Most Iconic Dallas Holiday Traditions

The holidays have arrived, and there’s no better place to enjoy them than in Downtown Dallas. Twinkling lights, carols and an appearance or two from a certain celebrity whose laugh causes his little round belly to shake like a bowl full of jelly — there’s no shortage of things to see and do here.

The Dallas Holiday Parade, a beloved tradition since 1987 and one of the biggest Christmas parades in the country, almost wasn’t going to happen this year due to a lack of funding. Luckily, Toyota, which moved its company headquarters to North Texas earlier this year, has stepped in to guarantee that the parade will be able to celebrate its 30th anniversary. Featuring elaborate holiday floats, marching bands and (of course) an appearance by Santa and Mrs. Claus, the parade will make its way from Dealey Plaza to Main Street Garden Park starting at 10 a.m., Sat., Dec. 2.

On the other hand, if you have reason to suspect you made the naughty list this year, you won’t want to miss the annual Krampus Walk later that night. Krampus, Santa’s wicked half-goat counterpart, will begin his revels at Wits End (2724 Elm St.) and wind his way through Deep Ellum with his costumed entourage in tow. It’s guaranteed to be a wild night.

From Downtown, hop on the red or orange line of DART’s light rail system and visit NorthPark Center (8687 N. Central Expy.). There, a different kind of locomotive will be on display — 750 individual toy train cars running along on 1,600 feet of track through a miniature winter wonderland. The Trains at NorthPark exhibit is also 30 years old this year, and, in that time, they’ve raised over $13 million for the Ronald McDonald House of Dallas, a charity which provides lodging and other services to families with children receiving medical treatment in the area. Admission is $7 for adults, $4 for children and seniors and free for kids under the age of 2. Get onboard before Jan. 7!

As the December nights grow longer, Downtown Dallas will come alive via any number of holiday light showcases. One to watch for will occupy the windows at Neiman Marcus (1618 Main St.). The landmark department store is once again collaborating with the Lightwire Theater on a spectacular, multi-window story-telling display. Journey through magical forests, a glowworm kingdom and the lair of the dreaded Rat King with Max, a baby bird on a heroic quest. Live performances begin Nov. 24 and run through Dec. 23. Catch a twilight matinee (starting at 5:40 p.m.) for the best view of Lightwire’s unique electroluminescent artistry.

Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” (adapted from a short story by the great German author E. T. A. Hoffmann) is, by contrast, a well-known classic holiday tale. The Texas Ballet Theater and choreographer Ben Stevenson are bringing their critically acclaimed production to the Arts District’s Winspear Opera House (2403 Flora St.) for a limited engagement, Nov. 24 through Dec. 3. An even more limited number of VIP packages are available as well, granting attendees backstage access — and an inside look at the magic that makes “The Nutcracker” such an unforgettable experience. Given the popularity of this holiday tradition, tickets are sure to go fast.

Finally, although it’s a recently established annual event, Nissan’s Winter Wonderlights Holiday Show & Tree Lighting at Downtown’s Klyde Warren Park (2012 Woodall Rodgers Fwy.) is an absolute must for any Dallasite’s holiday calendar. On Dec. 2, take the family to see live reindeer, take photos with the Clauses, create some kids’ crafts, listen to live music and mail letters to the North Pole. 5:45 p.m. (sharp) will witness the illumination of the big tree on the Ginsburg Family Great Lawn. After getting in your oohs and ahhs, head over to the AT&T Performing Arts Center for the Reliant Lights Your Holidays festival, which features a free holiday performance by En Vogue as well as a fireworks show.

What are your favorite Dallas holiday customs? How do you and your family show your pride in our great city during this most special season? Join us on Facebook and Twitter to share how you’ll be making the season merry and bright this year in and around Downtown Dallas. Happy Holidays from all of us at Downtown Dallas Parks Conservancy.