Spending Christmas in Grapevine Is Like Being on a Real-Life Hallmark Movie Set

This Texas town hosts 1,400 festive events over 40 days.

Courtesy of Grapevine Convention & Visitors Bureau
Courtesy of Grapevine Convention & Visitors Bureau

Grapevine is the Christmas Capital of Texas. This isn’t a hyperbolic, catchy marketing slogan or even our opinion. The designation comes straight from the Texas Senate, who bestowed the status by official decree in 2009, recognizing the midsize Dallas-Fort Worth town for its outsized holiday celebrations.

This season’s festivities kick off on November 20 with the 35th annual Carol of Lights. The event closes down Main Street for an evening of activities, including the tree-lighting ceremony, fireworks and laser shows, live musical performances, and other festive happenings, like photos with reindeer, bounce houses, and the world’s largest inflatable maze.

If that seems like a lot—and it is a lot—keep in mind that’s just one of 40 straight days of holiday fun, in which 1,400 events and activations will keep locals and visitors occupied until Christmas Day. Plying people with holiday cheer is a responsibility the city takes seriously.

“Grapevine has a long standing history of spectacular Christmas events and celebrations,” says Elizabeth Schrack, the director of communications for the Grapevine Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Since the official designation, Grapevine’s Christmas Capital of Texas celebration has gotten bigger and brighter every year. Everyone in Grapevine takes great pride in being the Christmas Capital of Texas and wants to make sure every visitor feels welcome and at home during the most wonderful time of the year.”

Courtesy of Grapevine Convention & Visitors Bureau

Top Holiday Events in Grapevine

The abundance of events means there’s something for everyone, whether it’s kids exploring the holidays through unjaded eyes or adults more interested in sampling wines and spiked cocoa after the kids go to bed.

Get started on day one by attending the opening festivities at Peace Plaza. See the 55-foot-tall tree light up the sky at 6:30 pm, then stick around for fireworks and ice skating at the outdoor ice rink.

Ice! is back at the Gaylord Texan, and this year it turned 17,000 square feet of the property into scenes from How the Grinch Stole Christmas. More than 40 artisans have spent the past six weeks hand-carving 6,000 blocks of ice into tunnels, arches, two-story-tall slides, and immersive vignettes depicting characters like The Grinch, his dog Max, Cindy-Lou, and the Whos from Who-ville. It’s a chilly nine degrees inside the experience, so wear a sweater—and take one of the blue parkas handed out to each guest.

Other winter wonderlands are popping up at Bass Pro Shops and Great Wolf Lodge. The former is live now, and Santa is there ready to take photos and gift requests. The latter kicks off November 24 and transforms the hotel with twinkling lights, garlands, and daily indoor snowfall to set the scene for seasonal games, crafts, and Santa visits.

The Grapevine Christmas Market begins on November 25 and will see vendors showing off unique, handcrafted wares in the town square gazebo. That’s your chance to score some gifts and last-minute stocking stuffers for everyone on your list.

Courtesy of Grapevine Convention & Visitors Bureau

On December 2, 9, and 16, Grapevine is illuminating the sky with the Merry and Bright Christmas Drone Show. Congregate around Main Street and look up to witness 200 drones creating coordinated light shows, or join one of the ticketed watch parties, which include access to the second-floor balconies of Grapevine Main Station or the 150-foot-tall Grapevine Observation Tower, plus wine and snacks.

The Parade of Lights takes place December 7, with more than 100 lighted floats taking over Main Street, and marching bands providing the evening’s soundtrack.

That’s just a small taste of what’s in store this holiday season. Should any of this begin to feel overwhelming, that’s your cue to abscond for the Holly Jolly Bar. This pop-up concept takes over Harvest Hall’s Third Rail Bar through January 7, outfitting the space with kitschy decorations and updating the menu with seasonal cocktails. And just outside, Hotel Vin is bringing back its popular Winter Wonderland Bubbles on the WineYard lawn. These transparent, igloo-like bubbles are adorned with decor that channels an après-ski lodge, including fur blankets and heaters, and a special menu stocked with fondue and wine.

It’s an ambitious itinerary, but anything is possible in the Christmas capital of Texas.

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Kevin Gray is a freelance writer and editor covering food, drinks, and travel. He’s written for publications including the Dallas Morning News, Eater, Forbes, InsideHook and Travel + Leisure, and if he's slow replying to your email it's probably because he's off exploring a new country. Follow him on social media@kevinrgray.