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Smile Fort Worth’s Guide to The Holidays

Steaming cups of hot chocolate. Festive holiday lights. Sit-downs with Santa. We love the holidays in Fort Worth because there are so many family-friendly activities to enjoy in and around the city. Here are our staff’s favorite ways to celebrate the holidays in North Texas.

Gift of Lights at the Texas Motor Speedway

There’s just something about holiday lights; no matter how many times you see them, they get you right into the spirit of the season. That’s why we’re taking the kids back to the Texas Motor Speedway to look at the miles of Christmas light displays they have set up around the racetrack. It was the perfect COVID-friendly holiday activity last year because you view everything from your car. This year, we plan to step inside the facility to look at the old race cars too!

-​​​​​​​Chelsea, Hygienist

Location: Texas Motor Speedway 3545 Lone Star Circle Fort Worth, TX, 76177
Dates: Runs through Jan. 2, 2022.
Website: http://giftoflightstexas.com
Cost: $30 per car on weekdays; $35 for cars on weekends

Santa at the Stockyards

It’s so fun to see a Texas twist added to the holidays. We like to go to the Stockyards to see the Cowboy hat-clad Santa make his way along the cobblestone street in his stagecoach with a herd of cattle in tow. Plus, you can get a photo with him, which makes for a unique Western-themed Christmas card.

This time of year also makes for good strolling in the Stockyards. We like to grab a cup of hot cocoa and take in all the dazzling lights adorning the historic buildings.

-​​​​​​​Dr. Matt Wilkinson

Location: Located at Mule Alley (Next to Avoca Coffee Roaster off E. Exchange Ave.)
Dates: Every Wednesday–Sunday from November 26–December 23 @ 12 p.m.–6 p.m.
Website: https://fortworthstockyards.com/events/photos-with-cowboy-santa/#
Cost: $20–$45 for photos with Cowboy Santa

Skating at Panther Island Ice

Skating at the Panther Island Ice rink is one of our favorite Fort Worth holiday traditions. It’s located right next to the Coyote Drive-In, so we like to make a whole day out of it and catch a movie while we’re out there.

There’s a covered seating area with gas heaters so you can warm up after skating—or stay warm watching young ones and amateur skaters trying to maintain their balance on the ice.

Another great thing about going to the ice rink is that it’s fun AND it supports a good cause. All proceeds go to the Tarrant Regional Water District recreation fund to support the Trinity Trails and fund events around the trails. So you can have a fun family activity this holiday season, and also help support recreational opportunities in Fort Worth year-round. It’s a win-win!

-​​​​​​​Yadira, Hygiene Coordinator

Location: 223 NE 4th Street, Fort Worth, Texas 76164
Dates: Runs through Jan. 17, 2022.
Website: https://pantherislandice.com
Cost: Tickets are $13 (ice skate rentals are included with ticket purchase)

The Nutcracker at Bass Performance Hall

I’ve loved the Nutcracker ever since I was a little kid, and the fantastical music always gets me in the Christmas spirit. And because I play the music and the movie adaption so much during the holidays, my kids love it too.

This year we’re getting all dressed up and heading to the architecturally stunning Bass Performance Hall to see the Nutcracker ballet in person. We’ve seen this particular production before by the Texas Ballet Theater and everyone loved it, as it’s not as traditional as other productions. The sets are colorful, the costumes are out-of-this-world, and the choreography is a bit more fun.

-​​​​​​​MaryBeth, Hygienist

Location: 525 Commerce St., Fort Worth, TX 76102
Dates: Runs through Dec. 26, 2021.
Website: https://texasballettheater.org/performance/nutcracker-2021/
Cost: $55-$135 depending on seats

Snow Tubing at the Gaylord Texan

The Gaylord Texan is an incredible resort spanning over 125 acres, and each year during the holidays they transform the resort into a winter wonderland. We prefer to make a day trip out of our visits to the Gaylord Texan, but you can also stay overnight if you want to enjoy a mini DFW staycation.

They have plenty of family-friendly activities, such as a gingerbread decorating corner, holiday-themed escape rooms, scavenger hunts, and photos with Santa.

But what we really look forward to each year is the snow tubing.

There are eight snow tubing lanes situated atop an indoor hill, and it’s all covered in two million pounds of real snow! Unlimited rides are included as part of the snow tubing experience and we usually spend all day long racing each other down the lanes. You can bet we take full advantage of it since that much snow rarely falls in DFW.

-​​​​​​​Dr. Justin Harlin

Location: 1501 Gaylord Trail, Grapevine, TX 76051
Dates: Runs through Jan. 2, 2022.
Website: http://christmasatgaylordtexan.marriott.com
Cost: Regular snow tubing tickets cost $21.99. The fast pass snow tubing tickets cost $31.99.

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