Best things to do during Christmas in Dallas Fort Worth [2021 Edition]

While we don’t do the typical commercial Christmas gift exchange, I love this time of the year and all the holiday traditions. We love finding all the fun and festive things to do during Christmas in Dallas Fort Worth. There might be no snow on the ground but we have tons of opportunities to celebrate the magic of Christmas. DFW has lots of places with festive decorations and lights, cheerful murals, giant ornaments & life-size gift boxes, and a Texas sized Christmas tree.

Best things to do during Christmas in Dallas Fort Worth
Biggest Indoor Christmas Tree in the U.S. at Galleria Mall, Dallas

Usually the day after Thanksgiving, we decorate our Christmas tree listening to holiday music. Once the house is decorated with lights, we spend the time sipping tea or hot chocolate in our Christmas PJs and watching Home Alone for the umpteenth time! Then we go to find all the festive and fun things to do in Dallas for Christmas!

Matching family PJs | Priya Vin Family
Ready for the holidays!

Best things to do in Dallas for Christmas in 2021

A Classic Christmas in Dallas

Dallas and the different suburbs have tree lighting ceremonies to kick off the holiday season but one of our favorites is attending the annual Dallas Holiday Parade. It is usually held on the first Saturday of December. This year it was on 4th December at 10 a.m. The parade is free to attend, but you can purchase tickets for bleacher seats if you’d like guaranteed seating. After the parade grab a coffee at Otto’s inside the Adolphus Hotel and check out their Christmas decorations.

This year instead of the Parade we decided to go see the Nutcracker in Dallas Art District. Texas Ballet Theater brought the classic Nutcracker to life at the Winspear Opera House. Performances run from November 26 through December 5, and then at the Bass Hall in Fort Worth from December 13-29. Or catch Elf on the Shelf on December 11th.

Best things to do December in Dallas Christmas season

A visit to the Dallas Arboretum and gardens is one of the best things to do in December, during the Christmas and Holiday seasons. The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden keep up with its holiday tradition of depicting The 12 Days of Christmas in the Garden.

A dozen Victorian-style gazebos are transformed with animated characters and decor to illustrate carol verses. This year, the Arboretum has a charming addition – the Pauline and Austin Neuhoff Christmas Village. Both displays will be open through December 31.

Best things to do during Christmas in Dallas Fort Worth | Outside Suburbia
The ‘BIG’ Dallas Sign at the Omni Hotel, Dallas

With world-class shopping, Galleria Mall is a premier shopping destination in Dallas. The glass vaulted ceiling is modeled after Milan’s historic Galleria Vittoria Emanuele II shopping mall. You can find the nation’s tallest indoor Christmas tree illuminated here with thousands of twinkling lights and ornaments.

Not many places in DFW you can ice-skate around a Christmas tree! This year’s Salvation Army Christmas Tree is one of the best I have seen, second only to last year’s display that had 4000 paper origami butterflies on display by the organization Paper for Water. An organization started by two kids from Dallas that help bring clean water to communities in need around the world. You can also stop by and adopt an “angel” from the Salvation Army Angel Tree. 

NorthPark Center has the best Christmas decorations, a huge gingerbread house and a Holiday Trains Display | Outside Suburbia
NorthPark Center has the best Christmas decorations, a huge gingerbread house and a Holiday Trains Display

NorthPark Center is another favorite place to stop to check out all Christmas decorations in Dallas. Shop till you drop at some of the high fashion stores like Tiffanys, Dolce and Gabbana, Gucci and more or just do some window shopping. They have some of the best Christmas decorations in Dallas like a gingerbread town, the Scrooge Puppet Theatre, and the Twelve Days of Christmas Clock and the Trains at Northpark. A favorite for both kids and train enthusiasts.

Best things to do during Christmas in Dallas Fort Worth - Northpark Center
Christmas at Northpark Center

Six Flags Over Texas also has its magical Holiday in the Park setup from Nov. 23 through Jan. 5. You will find the only snow hill in town to sled down, holiday decorations, and festive treats to indulge.

Enchant will transform Fair Park into a winter wonderland, complete with an illuminated forest, a holiday light maze and an outdoor ice-skating trail. The holiday spectacular also features a Nordic-inspired Christmas market, Santa meet-and-greets, a kid’s area with crafts, and live entertainment. General admission tickets start at $20 but note that some activities will cost extra.

Best places for Christmas Photos in Dallas

There is no snow in Dallas but SNOWDAY makes up for it. It is an immersive photo experience that brings snow flurries to Dallas. (It is at the Galleria Dallas this year.) The pop-up is fun for kids, teens and adults. They have a ton of fun photo opportunities inside from riding the waves, sitting outside an igloo with Northern Lights to a fun RV that makes you feel like you are on a road trip in a winter wonderland. You might even run into one of Santa’s Elves. Guests can also instantly share their photos from multiple kiosks setup.

Forget Peppermint mochas at Starbucks, try the Fa la la latte at Deck the Hall Street, Dallas’ original Christmas popup aka Fiction Coffee. The coffee comes in cute reindeer and snowman mugs with touches of cinnamon, lavender, and a star anise garnish. After enjoying the cozy Christmas-y interiors step outside to take that perfect social media photo with Alli K’s mural that says ‘Its the most wonderful time of the year‘.

Have you had a Fa La La Latte at the most festive coffee shop in  Dallas Fort Worth? | Outside Suburbia
Have you had a Fa La La Latte?
Have you had a Fa La La Latte? Don't miss this festive coffee shop in  Dallas Fort Worth | Outside Suburbia
Don’t miss this festive coffee shop in Dallas

The Museum of Memories, an Instagram-friendly pop-up, has created all-new holiday-themed displays. We were there earlier in the year and loved their fun rooms perfectly set up for photos. There are pretty murals, sky-high gift stacks, and even a human-sized mug of hot chocolate for holiday photos in Dallas. See more information here.

Museum of Memories

The Shops at Willowbend in Plano has a brand new Santa experience that features illuminated gift boxes that are larger than life combined with an array of great photo opportunities. Plenty of interactive stations while waiting for Santa and dazzling views from the main floor to the highest level. Outside in The District, don’t miss the unique Christmas tree that has video and music!

Legacy West in Plano always has some fun photo opportunities. This year they have Ugly Christmas Sweater Hall of Fame – it is more cute than ugly if you ask me. You can also step inside life-size gift boxes for that unique Holiday photo.  Have dinner in one of the many nice restaurants in the area and stay to watch the colorful fountains dance to Christmas tunes.

Christmas Light Displays in Dallas Fort Worth

The Heritage Farmstead Museum in Plano will be partnering with First Choice Lights to bring North Texas Lights on the Farm for the Holidays. It will feature over one million lights and festive displays, including a twenty-foot-tall Christmas tree. Visitors can stroll through Candycane lane, a 1/4 mile trail bordered by trees lit with thousands of lights and animated displays. Santa and jolly old elf will be located in the farmshop.

Grand Prairie’s Prairie Lights is a huge holiday light park near Joe Pool Lake. You can drive through and take in all the sights. It typically takes 45 minutes to drive straight through with light traffic and longer during the weekends. Stop at the Holiday Village for some shopping and photos. You can also walk two miles of the pathway which is illuminated by 4 million lights. Admission to the park is $45 per car, pack as many you want in the car 🙂

The Light Park in Grand Prairie features a quarter mile of Synchronized Tunnels along with a huge FOUR STORY Christmas Tree and hundreds of light displays. The millions of lights at the location are synchronized to a festive mix of Christmas music.  They have 3 other locations in Texas. Admission is $40.

Addison’s Vitruvian Park is another famous spot for dazzling lights. The Park is transformed into a magical wonderland with more than 500 LED-covered arbors. Vitruvian Lights are on display from Friday, Nov. 29 through New Year’s Day and it is FREE! Check their event calendar for live performances and special celebrations.

I haven’t been to this one yet, so let me know how it is if you go. Radiance is a light display in Frisco where you can drive through millions of lights. This will be a special trolley at Frisco’s Riders Field that transports guests through miles of spectacular illuminations featuring over 3 million lights. From there, the trolley culminates at Frozen, an outdoor winter carnival boasting a two-story tubing hill, an ice-skating rink, and amusement park rides.

The Dallas Zoo is another great place to check out during the holiday season. They have over a million twinkling lights in ZooNorth and silk-covered lanterns in the shape of your favorite animals. The Dallas Zoo is usually open late for the holidays with light shows, Santa meet-and-greets, live music, s’mores, and more. ( For 2021 Dallas Zoo Lights Presented by Reliant is a drive-thru event. Get tickets here)

Dallas Zoo Lights
Photo by the Dallas Zoo

Christmas Carriage Rides

Highland Park is another classic place to visit for Christmas lights and holiday decor. The posh neighborhood is known for its holiday decor. You can book a carriage ride through one of these companies here.

Deerfield always has the best Christmas lights in Plano. There are carriage rides through the neighborhood and during weekends kids will setup stall selling cookies and hot chocolate. If the weather is good you can walk around the neighborhood to see the lights or you can simply drive your car. See a small video clip I made, it looks like Disney Land!

Southlake Town Square also has Holiday Carriage Rides where you can go on an old fashioned ride at the Southlake Town Square. Explore the town square and enjoy the town square all dressed in holiday colors reminiscent of a winter wonderland.

Christmas Carriage Rides
Carriage ride at the Dallas Holiday Parade

Best Hotels with Christmas Decorations in Dallas Fort Worth

The Gaylord Texan Resort goes all out for the holidays. The hotel also has the best holiday decor in Dallas Fort Worth! Families can marvel at more than 2 million holiday lights and magnificent decorations, plus they have spectacular holiday activities to get you in the spirit of the season and create lasting family memories! 

You can’t miss the ICE! an indoor winter wonderland that’s 9 degrees all winter long. There are ice slides, a walk-through display of ice sculptures, an ice nativity, and more all hand-carved by 40 artisans from Harbin, China.  Lone Star Christmas, is free but you will need tickets for entry to ICE!

Best Hotels with Christmas Decorations in Dallas Fort Worth | Outside Suburbia
Photo by Gaylord Texan Resort

This year, the Gaylord Texan Resort has another huge Holiday attraction – Yuletide Bright, an outdoor attraction where visitors can walk through an enchanting, 50,000 square-foot outdoor space full of colorful, glowing, and holiday-themed lanterns, characters and scenes that will evoke the heart-warming feeling of Christmas. Get tickets here.

Gaylord Texan Resort - Yuletide Bright Light Attraction
Gaylord Texan Resort’s Yuletide Bright Holiday Light display (Photo by Gaylord)

At the Hilton Anatole guests can have breakfast with Santa & Mrs. Claus Package and visit the Peppermint Park. It has North Pole Miniature Golf, Holiday Train Ride, Cookie Decorating, Teddy Bear Factory, a Giant Snow Globe Photo Op, Holiday Movie Night and other fun activities to keep the little ones entertained and get them into the holiday spirit.

Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek is a great hotel and their restaurant is perfect celebrating for special occasions. The hotel and lobby are festive with twinkling Christmas trees and kids will love the cookie decorating experiences. The landmark Dallas luxury hotel provides ample opportunity for guests and locals to embark on a joyous holiday adventure in the heart of Uptown Dallas. You can even request a personalized Christmas tree in your room.

Omni Hotel in Dallas sets the Christmas scene on their lawn with giant red Christmas ornaments. It makes for a nice cityscape shot with the Red Pegasus, and the Reunion Tower in the background. I wish we had gone earlier in the day to get a better shot but it still was pretty to see it lit up.

Giant Christmas ornaments at the Omni Hotel Dallas
Giant Ornaments on Omni Hotel lawn

Joule, the Boutique Hotel in Dallas does Holiday cheer in two ways: A tree decorated with a traditional nod to their historic ‘20s Neo-Gothic architecture and a more modern take with reflective mirrors and florals by FortyFiveTen that compliment the contemporary art in the lobby area. Joule is one of my favorite hotels in Dallas.

Best Dallas Coffee Shop to visit during Christmas | Outside Suburbia

While there are many more Christmas events, this list won’t be complete if I don’t mention Grapevine, the Christmas Capital of Texas! The entire historic downtown area is transformed every year into a winter paradise of lights, and beautiful Christmas ornaments. Anywhere you turn there are fantastic photo opportunities, like in front of the town square Christmas tree and the famous North Pole express train.

Wishing you and yours a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Updated November 2021


Best things to do in Dallas during Christmas | Outside Suburbia

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