It’s the most wonderful time of the year in the magical Ozark Mountains. Christmas in Branson starts the day after Halloween and continues into the new year with heart-warming shows, twinkling lights, and festive celebrations.
Start with an old time Christmas experience at Silver Dollar City. Or take a ride to the North Pole on the Branson Scenic Railway. When it gets dark, bask in the glow of one of the many drive-thru light shows, or take yourself on a tour of the magnificently decorated trees of the city. A Christmas in Branson promises to be a holiday to remember.
Christmas in Branson
“Lights of Joy” Christmas drive-thru
Journey through a mile and a half of twinkling light displays. Animated lights and LED storyboards make the experience exciting and interactive.
Along the way you could be transported to Santa’s workshop, drive through a Christmas tree forest, or even see what Christmas is like for bugs. The displays change annually to keep the event fresh and exciting year after year.
On select weekend nights, Santa and Mrs. Claus will be available for photos. There is no cost for taking pictures with Santa, but they invite you to donate to a local charity in the spirit of the season.
Lights of Joy runs daily from November through the first week in January from 5pm to 11pm.
Let There Be Light Drive-Thru at Promised Land Zoo
Glittering lights line a two-mile trail through the Promised Land Zoo during the Let There Be Lights Drive Thru experience. See brightly lit LED renditions of your favorite animals, along with traditional Christmas themes and, my favorite, rainbow tunnels of lights.
Along your route, keep your eyes open for some sleeping animals behind the displays. What makes this experience extra unique are the opportunities to get out of the car and interact with animals in the Candyland Courtyard.
This year there are three baby yaks to pet before going inside the Animal Adventures Building to see more cuddly and creepy creatures. Santa is also waiting to make magical memories and take photos with your family.
This event runs all of November and December from 5pm – 11pm, although Santa and the Candy Cane Courtyard are only open on weekends.
Branson Ferris Wheel Light Show-Electrify
Taking a ride on the Branson Ferris Wheel is a perfect way to get a birds eye view of the city. But the Christmas magic happens in the evening.
Every night starting at 5pm the lights lining the Ferris wheel perform a choreographed show set to Christmas music. It lasts just five minutes and repeats every hour on the hour through the holiday season.
Winter Wonderland at Branson Landing
Starting November 4th, get ready for Branson Landing’s transformation to a winter wonderland. Garland wrapped street lights blink festive colors, toy soldiers guard the fountain, and a huge 63-foot Christmas Tree fills Branson Landing’s town square. Throughout the evening, the tree comes alive with synchronized light shows and animations.
Across the square, check out the Branson Landing Fountain. Every hour, on the hour, the fountain shoots geysers of water up to 120-feet in the air choreographed with lights and fire to holiday songs and family favorites.
While at Branson Landing, head to Branson’s Festival of Trees, open November 3-December 3, 2023. This shop is full of artfully decorated Christmas trees, donated by local businesses and individuals. The trees are available to purchase with the money benefiting Christian Action Ministries in Taney and Stone County.
Christmas Tree at Titanic Museum
Standing sentinel outside the Titanic Museum is a 25-foot tall Christmas Tree. The tree shines red in tribute to the children lost to the Titanic. Inside the museum, guests discover 10 more green trees, decorated for the season, and hundreds of red teddy bears, a symbol adopted to remember the 135 passengers and crew members of the Titanic under the age of 15.
Visiting the Titanic Museum is one of our favorite things to do in Branson with kids!
Did you know Branson is America’s Christmas Tree City? In addition to the ones I mentioned here, there are lots more to discover. Take a tour around town to check out all the unique displays using this helpful guide put together by BransonChristmas.info.
Experience the Christmas fun at Westgate Branson Woods Resort
As one of the best resorts in Branson, MO, the Westgate Branson Woods Resort makes a festive homebase for your Christmas in Branson. Bright Christmas lights and decorated lamp posts line the entrance, while elegantly decorated trees, poinsettias, and stunning holiday decor adorn the lobby.
Westgate Branson always has a line-up of family-friendly activities, and during the Christmas season they become extra jolly. Families can write letters to Santa and make their own Gingerbread Ornaments or Holiday Gnomes in the Activity Center. Also, every weeknight evening, guests can take a holiday excursion on a Westgate shuttle through the Lights of Joy Christmas Drive Thru next door.
On Christmas Eve, Westgate Branson Woods Resort hosts their annual Breakfast with Santa. Join Santa for a delicious meal in the Grand Pavilion. Your tickets include a photo with Santa and a holiday coloring activity.
Christmas on Showboat Branson Belle
Cruise around the picturesque Table Rock Lake while being fed and entertained aboard the Showboat Branson Belle. Each Christmas season the showboat presents two festive options to put visitors in the holiday spirit.
During the Christmas Show, feast on a freshly prepared three-course meal, while entertainers sing and dance to fun holiday songs. The master of ceremonies keeps the fun going with his humor and magic. Between acts, explore the boat and bask in the beautiful scenery.
Or bring the whole family on Santa’s Pancake and PJs cruise. Before leaving the dock, families are invited to visit the Captain in his wheelhouse for a special gift, find the Sugar Plum Fairy of a sweet treat, and write a Christmas list while getting their faces painted by Santa’s helpers. Once you set sail, get ready for a magical show full of stories, sing-a-longs, dancers and more, all while eating a delicious breakfast.
The Christmas Show starts November 4th and performs several times a day through December 30th. Santa’s Pancake and PJs cruise runs Saturday and Sunday mornings, December 9-23, 2023.
Dolly Parton’s Stampede Branson Christmas Show
During the holidays, Dolly Parton’s Stampede transforms into a Christmas wonderland, featuring towering Christmas trees, falling snow, and traditional Christmas carols. While families feast on a four-course-meal, the arena comes alive with beautiful horses, daring acrobats, and powerful singing voices.
The show invites the audience to get involved in an epic battle between the North Pole and the South Pole by cheering for their team of horses, audience volunteers, and even pigs in races and stunt competitions.
The highlight of the night is the live nativity. Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus descend into the arena on a manger stage, then are surrounded by live animals as the shepherds bring their sheep and the wise men enter on camels to worship the baby Jesus.
Dolly Parton’s Stampede Christmas Show begins October 26, 2023 and continues through the first week in January.
Branson is a town full of unbelievably talented performers and hundreds of holiday Christmas concerts and shows. Be sure to check out the shows at Shepherd of the Hills and Silver Dollar City mentioned below. To find an extensive list of all the shows this season check out ExploreBranson.com.
Christmas at Shepherd of the Hills
Some of the most popular Christmas events in Branson take place during Christmas at Shepherd of the Hills historic farm. Starting November 1st, the farm transforms into a Christmas wonderland with festive shows and attractions.
The North Pole Adventure is a magical walk-through adventure featuring visits with Santa, Christmas activities and rides, and thousands of sparkling lights. Take a hayride through the Trail of Lights, zip down Rudolph’s Rowdy Coaster, and challenge yourself on the Big Elves Ropes Course.
Shepherd of the Hills also presents three Christmas dinner shows this year. Enjoy a Christmas feast while watching Whodunnit Hoedown; A Christmas Mystery, A Christmas Story, or A Shepherd’s Christmas Carol.
Old Time Christmas at Silver Dollar City
Over 6.5 millions lights line every branch and board through Silver Dollar City. The decorations, seasonal foods, and festive entertainment have given this park the honor of being named the nation’s Best Theme Park Holiday Event five years in a row.
In the town square, a towering 8-story animated Christmas tree shines in sync with the surrounding lights as Christmas music plays. Cross the bridges through a tunnel of lights into Midtown where over 1.5 million lights illuminate the area, lighted reindeer fly overhead, and more lighted photo-ops await.
The sweet smells of Red Velvet Funnel Cake, Candy Cane Crunch Kettle Corn, Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls and more fill the air around the park, beckoning families to indulge in the culinary delights of Christmastime. Can’t decide what sounds best? Purchase a Christmas Tasting Passport to get a sample of five of the exclusive flavors of the season.
Although the rides are fun, make sure to plan time for all the holiday shows. Broadway quality shows like Coming Home for Christmas and A Dickens Christmas Carol warm your heart, while shows like Frontier Fa La La Follies and Tinker Junior’s Toy Shop delight all ages. And don’t miss Rudolph’s Holly Jolly™ Christmas Light Parade which occurs multiple times a night.
Old Time Christmas at Silver Dollar City starts November 4th and continues through the end of the season.
Polar Express at Branson Scenic Railway
Don your pajamas and take a ride to the North Pole to visit Santa on the Polar Express Train at Branson Scenic Railway. Along the way, enjoy hot chocolate and cookies as you listen to a reading of The Polar Express. You’ll also be serenaded by Christmas Carolers and may even see the Hobo.
Once Santa Claus boards at the North Pole, he’ll stop by each car with a special gift for every child. The entire trip lasts about an hour and a half.
Tickets for the Polar Express open for purchase in April and sell out quickly, so make sure to plan ahead. The train runs select days in November and almost every day through December.
Snow Tubing at Wolfe Mountain
Unfortunately, you won’t find much snow during your Christmas in Branson, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some snow tubing. Snowflex Park at Wolfe Mountain is the largest synthetic tubing run in the USA. Zip down 400 feet of this soft, snow alternative any time of the year.
The track is large enough that eight tubes can run side-by-side. Anyone ages three and up can ride, although children three through six must be accompanied by an adult.
Santa Adventure Land at Seasonal Encounters
Get ready for some Christmas fun at Santa Adventure Land. Start off writing a letter to Santa, then head to Mrs. Claus to make cookies. Stop by the elves to learn their special techniques in toy making before meeting with the big guy himself.
After all your meet and greets, play in some life-like, Branson-style snow. There are also outdoor games, a petting zoo, camel rides, and pony rides.
Santa Adventure Land is open most days from mid-November to December.
Polar Express FlyRide at Beyond the Lens
Beyond the Lens allows visitors to take a virtual journey to the North Pole on THE POLAR EXPRESS FlyRide. From a suspended full-motion seat, slide, dip, and turn along with the runaway train in this holiday classic story. The giant four-story screen and effects like wind and scents create a realistic railway experience.
THE POLAR EXPRESS ride opens November 1st and will be available through January 7, 2024.
Kringle’s Christmas Shop
You don’t have to wait for the holidays to start celebrating Christmas in Branson. Kringle’s Christmas Shop is open year round at Branson’s Grand Village. Find the perfect ornament to remember the year, get inspired from the beautifully decorated trees, or marvel at the ornate nativity sets available for purchase.
Fridays and Saturdays, November 4th- December 23rd, Santa is on-site, ready to receive kiddos Christmas lists and take a photo.
Where to Stay for Christmas in Branson, MO
Westgate Branson Woods Resort
The accommodations at Westgate Branson Woods Resort are perfect for families. Westgate’s spacious one bedroom suites in Branson, MO sleep up to four, while the two-bedroom suites can accommodate up to eight. Most rooms feature separate bedrooms, living areas, and fully-stocked kitchens.
Westgate Branson Woods Resort is bursting with amenities families love. Around the grounds you’ll find activities like mini golf, a playground, and three fun pools, including a heated indoor pool. Everyday the activities team hosts crafts and social activities like the S’mores Social or family game night.
When you get hungry, head to the Marketplace for a Starbucks pick-me-up, a slice of pizza, or a yummy treat. The Marketplace is also a great place to grab a souvenir and a fun hangout place. Families can gather around the fireplace and play checkers, or head outside to the gas fire pits to take advantage of the beautiful surroundings.
The resort resides within the picturesque Ozark mountains and hiking trails surround the resort. A short trail (just over half a mile long) meanders along a creek to a small but beautiful waterfall. Keep an eye open for the resident deer who like to nibble the grass on the resort hills.
Disclaimer: The author was a guest on a media trip hosted by Westgate, however, all opinions expressed here are her own.