Lights of the Ozarks first in parade of holiday events

Lights of the Ozarks first in parade of holiday events


‘Tis the season — even if it seems to come earlier every year! The holidays begin Nov. 22 when the lights come on in downtown Fayetteville. Bentonville joins in with its lighting ceremony on Nov. 23; it’s Christmas on the Creek and the Christmas Parade of the Ozarks Nov. 30 in Springdale; and the Rogers Christmas parade is Dec. 6.

Let the merriment begin!


This is the 26th year for Lights of the Ozarks, a joint project between Experience Fayetteville and the Fayetteville Parks and Recreation Department. According to Hazel Hernandez, vice president of sales and marketing for Experience Fayetteville, more than 400,000 lights illuminate the square from 5 p.m. until 1 a.m. daily from Nov. 22 through Dec. 31.

The festivities begin with the arrival of Santa Claus, who will be available for photos at Town Center from 4 to 6 p.m. Nov. 22. Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jordan will ceremoniously flip the switch to turn on the lights at 6 p.m. on the Fayetteville Town Center Plaza, and the parade follows.

This year, the parade will begin and end in the West Avenue parking lot, just west of the Walton Arts Center. Once the lights are turned on at 6 p.m., the parade heads down West Avenue to the Fayetteville Public Library, turning onto Mountain Street toward the square. Then the parade turns onto East Avenue and goes down to Dickson Street, where it heads back down to West.

Santa will also be available for photos from 6-9 p.m. Dec. 1; Dec. 5-8; Dec. 12-15; and Dec. 19-23. Cost is $10 plus $5 for each additional print. There are also pony and carriage rides, hot chocolate, food vendors and music nightly.

“When the lights come on, people have a look of awe, and it quickly changes to a smile,” says Hernandez. “It’s so fun to watch.

“I think the best story is when people tell us they used to come as kids and now they’re bringing their kids,” she adds. “I’ve heard it several times over the years, and I just love that it’s turned into a family tradition that everyone can enjoy.

“Everyone’s reaction, particularly little kids, makes it all worth it. You know that everyone’s hard work has paid off when you experience those moments.”


Lights of the Ozarks

WHEN — 6 p.m. Nov. 22

WHERE — Downtown Fayetteville square

COST — Free




The lights come on in Bentonville at 6 p.m. Nov. 23, but Santa will beat the rush, ready for photos in front of the Walton 5&10 from 4 to 6 p.m. There will also be live music, and the ice rink will open at Lawrence Plaza that day. The Christmas parade begins at 6 p.m. Dec. 14.


Christmas Lights

WHEN — 6 p.m. Nov. 23

WHERE — Downtown Bentonville

COST — Free




Christmas on the Creek will bring upwards of 6,000 people to downtown Springdale on Nov. 30, predicts Jill Dabbs, executive director of the Downtown Springdale Alliance. Activities begin at noon with Santa available for photos in his Christmas cabin at the Shiloh Museum of the Ozarks; a Handmade Winter Market with local artists and makers starts at 1 p.m. at Shiloh Square; the lighting of the region’s largest live Christmas tree is at 5:15 p.m. on Emma Avenue; and, at 6 p.m., the Christmas Parade of the Ozarks rolls down Emma, presented by the Rodeo of the Ozarks.

This year’s parade theme is “Christmas Vacation,” says Rick Culver, executive director of the Rodeo of the Ozarks. It is in fact based on the movie of the same name but inspired by last year’s winning float.

Now in its 23rd year, the parade will have more than 50 floats and group entries from auto clubs, scout troops, cultural groups and bands, Culver says. As usual, the route begins at Parsons Stadium and runs west down Emma Avenue.

New this year, says Dabbs, is a Hot Cocoa Crawl. Limited to 500, mugs are available for $4 at downtown merchants or at Christmas on the Creek. Crawl dates are 1-7 p.m. Nov. 30 and during Caroling on the Creek from 4 to 8 p.m. Dec. 6 and 13.

“Christmas on the Creek has become Springdale’s holiday family tradition,” Dabbs says. “It’s going to be a really special, old-fashioned downtown Christmas experience this year.


Christmas on the Creek

WHEN — 1 p.m. Nov. 30 with a parade at 6 p.m.

WHERE — Emma Avenue in downtown Springdale

COST — Free




Christmas fun starts Nov. 30 in Rogers with a screening of the 1946 Christmas classic “It’s a Wonderful Life” at 7 p.m. at Arkansas Public Theatre. Tickets are $10 for adults. APT will also host a showing of “The Grinch” at 1 p.m. Dec. 7. Tickets for that film are $5.

It’s been more than 30 years — maybe 35 or more, says Shey Bland, executive director of Downtown Rogers — since the first Christmas parade in Rogers. Starting at 7 p.m. Dec. 6, the event will have more than 80 entries from local businesses, schools, corporations, civic groups, car clubs and more, Bland says. Of course, Santa will be the guest of honor, escorted by the Rogers Fire Department.

“It’s pretty amazing seeing the whole community come out and celebrate together,” Bland says. “A very Norman Rockwell kind of feeling!”


Christmas Parade

WHEN — 7 p.m. Dec. 6

WHERE — Downtown Rogers

COST — Free



Holiday Events

And around Northwest Arkansas, the festivities continue:


North Forest Lights — An artistic light and sound experience in the middle of the North Forest, through Feb. 16, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville. $7-$22. 657-2335.

“The Nutcracker” — Presented by the Moscow Ballet, 3 & 7 p.m. Nov. 17, Faulkner Performing Arts Center in Fayetteville. $29-$69.

“A Christmas Carol” — A TheatreSquared original by Amy Herzberg & Bob Ford, Nov. 20-Dec. 27, TheatreSquared in Fayetteville. $18-$29. 777-7477.

Santa Arrives — 5 p.m. Nov. 16, Bass Pro Shops in Rogers. Free. Email

Super Saturday — “The Grinch” with Spotlight Characters, 10:30 a.m. Nov. 23, Fayetteville Public Library. Free.

Meet the Artists Reception — For the Artists of Northwest Arkansas Holiday Show and Sale, 3-5 p.m. Nov. 23, Community Creative Center at the Nadine Baum Studios in Fayetteville. Free. Exhibit through Jan. 8. Email

Lighting of the Square — Including the opening of the Rink at Lawrence Plaza, 4:30-7 p.m. Nov. 23, downtown Bentonville. 254-0254.

School’s Out Movies — “The Lion King,” 1 p.m. Nov. 25, Fayetteville Public Library. Free.

School’s Out Movies — “Toy Story 4,” 1 p.m. Nov. 26, Fayetteville Public Library. Free.

School’s Out Movies — “Aladdin,” 1 p.m. Nov. 27, Fayetteville Public Library. Free.

Winter Market on the Square — 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Nov. 30, Bentonville. Free.

Little Craft Show — 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Nov. 30, Fayetteville Town Center. Free.

Christmas Parade of the Ozarks — 6 p.m. Nov. 30, downtown Springdale. Free.



Voices of Angels — A Holiday Concert, 3 p.m. Dec. 1, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Free. 657-2335.

“The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” — 7:30 p.m. Dec. 5-7, Fort Smith Little Theatre. $7 at the door.

Parade of Lights — 6 p.m. Dec. 6, downtown Eureka Springs. Free.

Christmas at the Mansion — 6-9 p.m. Dec. 6, Peel Mansion Museum and Heritage Gardens in Bentonville. $75. 273-3636;

Holiday Art Sale — Now in its 19th year with work by Alice McKee, Juli Odum, Faye Alter and more, 5:30-9 p.m. Dec. 6; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 7; noon-4 p.m. Dec. 8, Studio 545 beside the Razorback Greenway in Fayetteville. Free admission. Email

Holly Jolly Junk Ranch — Noon-7 p.m. Dec. 6 & 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Dec. 7, 11195 Centerpoint Church Road in Prairie Grove. $5.

“The Nutcracker” — Presented by Northwest Arkansas Ballet Theatre, 7 p.m. Dec. 6-7, 2 p.m. Dec. 8, Arend Arts Center in Bentonville. $25.

Holiday Open House — With activities, crafts and a visit from St. Nick, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 7, Rogers Historical Museum. Free. 621-1154.

Here Comes Santa Claus — A guided tour of the Hawkins House that includes the history of Santa Claus, opens Dec. 7, Rogers Historical Museum. Free. 621-1154.

The Little Craft Show — 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 7, The Record in Bentonville. Free.

ACO Chorale — “A Very Merry Christmas,” 7:30 p.m. Dec. 7, Arts Center of the Ozarks in Springdale. $10. 751-5441;

“A Christmas Story: The Musical” — Nominated for three 2013 Tony Awards including Best Musical, 7 p.m. Dec. 10-11; 1:30 & 7 p.m. Dec. 12; 8 p.m. Dec. 13; 2 & 8 p.m. Dec. 14; 2 p.m. Dec. 15, Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville. $40 & up. 443-5600.

“The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” — 7:30 p.m. Dec. 13; 3 & 7:30 p.m. Dec. 14; 3 p.m. Dec. 15, Arts Center of the Ozarks in Springdale. $30. 751-5441.

“A Tuna Christmas” — The hilarious sequel to “Greater Tuna,” 8 p.m. Dec. 13-14; 2 p.m. Dec. 15; again Dec. 19-22, Arkansas Public Theatre in Rogers. $30-$36. 631-8988;

Living Windows — 4-7 p.m. Dec. 14, downtown Eureka Springs. Free.

Fort Smith Christmas Parade — 1 p.m. Dec. 14, Garrison Avenue in Fort Smith. Free. Email

Bentonville Christmas Parade — 6 p.m. Dec. 14, downtown Bentonville. Free.

Van Buren Christmas Parade — 6 p.m. Dec. 14, downtown Van Buren.

Family Sunday — Winter Showcase, noon-5 p.m. Dec. 15, Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville. Free. 657-2335.

Dailey & Vincent Christmas Concert — 3 p.m. Dec. 15, Alma Performing Arts Center. $37-$45.

Winter Break Wonders — 1-4 p.m. daily Dec. 21-Jan. 3, Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville. Free. 657-2335.

Please send holiday events to Becca Martin-Brown, Features editor, at

Categories: In The News