Lights Up

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Holiday light displays are a big draw this time of year. Businesses, organizations and individuals all put up their brightest for the upcoming Christmas season. The Festival of Light in Chickasha, Okla., attracts thousands each year. With more than 3.5 million lights and growing, it’s a destination for Oklahomans and those beyond the state’s borders. Similarly, Muskogee’s Garden of Lights in Honor Heights Park and Crystal Christmas in Woodward, are great places to view lights in the state.

But if you’d like a holiday destination, Oklahoma is perfectly situated among states with stellar light displays. Consider traveling this season by car, or even train, to view the beauty of the holiday season in neighboring states.

Blossoms of Light, Denver, Colo. Photo courtesy Denver Botanic Gardens.
Blossoms of Light, Denver, Colo. Photo courtesy Denver Botanic Gardens.

Blossoms of Light

Denver, Colo.
www.botanicgardens.org

This annual event is a tradition for people from across Colorado and beyond. Attractions include the O’Fallon Perennial Walk, in which trees along the pathway are illuminated, and the Romantic Gardens, in which thousands of lights twinkle. Enjoy warm drinks, holiday treats and entertainment at the world-renowned Denver Botanic Gardens York Street event.

Get there: A short trip from downtown Denver, Denver Botanic Gardens is served by RTD buses and B-cycle, the city’s bike-sharing service. Free parking is available in a nearby complex and on the street.

Illusions at Botanica, Wichita, Kan. Photo courtesy Visit Wichita.
Illusions at Botanica, Wichita, Kan. Photo courtesy Visit Wichita.

Illuminations at Botanica

Wichita, Kan.
www.botanica.org

This family-friendly event is a chance for visitors to see the 17 acres of Wichita’s expansive botanical garden in a new light. Kansas’ largest light display – hundreds of thousands of lights decorate the park – will flip on Nov. 27. Guests will enjoy LED luminaries, lit trees, Candy Cane Lane lined with flocked trees, live holiday music and warming sips of cocoa and cider. Proceeds from this annual event will benefit the garden’s maintenance, facilities and mission.

Get there: Located along Museum Boulevard, Botanica is situated among several museums and entertainment facilities. A short drive from Oklahoma, a road trip is in order to see the sights of this holiday staple.

Austin Trail of Lights, Austin, Texas. Photo by Maggie Boyd Photography
Austin Trail of Lights, Austin, Texas. Photo by Maggie Boyd Photography

Trail of Lights

Austin, Texas
www.austintrailoflights.org

This two-week celebration of the holidays kicks off on Dec. 8. The annual tradition staged in Zilker Park features performances and festivities that are perfect for the entire family.

Get there: Parking is expensive at the park during the Trail of Lights. The better bet is to take a round-trip shuttle, but the seats sell out fast, so purchasing a ticket in advance is key. Bus routes also run close to the park.

Rudolph’s Holly Jolly Christmas Parade takes to the streets of Silver Dollar City. Photo courtesy Silver Dollar City.
Rudolph’s Holly Jolly Christmas Parade takes to the streets of Silver Dollar City. Photo courtesy Silver Dollar City.

An Old Time Christmas

Branson, Mo.
www.silverdollarcity.com

Festivities for this annual event at Silver Dollar City begin during the first week of November and continue through Dec. 30. Visitors may view productions of many Christmas classics, including It’s A Wonderful Life, A Dickens’ Christmas Carol and Frosty. Jingle Bell Junction showcases more than 80 themed trees, along with extensive décor and collectibles including snow globes, tableware and more. Twice each evening, Rudolph’s Holly Jolly Christmas Parade takes over the streets of Silver Dollar City.

Get there: Access to Silver Dollar City is easy from anywhere in Branson, and purchasing a park ticket allows visitors admission to all holiday and festival events.

Downtown Fayetteville, Ark., is one of the many sites across the state that display lights for the Trail of Holiday Lights tour in Arkansas.
Downtown Fayetteville, Ark., is one of the many sites across the state that display lights for the Trail of Holiday Lights tour in Arkansas.

Trail of Holiday Lights

Arkansas
www.arkansas.com

Each year, beginning just after Thanksgiving, cities in Arkansas don their holiday best for the Trail of Holiday Lights, a statewide celebration of the season. Cities large and small participate with everything from small displays to grand, show-stopping efforts. An interactive map of light displays allows visitors to plan a day or weekend trip to see most of the Natural State’s stunning light displays.

Get there: Arkansas is best reached by car, and a hop over the state’s eastern border puts visitors right into the mix of the light displays.

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