BRANSON, Mo. When Tammy Johnson, the Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center, was asked, “What exactly is ‘Ozark Mountain Christmas?” last year, she gave an answer that is as unique and timeless as the event itself. She said, “It’s not just one thing. It is a unique Branson wide celebration of the true spirit of a traditional American Christmas that has been celebrated for over two decades.”
And what a celebration it is. From Silver Dollar City on the west to Historic Downtown Branson and Branson Landing on the shores of Lake Taneycomo to the east, Ozark Mountain Christmas is filled with everything one would expect from a world class holiday celebration. From a spectacular five story high musical decorated tree; reindeer; Santa Claus; millions upon millions of beautiful colored lights and drive through lighting displays to Branson’s shows, attractions, shopping and other activities taking on the festive look and feel of the season, it is a wonderful world class celebration.
However, if that was all there was it would be just another politically correct “holiday” celebration, but that’s not all there is. Ozark Mountain Christmas is the pure unbridled celebration of the traditional American Christmas, spirit and message. It’s a unique celebration, having its roots in a community that will be holding its “63rd Annual Adoration Parade and Lighting Ceremony” in Historic Downtown Branson as it gathers together in celebration of the reason for the season and honors the birth of the very child for whom Christmas is named.
While respecting and appreciating those who celebrate other holidays associated with that time of the year such as Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and others, Ozark Mountain Christmas is unique in that it is one of the few open and public community celebrations of the traditional American Christmas and the reason for the season. Each year, between November 1 and December 31 hundreds of thousands come to Branson to experience Ozark Mountain Christmas and all that it has to offer.
Silver Dollar City’s world class festival, An Old Time Christmas, running from November 5 through December 30, is a major focal point of Ozark Mountain Christmas and has been recognized as one of the nation’s top theme park Christmas celebrations. The 1880s-style theme park is transformed into a glowing Christmas spectacular with a twice nightly 100,000 light Holiday Light Parade; over four million sparkling lights throughout the park; one-of-a-kind handmade gifts made and showcased by Silver Dollar City’s 100 demonstrating craftsmen; foods of the season and special shows including the Broadway style production of an original musical adaptation of “A Dickens’ Christmas Carol,” produced by Silver Dollar City; “The Living Nativity” and “Frosty.”
Ozark Mountain Christmas features two major drive through lighting displays The Shepherd of the Hills Trail of Lights and the Branson Area Festival of Lights. The “Shepherd of the Hills Trail of Lights” is a two and a half mile journey through millions of Christmas lights, hundreds of gorgeous displays, holiday music, and animated scenes most of which have been integrated into the natural terrain of the Shepherd of the Hills Homestead. It is one of the most unique and memorable drive through lighting experiences most people will ever experience and also includes a “trip to Inspiration Tower where guests can ride glass elevators up 230 feet for a “Santa’s eye view” of the lights from above.” The “Branson Area Festival of Lights” is a one mile trip through more than 175 sparkling lighting displays, many of which are animated. It is conveniently located a few blocks off the heart of the Branson Strip.
And what would the place that many call the “Live music show capital of the world” be like at Christmas, or any other time of the year, without its live shows. There is a wide selection of Christmas Shows that are only available during Ozark Mountain Christmas such as the incomparable Andy Williams Christmas Show, Spirit of Christmas, Miracle of Christmas, Hollywood’s Christmas Spectacular, Christmas with the Lennon Sisters and many others. In addition most of Branson’s regular season shows also perform Christmas shows. This includes some of Branson’s most popular shows such as Shoji Tabuchi, SIX, Pierce Arrow, Hamner and Barber Variety Show, Presleys’ Country Jubilee, Yakov Smirnoff and many others. Click here for a complete list of Branson Shows or call the Branson Tourism Center at 1-800-785-1550 for information about any Branson show.
Many of Branson’s attractions have special activities for Ozark Mountain Christmas. A partial list includes the Polar Express operated by Branson Scenic Railways on Fridays and Saturdays from November 10 through December 18, Live Reindeer at the Titanic Museum on Friday and Saturday November 25-26, December 2-3 and 9-10, Ride the Ducks Land and Lighting Tour from November 4 through December 11 and White Flight at the Butterfly Palace and Rainforest November 1 through January 15.
In terms of Christmas shopping Ozark Mountain Christmas is unsurpassed. From the shops at Branson Landing on the shores of Lake Taneycomo to handcrafted items by the craftsmen and artists at Silver Dollar City’s Old Time Christmas, three outlet malls and specialty shops for just about every interest Branson is a Christmas shopper’s paradise.
A highlight of Ozark Mountain Christmas will be the 63rd Annual Adoration Parade and Lighting Ceremony on December 4. The lighting ceremony will be conducted near the intersection of Commercial and Main Streets in Historic Downtown Branson at 5:00 p.m. However, when the switch is flipped it will light the giant 30 foot tall figures of a Nativity Scene located on top of Mount Branson on the opposite side of Lake Taneycomo overlooking Branson Landing and downtown Branson. The lighting ceremony is followed by one of the few, if not the only, noncommercial, lighted nighttime parades in the United States devoted to the theme of “Keeping Christ In Christmas.”
Branson Tourism Center’s Johnson says, “”Ozark Mountain Christmas is a wonderful way for locals and visitors alike to get into the true Christmas spirit.” She also reminds everyone that it is one of the busiest times of the year in Branson and advises advance reservations for shows and lodging. For additional information on Ozark Mountain Christmas or for tickets or information for any of Branson’s other shows and attractions or for lodging arrangements please contact the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services by either calling their toll free number 1-800-785-1550 or through their website www.BransonTourismCenter.com.