Believing a virgin birth? That's easy. Billions of people do. Believing that manmade emissions are contributing to global warming? Bah, humbug. That's just crazy talk. So let's throw a few more tons of coal on the power plants and fire up those holiday lights while we chop down a few trees. It's the Christmas season, and that means holiday lightings out the wazoo. The best part: Looking is free, mostly.
Grapevine Carol of Lights
Grapevine City Hall
200 S. Main St.
The Christmas Capital of Texas® (no, seriously, it's registered) lights up its historic downtown during the annual Carol of Lights in front of Grapevine's City Hall. Show up at 5 p.m. Monday for pictures with reindeer, taste holiday treats from food vendors and snap a picture or 20 while waiting for the grand show at 7 p.m. Then slap on some sunglass as Mayor William D. Tate flips the switch to turn on millions of holiday lights. This year's theme is How the Grinch Stole Christmas Stole Christmas
, so be ready to join hands and cut loose with a rousing "Fah who for-aze!/ Dah who dor-aze!/ Welcome Christmas! Come this way!" Don't know all the words? No worries. It's Dr. Seuss, so just make some up. It's free.
1121 First Ave.
Nov. 21 to Jan. 7
What it lacks in the registered trademark department, Dallas' Fair Park makes up for with a lighted "snowflake corridor," giant lighted swans, unique Christmas lanterns, acrobatics, Santa's Arctic Slide and a chance to paste your sibling in the puss with an authentic snowball. Oh, and 2 million lights, presumably not the kind that if one goes out, you lose the whole string. That'd be a nightmare. This event isn't free, but tickets are only $12 for kids 3-12 and $20 for adults. (Plus a nominal charge for snowballs. Totally worth it.) The festival begins at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday and continues nightly until Jan. 7. Visit holidaywonder.com
The Trains at NorthPark
8687 N. Central Expressway
What is it about the petite choo-chooing of miniature trains that spells Christmas magic? And why do model trains make us think Bobby Baccalieri getting gunned down in a toy train store in The Sopranos.
Obviously, we're sick people, but you normals can celebrate the season of peace and love with a visit to The Trains at NorthPark. Now in its 30th year, the exhibit includes more than 750 miniature railcars, 1,600 feet of tracks and detailed scenes, including a cityscape of Dallas. The event draws more than 70,000 people each year and has helped raise more than $13 million for Ronald McDonald House since it began in 1987.
Tickets are $4 for children ages 2-12 and seniors older than 65; adults tickets are $7; and children younger than 2 are admitted for free. Discount tickets for $1 off general admission are available at local Tom Thumb stores. It's open at 10 a.m. daily throughout the holiday season except for Thanksgiving and Christmas. The Trains at NorthPark are on the second level between Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus.
Grand Tree Lighting Celebration
13350 Dallas North Parkway
noon Nov. 24
It's a tired seasonal joke: We look for things to do over the long Thanksgiving holiday to distract ourselves from spending excessive time with our annoying families. Har-har. Very funny. But in all seriousness, if by Friday you're ready to stick a fork in Uncle Ned's neck if he compliments President Donald Trump one more freakin' time
, do yourself a favor and drag the kin out to the Galleria Dallas at noon for the mall's annual lighting of what it claims is the largest indoor Christmas tree. It's a big mall, so you can always ditch Ned in the crowds gathered to see the lighting and performances by ice skaters at the mall's rink. Friday's skaters are 2014 Olympic champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White; 2017 U.S. professional champion Jonathan Cassar; and 2016 U.S. junior ladies champion Emily Chan. It's free.
Cowboys Christmas at the Star
The Star in Frisco
9 Cowboys Way
6 p.m. Nov. 24
Santa with his belly like a bowl of jelly will be at the Cowboys' headquarters this Friday for the official lighting of a 52-foot Christmas tree, but we suspect more eyes will be focused and some healthier abs as the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders take the field at Tostitos Championship Plaza to kick off the Cowboys Christmas Spectacular, which runs every Friday and Saturday night through Dec. 22. Dallas Cowboys Rhythm and Blue Dancers and Drumline will join Santa and the cheerleaders for the evening entertainments. The event is free.
Harry Dean Stanton Series
231 W. Jefferson Blvd.
Too much Christmas, too soon? Try this: In his six-decade career as an actor, the late Harry Dean Stanton played memorable roles in numerous classic films such as Cool Hand Luke
, The Godfather Part II
, Repo Man
and Pretty in Pink
. This weekend, Texas Theatre hosts a Harry Dean Stanton Series as a tribute to the actor, who died in September, featuring screenings of Paris, Texas
and Harry Dean Stanton Partly Fiction
. While all are fantastic films, the 2K Janus Films restoration of Wim Wenders’ epic Paris, Texas
, which screens at 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, promises to look incredible flickering across the the silver screen. The gorgeously shot film is a moving character study written by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Sam Shepard and won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1984. And Paris, Texas
saw Stanton transition from character actor to leading man in his portrayal of Travis, a mysterious, nearly mute amnesiac drifter trying to reconnect with his young son and missing wife (played by Nastassja Kinski). Tickets cost $10 for each screening. For a complete list of showings this weekend, visit thetexastheatre.com/series/harry-dean-stanton-series