Christmas is celebrated early and often in the Midwest’s entertainment capital. Holiday ornaments line the gift-shop shelves ... well, pretty much year round, in the case of the Shoji Tabuchi Theatre. Shoji, a violin-playing Branson standby who puts on a variety show in his 2,000-seat theater, was cheerily performing portions of his Christmas act in September, after pointing out that most of that evening’s audience members wouldn’t be back in town before the year’s end—and he didn’t want them to miss his favorite part of the show. (Included: lots of twirling trees and marching drummers.)
Elsewhere in Branson, the holiday season kicks in by early November. Silver Dollar City, the town’s down-home amusement park, displays more than 1,000 Christmas trees around its 61-acre grounds at this time of year. The centerpiece is a five-story tree whose 350,000 color-changing lights are synchronized to carol music. (Note to conservationists: While Silver Dollar City puts up more than 4 million lights at Christmas, they’re energy-efficient LED bulbs.) This is also a good place to pick up some holiday gifts made by the park’s talented artisans—perhaps a pine-scented candle, a hand-woven oak basket or a tinned fruitcake from Eva and Delilah's Bakery. As for entertainment, you can watch a musical version of Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, and a Holiday Light Parade that happens twice an evening.
SANTA’S LITTLE HELPERS
At Big Cedar Lodge, a full-service resort 10 miles south of Branson, parents can arrange “Elf Tuck-Ins” at bedtime for their little ones—the 10-minute cut-off will limit requests for water. And even if you’re not guests at Big Cedar, the whole family is welcome to join the resort’s special holiday events, which include singing carols, crafting ornaments, decorating cookies and making gingerbread houses.
It’s guaranteed that every show in town will be celebrating the season. Expect to see Tony Orlando, Andy Williams, Debby Boone and assorted Osmonds all crooning holiday favorites amid festive decorations. Elsewhere in town, you can drive through the mile-long Branson Area Festival of Lights, an arched tunnel with dozens of animated light displays; pet the reindeer at the Titanic Museum; and board the Branson Scenic Railway for a special ride called the Polar Express, modeled after the children’s book by Chris Van Allsburg. Kids are encouraged to wear pajamas and bring their own copy of the book for the mass reading; they may well disembark with the gift of a silver bell—if they truly believe. And in Branson, how could they not?
NOTE: Information may have changed since publication. Please confirm key details before planning your trip.
Shoji Tabuchi Theatre: 3260 Shepherd of the Hills Expy, Branson, MO 65616; 417.334.7469
Silver Dollar City: 800.831.4386; silverdollarcity.com
While Silver Dollar City: 399 Silver Dollar City Railroad, Branson, MO 65616; 417.336.7100
Big Cedar Lodge: bigcedar.com
Branson Scenic Railway: bransontrain.com
Titanic Museum: 3235 W 76 Country Blvd, Branson, MO 65616; 800.381.7670