All the Christmas Trees and Twinkling Lights
Busy, city sidewalks dressed in holiday style. This is how the feeling of Christmas gets into the air. It's not through shopping or even, dare I say it, designs on a certain red coffee cup. Nope, it's all those twinkling lights. That's how you get festive. You can see them downtown starting November 19, and in the Arts District and at Klyde Warren Park December 5. It seems every park, neighborhood and shopping mall has its own starting date, so do your own damn research for the other celebrations.
Neiman Marcus Windows
As part of the downtown festivities, Neiman Marcus goes all out with its holiday window displays. This year, the windows will be revealed December 1, with the promise of being interactive for the child in all of us.
A Christmas Carol at Dallas Theater Center
For many Dallas families, DTC's version of Charles Dickens' classic story is a tradition. When I was teaching college students last fall, I discovered that many of them hadn't even heard of this holiday novella. So, do the teenager in your life a favor and buy tickets to the play now.
The Waiting List to Volunteer at the Stewpot
Can you imagine a world in which all the charity organizations in the city who feed the homeless had so many volunteers that they had to turn people away? This is the time of year during which people feel extra charitable. No one wants to be Scrooge. (He's the cranky old man in A Christmas Carol, for all the millennials reading this.)
ICE! at the Gaylord Texan
I know, I know, this is for children. But in a city without a reliable snowfall, it's a rare holiday season that comes with a snowman. The massive ice sculpture display at this resort just outside of Dallas is one of the few times Texans get to stand in the cold and feel Jack Frost nipping at our noses.
Ice Skating around the Christmas Tree at the Galleria
There's nowhere else in Dallas where you can ice skate around a Christmas tree. Dump your kids on the ice while you shop, or put shopping on the back burner and skate with them. There's nothing quite like gliding on the ice, that is, until your legs fly up into the air and you land on your bum.
Trains at NorthPark
Perhaps one of the more beloved ways to spread some cheer is with a trip to the annual display of The Trains at NorthPark. There will be familiar cityscapes with trains weaving through them and interactive features. Sure, it’s mostly for children, but this is the one time each year you’re allowed to revel in the magic of make believe. The trains are open at 10 a.m. Monday-Saturday and noon Sundays at NorthPark Center (8687 N. Central Expressway). Tickets are $3-7. More at northparkcenter.com.
Warm Adult Beverages
Nothing tastes like the holidays so much as hot chocolate laced with whiskey. (If you're lactose intolerant, a delicious hot toddy will do the trick, too.) Try Meddlesome Moth for the toddy, and we recommend The Wild Detectives for a Dude, Sweet Chocolate creation.
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The Dallas Opera's Becoming Santa Claus
Haven't you always been curious what Santa Claus was like as a teenager? In a new work commissioned by the Dallas Opera, composer Mark Adamo imagines exactly that in a family-friendly opera about Santa and his lifelong commitment to kindness. All of that is warm and gushy, but we're also pretty pumped to see set and costume designer Gary McCann bring the show to life.
All the Nutcrackers
Every dance company and their dog performs a version of The Nutcracker. Actually I don't think there's a dog in Tchaikovsky's ballet, but there is a Rat King and sugar plum fairies. Texas Ballet Theater has one; Avant Chamber Ballet has one. Seriously, D Magazine made a huge list of them. Maybe next year, local experimental troupe DGDG will do to a version of this Christmas classic.