cliburn presents Vadym Kholodenko
Vadym Kholodenko's dynamic and technically phenomenal performances earned him the gold medal at the Fourteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in 2013. He went on to be named the first artist-in-partnership of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, among other honors. The native of Ukraine and honorary Fort Worthian returns to Fort Worth for his first Cliburn Concerts appearance in nine years, performing a traditional recital at the Kimbell Art Museum on Thursday, and a more casual concert at The Post at River East on Friday.

Friday, November 11

New Fort Worth Opera productions
Fort Worth Opera will present two single-performance productions this weekend. On Friday at Fort Worth Community Arts Center will be the world premiere of Stand Up!, a socially conscious chamber opera that gives the audience a snapshot of the life of South African activist Stephen Biko during 1960s Apartheid, and segues into a modern-day story of a similarly racially divided college campus in Texas. On Sunday at Van Cliburn Recital Hall at TCU will be Of Thee I Sing! Songs of Love & Justice, a recital curated by Karen Slack that features a program with songs around the themes of love and justice as a reminder to the audience that no matter your race, ethnicity, politics, etc., we are all human.

Performing Arts Fort Worth presents Elf the Musical
It may be a bit early to get into the full Christmas spirit, but the story of Buddy the Elf in Elf the Musical is hard to resist. Unaware that he is actually human, Buddy’s enormous size and poor toy-making abilities cause him to face the truth. With Santa’s permission, Buddy embarks on a journey to New York City to find his birth father, discover his true identity, and help New York remember the true meaning of Christmas. The production runs through Sunday at Bass Performance Hall.

Cody Canada & The Departed in concert
The music of Cody Canada & The Departed blurs the lines between hard-edged country, rock & roll, and all the gritty sounds in between. The band has released four albums in their career, most recently 2018's 3. They'll play at Tannahill's Tavern & Music Hall.

Saturday, November 12

Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Live
At Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Live, fans will enjoy a new and expanded lineup of monster trucks as they experience the thrill of watching the iconic Hot Wheels monster truck toys come to life in a full-size, kid-focused, immersive Hot Wheels experience. This is the only opportunity to see real-life versions of the famous Hot Wheels monster truck toys, including fan favorites Bone Shaker, Tiger Shark, V8 Bomber, and Demo Derby. There will be three performances through Sunday at Dickies Arena.

Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra presents Final Fantasy 35th Anniversary Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy Coral
Specially curated by Japanese composer and keyboardist Nobuo Uematsu, the program for Final Fantasy 35th Anniversary Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy Coral is a monumental, retrospective celebration of the Final Fantasy music catalogue. Conductor Arnie Roth leads an orchestra and chorus of 100 musicians on stage at Will Rogers Memorial Center, with exclusive HD video direct from creators at Square Enix.

Sunday, November 13

Fort Worth Marathon
The Fort Worth Marathon course is certified by the USA Track and Field Association and can be used to qualify for the Boston Marathon. It is a flat out-and-back course along the Trinity River. The event will also include a 20 Mile Race, Half Marathon, and 5K. Beginning and ending at Panther Island Pavilion, there will also be food trucks, hot showers, music, and free money giveaways.

Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra presents "Robert Spano Performs Chamber Music"
Robert Spano, the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra's new music director and an accomplished pianist, will launch the Kimbell Chamber Series with a song cycle of his own composition, the Sonnets to Orpheus, featuring mezzo-soprano Kelley O'Connor. The intimate concert experience at Kimbell Art Museum's Piano Pavilion will also include Brahms' Piano Quintet in F Minor and Debussy's Sonata for Flute, Viola, and Harp.

Texas Country Music Awards
The 2022 Texas Country Music Awards will feature performances by headliner Roger Creager, as well as Terry McBride & The Ride, co-host Brandon Rhyder, Bailey Rae, and more. Artists up for the top award, Entertainer of the Year, include Aaron Watson, Creed Fisher, Jon Stork, Kin Faux, and Randall King. The awards will take place at Billy Bob's Texas.

Photo by Joan Marcus

Elf the Musical will play at Bass Performance Hall, November 11-13.

Photo courtesy of Lightscape

Where to see the most spectacular Christmas lights dazzling Dallas-Fort Worth in 2022

Merry & bright

Tis the season for Dallas-Fort Worth to light up, merry and bright, for the 2022 holidays — from towering trees that twinkle and shine to dazzling drive-thru displays and immersive walk-thru experiences.

Here's our 2022 guide to the biggest, brightest, most spectacular Christmas light displays in the area, listed by start date. Bookmark and check back often because it'll grow and grow as more places deck their halls in coming weeks.

Photo courtesy of Lightscape

Fort Worth Botanic Garden presents the North Texas debut of Lightscape.

Make plans now to pour the hot chocolate, load up the car, turn on the holiday tunes, and enjoy these illuminated wonderlands.

Immersive experiences and choreographed shows

Holiday at the Arboretum, November 10-December 31
One of the centerpieces of the Dallas Arboretum's magical holiday wonderland is the Dazzling Musical Tree, a 50-foot-tall tree animated with more than 42,000 lights and merry tunes, presented on the hour and every half hour of the day and evening. Guests can also visit the twinkling European-style Christmas Village and its 23-foot Marilyn and Ben Weber Family Christmas Pyramid, decorated with lighting and character movement on every level. Of course the beloved "12 Days of Christmas" Gazebos return, too. There are artistry displays, yuletide treats, shows - and special evening hours. Tickets, $10-$25, are here.

Christmas at Gaylord Texan, November 11-January 1
Part of the Gaylord's Texas-sized Christmas extravaganza, the signature ICE! Experience is back for 2022 with 2 million pounds of ice carbed into The Polar Express-themed sculptures. Other Gaylord holiday highlights include a sparkling array of larger- than-life holiday décor and state-of-the-art light element, snow tubing, gingerbread decorating, holiday shows, and more. For a complete rundown of events, scheduling, tickets, and more, visit the website.

Dallas Zoo Lights, Dallas Zoo, November 17-January 1
Dallas Zoo returns as a walk-thru event this year. Highlights include more than 1 million lights across most of the zoo; new larger-than-life animal lanterns, elaborate displays, and lighted photo opps; visits to Santa’s Workshop; concessions; musical performances, and more. Tickets run $14-$17, with discounts for zoo members; more information and tickets here.

Cowboys Christmas Extravaganza at The Star, Frisco, November 18-December 17
The Cowboys' sixth annual Christmas at The Star includes Cowboys Christmas Extravaganza powered by Reliant, a must-see 20-minute show that electrifies The Star with light shows synchronized to music and pyrotechnics, and much more, on Tostitos Championship Plaza. Kicking off with the lighting of The Star’s 67-foot Christmas tree by a Dallas Cowboys alumni, Cowboys Christmas Extravaganza then leads into a holiday performance showcasing the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders and more. Admission is free. For more information, visit the website.

Lightscape, Fort Worth Botanic Garden, November 18-January 8
Making its North Texas debut, Lightscape illuminates the Fort Worth Botanic Garden with a one-mile-long path with suspended strands and tunnels of light, a fire garden, undulating wave of bluebonnets, singing trees, treetop sculptures, and and artistic installations. Read more about what to expect here. Timed tickets, $18-$28 (along with $20 on-site parking passes), are available here.

North Pole Texas at Hilton Anatole, November 18-December 24
The Dallas hotel is transformed into a light-filled winter wonderland. A guided 90-minute interactive event starts with a Peppermint Park train ride through the light display in the Anatole Sculpture Park. The train will deliver guests to the North Pole Texas welcome station for their elf check-in. Children of all ages can participate in holiday activities, including writing letters to Santa at the North Pole Mailroom, decorating cookies in Mrs. Claus’s kitchen, attending Elf Academy, watching holiday shows, and more. $36-$43 for non-hotel guests, $25-$30 for hotel guests; more information and tickets here.

Six Flags Holiday in the Park, Arlington, November 19-January 1
Six Flags Over Texas will transform once again into a winter wonderland featuring more than 2 million twinkling lights, all-new shows, Santa’s Village, the Holly Jolly parade, a new light show area, concessions, and much more. For ticket pricing and schedule, visit the event website.

Whistle Stop Christmas, Hulen Park, Cleburne, November 21-December 31
Lights illuminate Cleburne in this annual display, but the brightest of all are in Hulen Park. Millions of twinkling lights make the park sparkle. Plan a visit around children's train rides in the park on Fridays and Saturdays from 5-9 pm. You also can take a driving tour of various decorated homes throughout Cleburne; lights come on every evening at 6 pm, weather permitting. The annual Lighted Christmas Parade takes place December 2. For more information about the lights and events, visit the website.

Daystar Christmas, Daystar Television Network, Bedford, November 25-January 2
Daystar Christmas features over 2 million lights in interactive displays, a life-sized Nativity, kid-friendly Christmas town, an all-new Christmas light maze, and more. Guests are welcome to get out, explore, take photos with Santa, and eat — Daystar’s Scratch Café will be serving holiday treats on certain days throughout the season. The whole event is free and runs 6-11 pm nightly; for schedule and more information, visit the website.

Enchant Christmas, Fair Park, November 25-January 1
Returning this year to Fair Park, Enchant will present the new interactive light-maze adventure “The Mischievous Elf.” The 2022 edition - touted as the world's largest holiday-themed lights event - will feature an immersive walk-thru light maze created from over 4 million sparkling lights, a 100-foot-tall Christmas tree, an ice-skating trail, live entertainment, Santa visits, and a Hallmark Channel-branded “Hallmark Cozy Christmas” lounge with festive beverages and more. For tickets ($20-$34), schedule, and more information, visit https://enchantchristmas.com/.

Lights on the Farm at Heritage Farmstead Museum, Plano, November 25-December 30
Heritage Farmstead Museum in Plano will be bedazzled with more than one million twinkling holiday lights and filled with animated yuletide displays as part of the venue’s 2022 Lights on the Farm holiday event. Visitors can walk a quarter-mile trail through the historic property showcasing holiday light creations and animated displays. There will also be a 20-foot Christmas tree, refreshments, and a chance for the youngest guests to visit with Santa. Tickets are $7-$15 and more information is here.

Lights on The Lake, Little Elm, November 25-December 27
Along with a walk-thru lights experience, Lights on The Lake (at Little Elm Park) will highlight pictures with Santa, a hot air balloon glow, a Ferris wheel, a carousel, and an ice skating rink. The 24-nights-of-lights event will also have food trucks, vendors, and many spots perfect for holiday pictures. The event runs Thursday-Sunday, 6-10 pm from November 25-December 27. Tickets ($16-$26) and information are here.

Drive-thru displays

The Light Park, Arlington, November 7-January 1
The Light Park is a mile-long, drive-thru spectacular in the parking lot of Hurricane Harbor waterpark. Guests will witness millions of lights synchronized to a mix of music by DJ Polar Ice. Priced per vehicle starting at $29, the drive-thru light display takes visitors through the longest light tunnel in the world, they say, while rocking out to the coolest tunes that help celebrate the holiday season. More information is https://www.thelightpark.com/arlington.

Santa’s Country Christmas, Seagoville, November 11-January 1
Now in its fifth year, Santa's Country Christmas drive-thru lights experience is located on Hwy. 175 in Seagoville, 20 minutes from downtown Dallas. The two-mile drive-thru park includes lights, animals, and music. There's a walk-thru Christmas village and photos with Santa (starting on Thanksgiving). Admission is $30 per vehicle, no matter the size, purchased at the door. Open 6-10 pm. For more information, visit their Facebook page.

Sugar Lane Lights, Haslet, November 18-December 31
The experts behind Fort Worth's popular Tell Family Lights are introducing a sweet new drive-thru lights experience in Haslet, featuring 1,200 props, including a 50-foot tall Christmas tree decorated with 90,000 lights, a 25-foot tall gingerbread house, and a 16-foot tall snowflake. Guests can also purchase battery-charged LED bracelets that are synced to the show’s music. Opening nightly starting either November 11 or 17, 5:30-10 pm on weekdays and 5:30-11 pm on weekends. Prices for the show vary from $30 to $55 per car depending on entry time, and tickets can be purchased online.

Radiance at the Ranch, Weatherford, November 18- December 31
Radiance! becomes a theme park-style ride in a vehicle that guides guests through the show at Parker County Sheriff's Posse. Visitors can expect a mile-long light trail of over 3 million lights, animated to favorite holiday tunes. VIP tickets include access to a VIP entrance lane for faster access, hot chocolate for every member of the family, and Magic Light Glasses and treats for the kids. Tickets, $31-$50, are available here.

Prairie Lights, Grand Prairie, November 24-December 31
At Prairie Lights at Lynn Creek Park in Grand Prairie, visitors will be dazzled with 4 million lights set along two miles of path. Hundreds of displays in shapes of all kinds line and arch over the roads. This year's event will feature brand new displays and concessions in the Holiday Village. At the halfway point, guests can exit their vehicle to enjoy photos with Santa, a magical walk-thru forest, and more. The second half of the drive ends with an always popular light tunnel. $50-$200 per vehicle, more information and tickets here.

Gift of Lights at Texas Motor Speedway, Fort Worth, November 24-January 1
Texas Motor Speedway will once again open its gates to the public for the annual Gift of Lights drive-thru holiday lighting spectacular around the track. The lights experience will include over two miles of light displays, with almost 3 million lights, while visitors get to stay in their warm cars. Note that there is no Santa’s Village this year, and no radio synchronization; guests are encouraged to tune in to their favorite holiday music. Tickets start at $35, depending on size of vehicle and may be purchased online or at the gate. Check the website for information and tickets.

Christmastime In Texas, Joshua, November 24-December 31
This two-year-old drive-thru Christmas light park is filled with hundreds of displays spread out across a winding road a mile-and-a-half long. A large section of the park is devoted to lights timed to favorite Christmas tunes. A tent event includes Santa, vendors, concessions, and more. Open nightly, 6-10 pm. The park's address is 5801 County Road 904 Z, Joshua (near County Road 904 & Chisholm Trail Parkway). Admission starts at $35 per vehicle. For more information, visit the website.

Commercial displays and special events

The Modern Lights, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, November 1-February 5
The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth kicked off the holiday season earlier than just about anyone in town by illuminating their trees with festive lights. Passersby can experience a stunning display, and guests can also visit the museum galleries for free until 8 pm on Fridays. A special First Friday at the Modern event takes place every first Friday of the month.

Christmas in the Square, Frisco, November 18-January 3
Christmas in the Square, one of the largest free choreographed lights and music displays in North Texas, features nightly shows of more than 175,000 lights beginning at 6 pm. Visitors may tune in to 107.3 FM on the radio or listen to the music piped through speakers as they walk through the square. The event also features Park Place Lexus Plano Skate the Square, an outdoor ice-skating rink, as well as a Christmas tree lot. It's one of many festive events happening in Frisco, including Radiance! & Frozen in Frisco, a walk-thru lights experience, tubing hill, and more at Riders Field, November 18-December 31.

Parade of Lights, downtown Fort Worth, November 20
The 40th annual GM Financial Parade of Lights, with the theme of “Lights, Camera… Christmas," will will bring more than 100 illuminated floats, thousands of sparkling lights, festive performers, holiday decor, and live music - along with Santa and Mrs. Claus - to downtown Fort Worth. The parade kicks off at 6 pm with former veteran, politician, and humanitarian John Sharp as grand marshal. Arrive early for the best viewing spots along the 1.59-mile route. The Fort Worth Christmas Tree will be illuminated in Sundance Square Plaza at 5 pm. More information is here.

Lights at Legacy, The Shops at Legacy North, Plano, November 20
The shopping center's official “Lights at Legacy” event and Christmas tree lighting ceremony will take place from 4 - 7 pm, with the countdown to the tree lighting beginning at 6:30 pm. Prior to the event, a "Lights at Legacy Pre-Party" will take place from 1-4 pm. The free outdoor holiday celebration (at 7401 Lone Star Dr.) will feature photos with Santa Claus ($10), a 10-foot frozen ice slide ($10), a snow party with real snow, kids’ craft stations and games, holiday music, rides on the Marriott Christmas Train, and food and beverage specials from on-site restaurants. The event is also an official Toys for Tots donation location.

Historic Main Street Carol of Lights, Grapevine, November 21
Grapevine's historic downtown area will be shining bright with thousands of lights and 1,400 holiday events over 40 days — no wonder they call Grapevine the Christmas Capital of Texas. It all kicks off with the 34th annual Carol of Lights and street lighting on November 21. Then comes the Parade of Lights on December 1. For a self-guided lights tour, start at Grapevine City Hall, 200 S Main St., Grapevine, park, and go from there. And don't miss the all-new Peace Plaza Ice Rink, opening November 18. Consult a complete schedule on the website.

Fort Worth Stockyards, November 25-February 5
The Fort Worth Stockyards moseys in with a whole host of holiday events. Hotel Drover and Mule Alley will light up with holiday spirit, beginning with a special tree lighting celebration at 6 pm November 25. The event includes Christmas carolers, boozy hot cocoa bar, and Santa (arriving on a stagecoach). The annual Christmas in the Stockyards Celebration will take place December 3. New for the season: Stockyards Rodeo Rink, a professional ice skating rink, open to the public November 25-February 5.

Vitruvian Lights, November 25-January 1
Addison's Vitruvian Park transforms into one of North Texas' most spectacular holiday destinations during Vitruvian Lights, an annual celebration in which 1.5 million sparkling LED lights are wrapped around 555 trees to create a blazing wonderland. A special 10th-anniversary kickoff event, with the Jordan Kahn Orchestra, will take place 6-10 pm November 25. Then the lights will remain on every evening through New Year's Day, 5-11 pm, and it's free to view.

Galleria Dallas Grand Tree Lightings, November 25-26
The 95-foot Galleria Christmas tree will be standing tall in the ice rink by November 10, but it comes to life in all its dazzling glory the day after Thanksgiving. At 12 pm November 25 and 6 pm November 26, international figure staking stars and a backflipping Santa will help illuminate the tree in special free events. Then, through January 1, shoppers watch Illumination Celebrations, when the 450,000 LED lights on the tree “dance” in time to specially orchestrated music. The entire shopping center is bedecked with Christmas trees and palm trees adorned with thousands of lights, inside and out. New this year, 35-white flocked trees will form an Alley Forest people can use as a backdrop when it "snows" daily. More information is here.

Eagle Mountain Lake Christmas Boat Parade of Lights, Fort Worth, November 26
The annual parade of boats decorated with holiday lights will begin at Lakeview Marina with a fireworks display. The lake is open to boaters for viewing (at a safe distance from the parade route), and Twin Points Park is open and is free of charge. Boaters and observers are encouraged to donate new, unwrapped toys for Toys for Tots. The whole event takes place 8-11 pm. More information, viewing spots, and boat registration is available on the website.

SMU Celebration of Lights, Dallas, November 28
This beloved campus event, taking place 7-10 pm on the Dallas Hall Lawn, includes food, live reindeer, musical performances by SMU students, and even the reading of the Christmas story by SMU president R. Gerald Turner from his family Bible. The highlight of the evening, of course, is the lighting of the Christmas tree and other holiday lights that fill the campus.

TCU Tree Lighting, Fort Worth, November 29
The lighting of TCU’s 40-foot tall Christmas tree will take place 6:30-8:30 pm in the TCU Commons. The evening will include refreshments, SuperFrog Santa, fireworks, and a special concert from Drew and Ellie Holcomb. For a map, parking information, and more, visit the website.

Singing Trees, Burnett Park, downtown Fort Worth
Back for a second year, "Singing Trees" interactive light show illuminates the trees of Burnett Park on the edge of downtown. The trees will light up and change colors as they react to the sound of instruments; watch a preview here. The family-friendly light installation is free and open to the public in Burnett Park (West 7th and Lamar Streets), 3-10 pm daily. See them in action at a Cliburn in the Community concert featuring piano duo Sara Doan and Mikhail Berestnev, 6-8 pm December 8.

Dallas by Chocolate's Christmas Lights, Chocolate & Sips Tours, December 2-30
During Dallas by Chocolate's Christmas Lights, Chocolate & Sips Tours, guests can view holiday lights in sweet style on a private heated motorcoach. Participants taste treats from local dessert venues, then glide past some of Dallas' most spectacular holiday displays in the Park Cities and downtown Dallas or Frisco/Addison, sipping hot beverages while listening to holiday music. Tickets ($49-$63) and information here.

Klyde Warren Park Tree Lighting Celebration, December 3
Klyde Warren Park's Tree Lighting Celebration is a festive day of activities and entertainment, such as photos with Santa, story time with Mrs. Claus, face painting, games, and crafts for children. The day will culminate with a performance of The Nutcracker by the award-winning dancers at The Dallas Conservatory and — the highlight of the event — the lighting of The Mayor's Tree with Dallas mayor Eric Johnson. The free event takes place 3-6 pm.

Reliant Lights Your Holidays, Dallas Arts District, December 3
Reliant Lights Your Holidays 2022 will feature the illumination of hundreds of thousands of dazzling LED lights in the Arts District (which will stay on through the holiday season), plus live performances by Selena tribute band Bidi Bidi Banda, and Vinyl Countdown: A Tribute To Arena Rock. There will also be a Christmas-themed drone show, a wintery snow playground, kids craft area, photos with Santa, and miniature golf on the Reliant Putting Green. The free event starts at 5:30 pm at Sammons Park.

Highland Park Village Christmas Lights Celebration, December 7
The gorgeous homes and businesses in the Park Cities neighborhoods of Dallas shine with beautiful light displays, none more stunning than Highland Park Village. Sip, shop and stroll under the Village’s 1.5 million Christmas lights while enjoying store promotions, discounts, gifts with purchase, festive treats, photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus, and more. Guests are encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped toy to donate to the Community Partners of Dallas Toy Drive. The free "shop and stroll" event is 4-7 pm, but the lights will stay on through the season.

Holidays at the Heard, McKinney, December 9-10
Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary presents Holidays at the Heard, at which holiday lights and décor accentuate a half-mile Heard nature trail. In keeping with the Heard’s role as a nature preserve, this light display is designed to enhance, rather than overpower, the sanctuary’s natural beauty. Live, festive music will be presented in the Heard outdoor amphitheater. Admission is $8-$11; free for children 2 and under.

Arlington Holiday Lights Parade, downtown Arlington, December 10
Gather in the downtown/university district to watch brightly lit floats parade down the street, then stay for the official Christmas tree lighting. Don't miss pics with Santa both before the parade and after the tree lighting. The free, family-friendly event starts with entertainment at 3 pm, and the parade begins at 6 pm. Find the route and more information are here.

Christmas at Campo Verde Mexican Restaurant, Arlington, ongoing through January 2023
It's rare for a restaurant to make a "best Christmas lights" list, but this spectacle deserves a listing. Come for the Tex-Mex food (don't miss the new white queso dip), stay for the 120,000 lights, 3,000 yards of colorful garland, 50 Santa Clause figures, 30 Christmas trees, and two model trains that chug around the restaurant. Just be prepared for a wait of two hours or more at peak times. Find it at 2918 W Pioneer Pkwy., Arlington.

Residential homes and neighborhoods

Santa House, Grapevine, November 24-December 29
The Murillo family has filled their front yard in Grapevine with more than 1,000 lighted Santa decorations as a beacon of awareness for local nonprofit Grace Grapevine's Christmas Cottage program. The Grapevine Santa House is a "Where's Waldo?" maze of Santa statues, which visitors can walk among and snap photos with for free, then make an optional donation to Grace online. The lights go on every night from dusk-to-10:30 pm, Sundays through Thursdays, and dusk-to-11 pm, Saturdays and Sundays. The home is on a cul-de-sac in the Western Oaks neighborhood, and visitors can park along the street. The exact location is 3373 Spruce Lane, Grapevine. Follow the Grapevine Santa House Facebook page for updates.

The Browne Family Holiday Light Show, Parker, November 25-January 5
This family has a tradition of turning their home into a destination. The Browne Family Holiday Light Show is a full light show synchronized with music taking place throughout the Christmas season. While the show is free, it is an official drop-off point for Toys For Tots; visitors are encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped toy to donate. The show runs from dark to 9 pm Sundays through Thursdays, and dark to 10 pm on Fridays and Saturdays, at 2701 Dublin Park Dr. (in Dublin Park Estates), Parker.

Glenbrook Christmas, Bedford, November 27-December 31
The Bedford neighborhood will once again light up to tell the story of “The Night Before Christmas in Texas That Is” - along with other festive displays. The entrance to Glenbrook is on Brookside Drive located between Cummings and Forest Ridge. The displays will be on nightly 6-10 pm. Follow the Facebook page for updates.

Deerfield neighborhood, Plano, December 1-30
The Deerfield neighborhood of northwest Plano hosts a top-rated winter wonderland you can walk or drive through. You can even book carriage rides in advance to see dancing Santas, millions of twinkling lights, and larger-than-life displays. Deerfield subdivision is located between Preston Road and Coit Road. Check the website for maps and important information about traffic flow and parking. The free event runs 7 pm-10 pm on weekdays and 7 pm-11 pm on weekends through December 30.

Burkman Holiday Home of Frisco, opening December 2
A year after their appearance on ABC’s The Great Christmas Family Light Fight, the most famous "Christmas light family" in DFW will be lighting up its over-the-top display of 70,000 LED lights that typically includes a 400-piece train village, gingerbread house, and many selfie stations. They encourage people to get out of their car, walk around, and take photos. They're also collecting donations for The LiyanaStrong Foundation. Parking can be tight, so be prepared to park and walk a block or two. The home is at 3809 Hazelhurst Dr., Frisco, on the Frisco/Little Elm border. Follow their Facebook page for updates.

Candlelight Christmas in Ryan Place, Fort Worth, December 3-4
The gorgeous historic homes in this grand Fort Worth neighborhood get illuminated in spectacular fashion, as do the long walks that lead up to them. The beloved Candlelight Christmas in Ryan Place home tour is the best way to see five of the stately homes dressed for the holidays. The event takes place 12-9 pm December 3 and 12-5 pm December 4. Tickets are $25 before November 25, then $30 until the days of the tour; information and tickets are here.

Fairmount Festivus, Fort Worth, December 10
You can pick any night to drive around Fairmount and see historic bungalows lit festively for the season. But the best night of all is Festivus, the annual celebration and holiday lights tour. It takes place 6-9 pm Saturday, December 10. Maps of participating homes will be handed out on arrival. Donations of $10 or a toy for One Safe Place are being requested. Watch the historic district's Facebook page for more information as plans develop.

Interlochen Lights, Arlington, December 16-25
The Interlochen neighborhood will present Interlochen Lights for just one week and weekend during the holiday season. Known as the best neighborhood light show in Texas, the event allows guests to drive through the neighborhood and pick out favorite displays while they tune into holiday music on radio stations 102.1 FM or 98.7 FM. This is one of the busiest spots in Dallas-Fort Worth during the holiday season, and it's free. The route will be the same as previous years; find the map here. Watch for updates on their website and Facebook page.

Regents Park Luminary Event, McKinney, December 17-18
This Stonebridge Ranch neighborhood takes advantage of its layout to host a magical event every year. Residents hand fold over 2,500 paper bags each year and line the streets and central park area with luminaries for families to enjoy. Grab a cup of hot chocolate or apple cider and drive or walk through streets lined with traditional luminaries and enjoy the Christmas lights that adorn these Craftsman-style homes. Rumor has it that a certain special guest in his red suit even loves this event so much that he makes a special trip just to enjoy it himself. Say hello as he passes out candy canes at the exit for your little ones. For updates, follow the Facebook page (highly recommended as this is a weather dependent event).-


Know of another spectacular lights display in DFW? Email stephanie@culturemap.com. Please include a website or link to social media page with your recommendation.

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'Lightscape' shines bright in this week's 5 most popular Fort Worth stories

This week's hot headlines

Editor's note: A lot happened this week, so here's your chance to get caught up. Read on for the week's most popular headlines. Looking for the best things to do this weekend? Find that list here.

1. What to expect at 'Lightscape,' Fort Worth's new walk-thru winter wonderland. Fort Worth’s most Instagrammable new holiday lights display is best enjoyed without clinging to a phone. “Lightscape,” which made its North Texas debut at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden on Friday, November 18, walks visitors through a winter wonderland experience unlike any other in DFW.

2. Hoffbrau Steak fires up the grill for new location in Grapevine. A longtime steakhouse is coming to Grapevine: Hoffbrau Steak & Grill House, a small family-owned and -operated chain that's been in Dallas-Fort Worth for more than 40 years, will open a location November 28 at 700 W. State Hwy 114, previously home to a Brick House Tavern & Tap, which closed during the pandemic.

3. Yellowstone and 1883 stars cowboy up at Fort Worth gala honoring Taylor Sheridan. Fort Worth has always been "where the West begins," and now it's where TV's hottest Western drama begins, too. The 2022 Lone Star Film Festival Gala - held November 11 at Hotel Drover in the Stockyards - leaned hard into the city's connections to Yellowstone and its prequel, 1883, with signs and programs that boasted "The Road to Yellowstone Began in Fort Worth."

4. Divine doughnuts and tempting tamales top this Fort Worth restaurant news. This roundup of restaurant news around Fort Worth has tidbits about doughnuts, Cajun food, vegan tamales, and gourmet ice cream, culled from press releases, social media, and the occasional hot tip. Here's what's happening in Fort Worth restaurant news.

5. Here comes Santa House, back to Grapevine for a very charitable 2022 Christmas season. After taking a much-needed break last year, Louie Murillo and his family are once again decking their halls, yard, and rooftop to bring back the Grapevine Santa House — a smash hit during the 2020 holiday season. The half-acre property is a "Where's Waldo?" maze of more than 1,000 Santa statues, which visitors can walk among, snap photos with, and then, they hope, make a donation to Grace Grapevine's Christmas Cottage program.

Texas parks beckon throughout 2022 holidays with festive events and peaceful escapes

If roasting ‘smores and hiking in the great outdoors sounds fun, pack up your family and visit one of Texas’ state parks this holiday season.

Texas state parks and historic sites are ringing in the holidays with a number of festive events. There are drive-thru light tours, special holiday hikes, arts and crafts for the kiddos, and more.

Reservations fill up quickly, so be sure to visit an individual park's website before you head out. And check the Holidays in the Parks page for many more fun options, pricing information, and more information.

Dallas-Fort Worth-area parks

Tyler State Park
Avoid the Black Friday madness with the 15th annual “Walk-off the Bird” Bird Walk, a 2.1-mile walk by the lakeshore at 9 am November 25. Bring your binoculars to relax and enjoy the bird life of the East Texas Pineywoods. At 2 pm the same day, enjoy a Fall in the Savannah fall foliage hike. Enjoy Reading Ranger Campfire Stories around a cozy campfire at 3 pm December 3. Head back December 9-10 for A Pineywoods Christmas, when you can stroll or drive through the Lakeview and Big Pine campgrounds to take in campers' elaborately decorated sites and take a Winter Wonderland Hike.

Lake Tawakoni State Park
Drive through or stay at the park and decorate your campsite with your favorite Christmas decorations to receive your second night of camping free during your stay. There will be a decorating contest, complete with awards, as well as a reading of The Night before Christmas — all part of Twinkle Tour 2022, 5-8 pm December 3.

Daingerfield State Park
Drive through the park lit up like Santa Land during the 10th annual Christmas in the Park drive thru lights tour December 14-17 (times vary). Marvel at the decorated campsites and lights, and enjoy hot chocolate and cookies while waiting for a chance to visit with Santa.

Eisenhower State Park
Help those in need and spread holiday cheer — and as a bonus, get free entry to the park — by bringing one unwrapped donation item to the park’s Holiday Donation Drive from November 25 to December 19. Come back December 9-10 to visit the Light Up the Park drive-thru lights event, featuring milk and cookies with Santa. This year, the park is taking unwrapped toys to donate instead of collecting entrance fees for the event.

Cleburne State Park
Enjoy Pancakes With Santa and make pinecone bird feeders 9-11 a.m. December 10.

Cedar Hill State Park
Walk off your Thanksgiving Day meal and explore nature in the cool fall air during the three-mile Thanksgiving Nature Walk 7:30-9 a.m. November 26. Search for birds taking their winter break at the park during their Winter Birding Walk, which takes place 7:30-8:30 am December 13. Explore Christmas on Penn Farm on December 17: Learn about the history and pioneers of the Penn Family and the farm they built 150 years ago.

Lake Mineral Wells State Park
Experience Christmas, cowboy style, at Cross Timbers Cowboy Christmas, December 3. Park ranger and cowboy poet David Owens will gather guests around a campfire at the Lone Star Amphitheater for an evening of cowboy culture through songs, stories and poems.

Dinosaur Valley State Park
In partnership with Toys for Tots, the park is hosting Christmas in the Valley, a full day of ranger-led events, programs, family friendly activities, arts and crafts, food and more. Bring a new and unwrapped toy for free admission for the whole family. The event takes place 1-4 pm. December 17.

Austin/San Antonio-area parks

Bastrop State Park
The park’s annual Gobble Till You Wobble hike November 25 has been canceled due to predicted rains. However, you can still follow ornaments with clues through the park every day in December during the annual Fa La La Through The Forest Scavenger Hunt. Enjoy the Lost Pines Christmas Parade, a collaborative event with Bastrop and Buescher Parks, at 6 pm December 10. Tour the inside of the historic Refectory and see how the Civilian Conservation Corps celebrated Christmas away from home during A Lost Pines CCC Christmas 9 a.m. to noon December 17.

Lyndon B. Johnson State Park & Historic Site
Attend Deck the Halls, 10 am. to 3 pm November 26 to explore how early Texans at the Sauer-Beckmann Farm got ready for the holidays by stringing popcorn and decorating cookies to hang on their Christmas tree; learn how to make wreaths out of local cedar and dip candles as the farm staff get ready for das Weihnachten (Christmas). Return to the park at 5:30 pm December 18 for the 53rd Annual Tree Lighting, a holiday tradition started by President and Mrs. Johnson.

Garner State Park
Join the Buffalo Soldiers program and friends as they stop into Garner State Park before leaving for Christmas break during the Marching Towards Christmas event 10 am to 2 pm December 10. Christmas activities will include hand-dipped candles, frontier Christmas painting, Christmas-themed hard tack in Dutch ovens, and stories of the Buffalo Soldiers.

Buescher State Park
Take a Giving Thanks Guided Hike and learn how the Civilian Conservation Corps built the park from 3-4 pm November 26. On the Fa La La in the Forest Scavenger Hunt, you can follow ornaments with clues through the park to secure a prize at the end, December 1 to January 1. Enjoy the Smithville Festival of Lights and Lighted Parade, a collaborative effort between Buescher and Bastrop parks, on December 3.

Hill Country State Natural Area
See how art, history and state parks are connected; learn some basic watercolor techniques and paint a card or two to take home during the Watercolor Christmas Cards event 2:30-4 p.m. December 3. Come back for Horses in History & Ornament Craft from 2:30-4 pm. December 22 and learn how horses played important roles in the lives of vaqueros, native people, ranchers and more. Then, play a round of horseshoes and paint a horse ornament to take with you.

South Llano River State Park
At Christmas at the Ranch, 2 to 5 pm December 3, guests can warm up with hot chocolate and cider, listen to live entertainment, enjoy crafts and cookie decorating, and anticipate Santa's visit while taking in the twinkling lights and Christmas decorations at the historic Ranch House that now serves as Park Headquarters.

Houston and Gulf Coast-area parks

Brazos Bend State Park
Holiday in the Park is an all-day affair on December 10. Events include a self-guided "Elf Hike," Christmas crafts, "Pup Parade," s'mores, and more.

Goose Island State Park
See the park in lights, enjoy holiday activities, and camp for free when you decorate your campsite during Christmas in the Park on December 17. Guests are invited to "Santa's Village" at the CCC Recreation Hall for holiday crafts, games, hot chocolate around the campfire, and to drop off letters to Santa in the North Pole Mailbox.

Lake Livingston State Park
Learn about your favorite Thanksgiving food (the turkey) during Campfire Turkey Talk on November 26. Rangers will cover the history of Thanksgiving, the habits and behaviors of wild turkeys, and share interesting facts about turkeys, including how it nearly became our national bird.

Lake Corpus Christi State Park
Get in the holiday spirit with the second annual Holiday Light Drive Thru 6-9 pm December 10. Visitors can enter the park for a drive through the lighted areas of Javelina and Opossum Bend camping loops, plus the Old Pavilion.

West Texas and the Panhandle-area parks

Franklin Mountains State Park
Pack your Thanksgiving leftovers and hike 1.5 miles up to Aztec Caves during the park’s Turkey Trot at 11 am November 25. On December 3, make ornaments and holiday cards with recycled materials as part of the Art in the Parks series. During Cookies and Cocoa, you can decorate and take home your own Christmas treat while sipping on a cup of hot chocolate 2-4 pm December 23. Come back on Christmas Eve for a guided, two-mile Santa Hike at 11 am.

Hueco Tanks State Park & Historic Site
Bring your family out for Home for the Holidays guided family hike on December 10 and moderate hike on 17.

San Angelo State Park
Enjoy a drive-thru tour of lights and optional pictures with Santa and Smokey Bear during Holly-Days in the Park 6-8 pm December 10.

Affluent Fort Worth neighbor leads list of lavish holiday spending budgets in U.S.

Santa Baby

As the most wonderful time of the year approaches, holiday shopping budgets are in the spotlight, and a study from WalletHub lists Flower Mound as one of the top cities where Santa doesn't need a whole lot of help.

According to the personal finance website, the average holiday budget in Flower Mound is $3,531 per person, the third highest in the nation.

The town's 2021 population of 77,243 (per the U.S. Census) boasts a median income $139,703 and earlier this year was named by Ventured.com as the richest city in Texas.

In spite of an increase over last year's gift list totals, Flower Mound dropped to the third spot after being ranked No. 1 last year with a budget of $3,427. Newton, Massachusetts (budget $4,233) and Palo Alto, California (budget $3,920) edged out the Texas city this year.

Flower Mound was the only Texas city in the top 10, but there's plenty of holiday cheer to be found in the report, and not just for Flower Mound Santa fans.

Each year, WalletHub calculates the maximum holiday budget for over 550 U.S. cities "to help consumers avoid post-holiday regret," the website says. The study factors in income, age of the population, and other financial indicators such as debt-to-income ratio, monthly-income-to monthly-expenses ratio and savings-to-monthly-expenses ratio.

Despite nationwide focus on inflation strains, holiday spending is expected to be healthy, and higher than last year.

"The seeming social upheaval in recent times may lead households to spend more in an attempt to take some control of the environment which they can control," says Robert Wright, University of Illinois, Springfield professor emeritus who was among five experts consulted for advice about holiday shopping.

This could be good news if your Christmas wishes are on local shopping lists. Eight other North Texas cities landed in this year's top 100 heftiest holiday budgets:

  • Allen, No. 17 , $2,670
  • Frisco, No. 37, $2,150
  • McKinney, No. 45, $2,070
  • Plano, No. 50, $1,999
  • Carrollton, No. 55, $1,837
  • Richardson, No. 58, $1,823
  • North Richland Hills, No. 81, $1,658
  • Lewisville, No. 90, $1,630

Fort Worth landed at No. 366 with a budget of $890, while Dallas landed at No. 401 out of 558 cities with an average holiday budget of $845.

Elsewhere in Texas, spending in the Austin area won't be ho-hum with the Capitol City's budget of $1,705 ranked at No. 78. Two Austin suburbs, Cedar Park (budget $2,855) and League City (budget $2,541) ranked 14 and 20, respectively.

Santa's bag could be a mixed bag in the Houston area with three suburbs in the top 100, but the urban center falling behind:

  • Sugar Land, No. 15, $2,793
  • Pearland, No. 36, $2,172
  • The Woodlands, No. 71, $1,733
  • Houston, No. 366, $890

Things don't look too jolly for San Antonio, ranked at No. 431 with an average budget of $803 or Pharr, which was the lowest ranked city in Texas.

At No. 553 with a budget of $487, the Rio Grande Valley city came in just a few spots ahead of last place Hartford, Connecticut, with a budget of only $211.