Quantcast
Photo by Michael Merry

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.

Photo courtesy of Nickel City

These are the 7 best food & drink events in Fort Worth this week

This week in gluttony

Thanksgiving week is here and while preparations are underway for the big day, there are other tasting happenings on the agenda. Find Christmas vibes at two pop-up bars, a German market filled with authentic culinary delights, and gingerbread house decorating class. Then recover from Black Friday shopping with a special brunch. Let the holidays officially begin.

Monday, November 21

Miracle at Nickel City
Nickel City will make spirits extra bright this holiday with the return of Miracle, the nationwide Christmas-themed pop-up bar that arrives in more than 100 cities this week. Originating in New York City, Miracle features over-the-top Christmas décor and craft cocktails in beautiful glassware to set the tone for the season. Past fan-favorite cocktails include the Christmaspolitan, made with spiced cranberry sauce and elderflower with vodka and dry vermouth, and the Snowball Old-Fashioned, which looks just like it sounds. New for this year is comically kitschy Grandma Got Run Over By A T-Rex – a vodka concoction with orange liqueur, spiced pomegranate and grapefruit, and aloe vera. Also new is the Holiday Spiked Chai made with brandy, Jamaican rum, coffee liqueur, and amaretto. Miracle will run through December 31.

Tuesday, November 22

Olive Oil Tasting and Masala Chai Demo at Indulge FW
Learn how to properly taste olive oil – and why it matters – during this demonstration by Paul Fratelli of Fratelli Colletti, producers and importers of artisanal Sicilian olive oils. Guests will learn how to prepare a creamy apple vinaigrette as well as masala chai – an Indian tea made with milk and spices. The complimentary tastings and demos will run from 6-7 pm.

Thursday, November 24

Thanksgiving dining
Looking for a restaurant to dine in or take a feast to-go? Check out our long list here.

Friday, November 25

Black Friday Brunch at The Bearded Lady
The South Main Street bar and comfort food destination will start its weekend brunch a day early to coincide with Black Friday. Take a break from the shopping frenzy with brunch specials, specialty cocktails, craft beer, and live music. Brunch will be served from 11 am-3 pm.

Miracle at Texas Live!
The over-the-top holiday pop-up bar (see above) is also taking over the Miller Tavern inside the Texas Live! complex in Arlington. "Miracle at Live!" will feature an explosion of tinsel and twinkling lights, specialty holiday cocktails, tasty small bites, Insta-worthy photo moments, themed nights, and more. Miracle at Live! will officially open at 5 pm November 25 and will stay open through December 24. Walk-ins are welcome, and reservations and private events are also available. For more information and a schedule of events, visit the website.

Texas Christkindl Market
Arlington will channel German vibes during this month-long holiday market set to take place at Globe Life Field. The free, family-friendly experience will feature handcrafted gifts, German treats and eats, music and live entertainment, and appearances by St. Nikolaus. Visit the Kinder Kids Root Beer Garden for stage shows, craft workshops, and root beer and hot cocoa concessions. Adults can enjoy beer and seasonal beverages in the Warming House. German fare will be available for purchase throughout the market, which runs until December 23. A tree lighting and opening ceremony will take place Friday at 7 pm.

Sunday, November 27

Make & Take A Decorated Gingerbread House Cooking Class at Central Market
Work as a team with your little one to create an authentic Swiss gingerbread house. There’ll be loads of royal icing, candy, and edible decorations ready to use – the only limit is your imagination. Children must be age 7-17. Tickets are $65 for both the parent and child and class times are at 1 pm and 4 pm.

Photo courtesy of Pizza Verde

These are the 11 best food and drink events in Fort Worth this week

This week in gluttony

Christmas comes early this week with the debut of a holiday-themed pop-up with tropical vibes at a brand-new bar. There’s also lots of opportunity to learn about holiday wine pairings, with several wine dinners and tastings on the list. Mark your calendar for the launch party of a new coffee-infused version of a popular local whiskey, celebrate the anniversary of an acclaimed Fort Worth pizzeria, and more.

Monday, November 14

Anniversary Dinner at The Basement Lounge with La Onda
La Onda chef Victor Villarreal will help the underground Camp Bowie Boulevard lounge celebrate its seventh anniversary with a three-course seafood-centric dinner. The menu includes papas bravas with whipped crème fraiche and sturgeon caviar, Brazilian seafood stew, and a surprise dessert. Dinner is $100, plus tax and gratuity, and begins at 6 pm.

Tuesday, November 15

Antinori Wine Dinner at Tre Mogli
It’s the first wine dinner for this popular Italian destination from chef Stefon Rishel and his team. Six courses will feature a raw bar, ricotta and leek ravioli, seafood risotto, crispy quail, Niman ranch lamb chop, and fig tart with smoked whipped cream. The dinner is $125 (which includes gratuity), plus tax, and begins at 6:30 pm.

Holiday Crepes and Wine at Landon Winery Grapevine
The Grapevine winery will partner with Crepes on the Go to serve two sweet and two savory crepes paired with wines during this unique pairing event. The tasting is $42, plus tax, and will run from 6:30-8 pm.

J. Lohr Wine Dinner at Hotel Vin
Cynthia Lohr, co-owner of California’s J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, will visit the Grapevine hotel for a four-course wine-pairing dinner in the Bordeaux Ballroom. Chardonnay, two Cabernets, and a Petite Syrah will be paired with a seafood starter, lemon, basil, and fontina tortellini, Wagyu prime rib, and red velvet cake with cheesecake mousse and chocolate glaze. Dinner is $200, plus service charge and tax, and begins with a reception at 6 pm. Also note that Hotel Vin’s Winter Wonderland pop-up begins Friday for the holiday season, featuring the hotel’s popular igloo bubbles available for happy hour or dinner reservations. (This year they’re decked out with après ski lodge décor.) Reservations start at $150, plus tax and gratuity, for a bottle of wine and fondue to share during happy hour.

Wednesday, November 16

Willamette Valley Vineyards Wine Tasting at Wine 30
The Roanoke wine bar will offer a tasting of five Oregon wines from Willamette Valley. The $25 price includes charcuterie board bites. The tasting begins at 5:30 pm.

Thursday, November 17

The Beast & Co. Fall Wine Dinner
Near Southside restaurant Beast & Co. is hosting a seven-course wine dinner featuring seasonally inspired dishes and specially selected wine pairings from Chef Michael Arlt and owner Dustin Lee. Courses include beet with anchovy powder, oyster with seaweed dressing, burnt celeriac with endive & pear, halibut with mushroom & mustard, smoked duck with cassoulet, ginger molasses sorbet, and chocolate tart with salted cream. It runs from 7-9 pm and is $190 including tax & gratuity. Reservations can be made online: Go to the date 11/17 and select the "Fall Wine Dinner" event.

Friday, November 18

Gather with Gewurztraminer: A Thanksgiving Wine Pairing Class at Messina Hof Grapevine Winery
Learn how to pair Thanksgiving staples with Messina Hof wines during this tasting event. Thanksgiving tasting menu items will include honey glazed ham, oven roasted turkey, cornbread stuffing, sweet potatoes, fresh asparagus, cherry cobbler, and Southern pecan cobbler. The pairing is $45, plus tax and gratuity, and begins at 6:30 pm.

Pizza Verde: One-Year Celebration
The award-winning pizzeria marks its one-year anniversary with a weekend-long celebration from November 18-20 with giveaways, freebies, swag, and more. All three days, there'll be a spin-the-wheel for a shot to win free pizza and drinks. All weekend, for every $10 spent, diners get a raffle ticket and entry to win one of their three raffle baskets featuring items from Mariachi's Dine-In, the Modern Art Museum, Boulevard of Greens, Mashup Market, Planted Bakery, and more. On Saturday at 3:30 pm, there'll be a complimentary mimosa toast. Friday-Sunday, 11 am-3 pm.

Saturday, November 19

Texas Flavor Series Launch at Whiskey Ranch
Be among the first to sample and purchase TX Whiskey’s newest release – TX Blended Whiskey Texas Flavor Series Limited Edition with Avoca Coffee. This is the first flavored offering from TX Whiskey – although the distillery has partnered with the local coffee roaster in the past to create TX Whiskey-tossed coffee beans. The $10 ticket includes tastings available at 1 pm, 2 pm, and 3 pm, along with a cocktail from the bar. There’ll also be food trucks, live music, and complimentary bottle engraving. The new release will retail for $39.99 and the event will run from 12-5 pm.

Monday, November 21

Vegan Thanksgiving Beer Dinner at Funky Picnic Brewery & Café
The South Fort Worth brewery and restaurant has partnered with the Blue Zones Project to present a five-course plant-based dinner with a Thanksgiving twist. The family-style dinner includes green bean casserole, maple-roasted carrots, mashed cauliflower and mushroom gravy, butternut squash risotto, sage stuffing, chickpea meatloaf, vegan seitan turkey, and vegan pumpkin pie. A beer pairing flight is included. Dinner is $90 and begins at 7 pm.

Sippin’ Santa at The Down ‘n Out
The new watering hole at 150 W. Rosedale St. will open its doors in festive fashion by hosting Sippin’ Santa, a tropical-themed holiday pop-up that will have more than 30 locations in bars across the country. Island-inspired libations will include the Kris Kringle Colada made with dark Jamaican rum and cream of coconut; the hot Undertow Toddy made with cognac; and Rudolph’s Rum Rhapsody made for two. The pop-up will run until December 31.

Photo by Julie Nong

These are the 5 best food and drink events in Fort Worth this week

This week in gluttony

It’s a week of giving and sharing, with multiple restaurants honoring veterans with complimentary meals and the return of a big free dinner to those who'd like one. Step back in time with a Dutch oven cooking demonstration at one of Fort Worth’s most cherished museums, learn to smoke the perfect BBQ brisket, and save room for tacos during a two-day festival.

Wednesday, November 9

Feast of Sharing 10th Annual Holiday Dinner
Hosted by H-E-B and Central Market, this community celebration will provide complimentary dinner to anyone who wishes to attend. The event is back after a two-year hiatus and is expected to draw around 10,000 people to Dickies Arena. (Volunteers are still needed.) Besides a meal, there will be kids’ activities, live entertainment, health and family services, and an appearance by Santa. The event will run from 3-7 pm.

Thursday, November 10-Friday, November 11

Veterans Day deals and discounts
Dozens of local restaurants are offering free and discounted meals and menu items for active military and veterans. For a complete list, go here.

Saturday, November 12

Dutch Oven Cooking at Log Cabin Village
Visit this living history museum and learn how ancestors used to prepare meals over hot coals during a Dutch oven cooking demonstration led by the Lone Star Dutch Oven Society. The demonstrations (which often include samples) will run from 10 am- 2 pm and are free with admission ($7 for adults, and $6 for kids ages 4-17 and adults 60-plus).

Texas Taco Festival at Texas Live
More than two dozen restaurants and food vendors will participate in the two-day event, which will feature not only tacos but margaritas, tequila flights, desserts, and more. Tickets range from general admission ($12.99 on Sunday, $16.99 on Saturday), which allows for entry at 2 pm and includes one beer or cocktail, to VIP ($59.99 Sunday, sold out for Saturday), which grants early admission at noon and includes private bars, five taco vouchers, chips and salsa, two beers or cocktails, and gift bag with swag. Additional vouchers may be purchased at the event. Children 10 and under do not need a ticket.

BrisketU at Rahr & Sons Brewing
Backyard Pitmasters’ acclaimed BrisketU class promises to teach the everyday meat lover how to work a pit and create a perfectly smoked brisket. Renowned pitmasters will teach participants about BBQ pits, choosing the right cut of brisket, trimming techniques, rubs and prep, wood selection, starting and managing a fire, timing the cook, and properly slicing the end result. The three-hour class is $119 per person; register here.

Photo courtesy of Worthington Renaissance Hotel

Rooftop cinema premiere leads this week's 5 hottest Fort Worth headlines

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. 8 essential tips for sky-high fun at Fort Worth's new Rooftop Cinema Club. After months of anticipation and a few delays, the new Rooftop Cinema Club Downtown Fort Worth finally premiered on November 1. The al fresco urban cinema at the Worthington Renaissance Hotel is more than an outdoor movie theater — it's a whole experience. Here are some tips for making the most of an evening at the Rooftop Cinema.

2. Best Fort Worth restaurants for Thanksgiving 2022 dining-in or to-go. One minute it's January. The next minute, we're thinking about the holidays. It's never too soon to start dreaming about pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes, and stuffing fragrant with sage and thyme. Here are the best restaurants to get Thanksgiving 2022 feasts in Fort Worth.

3. Billy Joel and Stevie Nicks join forces for iconic concert at AT&T Stadium. Music legends Billy Joel and Stevie Nicks will co-headline a special concert at AT&T Stadium on April 8, 2023, the first time the two have ever performed on the same stage in Texas.

4. New dishes and grand openings make this Fort Worth restaurant news tasty. This roundup of Fort Worth dining news has tasty tidbits about new dishes, new menus, and big-name chefs. There's also a sad closure, but with a silver lining. Here's what's happening in Fort Worth restaurant news.

5. Fort Worth music group promises rock 'n' roll experience with weeklong Beethoven extravaganza. In a first for Dallas-Fort Worth, the Chamber Music Society of Fort Worth will present all 16 of Ludwig van Beethoven's string quartets in a series called the Quartet Cycle. The Miró Quartet, a classical string quartet based in Austin, will perform the Quartet Cycle with five concerts over seven days, November 7-13, at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.

Photo courtesy of 3rd Street Market

These are the 7 best food and drink events in Fort Worth this week

This week in gluttony

Halloween is over and it’s the calm before the storm of holiday events. This week brings several new pairing dinners (including one with mezcal) along with the launch of a new weekend brunch. Break out the comfy clothes for the weekend when there’s an all-you-can-eat barbecue festival and a nacho-eating competition.

Wednesday, November 2

Tocco Wine Dinner at Fitzgerald
The popular Gulf Coast-inspired Camp Bowie Boulevard restaurant will host an Italian wine dinner featuring the time-honored Tocco Vineyards from Barossa Valley. The four-course dinner will be paired with six wines and followed by petit fours for dessert. Dinner is $140 per person, plus tax and service charge, and will begin at 6:30 pm. Also make plans for Fitzgerald’s launch of weekend brunch service on Saturday and Sunday.

Dia de Los Muertos Dinner at Don Artemio
This four-course dinner will honor lost loved ones during the traditional Mexican holiday. Menu highlights include sea bass en mole negro de Oaxaca and chile en nogada. Courses will be paired with mezcal cocktails. Dinner is $115 per person, plus tax and gratuity, and begins at 7:30 pm. Don’t miss the calaveras (Spanish for “skulls”) art exhibition featuring the work of Mexican artists. Arrive anytime from 5-7 pm to meet the artists themselves.

Thursday, November 3

Spanish Wine Dinner at Mason & Dixie
The Southern-inspired Grapevine restaurant will go global with a wine-pairing dinner featuring tastes of Spain. Five courses will be paired with Spanish wines. Dinner is $75 per person, plus tax and gratuity, and will begin and 7 pm.

Pasta Making Class at Rancho Loma Vineyards
Led by handcrafted pasta makers Gnocchi Dokie, this always-popular hands-on pasta class typically sells out. There are just a few spots left for the 8 pm class time (6 pm is full). Class includes your personally created pasta dish and a flight of three Rancho Loma Vineyards wines. Tickets are $40 per person.

Friday, November 4

Chinese Takeout Cooking Class at Indulge Cooking Studio
Create authentic classic Chinese takeout dishes during this hands-on class inside downtown’s new 3rd Street Market, home of Indulge Cooking Studio. Dishes will include beef and broccoli, vegetable chow mein, crab Rangoon, and Chinese greens. The three-hour class is $89 and begins at 5 pm.

Q BBQ Fest
To be held at AT&T Stadium’s Miller Lite House, this three-day national competition among pitmasters features six that are native Texans. The lineup includes Barrett Black of Black’s BBQ, Brandon Hurtado of Hurtado Barbecue, Mike Perez of Loro, and more Tickets range from $15 for general admission (food and drink are available for purchase) to $119 for unlimited barbecue, cocktails, and beer. There’ll also be live music. All tickets include parking and must be purchased for specific timeslots. The event will run through Sunday.

Sunday, November 6

Ultimate Nacho Challenge at El Chingon
It’s National Nachos Day and this West Seventh district Mexican restaurant and bar will host a stacked nacho-eating competition. Teams of two will compete to finish an oversized platter of nachos doused in cheese, Mexican citrus cream, jalapenos, pico de gallo, and guacamole. The quickest duo will win bottle service and Chingon bucks. Check-in begins at 1 pm and the challenge starts at 2 pm. Entry is free.

Ad Placement 300x100
Ad Placement 300x600

CultureMap Emails are Awesome

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.

Fun new international anime music festival heads to Dallas-Fort Worth with global rave faves

Festival news

Attention all anime fans: A major, global festival is coming to Dallas-Fort Worth to rock out with some of the biggest superstars in the genre.

The inaugural International Anime Music Festival heads to Toyota Music Factory in Irving on Saturday, February 25, 2023. It will also stop at Houston's 713 Music Hall on Sunday, February 26 as part of a 37-city trek across North America starting February 6.

Following the North American jaunt, the festival will journey across Europe, Southeast Asia, and South America in 2023.

What makes this different from other anime events? The International Anime Music Festival showcases characters on state-of-the-art LED and high-definition digital projections. A major draw: for the first time, popular VTubers (virtually generated animated YouTubers) and wildly popular Vocaloids (virtual singers with computer generated voices) will appear on stage together.

Die-hard fans can expect a live, DJ-led multimedia concert rave starring Kizuna AI Original Singerloid “#kzn,” vocal duo HIMEHINA, vocal trio MaRiNaSu, the North American debut of fan favorite GUMI, and pop twins LiLYPSE.

“I am excited to work with this extraordinary visually exciting art form,” says producer Marty Tudor in a press release announcing the event. “The energy that this group of virtual artists has is amazing and incites the best of our superb creative team. This show will be a blast!”

Music selects will feature new tunes and never-before-seen content performed by the fan-favorite, superstar avatars that originated in Japan and have exploded globally over the past two years. By the numbers, these characters generate more than 62 million Google searches and more than 1.2 billion views (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and others).

“I feel honored and privileged to be working with the talented IP holders and character creators of the five acts appearing on our International Anime Music Festival,” producer Bob Ringe says in a statement. “The response from the anime community and anime creators worldwide has exceeded my expectations. See you all at the festival!”

Tickets for all North American shows are on sale now online.