One of the most magical traditions of the holidays is the festive decorating that sends lights and glitter shimmering through the jet-black night. Arkansas is full of wonderful community displays that are sure to lend joy to any family’s holiday experience. Check out what is going on in town, or take a short drive to visit something new — the displays are guaranteed to amaze the young and the young at heart.

Little Rock

Arkansas’ capital city sets the pace for the state by showing out for the holidays. Take a walk around the Arkansas State Capitol Building or visit the River Market district for a feast for the eyes. Everywhere the eyes can see — Hillcrest, the Heights, SoMa and all points west — the small shops and homes in the neighborhood will shine this time of year.

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Conway

As Clark W. Griswold of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation fame once said, “I’m gonna do it right, and I’m gonna do it big,” and the same can be said for the gargantuan decorated Christmas tree in Conway’s city center. Stroll along the brightly decorated downtown to discover unique shops and great local dining.

North Little Rock

Not to be outdone by its neighbor across the river, Dogtown puts on finery of its own during the holidays. Watch Argenta come alive from the plaza, located in the heart of the entertainment district. Other neighborhoods will also be dressed up, including Lakewood and Park Hill.

Hot Springs

Spa City prides itself on being the life of the party, and Christmas is no exception. Experience the time-honored tradition of strolling through Garvan Woodland Gardens while it is lit up for the holidays, or skip the line and find a choice spot at Superior Bathhouse, the Ohio Club or any downtown perch to soak up the lights.

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Benton

Looking for the quintessential American Christmas scene? Look no further than Benton, where the courthouse square will once again glow for the season. While there, take time to visit the charming merchants and new restaurants in the resurgent downtown.

Fayetteville

The decorations in Fayetteville’s downtown are almost more than one’s mind can take in, with millions of lights glowing and blinking from every angle. Lights of the Ozarks is a beloved Fayetteville tradition that must be seen to be appreciated. The free display lasts through New Year’s Day.

Bentonville

For production value, it is hard to beat Bentonville’s holiday display, which transforms the already-beautiful town square into a living Christmas card. Throughout the season, the Town Sam Built becomes the City of Christmas, boasting music, entertainment and the jolly old elf Santa himself.

Jonesboro

Representing northeast Arkansas, Jonesboro’s Christmas at the Park boasts 400,000 lights, a football-field-sized walk-thru light tunnel and a half-mile of drive-thru displays that dazzle the eyes. Community caroling and fireworks are offered on designated evenings.

El Dorado

An ideal place to take the family, El Dorado’s Yuletide celebration offers train rides for the kids and carriage rides for the family beneath the twinkling lights of Union Square. The annual Christmas parade the first Thursday in December adds to the fun.

Searcy

Most months, Searcy is a relatively small town, but come December, this White County community grows three sizes into the heart of Arkansas Christmas. The lights alone are something to behold; take in breathtaking displays downtown and at Harding University.

Mountain Home

For sheer firepower, follow the glow to the north to the charming burg of Mountain Home. There, enjoy the Coulter Celebration of Lights blanketing the campus of Arkansas State University—Mountain Home and continue to the city square for additional holiday festivities, including the Winter Festival Dec. 14 to 17.

Batesville

A small town with big holiday spirit, Batesville bills itself the Christmas Capital of Arkansas, thanks to a holiday display of more than a million lights, a 70-foot Ferris wheel and even an outdoor skating rink. If that does not invoke the Christmas spirit, Ebeneezer, nothing will.

Pine Bluff

The pride of Jefferson County is back once more with what is being billed as the Arkansas’ largest drive-thru holiday exhibition. More than 240 displays illuminate 1.3 miles of winter wonderland in Pine Bluff Regional Park. The free event is sure to warm the heart.

Eureka Springs

Arkansas’ most unique city puts on its finery for the holidays. Stroll through Eureka Springs’ historic downtown, and marvel at the artistry and color of the many lights and decorations. Even the ghosts that are rumored to haunt the city add to the merry variety.

Branson, Mo.

OK, so it is not Arkansas, but anyplace that goes this big — more than 6.5 million lights — has our respect. The Midtown section of Silver Dollar City alone boasts 1.5 million lights and 50-foot tunnels, and there are surprises around every corner, including a parade and steam locomotive. Do not miss the eight-story animated Christmas tree in the town square. The displays are open now through Dec. 30.

 

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