The oldest non-commercial Christmas parade in Missouri returns on Sunday evening, December 2, 2007 at 5:30 pm. This year’s parade will be the 59th annual and will start with the annual lighting of the largest area nativity scene, on Mount Branson overlooking Lake Taneycomo, at dusk and culminates in a community gathering like no other with the Adoration Parade celebrating Christmas.

If you’ve ever asked yourself the question, “What happened to Christmas?” then this inspirational community event is the answer you’ve been seeking. The Branson community gathers on this special day to set aside our individual aspirations and celebrate the true meaning of the Christmas season. It is a chance to stop and reflect on the beauty of the Christmas story that still inspires people today. On this special night, no one is in the limelight and no organization is promoted, only an overwhelming outpouring of community and celebration as we come together to honor the story of Christmas.

The Adoration Parade and Lighting Ceremony provide an enchanting nighttime parade in the streets of Branson. Dozens of bands and floats participate in the parade, with awards being given to bands and floats in various divisions. Along with the parade, the lighting of a giant Nativity scene is traditionally held on Mt. Branson. For a parade route, click here.

Aside from the parade and Nativity scene lighting, the day typically holds a number of activities and events such as caroling lead up to the night’s festivities. Come celebrate the holidays this winter in spectacular fashion and Ozarks charm with Branson’s Adoration Parade and Lighting Ceremony.

Information courtesy of Branson Chamber of Commerce

Christmas in the Ozarks has become big business for Branson. The southwest Missouri town of 7,435 welcomes the holiday season with dancing Santas, reindeer, penguins and millions of twinkling lights.

Twenty years ago, Branson nearly shut down after Halloween until the spring season. But now, November and December are Branson’s second busiest period — exceeded only in numbers of visitors by the summer onslaught of families with kids interested in miniature golf, bumper cars and boats, go-karts and swimming in the area’s three lakes.

Branson’s older visitors are often the town’s best customers during the holidays. On a recent Friday night, 24 buses (or coaches, as insiders refer to them) sat outside fiddler Shoji Tabuchi’s show.

Another favorite — singer Andy Williams — sings about Christmas being “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” He’ll celebrate his 80th birthday on Dec. 3 with 4,000 of his closest friends in two shows he’ll be doing that day at his Moon River Theatre.

And a few other acts include:

— Singer-comedian Jim Stafford gives audience members a reason to ho-ho-ho as he dons a Santa suit each night at his show.

— Fiddler Shoji Tabuchi, who performs holiday tunes, is often surrounded by 7-foot tall reindeer standing on their hind legs. The reindeer return later wearing hula skirts and coconut bras to do another dance with Tabuchi, who wears an aqua blue jacket emblazoned with sequined pineapples.

— Russian comedian Yakov Smirnoff is backed up by Frosty the Snowman, Santa and a Russian dance troupe.

— Country’s Larry Gatlin & the Gatlin Brothers, Lawrence Welk’s Lennon Sisters, “Mr. Banjo” Buck Trent and Mel Tillis spend much of the holidays entertaining busloads of tourists and those who “drive on their own” to Branson. Many of the big-name shows will shut down by Dec. 15 until the spring season begins in early April.

SILVER DOLLAR CHRISTMAS

By far the biggest Christmas spectacular is “An Old Time Christmas” at Silver Dollar City, which switched this year to more energy-efficient lights, cutting its energy usage to 20 percent of what it was a year ago, explained Brad Thomas, park general manager.

This year, the park’s Main Street features a five-story special effects Christmas tree covered with 300,000 lights that glow and flash in unison to music that begins at 5:30 p.m. and continues every 15 minutes after that. More than 450,000 lights adorn the surrounding 10 storefronts and 250 cut pine trees. A Gifts of Christmas Light Parade with 80,000 lights winds through the park twice each night. In addition, Silver Dollar City’s excellent production of “A Dickens’ Christmas Carol” with 14 actors is performed six times daily, along with a “live” nativity scene.

On a recent Saturday night, a wedding party delayed the ceremony to watch the tree-lighting before exchanging vows in the park’s picturesque Wilderness Chapel.

Toby Thompson of Topeka, Kan., brings his wife, son and in-laws to Branson each year for Thanksgiving and a family reunion. However this year, the reunion has moved to Fort Worth, Texas. But they took a quick three-day trip to Branson over Veteran’s Day weekend, anyway. “We enjoy coming here for the Christmas activities and staying in a log cabin,” he said. “The area is just so beautiful that we love coming here. And the women love to go shopping here.”

The Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce survey confirms that 88 percent of its nearly 8 million visitors last year report going shopping in Branson compared with 84 percent attending shows, 36 percent going to theme parks and 33 percent to museums. Other tourists went to the lake (29 percent), participated in outdoor activities (8 percent) and played golf (5 percent).

NEW SHOPS

Branson’s newest shopping complex, the $420 million Branson Landing, which opened in May last year, has been renamed Branson Winter WonderLanding for the season, with Santa setting up in a 50-foot illuminated Christmas Treehouse with its own fireplace. The outdoor mall along Lake Taneycomo is adorned with 20 million sparkling lights. The $7.5 million Branson Landing fountains are choreographed to holiday songs as they shoot water 120 feet into the air and five cannon blast fireballs above the lake.

Information St. Louis Post-Dispatch

The Wonders of Wildlife, the National Fish and Wildlife Museum, is slated to undergo a major renovation and expansion beginning Dec. 3 and could be closed for up to six months.

Now in its sixth year, the museum will undergo an expansion which will enhance the visitors experience with more water features and live animals, a new atrium/ticket space connecting the museum to Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World and an all-new Wildlife Galleries. The renovations will allow visitors to see the Wildlife Galleries at Bass Pro and the museum and aquarium in one experience. Wonders of Wildlife has been operating the Wildlife Galleries for several years and the expansion will bring both parts of the museum together.

“This is an exciting time for Wonders of Wildlife. We couldn’t be more thrilled that we are moving forward with this project,” said Peggy Smith, acting Executive Director. “The initial design concepts illustrate a truly incredible experience for all who visit.”

Flanking the aquarium will be a large reflecting pool. The new entrance will allow the attraction to expand the useable exhibit space and animal collection, bringing the overall facility to more than 150,000 square feet. The current facility is 92,000 square feet.

The renovation and construction is moving forward and is slated to begin Dec. 3. Wonders of Wildlife could be closed for up to six months during construction.

Information courtesy of Branson Daily News

The Grand Palace in Branson, Missouri and The Royale Dance Theatre of New York are proud to present Snow Queen, a dance-drama spectacular. A love story and exciting adventure based on the Hans Christian classic, “Snow Queen.” It is both a musical and ballet and with all the wonderful elements we find in “Nutcracker,” “Peter Pan” and “The Wizard of Oz.”

Snow Queen is a spectacular that entertains, enriches, inspires and encourages all to be as trusting, loving, forgiving as the little child and most of all to “Follow the dream in your heart.”

After six years in the making, Snow Queen boasts a $200,000 wardrobe, beautiful scenic effects, well-trained dancers and actors, huge puppets, opera singers and musicians plus authentic folk dance, a host of colorful characters and best of all, a beautiful, inspiring story which uplifts every member of the audience. There will be tears of laughter, tears of sadness, but most of all, there will be tears of joy long remembered after the curtain closed and the glitter has faded. This spectacular is introduced with a comedic narrator guiding the audience through the adventure.

Snow Queen is a story of love and adventure, of good triumphing over evil and a vision of beauty through ballet, delightful dance, drama and film. This spectacular was created in the eighties by Bernadine DeMike. She has produced and choreographed many of the classics such as “Swan Lake,” “Giselle,” “Coppelia” and other ballets. She has choreographed more than 35 Broadway musicals for high schools and universities and produced more than 30 ballets including choreography for guest artist Patrick Swayze. Based on her faith in God, she believes He will open the doors for this new venture and assist in accomplishing this work.

Branson Missouri’s fabulous and huge state-of-the-art Grand Palace has been chosen to begin the national tour of this highly entertaining show. As a family-centered theater production, it can be enjoyed by ballet and musical lovers as well.

Ride The Ducks is a unique way to see the Branson Area Festival of Lights. The special tour runs through December 16, with Ride The Ducks offering 5:30 pm and 6:30 pm tours that include the Festival of Lights.

Duck Style is the fun way to see the lights! Ride through the Ozarks and the Festival of Lights while you Quack along with the Christmas music, all aboard our fully enclosed ducks in Branson, Missouri.

The 60-minute Holiday Light Adventure includes a fun-filled narration of the sites and sounds of the Ozarks. A special price of $15 for Adults and $8 for children 4-11 (plus tax) includes your entry into the Festival of Lights. (No splashdowns into the lake take place during these special adventures.)

Guests can choose their departure point. Adventures that depart from the duck dock at 2320 W Highway 76 will travel through Branson’s entertainment district before seeing the Festival of Lights. The Branson Landing location will ride through downtown Branson first.

Ride The Ducks will also continue to offer its unique land and water tours during the holiday season. From the Branson 76 location, guests can Ride to the top of Baird Mountain and enjoy incredible views of the Ozarks, Splash into Table Rock Lake for a fun cruise and Quack along with the captain as he tells his stories of Branson past and present. From the Branson Landing location, guests Ride through historic downtown Branson, Splash into Lake Taneycomo for a fun cruise and Quack along with the captain as he, too, tells his stories of Branson past and present. These tours run from 10am to 5pm daily from either location.

Ride The Ducks of Branson is the fun way to see the Ozarks. Operating for over 35 years, safely entertaining over 5,000,000 guests, Ride The Ducks is a Branson tradition. Ride The Ducks of Branson is a Silver Dollar City attraction.

Information courtesy of Branson Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce

One of the nation’s brightest, most elaborate Christmas celebrations has it all — from a 5-story tree with a million-dollar light-and-sound special effects show to a Dickens production, a light parade and four million lights. It takes place throughout the holiday season at Branson’s Silver Dollar City theme park. The park, set in the Ozark Mountains of Branson, Missouri, excels in delivering an unparalleled Christmas experience.

“Where else can you get this kind of family entertainment package –from a 5-Story Special Effects Christmas Tree to roller coasters at night?” said Silver Dollar City General Manager Brad Thomas. “Not only does Silver Dollar City do Christmas in a spectacular way, but the whole entertainment destination of Branson lights up, from the live shows to the holiday light drive-throughs.”

Visitors entering Silver Dollar City can’t miss the towering 5-Story Special Effects Christmas Tree, which becomes even more impressive when its 350,000 lights blaze and flash in high-tech, split-second synchronization to Christmas songs. The tree is joined in its nightly shows by 250 lighted Christmas trees, hanging light canopies and lighted shop fronts – a million lights in all just for the Christmas on Main Street shows.

And it’s clearly Christmas throughout the park — a Holiday Light Parade with musical, brightly lighted floats glides through the streets each evening, strolling carolers sing, Santa visits with kids and Christmas shows play in several entertainment venues. Take in the Broadway-style production “A Dickens’ Christmas Carol” or The Living Nativity, and dine on hearty foods from prime rib to a traditional turkey and dressing dinner.

The adventurous can take a night ride on any of the park’s thrill rides from roller coasters to this year’s new Giant Swing, while demonstrating craftsmen make blown glass ornaments, copper fountains and handmade pottery serving platters perfect for Christmas gifts.

Profiled as one of the top Christmas celebrations in the country by USA Today and People Magazine, and spotlighted in the Wall Street Journal, Silver Dollar City continues to shine as a holiday destination. And Branson’s 52 theaters feature holiday sets, songs and costumes in their live shows, rounding out the area’s entertainment options.

Silver Dollar City is open through December 30.

Information Courtesy of Silver Dollar City

Branson is a holiday shopper’s paradise with three major outlet malls featuring more than 200 name brand shops. Hundreds of area boutique and specialty stores offer one-of-a-kind hand-made heirloom quality gift items. This season, one trip to Branson can fulfill all of your holiday shopping needs.

With so many places to shop in Branson, an Ozarks Shopping Guide can be helpful. The following is an overview of the great shopping found in the Ozarks.

Outlet Malls in Branson

  • Tanger Outlet Mall: This outlet mall is home to many name brands, such as Tommy Hilfiger, Liz Claiborne, American Eagle, Gap, Aeropostale, Bath & Body Works, Banana Republic, Nike and more. With 65 name brand shops to choose from, Tanger Outlet makes your holiday shopping easy. The Mall is also located right on Highway 76, creating a convenient location for shoppers who want to experience the rest of Branson.

Helpful Hint: Tanger Mall will be open midnight of Thanksgiving day and will remain open until 9pm Friday, November 23. Coupons for the Tanger Mall are also available. Be sure to check out their after Christmas sales too!

  • Factory Merchants Mall: This large mall is home to various stores, including Reebok, Nautica, Lane Bryant, Jones New York, Crocs, Famous Footwear, Carter’s, I love Quilt, Pfaltzgraff and more. The over 50 factory shops allow customers to get a bargain when the do their holiday shopping. They are also conveniently located on near several theaters, including Mickey Gilley, The Duttons and The Hughes Brothers.

Helpful Hint: Don’t miss the biggest sale of the year at Factory Merchants Mall. Stores will offer additional savings off their everyday low outlet prices. There will be extended center hours and added savings for early shoppers. For Factory Merchants Mall sales information, click here!

  • Factory Shoppes at Branson Meadows: This beautiful mall is home to shops and a movie theater. A few of the shops include Christian Gift Outlet, Golf USA, Hush Puppies, Tool Town USA, Vanity Fair Outlet and more. This mall is also close to the new Branson Mill Village.

Helpful Hint: Print the directory of the mall (click link) to receive FREE VIP coupons. Simply print and present at the Vanity Fair Outlet.

Malls

Branson Landing: Your family can discover Branson’s newest “Winter Wonder Landing” at the Branson Landing waterfront, featuring a promenade of trendy specialty shopping and dining establishments, and a brilliant water and fire spectacular that dances to the sounds of the season in the Town Square. A few of the shops located at the Branson Landing include Bass Pro Shop, Belk Department Store, Charlotte Russe, Build-a-Bear, Ann Taylor, Coldwater Creek, Hollister, Cardinals Clubhouse, Journey’s and many, many more. A few of the eateries include Joe’s Crab Shack, Famous Dave’s Barbeque, Cantina Laredo and numerous specialty eateries like It’s A Wrap.Helpful Hint: Visit Santa at Branson Landing. Enjoy the magic of the season by visiting Santa in his very own Christmas Tree House located in Branson Landing’s Town Square. Pictures available. There is also a special Thanksgiving Day concert featuring the Blues Brothers from Legends in Concert and the musicians/singer from Take it to the Limit: A Tribute to the Eagles.

Specialty Shops

  • Branson Mill Craft Village: The Branson Mill is a 60,000 square foot specialty retail shopping center and working craft village combined. It is comprised of 20,000 square feet of retail space including Mountain Man Nut and Fruit Company, The Leather Trading Company and Bandana’s Bar-B-Q Restaurant. The Branson Mill Craft Village is a working craft village with 40,000 square feet devoted to craftsmen demonstrating their skills in glass blowing, leather carving, china painting, oil painting, stained glass, wood carving, silversmith, scrimshaw, pottery, copper colorist, etched glass, custom framing, custom sign making and much much more. In addition to these fine artists demonstrating their skills, there are 150 showrooms of upscale home furnishings, accessories and crafts, with many one-of-a-kind items and best of all it is open to the public at no charge.

Helpful Hint: This craft village is close to Factory Shoppes of Branson Meadows, with easy access to Tanger Outlet Mall and Factory Merchants Mall. The Amish Country Store is right next door and Playtime Pizza (great for Kids) is right across the street.

  • Engler Block: With 30 individually-owned shops, the Engler Block offers a whole world of the Ozarks craftsmanship and artistry under one roof. With artisans at work on their creations, Engler Block is more than a collection of stores; It is sight, touch and sound. A few of the shops include Helwig Art Glass, Fall Creek Pottery, Father Time Clocks, O’Neil Stained Glass, Sunrise Leather and more.

Helpful Hint: This shop is located near the Dixie Stampede and Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater, as well as the Haygoods.

  • The Grand Village: Enjoy the talent of Thomas Kincade in his Signature Art Gallery and visit Missouri’s largest Christmas Store, Kringles. The scenery is delightful with lovely paths and sparkling fountains all the way up to the restaurants. All of the shops in this complex are unique and offer the best of Branson’s craftsmanship and souvenirs.

Helpful Hint: This village is right next door to the Grand Palace, which is showcasing The Christmas Sounds of Mannheim Steamroller. They also have a unique eatery, the Hard Luck Diner, where singing waiters and waitresses are the special.

Come home for the holidays to An Old Time Christmas at Silver Dollar City! In Branson, Missouri, see all your family’s favorites along with new surprises amidst the glow of over 4 million dazzling lights. You’ll create special holiday traditions, celebrate the true meaning of this magical season and take home memories that will last a lifetime!

A NEW Christmas Light Spectacular premieres on Main Street!

Silver Dollar City’s square becomes the setting for the All-NEW Christmas on Main Street, our biggest light show ever! The musical 5-story Special Effects Christmas Tree serves as the grand centerpiece as it twinkles and dances in unison, for the first time ever, with over 450,000 lights adorning the surrounding buildings and trees! That’s over 720,000 lights illuminating the City’s Square!

Hear traditional favorites as well as new musical numbers when you join the tree lighting celebration at 5:30 pm each evening during An Old Time Christmas. The Celebration features piano virtuoso Tracy Heaston, and includes the following moving musical selections:

  • Carol of the Bell by David Foster from The Christmas Album
  • Interlude by Steven Curtis Chapman from The Music of Christmas
  • Joy to the World by the Boston Pops Orchestra from Sleigh Ride
  • Medley by Michael W. Smith from Christmastime
  • Suite from the Polar Express by Alan Sylvestri from The Polar Express Motion Picture Soundtrack
  • Sleigh Ride by the Boston Pops Orchestra from Sleigh Ride

The celebration continues as 2 songs play every 15 minutes throughout the evening. Can’t wait until Christmas? Then turn up your speakers and listen to a sample of the music right now!

A Dickens’ Christmas Carol!

The grandest production show ever performed at Silver Dollar City, this original musical adaptation of the famous classic by Charles Dickens features astounding special effects, stunning Victorian scenery and exquisite period costuming.

The production showcases a talented cast of 14 actors, accompanied by a live band, in an inspiring story of redemption and hope. Presented November 10 – December 30, 2007 at the Opera House Theater.

  • The Living Nativity – Transport your family to the little town of Bethlehem where the real reason for this joyous season is revealed in a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.
    Holiday Light Parade – Emblazoned in over 80,000 lights, the Gifts Of Christmas Holiday Light Parade glides through the streets of the City as colorful floats highlight the joys of the season (twice each evening – weather permitting).
  • Meet world-renowned visiting artisans Ibrahim Giacaman, craftsman of the Wilderness Woods Nativities from Jerusalem, Israel, Nov. 15 – Dec. 8, 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Emanuel Fontanini of the famous Italian Nativity design family from Bagni Di Lucca, Italy, Nov. 23, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Nov. 24, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Kringle’s Krossing – Pay a visit to St. Nicholas, at his home away from home.
  • Holiday Shows resound throughout city streets with the sounds of the season!
  • Rides & Attractions open during our festival, weather permitting, include The Giant Swing, Flooded Mine, Fire-In-The-Hole, Frisco Sing-Along Steam Train, Geyser Gulch, Grandfather’s Mansion, Homestead Barnyard, Marvel Cave, Thunderation, Tom Sawyer’s Landing, PowderKeg®, WildFire™ and the Grand Exposition!
  • The tastes of the season are in abundance throughout the park from traditional feasts to your favorite treats! Children can even have Lunch With Santa (available on select dates, reservations required).

Yakov Smirnoff announced today that country-music star Joe Diffie will perform shows at Yakov’s Theatre in Branson, Missouri. Yakov said, “I’ve been looking for a great show to have at my theater at 8pm and when I heard that Joe might be interested in performing in Branson it felt like a good fit. When I came to Branson, Joe Diffie’s third album was going platinum. On Honky Tonk Attitude Joe was singing “Prop Me Up Beside The Jukebox” and “John Deere Green”. I was learning how to say ya’ll and singing From Red To Redneck. Now Joe can help me learn just what it is that women love about a Pickup Man! What A Country!”

Joe Diffie said, “I started thinking about spending more time with my family so having a show in Branson really made a lot of sense. I can do what I love – perform my music in front of some of the best audiences you’ll ever find — and be with the ones I love. I’m excited about being in Branson because ‘Only in America’ can I have the same opportunities as Yakov. I’ll still be doing the Rockin’ Roadhouse Tour with Aaron Tippin and Mark Chestnut until I start shows in September at Yakov’s Theatre.” Joe Diffie’s Branson Show premières on Saturday, September 6, 2008. Shows will be Tuesday through Sunday at 8:00 PM. The show will feature Joe Diffie, various friends and family members, and comedian Paul Harris.

Career highlights for Joe Diffie include 12 #1 Hits, over 20 top 10 hits, two platinum albums, 2 gold albums, a CMA with George Jones, a Grammy, and the Humanitarian Award. Joe’s song “Home” was the first debut country music single to go to #1 and the first country music single to top the charts of all major-music business magazines simultaneously. His lists of hits includes “If You Want Me To”, “If The Devil Danced In Empty Pockets”, “New Way To Light Up An Old Flame”, “Third Rock From The Sun”, “Ships That Don’t Come In”, “Prop Me Up Beside The Jukebox”, “Bigger Than The Beatles”, “Pickup Man”, “John Deere Green”, “Tougher Than Nails”, and more. He has recorded hits with Mary Chapin-Carpenter such as “Not To Much To Ask” and received a CMA for Vocal Event of the Year with George Jones on “I Don’t Need Your Rocking Chair”. As a song writer Joe Diffie’s most recent hit, “My Give A Damn’s Busted,” was recorded by Jo Dee Messina. He has also written songs for Tim McGraw, Holly Dunn, Doug Stone, Tracy Lawrence, and others.

Do you find yourself asking, “Whatever happened to a traditional family Christmas?” Come to Branson, Missouri, and celebrate the true meaning of the Christmas season. Nationally recognized by newspapers and travel associations as one of the top Christmas destinations in the nation, America’s Live Entertainment Capital is all aglow in the spirit of the season. It all begins on November 1! With lots of star-filled Christmas shows, the famous 76 Strip and a glittering array of animated lighting displays including the 1-mile Branson Area Festival of Lights drive-through, a visit to Branson will create beautiful memories and new Christmas traditions for your family.

Branson’s star performers, special effects and elaborate holiday production numbers are ready to dazzle visitors and their families in November and December. From the famous voice of “Mr. Christmas” Andy Williams to the multimedia extravaganza of The Christmas Sounds of Mannheim Steamroller at The Grand Palace, as well as Mel Tillis and Connie Smith at the Welk Resort, there’s a multitude of Branson Christmas shows that deck the halls with boughs of holly and showcase the holiday’s finest talent. Music fills the air at Branson’s family shows like the Presleys, The Baldknobbers, and the Hughes Brothers and peals of laughter roll through the aisles at Jim Stafford, Hamner-Barber and Yakov Smirnoff’s shows. From the Lennon Sisters with the Gatlin Brothers to Barbara Fairchild, the Twelve Irish Tenors and Broadway’s Spirit of Christmas with The Osmonds, Branson wraps up its musical packages with one-of-a-kind holiday family fun. And, for the kids in all of us, there’s a “magical” Christmas celebration as well, at world-famous Kirby VanBurch’s Christmas Spectacular.

Silver Dollar City, an internationally awarded theme park, presents an all-new, $1 million light and sound extravaganza for “An Old Time Christmas” the park’s biggest light show ever. Called “Christmas on Main Street,” the show features a new 5-Story Special Effects Christmas Tree that blazes to the musical movements of Christmas songs, joined by one million lights on trees, shop fronts and hanging canopies all flashing, as surround-sound fills the Square. The entire park glows with millions of flickering lights and a Holiday Light Parade with colorful, musical floats winds through the streets.The acclaimed Dickens’ “Christmas Carol” returns with the special effects said to be one of the best productions in the history of the park. Plus, holiday food, strolling Christmas carolers and the roller coasters are open after dark for the thrill of the lights from above.

The Showboat Branson Belle is bedecked in Christmas finery and charts a course for holiday food and fun on Table Rock Lake though December. Also, the World’s Largest Titanic Museum Attraction will be decorated with thousands of merry lights and holiday trim that recall those elegant Christmases past. Your family can discover Branson’s newest “Winter Wonder Landing” at the Branson Landing waterfront, featuring a promenade of trendy specialty shopping and dining establishments, the brilliant water and fire spectacular that dances to the sounds of the season in the Town Square and Santa Claus, who has even been known to vacation in Branson himself!

For all of your Christmas shopping, there are three name-brand outlet malls, boutique shops at the Grand Village and Ozarks craftsmen at Branson Mills and Engler Block with their stores all decked out in lights with elaborate holiday decorations that beckon Yuletide visitors.

A host of Branson lodging options are available from a cozy cabin at one of the lakeside resorts to luxurious hotel rooms and condos throughout the area.

While in the Branson/Lakes Area you can also enjoy a Christmas light display at the Enchanted Forest on Indian Point Rd. and the Christmas on the Trail show and Trail of Lights at Shepherd of the Hills Historic Homestead. On the first Sunday in December, thousands of people gather in downtown Branson to watch a Christmas parade dedicated to “the true meaning of the season.” This year marks the 59th Adoration Parade in Branson, an evening event with dozens of high school bands and lighted floats. The theme has always been “Keeping Christ in Christmas.”

“When I started my solo career, I believe God told me to come to Branson and sing with my kids. I’m a Southern California guy, but Christmas in the Ozarks is truly magical,” says Righteous Brother Bill Medley, member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, who performs at Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater.

Branson’s Veterans Homecoming, Nov. 5-11, pays tribute to our nation’s heroes from all wars and conflicts and all branches of service. For details about this weeklong series of events, tribute shows, reunions and more, click the above link.

Outdoor activities in the Ozarks like fishing, hiking, camping and other outdoor pursuits are year-round opportunities for sporting enthusiasts in the Ozarks. The cool, crisp weather in late autumn and early winter is an appealing time for outdoor activities. Those three pristine lakes never freeze, so they are ideal for fishing for bass, trout, crappie and other species, and there is boating and many other types of water activities even in mid-winter. The mild winters also allow visitors to enjoy the area’s dozen championship Golf courses.

Information courtesy of Branson Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce