Christmas is huge in Branson. Every year the entire town becomes a winter wonderland, complete with special holiday shows in all its theaters, an annual parade celebrating the birth of Christ and lighting displays that range from drive-throughs in your own car to dazzling decorations at attractions like Silver Dollar City. Add shopping at outlet malls, craft stores and antique shops, and it’s easy to see why the end of the year is one of Branson’s most popular seasons. Frankly, I find Branson a trip any time of the year, but Christmas in Branson brings it up a notch, kind of like when Dorothy opens to doors to Oz and everything bursts into color.
Shows are one of the main draws in Branson, so little wonder its 50 theaters offering about 100 different shows make a big deal of the holiday. Decorated in festive cheer, most theaters have special productions just for the season and many wow the crowds with guest appearances by top performers. At Sight and Sound Theatre, for example, the “Miracle of Christmas” is a musical that tells the story of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, while at the Andy Williams Performing Arts Center and Theatre, Andy Williams’ legend lives on with Branson’s most famous Christmas show, with guest stars and a tribute to “Mr. Christmas” himself.
Branson lights up in winter, literally. Hotels, restaurants and shops decorate for the holidays, but stealing the show is Silver Dollar City theme park with its five million lights, hundreds of Christmas trees, a nightly Christmas parade and musical shows. Not to be outdone is the Trail of Lights at The Shepherd of the Hills Homestead, with a 2.5-mile drive-through that takes you past three-dimensional themed displays and animated scenes, complete with music.
Branson isn’t shy about “keeping Christ in Christmas” in its annual Adoration Parade, now in its 69th year. Usually held on the first Sunday in December, the evening event celebrates the birth of Christ with a lighting ceremony of the region’s largest nativity scene and a procession that includes floats sponsored by local churches, clubs and businesses and school marching bands.
Branson is a shopping destination any time of the year, which is why it’s also popular when searching for Christmas gifts. Tanger Outlet Center advertises prices about 45% lower than in regular retail stores, while Silver Dollar City and Branson Mill Craft Village feature artisans at work and their handmade wares. Downtown are antique stores, specialty shops and Dick’s Oldtime 5 & 10, packed to the rafters with about everything you can imagine—and much more you cannot. Nearby is Branson Landing with more than 100 stores and restaurants, where kids can visit with Santa and shoppers can rest at Branson Landing Fountains, an outdoor display that synchronizes water, fire and holiday music.
All aboard for a train trip to the North Pole, for a journey that recreates the magic of “The Polar Express” movie and children’s book. Along the way, passengers are treated to music from the motion picture, a reading of the book and a snack of cookies and hot chocolate. Santa waits at the North Pole, where children receive their own sleigh bell. And to get in the spirit, families are encouraged to wear pajamas, just like in the make-believe polar express.
But while Christmas in Branson is a story of its own, don’t forget all those other great reasons for coming here. To get the most out of your getaway no matter what the month, see my Bindutrips.com suggested itinerary for 48 hours in Branson.