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Christmas in Branson, Missouri
When I heard I would be spending the start of the holiday season in Branson, my ever-loving Christmas heart started pounding through my chest. Branson’s festivities this time of year have become famous to me and I dreamed of experiencing that Ozark warmth, cheer and spirit myself. Having moved from New England to Florida within the last year, I knew I would be missing several elements of the season, things to which I had grown quite accustomed. However, knowing I would have this trip to get a little back? Yup ~ I was as giddy as a child on Christmas morning!
As the poem indicates, Branson ramps up with activity as soon as November arrives. Just days before, the town pretty much shuts down as every theater, theme park and restaurant begins to decorate and “flurry-ously” prep for the influx of incoming motor coaches and tours. As our fearless “Blogging Branson” coordinator, Angie H., explained to us, “You could throw a rock and never hit a person” those last few days of October.
However, once that calendar page flips and it’s officially November, the streets are packed, every hotel is filled to capacity and the theaters are buzzing like there is no curtain call.
Why is this? How did Branson become so popular this time of year? It’s because the PEOPLE of Branson love to celebrate. Sure, they celebrate God, Family and Country year round, but this time of year gives them an extra reason to let their passion, love and appreciation for others shine as bright as the Christmas Star.
So, tell me, T ~ what happens in Branson that attracts so many visitors?
First off, Let’s Celebrate the Veterans!
While everything may turn Christmas red and green around town, the first full week of November also shines red, white and blue. Branson is a unique town where everyone values a service member no matter when they served, how long they served and where they served. If you dedicated a portion of your life to the US military, the people of Branson want you to know how much they appreciate the time you gave and the sacrifice you made ~ no matter how big or small YOU may think it was.
During Veterans Week, theaters offer free shows, restaurateurs provide free meals, vendors give free advice and assistance, and the town hosts a parade in honor of every single service member in attendance. It’s a grand celebration that some vets have been attending for decades!
During our particular trip, we had the opportunity to visit both the Veterans Village and the memorials at the College of the Ozarks. While there, we heard from vets representing all branches of service. They shared their unique stories, stories they finally feel comfortable sharing. They were powerful and poignant and I personally can attest that it had a tremendous impact on my very own soul.
If you are a veteran of the US armed forces and need a place to go where you feel appreciated, respected…and welcomed home, please consider visiting Branson this time (or ANY time) of year.
READ ALSO: My interview with a veteran who shared a beautiful story about her grandmother back in World War II.
Now, Let’s Talk Christmas!!
While Veterans Week lasts approximately seven days during the season, Branson celebrates the holidays from November 1st all the way to December 31st. Whether you’re visiting a theater, a theme park, an eatery or a showboat, everywhere you turn there is Christmas decor. We saw ginormous trees, elaborate wreaths and gorgeous garland strung around town. Carols were piping through nearly every speaker and there was just enough chill in the air to know the season had officially arrived.
Each venue in town spends hours upon hours, days ~ even months! ~ planning for this season.
Here ~ let’s take a closer look at some of the ways Branson adorns itself for visitors during the holidays.
From roller coasters to stage shows, Branson attractions have some of the best seasonal demonstrations and productions around!
Silver Dollar City
Silver Dollar City is an 1880’s theme park with some of the most unique attractions I’ve seen, such as the Time Traveler Roller Coaster. This time of year, Silver Dollar City is known for its elaborate light displays, this year alone topping out at around 6.5 million Christmas lights!!! Even Time Traveler is fantastically lit.
Guests can also enjoy an evening Christmas parade featuring Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, as well as stage productions that showcase near Broadway caliber talent. I honestly fell in love with the performance of A Dickens’ Christmas Carol ~ I mean, we’re talking stupendous delivery and jaw-dropping effects! We were in awe!
Central to the park is a five-story special effects Christmas tree where the lights dance joyfully to holiday music. Just a short way from there, Guests can find the entrance to the Christmas in Midtown Light Spectacular, where they can walk through a winter wonderland of illuminated displays and tunnels that do no less than put you in the mood for cocoa and cookies!
Can you tell? There is soooo much to see, do and experience at Silver Dollar City during the holidays!!
For more information on An Old Time Christmas at Silver Dollar City, click here.
Dolly Parton’s Stampede Dinner Attraction
It’s the North Pole versus the South Pole during this captivating dinner show! Whether it’s Santa’s Toy Shop dropping from the ceiling into the center arena, the Sugar Plum Fairy bringing all the toys to life or watching Olympic ice skaters perform Adagio on Ice (real ice!!!), this show will have you laughing, mesmerized and applauding. Of course, for those moments when your hands are kind of busy eating your utensil-free dinner, then you’ll just find yourself applauding with your feet in a thunderous stampede!
As noted, this is a dinner show and there is no way you are walking away from the table hungry! A full on feast is served to you in an organized fashion and timed ever so perfectly with the performance. Enjoy their famous soup, a hearty main course and a seasonal sweet dessert all while watching horses, canines, Skeeter and more!
For more information on Christmas at Dolly Parton’s Stampede Dinner Attraction, click here.
Tracks Family Fun Parks
There is no better way to see Branson than from an aerial view. Tracks Family Fun Parks, while they have some of the best rides and arcade games in the area, also boasts custody of the Branson Ferris wheel! Brought over from Chicago in 2016, the Branson Ferris wheel gives visitors a fascinating birds’ eye view around town and what a way to see all the Christmas lights glimmering against the star-lit sky! Spend the day riding go-karts or enjoying bumper cars and then take a quiet moment for a spin or two around the wheel to see the beautiful landscape Branson has to offer.
For more information on Tracks Family Fun Parks, click here.
The Titanic Museum
One of my favorite places to visit is the Titanic Museum in Branson and this time of year is extra festive! Inside and out, the museum is decked out in glittering lights and celebratory decorations. Even the famous staircase is adorned with greenery and bows. The museum itself is always an intriguing venue to tour as it boasts over 400 artifacts from the RMS Titanic and tells the stories of actual passengers who were aboard the ship. This time of year, however, an extra special something fills the air as Guests walk in and around the museum among glamorous luminaries and holiday enhancements.
For more information on Christmas at the Titanic Museum (and other special events held at the venue), click here.
Showboat Branson Belle
If you are looking for another unique way to enjoy dinner and a show during a holiday visit to Branson, I highly encourage you to book a reservation aboard the Showboat Branson Belle. Now through December 23rd, Guests setting sail aboard the festively decorated showboat can experience live holiday entertainment featuring talented singers, dancers and a live band. Enjoy hits from the 1960s to today with Christmas carols and favorites sprinkled throughout while sailing around Table Rock Lake at sunset.
Pssst ~ I even heard there is a specialty cruise called Santa’s Pancakes and PJs Cruise!! I want in on that one!!!
Add to the stellar entertainment a savory dinner and decadent dessert and you have the makings of an absolutely fabulous evening! This venue was a personal favorite in my book (though I’m beginning to think I have a lot of favorites in Branson)!
Our particular adventure aboard the Showboat Branson Belle was near perfect as the sun set so peacefully over Table Rock Lake with colors that were seasonally incomparable. Check out my Facebook Live while aboard to see the gorgeous shades captured in the evening sky.
Oh, and for more information on Christmas aboard the Showboat Branson Belle, click here. (I think you’re getting the picture).
Restaurants and Shopping
The theaters are not the only venues decked out with holiday decor. Even the eateries and shopping areas display their finest during this season. During our visit, we dined at Pasghetti’s, McFarlain’s and Montana Mike’s, all three of which had garland and bows strung throughout. Pasghetti’s even showcases a 25 foot Christmas tree in the center of its 1920s New York Style dining room. That thing was huge!!
Whether we were eating spaghetti with a 5 oz meatball, chowing down on a juicy sirloin steak or enjoying a basket of a southern favorite, fried green tomatoes, you will be dining with a generous side dish of holiday cheer and Christmas spirit when you visit a Branson restaurant.
For more information on dining at any of these restaurants, click the link below:
We also had the chance to roam the Branson IMAX Entertainment Complex, which had some pretty stellar Christmas ornamentation going on around there, as well. The complex is home to various stand-alone shops, a few stage shows, McFarlain’s Family Restaurant and a movie theater. One of those theaters holds a state-of-the-art IMAX screen with some extremely comfy seats! Need to get some Christmas shopping done or want to catch a movie or show? Stop by the Branson IMAX Entertainment Complex and spend hours to eat, shop and watch something good!
Shall We Take a Moment and Talk About the Shows?
Branson is home to over 100 shows and each one of them different from the other. Featuring stars like Jimmy Osmond and Yakov Smirnov to local families who wouldn’t dream of calling anywhere else home, these shows provide entertainment options morning, noon and night during the Christmas season. Many of the shows put a holiday spin on portions of their performances, while some even change the entire production in order to highlight the Reason for the Season. No matter what theater you enter, you’ll find Christmas wrapped up in a gorgeous package of talent and topped with a beautiful bow.
Clay Cooper Christmas Express
The dynamic married duo of Clay and Tina Cooper, along with their musical crew, bring their Christmas energy to the stage in full “countrified” force! Intermingled with their talent for bringing country and humor to the masses, the Clay Cooper Country Express ensemble, including the immensely talented harmonies of Third Power, rock around the Christmas tree. They even put their acting skills into play with their own unique “super” Christmas tale. Beware of low-flying superheroes…..just saying.
- Check out my interview with James from Third Power!!!
- For more information on tickets to Clay Cooper Country Express, click here.
Branson’s Famous Baldknobbers
The Mabe Family is no stranger to entertaining the masses. Known as the longest running show in town, Branson’s Famous Baldnknobbers is close to celebrating 60 years of performing in the Ozarks. During the Christmas season, they bring some of their traditional favorites to you in gorgeous harmony. You will find yourself singing right along with them as they deliver songs such as Mary, Did You Know and Let It Snow in style!
- Shane VanCamp was such a sweetheart to interview!!
- For more information on tickets to Branson’s Famous Baldknobbers, click here.
Hughes Christmas Show
The World’s Largest Performing Family takes to their Branson stage with an enthralling Christmas production that will pierce the heart and energize the Christmas spirit within. I have NEVER seen so much talent on stage and never with such enthusiasm and passion. Through song, dance and extreme cuteness, this family brings the story of Christmas and the Reason for the Season to life and there is no way you will leave that theater without feeling as if your heart grew three sizes that day!
Andy Williams Christmas Show
Speaking of singing right along, Andy Williams Moon River Theater offers a “very merry” show that pays tribute to the late performer. With Andy’s passing, Jimmy Osmond (the youngest of the Osmond brothers) took the reigns of the gorgeous theater. With the help of the Lennon Sisters, Jimmy now performs in a way that engages the crowd and honors Andy’s legacy. One unique aspect of the show is that the stage acts as an ice rink and ice skaters do perform musical numbers on it, such as I’ll Be Home For Christmas. This year, Jimmy is also joined by Britain’s Got Talent winner, crooner Charlie Green, and America’s Got Talent stars, Voices of Glory. With several flashbacks and opportunities to remember your own childhood, this is a great show for those who desire to travel back to Christmases of long ago.
For more information on tickets to Andy Williams Christmas Show at the Andy Williams Performing Arts Center, click here.
But That’s Not All!
To be quite honest with you, this is only the tippity top of the Christmas tree. Branson has so much to offer its visitors during the holiday season. I’m surprised they actually don’t start it even earlier. Yes, my sons rolled their eyes at me when they read this! With hundreds upon hundreds of motor coaches coming in to town, it is truly the busiest time of year for the “Branson Cousins.” Hats off to the hard work each venue puts into taking care of its Guests and delivering a festive, joyous holiday experience. It’s no wonder they need to kick back and relax once January comes around!
If you find yourself in the Ozarks and passing through Branson, I highly encourage you to stop by. Take in the sights. Enjoy a show, a delicious meal and some Christmas cheer. You will not walk away disappointed. I do, however, recommend you consider doing it soon!! There are some shows that book quite a bit in advance!!!
Now, if you’re looking for a great place to stay while in Branson, try the perfectly situated Stone Castle Hotel & Conference Center! With 296 rooms, 37 of which are uniquely themed rooms and suites, a hot complimentary breakfast, two pools and the most hospitable staff, you will feel as though you have found a home away from home. I can personally attest to this!
BE SURE TO CHECK OUT THESE HOLIDAY TRAVEL TIPS FROM MY FRIEND, KELLY, FROM LIVELOVETEXAS.COM!!!
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