Festivals, parades and tree lightings kick off the holidays in Dallas-Fort Worth
Update: This story was revised on Nov. 22, 2023, to add more events.
Christmas cheer is in the air as cities and towns across North Texas host tree lightings, parades, holiday festivals, drone shows and more. Take a break from shopping and gather the family to meet Cowboy Santa in the Stockyards, visit Santa’s Village in Richardson or see the Dallas Holiday Parade roll through downtown.
Here’s your guide to some of the season’s top events.
Check websites for schedule changes and other updates, and visit Go See DFW to find more events.
COWBOYS CHRISTMAS EXTRAVAGANZA IN FRISCO
FREE - The Dallas Cowboys will celebrate Christmas at The Star with a 20-minute holiday show. A different Cowboys legend and his family will flip the switch at each lighting, including Drew Pearson (Nov. 25), DeMarcus Ware (Dec. 9) and Jerry and Gene Jones (Dec. 15). There will also be pyrotechnics, performances and appearances by the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, Rhythm and Blue Dancers, Cowboys Rookie Squad, mascot Rowdy and Santa Claus.
Nov. 17-Dec. 16, Fridays and Saturdays at 6 p.m. at The Star in Frisco, 1 Cowboys Way, Frisco. Free. thestardistrict.com/christmas.
SANTA’S GRAND ARRIVAL PARADE AND TREE LIGHTING CEREMONY IN THE STOCKYARDS
FREE - Cowboy Santa makes his arrival in the Stockyards after the 11:30 a.m. cattle drive. There will be holiday activities all day including pictures with Santa, stories with Mrs. Claus and skating on the rodeo rink outside the Livestock Exchange Building. Make a day of it and watch the tree lighting ceremony at 6 p.m.
Nov. 24 from about 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. in the Fort Worth Stockyards, 131 E. Exchange Ave., Fort Worth. fortworthstockyards.com/events.
HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS IN MCKINNEY
FREE - Downtown McKinney’s holiday street festival returns with three days of old-fashioned holiday attractions. There’ll be photos with Santa, a snow hill, a carousel, a trackless train, a petting zoo and other kid-friendly fun. Families can also enjoy seasonal music, see strolling Dickens characters and watch the lighting of the city’s 35-foot-tall blue spruce Christmas tree (Nov. 24 at 6:15 p.m.).
Nov. 24-25 from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Nov. 26 from noon to 5 p.m. on the downtown square, 111 N. Tennessee St., McKinney. Admission is free; some activities have a fee. mckinneychristmas.com.
HOLIDAY IN THE PLAZA IN LEWISVILLE
FREE - The festival features family-friendly holiday activities, including photo opportunities with Santa and Mrs. Claus, musical entertainment, raffle prizes, balloon artists, face painters and bounce houses. At dusk, Santa will light the 48-foot-tall tree.
Nov. 25 from 4 to 7 p.m. at Castle Hills Village Shops, 2540 King Arthur Blvd., Lewisville. Free. castlehillsvillageshops.com/event/2023holidayintheplaza.
CHRISTMAS ON THE SQUARE IN MESQUITE
FREE - Visit downtown Mesquite for the lighting of the community Christmas tree. There’ll be free cocoa and cookies (until they’re gone), photos with Santa, a gift market and food booths. The tree will be illuminated for the season in a 6 p.m. ceremony.
Nov. 28 from 5 to 8 p.m. at 111 Broad St., Mesquite. Free. downtownmesquitetx.com.
CHRISTMAS ON THE SQUARE IN CELINA
FREE - The celebration and tree lighting includes photos with Santa, live reindeer, holiday crafts, a petting zoo and community performers. Visitors can also decorate cupcakes with Mrs. Claus, bounce on inflatables in the kids zone and shop with local vendors. Santa will make his grand entrance at 7 p.m. for the tree lighting.
Nov. 29 from 5 to 9 p.m. on the downtown square, 141 N. Ohio St., Celina. Free. lifeincelinatx.com/christmas.
NORTH RICHLAND HILLS CHRISTMAS TREE LIGHTING
FREE - Crafts for kids, carolers, a drone light show and the illumination of the city’s 46-foot-tall tree will be part of the festivities. Santa will be on-site for photos. See the website for more holiday activities throughout the season.
Nov. 30 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Stormy Plaza Park, 9010 Grand Ave., North Richland Hills. Free. nrhtx.com.
DECK THE PLAZA IN DALLAS
FREE - The city’s official Christmas tree will light up at this holiday celebration that takes place in front of Dallas City Hall. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be in attendance, and everyone can enjoy live entertainment, food trucks and playing in the snow. Performers include the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts choir, the Dallas Police Department choir, the Molina High School marching band, flamenco dancers from the Flame Foundation and Korean dance group Navillera. The Devotio Moderna band will play holiday tunes.
Dec. 1 from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. at City Hall Plaza, 1500 Marilla St., Dallas. Free. dallascityhall.com/calendar.
LITTLE ELM CHRISTMAS PARADE AND FIREWORKS SHOW
FREE - The holiday parade will follow a new route this year, starting at Lobo Stadium (1151 E. Eldorado Parkway) and concluding at Little Elm High School. After the parade, a fireworks show will light up next to the high school.
Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. at Little Elm High School, 1900 Walker Lane, Little Elm. Free. lakefrontlittleelm.com/events/christmas-parade-and-fireworks-show.
OLD TOWN HOLIDAY STROLL IN LEWISVILLE
FREE - This two-day holiday celebration kicks off on Dec. 1 with hayrides, shopping with vendors and a children’s entrepreneur market. A tree lighting ceremony at 6:30 p.m. will be followed by an outdoor screening of the Will Ferrell movie Elf. On Dec. 2, there’s a morning pancake breakfast with Santa ($6 for adults, $3 for ages 3-12, free for kids 2 and under), carnival rides, live music on the plaza and a 1 p.m. Christmas parade.
Dec. 1 from 5 to 9 p.m., Dec. 2 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Wayne Ferguson Plaza, 150 W. Church St., Lewisville. Free. cityoflewisville.com.
DALLAS HOLIDAY PARADE
FREE - Thousands of spectators are expected to line Commerce Street to see costumed characters, marching bands, dance and drill teams, elaborate floats and giant balloons. Admission to the parade is free; reserved bleacher seating is available to purchase. The parade steps off Dec. 2 at 9 a.m. at Commerce and Houston streets and continues east on Commerce, making performance stops along the route. Check the website for updated route details and live TV coverage information.
Dec. 2 from 9 to 11 a.m. in downtown Dallas. Free; reserved seating starts at $25. dallasholidayparade.com.
KLYDE WARREN PARK’S TREE LIGHTING CELEBRATION
FREE - The downtown deck park’s annual tree lighting party will have photos with Santa, story time with Mrs. Claus, visits from Frosty and Rudolph, live holiday music and the lighting of the Christmas tree.
Dec. 2 from 3 to 6 p.m. at Klyde Warren Park, 2012 Woodall Rodgers Freeway, Dallas. Free admission; parking is $10 at several nearby lots. klydewarrenpark.org.
RELIANT LIGHTS YOUR HOLIDAYS IN THE DALLAS ARTS DISTRICT
FREE - A half-million LED lights will illuminate Sammons Park at the AT&T Performing Arts Center for an evening of holiday family fun. The choral rock band Polyphonic Spree headlines the list of musical entertainment. Kids can visit a cookie craft area and romp in a snowy playground. There will be free photos with Santa, miniature golf, a holiday-themed drone show and fireworks. Food and drinks will be available to purchase.
Dec. 2 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at Sammons Park, 2403 Flora St., Dallas. Free with online RSVP. attpac.org.
22ND ANNUAL CHRISTMAS IN THE STOCKYARDS
FREE - A festival in the historic Stockyards features holiday music, reindeer games, photos with Cowboy Santa and story time with Mrs. Claus. A Christmas parade rolls down Exchange Avenue starting at 4 p.m.
Dec. 2 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at 131 E. Exchange Ave., Fort Worth. Free. fortworthstockyards.com/events.
PLANO HOLIDAY PARADE
FREE - Community organizations and school bands, cheer squads and JROTC units will join Santa in the Rotary Clubs of Plano parade. The holiday parade steps off at 2 p.m. at 18th Street and M Avenue and concludes at the Bird Educational Center (1300 19th St.). Check the website for a map of the parade route.
Dec. 2 at 2 p.m. at 18th Street and M Avenue, Plano. Free. rotaryparadesofplano.com.
DICKENS IN DOWNTOWN PLANO
FREE - Stroll through the downtown Plano Arts District to enjoy an old-fashioned holiday celebration. Attractions include performances by arts groups, photos with Santa and a snow slide. The traditional tree lighting takes place in Haggard Park at 7 p.m. Shopping options include the children’s entrepreneur market. Downtown merchants will stay open for evening shopping, dining and sipping.
Dec. 2 from 4 to 9 p.m. at Haggard Park, 901 E. 15th St., and at McCall Plaza and along a limited section of 15th Street in downtown Plano. Free. visitplano.com/event/dickens-in-downtown-plano-2.
HOLIDAYS AT HERITAGE IN IRVING
FREE - A holiday parade in Irving’s Heritage District will be followed by a tree lighting ceremony and entertainment at Heritage Park. Take photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus, stop by the hot chocolate bar and get hands-on with holiday-themed crafts. A drone show will light the skies to end the festivities.
Dec. 2 from 6 to 9:30 p.m. at Heritage Park, 217 S. Main St., Irving. Free. irvingevents.org.
MERRY MAIN STREET IN FRISCO
FREE - The Santa and Friends Christmas parade kicks off the festival at Frisco Square. Elementary school choirs will perform holiday songs. There’ll be a gift market, children’s activities, and a tree lighting at 6 p.m.
Dec. 2 from 3 to 7:30 p.m. at Simpson Plaza, 6101 Frisco Square Blvd., Frisco. Free. friscotexas.gov/916/merry-main-street.
RICHARDSON CHRISTMAS PARADE
FREE - The 51st Richardson Christmas Parade returns to the west side route, stepping off from Richardson High School and heading north on Coit Road to end at J.J. Pearce High School. This year’s theme is the Parade of Misfit Toys.
Dec. 2 starting at 9 a.m. from Richardson High School, 1250 W. Belt Line Road, Richardson. cor.net/departments/parks-recreation.
CHRISTMAS ON MAIN IN FORNEY
FREE - Main Street will be decked out for a holiday street party in downtown Forney with food trucks, craft vendors, artisans and more.
Dec. 2 from noon to 5 p.m. at 114 E. Main St., Forney. Free. facebook.com/cityofforney.
54th ANNUAL KIWANIS PARADE, HOMETOWN CHRISTMAS FESTIVAL AND TREE LIGHTING IN ROCKWALL
FREE - The holiday festivities kick off at 9 a.m. with a parade from the Rockwall County Courthouse (385 S. Goliad St.) to the historic downtown district. There will be over 100 decorated floats, costumed characters and Santa Claus. A festival on the square will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a snowy play area, games, holiday vendors, and photos with Santa and the Grinch in San Jacinto Plaza. At 6 p.m., head for Rockwall City Hall for Christmas crafts, cookies, cocoa and a tree lighting ceremony, followed by a performance from the Steve Story Band.
Dec. 2 from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Goliad and Rusk streets in historic downtown Rockwall. Free. mainstreet.rockwall.com/hometownchristmas.asp.
THE COLONY HOLIDAY IN THE PARK AND PARADE OF LIGHTS
FREE - Holiday activities in Perryman Park will get underway at 5 p.m. with seasonal music and performances, rides and a lighted holiday trail. The lighted parade departs from Peters Colony Elementary (5101 Nash Drive) at 5:45 p.m., heads west on Nash and continues south on Blair Oaks Drive to the Five Star Complex (4100 Blair Oaks Drive).
Dec. 2 from 5 to 8 p.m. at Perryman Park, 4930 S. Colony Blvd., The Colony. Free. thecolonytx.gov/832/holiday-in-the-park.
HOLIDAY IN THE PARK IN GODLEY
FREE - The day includes a holiday festival in the park, a Christmas parade and a tree lighting at 5 p.m. There’ll be photos with Santa and the Grinch, Christmas crafts and cookie decorating.
Dec. 2 starting at 2 p.m. at Godley Park, 104 E. Allen Ave., Godley. facebook.com.
CHRISTMAS IN THE PARK IN MESQUITE
FREE - Christmas lights and decorations will transform the park into a winter wonderland for this two-day festival. Activities include arts and crafts, photos with Santa, community group performances, inflatables and a fireworks display. Most activities are free, but some require a wristband.
Dec. 2-3 from 2 to 7 p.m. at Westlake Park, 600 Gross Road, Mesquite. Free. cityofmesquite.com/316/christmas-in-the-park.
MERRY AND BRIGHT CHRISTMAS DRONE SHOW IN GRAPEVINE
FREE - A fleet of drones will create Christmas magic in the sky over Main Street in an eight- to nine-minute show at Peace Plaza in front of Grapevine Main Station.
Dec. 2, 9 and 16 at 8 p.m. at Peace Plaza, 815 S. Main St., Grapevine. Free. grapevinetexasusa.com.
SANTA’S VILLAGE IN HUFFHINES PARK
FREE - Stroll through a miniature village in the park, stopping at Santa-themed dwellings including Mrs. Claus’ bakery and Santa’s workshop. There’ll be nightly entertainment, interactive activities and photos with St. Nick in Santa’s House. The village will be open Fridays through Sundays.
Dec. 2-3, Dec. 8-10, Dec. 15-17, Fridays from 6 to 9 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays from 5 to 9 p.m., at Huffhines Park, 300 N. Plano Road, Richardson. Free. cor.net/departments/parks-recreation.
SPEEDWAY CHILDREN’S CHARITIES TREE LIGHTING IN FORT WORTH
FREE - Texas Motor Speedway’s 42-foot white fir Christmas tree will light up at the track’s annual grant ceremony and bike giveaway. Along with the lighting, there will be complimentary hot cocoa and Christmas cookies and a fireworks display. At 6:30 p.m., grants will be awarded to several North Texas nonprofit agencies. The evening concludes with a children’s bicycle giveaway. The event will take place in front of the Speedway Club building. Admission is free, but seating is limited.
Dec. 5 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Texas Motor Speedway, 3545 Lone Star Circle, Fort Worth. Free. speedwaycharities.org/events/texas/scc-texas-tree-lighting-ceremony.
77th ANNUAL FORT WORTH COMMUNITY CHRISTMAS TREE
FREE - Special guest Marie Osmond will sing holiday tunes before she and Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker flip the switch to light the majestic 80-foot-tall Norway spruce Christmas tree, said to be the tallest live Christmas tree in Texas.
Dec. 6 from 6:30 to 7 p.m. at Sundance Square, 420 Main St., Fort Worth. sundancesquare.com/events.
A GARLAND CHRISTMAS ON THE SQUARE
FREE - Garland’s holiday fest and tree lighting return to the newly renovated downtown Garland square. Have your camera ready for photos with real reindeer and Santa. There’ll be carolers and music by Q the Band. Families can slide down the snow hill and buy tasty treats from food vendors and downtown merchants.
Dec. 7 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. (tree lighting at 6:30 p.m.) at the downtown Garland square, Main and North Sixth streets, Garland. Free. visitgarlandtx.com/COTS2023.
GRAPEVINE PARADE OF LIGHTS
FREE - More than 100 lighted floats, marching bands and performers will make their way along Main Street from Hanover Drive to Northwest Highway. Look for jolly old St. Nick on the grand finale float.
Dec. 7 from 7 to 9 p.m. on Main Street, Grapevine. grapevinetexasusa.com/event/44th-annual-parade-of-lights/38296.
HOLIDAY ON THE HILL IN CEDAR HILL
FREE - Celebrate the holidays and watch the official tree lighting at this outdoor festival in historic downtown Cedar Hill. Activities include games, live entertainment, photos with Santa and shopping in the holiday market.
Dec. 7 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at 600 Cedar St., Cedar Hill. Free. cedarhilltx.com/1966/december---holiday-on-the-hill.
KIEST PARK HOLIDAY FESTIVAL AND TREE LIGHTING
FREE Have a holly, jolly time at this fest with inflatables, carnival rides, live entertainment and photos with Santa Claus. Visit the hot chocolate station for a warm cup of cocoa and purchase bites from food trucks. The Christmas tree lighting with city of Dallas officials will take place at 5:30 p.m.
Dec. 9 from 4 to 8 p.m. at Kiest Softball Complex, 3080 S. Hampton Road, Dallas. facebook.com/dallasparkrec/events.
ARLINGTON HOLIDAY LIGHTS PARADE AND TREE LIGHTING
FREE - A holiday festival kicks off at 2 p.m. with activities, live entertainment, a parade and tree lighting. The event includes reindeer crafts for kids starting at 2 p.m., live entertainment at Levitt Pavilion starting at 4 p.m., selfies with Santa and a lighted parade at 6 p.m. A tree lighting follows the parade with Santa, Mrs. Claus and the Grinch.
Dec. 9 from 2 to 9 p.m. at Founders Plaza, 100 W. Abram St., Arlington. Free. holidaylightsparade.com.
MCKINNEY PARADE OF LIGHTS
FREE - The McKinney Rotary Club hosts the 24th annual parade in historic downtown McKinney. Lighted floats, vehicles, marching groups and costumed characters will be part of the fun. Check the website for the parade route map.
Dec. 9 at 6:30 p.m. starting on North Kentucky Street, McKinney. Free. mckinneyrotary.org/page/parade-of-lights.
CANDLELIGHT AT OLD CITY PARK IN DALLAS
The historic buildings at Old City Park will be decorated and candles will light the walkways at dusk for the 51st holiday festival. Visitors can enjoy strolling carolers, live music, a marketplace, crafts for kids, and food and drink vendors. Santa will be on-site for photos.
Dec. 16-17 from 3 to 9 p.m. at Old City Park, 1515 S. Harwood St., Dallas. Advance purchase admission is $15 for ages 13 and up, $10 for ages 4-12, free admission for children under 4. Prices are $5 more on-site. Tickets are valid for one night only. Oldcityparkdallas.org.
POSADA IN DALLAS
FREE - The Latino Cultural Center will celebrate Posada, a Christmas tradition in Mexico and other Latin American countries that commemorates Joseph and Mary’s search for safe refuge in Bethlehem before the birth of Jesus. All are invited to join in a traditional Posada procession around the building led by the band La Rondalla Romantica de Dallas. Following the procession, guests will be treated to pan dulce and hot chocolate. There'll be performances on the plaza, including folklorico and matachines dancers and mariachi music.
Dec. 17 from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Latino Cultural Center, 2600 Live Oak St., Dallas. lcc.dallasculture.org.
The Go See DFW calendar is a partnership between KERA and The Dallas Morning News.
Norma Cavazos writes about fun things to do in Dallas-Fort Worth for The Dallas Morning News.