Whether you’re visiting family, headed to a winter attraction, or simply want to enjoy the respite of a few days away during the season, there’s plenty to do in the Natural State. Check out these places, events, and accommodations
Throughout the month of December, there are numerous activities in which to take part in this region of the state. Start in Fayetteville’s town square to see the annual Lights of the Ozarks (thelightsoftheozarks.com) display, any night from November 20 through December 31. In addition to the display, you can enjoy pony and carriage rides, hot chocolate, and, occasionally, even carolers.
From there, head north to Bentonville, where you’ll find yet another festive display of holiday lights around the town’s charming downtown square. And just north of the square is The Rink at Lawrence Plaza (bentonvillear.com), a place for children of all ages to learn to ice skate, play hockey, or even watch holiday movies known as “Frosty’s Flicks.” Check the website for a full schedule of operating times and events.
If you’re looking for a place to stay in town, don’t miss 21c Museum Hotel (479-286-6500; 21cmuseumhotels.com/bentonville), which is located just steps from the square and in close proximity to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art—an attraction that draws local and national visitors year-round. The 104-room boutique hotel is a retreat in itself, with a fresh and inviting atmosphere, thought-provoking art exhibits, and The Hive—its renowned restaurant.
Travel further north to join in the festivities in the popular destination town of Eureka Springs. How dreamy would a stay at the historic Crescent Hotel (800-342-9766, crescent-hotel.com) be during this enchanted time of year? Imagine the rugged landscape covered with a blanket of snow, while you’re able to enjoy its beauty from the warmth and comfort of a well-appointed room. If you go, be sure to check out their New Moon Spa and visit the nearby shops—many of which carry local and handmade goods.
If this corner of the state is your destination, don’t miss the Jonesboro Christmas Parade (parade.jonesborojaycees.org), set to take place on December 3. This year’s theme, “A North Pole Christmas,” is sure to elicit reindeer, toy-making elves, and, of course, jolly old St. Nick, on numerous floats that will make their way down Main and Union Streets.
If it’s music that gets you into the spirit, head to Arkansas State University’s Fowler Center (870-972-ASU1; yourfowlercenter.com) on December 6 for an afternoon with the Boston Brass, who will perform their “Christmas Bells are Swingin’” program.
Celebrate the season in the capital city by visiting—what else?—the Arkansas State Capitol (591-682-5080; sos.arkansas.gov). Each year, the interior and exterior are majestically illuminated and decorated with the season’s best to welcome Arkansans.
If you’re looking for a day activity the entire family can enjoy, we suggest heading to Motley’s Tree Farm (501-888-1129, motleystreefarm.com). Experience the thrill of selecting and cutting your own Christmas tree, meet Santa Claus, and don’t miss a trip to their Fudge Kitchen for a tasty treat. Visit the website for operating times and event dates.
If South Arkansas is calling your name, there are two not-to-be missed events to add to your schedule of festivities. First, El Dorado’s South Arkansas Arts Center (870-862-5474, saac-arts.com) will present the beloved Christmas play Miracle on 34th Street, the story of one little girl who longs to believe in Santa and a man whose goodwill officially earns him the title. The production will held November 27-29 and December 4-6.
Secondly, if it’s the glow of twinkling lights that puts you in the holiday spirit, head to Smackover and the Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources’ (870-725-2877, amnr.org) Holiday Light Extravaganza. You’ll have the opportunity to view a variety of light arrangements in the oilfield park every Friday and Saturday night from 5:30 – 8:30 p.m., November 20 – December 26.
New Year’s Eve Celebrations
Three ways to ring in 2016 in style with dinner, dancing, and a whole lot of fun
Last Night Fayetteville, Fayetteville
Billed as Arkansas’s largest New Year’s Eve Celebration, this five-year-old, non-profit performance festival, which is held on the Fayetteville Square, will feature 11 stages for both kids and adults with entertainers of all kinds including musicians, dancers, magicians, acrobats, and more. Don’t miss the “hog drop” and fireworks finale at midnight. For info and tickets, visit lastnightfayetteville.com.
The Arlington, Hot Springs
Choose from the Gala Dinner Dance in the Crystal Ballroom or the New Year’s Eve Festival Party in the Conference Center to bid goodbye to the old year and welcome the new. Room packages and amenities available. For reservations, call (800) 643-1502 or visit arlingtonhotel.com.
“Downton Abbey” Wine Dinner, Little Rock
The Empress of Little Rock plays host for this annual event, which encourages period costumes. Guests enjoy dinner with various wine pairings along with a midnight champagne toast, with the option to purchase lodging. For reservations, call (501) 374-7966 or visit theempress.com.