[ General ]

Christmas in Branson is a Winter Wonderland of Fun

It’s the most wonderful time of the year in Branson, Missouri.

Twenty years ago, the entertainment district in this resort town in the Ozarks shut down for the season. Then, one by one, the attractions realized what a draw the Christmas holiday would be and now hundreds of thousands of visitors brave the chilly weather to flock to Branson in November and December.
Singer Andy Williams truly represents the classic American Christmas show for most folks over the age of 40.

His Christmas show in 2008 keeps that spirit alive. Mixing in some familiar favorites like “Walking in a Winter Wonderland” and “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”, Williams sings and dances with the energy of someone 20 years his junior.

The show has great music and laughter. Willims does a bit with Bob Anderson, a world class singer and impressionist. Anderson is dead on in impersonations of a drunken Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Tom Jones, Nat King Cole and last but in no way least – Andy Williams.
Williams sings while Anderson mocks his mannerism behind his back on stage. The kicker is when Williams and Anderson – impersonating Williams – sing a duet.
Williams foregoes an intermission to get as much Christmas spirit into one show.
Williams does two shows – one at 3 p.m. and one at 7 p.m. – from Monday to Saturday every day from Nov. 1 to Dec. 13. The theater is closed on Nov. 26 – the day before Thanksgiving. There are no matinees on Nov. 24-27.
What a country!
Yakov Smirnoff loves America. And he loves Christmas.
His Christmas show in November and December packs them in even though the shows are in the afternoons and morning. The Russian jokester’s monologues and film clips chronicle a career of standup comedy and work on TV and film. In one clip he plays, he tells the late Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show that America has a lot of things you can’t find in the former Soviet Union.
Like warning shots.
Yakov has a nice blend of spontaneous comments and audience participation. In a mock presidential news conference, he takes questions from the audience while pretending to be the president. And as funny as the show is, Yakov tells a sentimental story of his first Christmas in America and how through the generosity of three perfect strangers, he found some new friends in the New World.
Yakov performs his Christmas shows at 9:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Nov. 18 and 20 and December 2-3 and 9-10. He does only the 9:30 a.m. show on November 15, 19, 22, 25-26 and 29 and Dec. 4, 6-7 and 11-12. On the following dates, he has only one 3 p.m. show – Nov. 16, 21, 23 and 30 and December 5.
An Irish Christmas
A dozen talented vocalists – some from Ireland and a few from America – put on an amazing vocal show during the Christmas season at Branson.
The Branson Variety Theatre hosts sold-out crowds for this group of singers and dancers.
Beside some familiar Christmas tunes, the 12 Irish Tenors sing old favorites, including “Danny Boy”, “That’s Life”, “You Raise Me Up”, “Hey Jude”, “Twist and Shout”, “Yesterday”, “Cockles and Mussels”, “Nessun Dorma,” “Music of the Night” and more.
Their rendition of Danny Boy alone is worth the price of admission.
The 12 Irish Tenors perform their Christmas show at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on November 16, 23 and 30 and Dec. 7. The show is at 10 a.m. only on Nov. 18 and 20 and Dec. 2, 4, 9 and 11. The shows are presented at 3 and 8 p.m. on Nov. 17 and Dec. 1, 5, 8, 12, 14 and 19-20. The show is at 3 p.m. only on Nov. 25 and 27 and Dec. 16-18. There is only one 8 p.m. show on Nov. 19, 26 and 28 and Dec. 3 and 10.
An Old Time Christmas
Much of the history of Branson revolves around Silver Dollar City and the rich Ozark Mountain heritage. That theme is in full swing this November and December with Silver Dollar City’s An Old Time Christmas.
The 1880s-style theme park has more than 4.5 million Christmas lights. The Square has more than a million lights alone. There are 350 miles of lights plus more than 1,000 decorated Christmas trees.
The 50-foot tall Christmas tree on the Square has 350,000 LED lights. The Christmas on Main Street show is incredibly synchronized – to one hundredth of a second. There are 100 light changes every second.
“With the addition of even more lights and effects, we’ve dramatically enhanced the atmosphere of the Square,” said Trudie Kelly, Silver Dollar City visual supervisor. “The LED lights also help to cut back on energy consumption throughout the park.”
For the adventurous, the park’s roller coasters are open at night for a spectacular view of the lights. Inside, the Broadway-style production of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol adds to the Christmas spirit. This is an original adaptation of the classic story.
Also, at Silver Dollar City, the employees can say, “Merry Christmas” instead of just “Happy Holidays.” Silver Dollar City is open Wednesdays through Sundays in November, Thursdays through Sundays through Dec. 14 and open daily December 18-23 and December 26-30. On most days, the hours are 1-9 p.m.
Festival of Lights
The Branson Area Festival of Lights started on Nov. 1 and stays until New Year’s Eve.
The drive through the display is on the Shepherd of the Hills Expressway Lane, across from the new Sight & Sound Theatre (home of Noah, the Musical).
The festival begins with a one-mile drive with more than 230 colorful light displays and almost one million lights. The festival is open daily from dusk to 11 p.m., Sunday through Thursday and from dusk to midnight on Friday and Saturday.
Branson Landing
We stayed at the Hilton Promenade on Branson Landing. That puts you right in the center of one of the most scenic parts of town and in the middle of a convenient shopping district.
It’s a great place to plan to watch the 60th Annual Adoration Parade and Lighting Ceremony at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 7.
The two-mile parade route goes right through history downtown Branson.
Titanic Display
A small wicker suitcase that once belonged to Millvina Dean – the only living survivor of the Titanic disaster – will be on display at the Titanic Museum in Branson until Dec. 31.
“This will be the world’s first look at an important piece of Titanic history, one that’s not been seen by the public for 96 years,” said John Joslyn, owner of the museum. “We feel privileged to be given this unique opportunity to honor Millvina Dean and her contributions to Titanic’s legacy and to showcase one of her most valued possessions – a small, memory-filled suitcase.”
Dean was a baby girl when the unsinkable Titanic sank 96 years ago. Her mother and young brother survived while her father perished. Arriving in New York with nothing but the clothes on their backs, a stranger gave this small suitcase filled with donated clothing.
The museum has a treasure of artifacts, photos, history and memorabilia of the Titanic plus a full display of the Titanic movie.
More than a million visitors have come to Branson to see this museum.
Information courtesy of Tulsa Beacon

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