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Fun Holiday Events Close To DFW Area

A week or two back I got an email from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. It started out like this:

Looking for something different to do with family and friends this holiday season? Consider a road trip to discover the beauty and solitude of Big Bend Ranch State Park. Or, you can opt for the creature comforts of home with a stay at one of three featured state parks with cabins, or a yurt at Abilene State Park. Holiday events are offered at many state parks…

Some of this I knew about, some I didn’t. For example, I’ve known about the three cabins on the rim at Palo Duro Canyon State Park for some time, but many of the other events I was unaware of.

Here are a few examples of regional holiday events of interest to those of us calling The Dallas Fort Worth area home.

Caroling Through Penn Farm: Take a candle-lit interpretive tour of Penn Farm at Cedar Hill State Park. Hear stories of life on the farm in an earlier time. The evening will wrap up with a sing-a-long around the campfire. Refreshments provided.
Dec. 15, 2012  6:30-8 p.m. (972) 291-5940

Fort Richardson by Candlelight: Recreation of  a 18170’s Christmas in the Fort Richardson Historic Site.
December 8, 2012 5-8 p.m. (940) 567-3506

A complete list of holiday events can be found on the Texas State Parks web site.

I got to thinking about other annual holiday events close to Dallas and Fort Worth. It’s nice to get away for a day to have some fun and relax. Many communities in this part of Texas have annual festivities to celebrate the Christmas holiday. Sometimes the celebration is centered around the history or cultural heritage of the community, and you can learn something while also having fun.

What follows is a list of several locations and events I’m aware of, presented in no particular order. If you have a favorite holiday road trip destination near the DFW area, please share it with us by posting a comment. Thank you, and have a wonderful and safe Holiday Season.

Granbury Texas is a popular destination in this area. The historic town square is beautifully decorated this time of year.  Granbury has an annual Candlelight Tour of Homes. Beautiful historic homes open their doors to the public for this one weekend. There’s also entertainment and re-enactments at some locations. The homes on the tour change each year, but expect to see the inside of a few grand historic homes and possibly the courthouse and other historic properties around town. Combine this with live entertainment and great dining options and your bound to find something you like. Event date is November 30 thru December 2, 2012.

Denton Texas has the Denton Holiday Lighting Festival on Friday, November 30, 2012 on Denton’s Historic Courthouse Square.  From the event web site:

Come capture the true spirit of a small-town holiday celebration! The 21st Annual Holiday Lighting Festival on Denton’s downtown square kicks off with a sing-along and the lighting of the community Christmas tree. Twinkling lights, choirs, bell-ringers, dancers and the aroma of spicy hot cider will transport the child in you to memories of Christmas past. Take a spin in a horse-drawn wagon, have your child’s photo taken with Santa, or participate in interactive arts and crafts activities that will forge memories for the entire family. Vote for your favorite cider as downtown businesses compete in the annual Wassail Fest.

I’m sure this event, dating back to 1988, is grand fun. The historic town square and the courthouse are finely decorated, and there will be plenty of holiday cheer on other days of the week for those of us who can’t make it on Friday. I’ve talked about the Courthouse-On-The-Square Museum and the Historical Park of Denton County elsewhere on this site. The decorations are great. Try to include some time after dark in your trip plan.

Clifton Texas,The annual Clifton Norwegian Country Christmas has ushered in the holiday season now for many thousands of visitors since it began in 1992. Held annually the first weekend of December, the event offers a weekend of history and fun for those wishing to fully experience “The Norwegian Capital of Texas.”

From the Visit Clifton Texas web site:

The event traditionally kicks off on Friday night with a lighted parade through downtown that is enjoyed by young and old alike. The Bosque Museum holds its annual Christmas Open House, where rooms are beautifully decorated to reflect the Norwegian and pioneer heritage of the community. The gift shop is stocked with Norwegian souvenirs of every variety. Visitors have also come to enjoy “The Arts of Christmas” held each Friday and Saturday at the Bosque Arts Center, a fine arts complex housed in the historic former Clifton Lutheran College. There, visitors can enjoy a myriad of seasonal exhibits, refreshments, and shop for unique homemade Christmas gifts ranging from candies to paintings, pottery, crafts and jewelry.

Visitors will want to include Heritage Village on the tour. Located in the Armory at Clifton City Park, Heritage Village is filled with dozens of vendor booths showcasing foods, arts and crafts. Artisan demonstrations normally include quilting, Norwegian painting, and wood carving. Those wishing to experience authentic Norwegian cuisine look no further that the Clifton Civic Center, where lunch is served by reservation from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Event date is November 30 thru December 1, 2012.

Texas artist, George Boutwell, has a studio in Clifton Texas.

Tyler Texas is a fun place to visit just about any time of the year, and December is no exception. The Downtown Museums Open House event is on December 13, 2012. The Goodman Museum, the McClendon House, the Cotton Belt Depot and several other venues will be open and with free admission.

Patricia J. Heaton, Goodman Museum director & curator confirmed for me that the Victorian Christmas at the Goodman event is scheduled for Thursday, December 13, 2012, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. this year. The Goodman-LeGrand House & Museum will be decorated to honor the spirit and tradition of a Victorian Christmas, from Thanksgiving until the end of the year.

There’s plenty going on in Tyler Texas during the Holidays. Check the Visit Tyler web site and in particular the events calendar to get an idea of what’s going on.

Sundance Square in Downtown Fort Worth has plenty going on this time of the year. Annual events, live music and theater are among the many entertainment options. The Christmas tree is huge, holiday decorations splendid, street scene festive. This historic district in Downtown Fort Worth has plenty of old architecture and an amazing range of shopping and entertainment options. Maybe dinner and a romantic carriage ride through the holiday-decorated streets of Sundance Square is your idea of a good time.

Tell me about a favorite holiday road trip you took.


Note: this article has been updated for Christmas 2012.