During the holiday season, guests come to Silver Dollar City, an 1880s-style theme park in Branson, Missouri, for the park’s An Old Time Christmas festival, one of the country’s most recognized events for spectacular lighting and entertainment. This year’s festival is bigger and brighter than ever with the new Christmas In Midtown Light Spectacular, which presents a towering new experience with new light displays soaring 9 stories high, adding 1.5 million more lights and bringing the park’s total to 6.5 million lights. The festival also features an evening light parade, two Broadway-style original musical productions, a 5-Story Special Effects Christmas Tree with a sound and light show and holiday dining.
The largest single lighting expansion in the past 2 decades of the festival, Christmas In Midtown takes holiday lighting to a new level, filling over an acre — 70,000 square feet — with 145 miles of LED lights. Huge light tunnels and wreath portals lead into the area, which includes flying angels, running reindeer, moving trains, a tree 90 feet high, musical trees with moving lights, dozens of stars and snowflakes, and a giant turning globe, all created at Silver Dollar City.
The light experience begins on the Square with the 5-Story Special Effects Christmas Tree, a massive tree with over 350,000 colorful LED lights. Beginning at dusk each evening, the tree blazes to the movements of Christmas songs, with up to 100 light changes per second, while lights around the Square flash along.
A parade of lights, Rudolph’s Holly Jolly™ Christmas Light Parade, winds through the streets of the City twice each evening. As Grand Marshal, Rudolph leads the evening parade of nine musical, lighted floats, illuminated with 200,000 LED lights. The parade is accompanied by 45 colorful costumed characters, including Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster, 14-foot moose characters, 12-foot tall elves, 10-foot candy canes, penguins, elves and marching wooden soldiers.
The festival also features two original musical productions, A Dickens’ Christmas Carol and It’s a Wonderful Life. A Dickens’ Christmas Carol is an adaptation of the famous Dickens classic, with revolving sets, flying spirits, pyrotechnic special effects and a cast of 15, accompanied by a live band. It’s a Wonderful Life presents a musical interpretation of the classic film, with unique special effects and a cast of 14 singers/actors.
In addition to the light displays, Christmas productions, rides and holiday dining, Silver Dollar City is home to a colony of 100 craftsmen, who create one-of-kind handmade items on display for holiday shoppers — blown glass ornaments and bowls, oversized pottery mugs in rich colors, intricate chip-carved wood boxes, hand-dipped candles and even hand-hammered Damascus steel knives.
Craftsmanship has been a feature of the park since it opened in 1960, when authentic native craftsmen were recruited to demonstrate the American heritage crafts that were part of the Ozarks history and culture. The crafts demonstrations, like ongoing shows of skill and technique, often with interaction from watching guests, add to the allure of gift selection. A unique angel comes with a story when the guest talks with the artist, picks the color and watches the glass blower make it.
The crafts program at Silver Dollar City includes artists from Master level to apprentice, with crafts including furniture making, leather crafting, glass blowing, pottery, cut-glass etching, blacksmithing, knife-making and candy making. The longstanding commitment to craftsmanship led to Silver Dollar City being proclaimed by the U.S. Congress as the “Home of American Craftsmanship.”
Since its debut more than two decades ago, Silver Dollar City’s An Old Time Christmas has become one of the country’s most recognized events for spectacular lighting and entertainment, and has been profiled as one of the top holiday and has been profiled as one of the top holiday celebrations by USA Today, CNN Travel, The Travel Channel and Good Morning America.
Silver Dollar City’s An Old Time Christmas is open November 4 – December 31, plus January 1 for An Old Time Christmas. Information: 800-831-4FUN(386) or www.silverdollarcity.com.