Christmas Highlights: Arkansas Tourism Plan Variety of Events Statewide During Holidays
December 5-11, 2022
By The Daily Record Staff
As the countdown to Christmas begins, the state Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism (ADPHT) is hosting a variety of events this holiday season, including the statewide Trail of Holiday Lights.
From a horse-drawn carriage ride through candlelit village streets, to an eggnog competition at a local museum, to choral and instrumental performances, to open houses with crafts, refreshments and a visit from Santa, the ADPHT officials have developed a long list of holiday activities and events to enjoy.
“Arkansas has something for everyone to enjoy during the holidays,” said Stacy Hurst, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism. “Our seasonal events and activities are as varied and unique as the history and culture of our state. We welcome you to celebrate this festive season with us, making cherished memories and starting new family traditions.”
HOLIDAY OPEN HOUSES, SUNDAY, DEC. 4
The Division of Arkansas Heritage’s museums are hosting holiday open houses on Sunday, Dec. 4. In coordination with the Governor’s Mansion Open House, visitors can ride a trolley shuttle for free 1-5 p.m. to the Arkansas Heritage Little Rock museums and the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion Open House. The shuttle will begin its route at the Historic Arkansas Museum.
The Historic Arkansas Museum is hosting its 55th Annual Frolic from noon to 4 p.m. This free event features old-fashioned fun with music, dancing, candle dipping, ornament making and other craft activities. The Frolic also includes refreshments like hot cider and ginger cake, as well as a cooking demonstration of a historic holiday meal. The Historic Arkansas Museum is located at 200 E. Third St., Little Rock.
As part of the day’s events, the Old State House Museum is hosting choral and instrumental groups 1-5 p.m. Come enjoy music, hands-on activities and refreshments. The Old State House Museum is located at 300 W. Markham, Little Rock.
Visitors can get in the holiday spirit with Santa at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center’s Holiday Open House 2-5 p.m. Santa’s Workshop will be set up for photos with Santa, and other fun and games. Mosaic Templars Cultural Center is located at 501 W. Ninth St., Little Rock.
The Arkansas Governor’s Mansion will host its open house 1-4 p.m. with free activities. The Arkansas Governor’s Mansion is located at 1800 Center St., Little Rock.
OTHER DEPARTMENT HOLIDAY EVENTS
Return to the Historic Arkansas Museum on Friday, Dec. 9, 5-8 p.m., for the 18th Ever Nog-Off competition between local restaurants. At this annual event, guests sample and vote on the year’s best eggnog recipe. Make reservations to enjoy performances at the Old State House Museum by the Arkansas Chamber Singers on Friday, Dec. 9, at 7 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 10, at 3 p.m.; and Sunday, Dec. 11, at 3 p.m. A virtual Kwanzaa video series will be posted each day of Kwanzaa, Monday, Dec. 26, through Sunday, Jan. 1, on Mosaic Templars Cultural Center’s social media pages and YouTube account.
For those who live in the Delta or plan to visit for the holidays, stop by the Delta Cultural Center in Helena-West Helena for a Holiday Open House on Saturday, Dec. 3, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Visitors can enjoy a holiday food contest and music from Keith Johnson. The Delta Cultural Center is located at 141 Cherry St., Helena.
At locations across the state, Arkansas State Parks are hosting a variety of holiday events. Christmas and Candlelight is a well-loved annual event celebrated at Historic Washington State Park in Washington, Ark. On Friday, Dec. 9, and Saturday, Dec. 10, the park lights up the village’s streets with thousands of luminaries, gives candlelit tours and offers horse-drawn surrey rides. Historic Washington State Park is located at 103 Franklin St., Washington.
The Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources’ Light Extravaganza is in its 15th year and features a walking tour with more than 100,000 lights. The event is open for guests Friday, Nov. 25; Friday, Dec. 2; Saturday, Dec. 3; Friday, Dec. 9; Saturday, Dec. 10; Friday, Dec. 16; and Saturday, Dec. 17, 5:30-8:30 p.m. The Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources is located at 4087 Smackover Highway, Smackover.
TRAIL OF HOLIDAY LIGHTS
Across Arkansas, thousands of illuminations twinkle and glow throughout the month of December when more than 60 towns around the state deck the halls for the holidays as part of Arkansas Tourism’s Trail of Holiday Lights. A list of places with light displays and holiday events can be found on the Arkansas Tourism website at www.arkansas.com/trailofholidaylights.
Also on Saturday, Dec. 3, the traditional Christmas lighting ceremony and fireworks show was held at the Arkansas State Capitol. Rex Nelson, senior editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and author of three books, emceed 84th anniversary of this event. There was also performances by Miss Greater Little Rock’s Outstanding Teen Bella Crowe, the Catholic High Jr. ROTC, Santa Claus, and more.
Following the ceremony and fireworks show, the public was invited inside the Capitol to view the Christmas decorations, visit Santa in his workshop, and shop in the Capitol Gift Shop. The 2022 Capitol Christmas Ornament is also now available for purchase.
Through the rest of the holiday season, the State Capitol will be open extended hours. It will be open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m. On weekends, the Capitol will be open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. This will remain in effect until Jan. 2, when normal operating hours will resume. The Capitol will be closed on Christmas Day (Dec. 25).