Y’all ready for things to get magical? Well, you’re in luck, because Christmas magic is happening all over the Natural State right now. As you read this, Arkansas’s Christmas towns are geared up to enchant you, and most are already totally prepared to rock around the Christmas tree. Below you’ll find a list of fourteen amazing Christmas towns, and you need to check each of them off your holiday bucket list before the end of this most magical month of the year.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
Benton is the county seat of Saline County, and it’s a fantastic place to while away your evening holiday hours. Unfortunately it’s too late to attend their Glitz and Glamour holiday shopping event, but that doesn’t mean you can’t attend the three-day extravaganza next year, which happens in mid to late November. This year their holiday parade is on December 5th at 6 p.m. While you’re in town, you should see both the Saline County Courthouse and the Veterans Memorial. The light displays are stunning.
Fayetteville has three things we’re all looking for every holiday season: great food, fabulous shopping, and tons of beautiful Christmas lights. Home to the Lights of the Ozarks on the Fayetteville Square, this Ozarks town is also slightly more likely to get snow. And if you’re going to see snow this year, you definitely want to see it in the Ozarks.
There are more than a million lights at Batesville’s Winter Wonderland, but you’ll also find something not just any Arkansas town is likely to have—an ice skating rink. You can also go on a stagecoach ride there. Who doesn’t want to go on a stagecoach ride?! Set beside the White River in White River Park, this Winter Wonderland is one that can’t be missed. You should also see if the North Arkansas Dance Theatre will be doing the Nutcracker while you're in town.
Blytheville is home to Lights of the Delta, which it claims is “the largest Christmas lighting display in the Mid-South.” They are not wrong. Downtown Blytheville is an incredible Christmas area too, but Lights of the Delta actually takes place at the the old Eaker Air Force Base. The admission price is $5 per car. Don’t forget to stop by the concession stand! You can also get a souvenir ornament there. Talk about a Christmas town! They have their own ornament!
5. Hot Springs
Hot Springs makes this list for its Christmas lights, of course, but also because of its setting and resort town qualities. You’re not going to find a better place to relax than in a Ouachita Mountain spa town, and an added bonus is that the shops there would be a great place to finish up your shopping. While you’re on Bathhouse Row enjoying the lights, make sure you make an appointment to have a bath at one of the amazing bathhouses. As soon as you step into the healing waters of the hot springs, all your holiday stress will start to melt away. As a matter of fact, while we’re on the subject, how about everybody just plans a relaxing/shopping weekend trip to Hot Springs?
Speaking of adorable little mountain towns, you really need to visit Paris. It sits in the shadow of Mount Magazine and it’s pretty much a wonderland all the time. At Christmastime the wonderland aspect is turned up a notch, because of the small town atmosphere you’ll find in the downtown area and the stunning display at the Logan County Courthouse.
Looking for a great little Christmas town where you can shop your heart out? Look no further than downtown Bentonville. And there’s great news about their parade too: you haven’t missed it yet. It’s happening on Saturday December 10th from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. They’re having a winter market that day too, so you can catch the parade, shop, eat, and hang out until the gorgeous lights come on.
8. Little Rock
Little Rock has loads of activities and more lights than you can count. Not to mention world class shopping. Among the places you absolutely have to go in Little Rock to prop up your holiday spirit are the state capitol building and the Empress of Little Rock. As a matter of fact, you should definitely try to book a night at the Empress. After all, nothing says holiday spirit like a dolled up Victorian inn.
Sherwood’s Christmas light event has pretty much the coolest name ever: Sherwood’s Enchanted Forest Trail of Lights. You’ll experience a mile of incredible light displays including a reindeer soda shop and ole Kris Kringle himself. When it comes to Christmas events, this little town is doing it right, and that’s why it’s a fantastic Christmas town the whole family will enjoy.
Crossett is home to an actual Christmas Wonderland. Finney’s Christmas Wonderland, that is. This light display has been running for more than thirty years and it’s widely lauded as one of the best in the Natural State. It’s free, but if you want to donate that’s cool too. This place won ABC’s Great Light Fight last year, making Crossett and the wonderful Mr. Finney a nationally-renowned pair of Christmas treasures.
11. Pine Bluff
Real talk: Pine Bluff kind of has a rough reputation. But I’m here to tell you you’d be remiss to avoid it during the holiday season. Their Enchanted Land of Lights & Legends is spectacular, and you don’t want to miss the shopping there either. If you’re wanting a mall atmosphere for your holiday shopping, you’ve got to stop by the Pines Mall.
12. Van Buren
Another small town with a main street you need to visit is Van Buren. You’ll find all the quirky, off-beat, boutique, and vintage gifts your loved ones could possibly want, and some gorgeous Christmas lights on the Crawford County Courthouse. Strolling through streets lined with Victorian-era buildings will lift your holiday spirit as well. Plus you’ll have the additional benefit of feeling really good about supporting local business with your Christmas dough.
13. Siloam Springs
There’s a specific time that you need to visit downtown Siloam Springs. It’s every Thursday in December leading up to Christmas, from 5-8 p.m. That’s when you can see the lights, shop in the shops, and eat in their delicious restaurants.
14. El Dorado
El Dorado is a little south Arkansas town that’s put an awful lot of work into their downtown district, and they put even more working into making it into a bonafide Christmas town every December. From the amazing shops and restaurants to the festive decorations, this town will make you wonder why it can’t be Christmas all the time.