What comes after Thanksgiving in Arkansas? The Arkansas Trail of Holiday Lights! This year will be the 20th anniversary of the program, which highlights more than 60 communities around the state, brightening the holiday season for all to see. Plot your course now to see as many of the sparkling communities as you can.
The Trail of Holiday Lights brochure is available both online at www.Arkansas.com and in printed version. Printed copies are available at all Arkansas Welcome Centers and at participating Shell, Subway, Bank of America and Best Western locations. You can also request a copy by calling 1-800-NATURAL or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Whichever version you prefer, get a copy and start planning your trip or trips. There’ll be lights, lights, and more lights waiting for you. Be on the lookout for Jingle, our holiday hog. He’ll be popping up at various celebrations across the state.
Twenty-one communities in the Northwest Arkansas area are participating in the Trail of Holiday Lights and the events run the gamut from the huge Lights of the Ozarks in Fayetteville, complete with live camel rides, to ice skating at Lawrence Plaza in Bentonville. In Jasper you can get a look at “Arkansas Reindeer” — the elk living around the Buffalo National River. Fort Smith offers miniature train rides through holiday lights displays at Creekmore Park, while Ozark has horse and buggy rides.
North Central Arkansas
In North Central Arkansas, Batesville shines with thousands lights throughout downtown. Ark. 178 and the city limits of Bull Shoals will be twinkling, as will Cotter and Gassville. The striking Cleburne County Courthouse in Heber Springs is decked out again this year, as is the historic courthouse square in Mountain View. If you’re in town Nov. 29-Dec. 20, you can listen to the glorious sounds of Caroling in the Caverns at Blanchard Springs.
One of the largest light displays in The Natural State is based in the Northeast corner of Arkansas. The Lights of the Delta is Blytheville’s contribution, with over six million sparklers and more than 48 major motion displays. The drive-thru is 1.5 miles in length. Jingle Bell Park hosts Santa’s Workshop and hayrides are also offered. Santa will have bags of candy for every good little boy and girl at Corning’s Christmas in the Park, taking place after the lighting of the park. Along with 125 Christmas trees throughout the city, Newport offers something new this year: seven giant Nutcracker soldiers lining Front Street near the Iron Mountain Depot.
Christmas Wonderland is a half-mile of lights, animated displays, a 30-foot oval train, drive-through lighted tunnel, bubble and snow machines, a light show and an appearance by Frosty the Snowman. All this, and more, is located just three miles north of Crossett. Marianna has a lighted downtown square and a Victorian theme decorating the city park. Floating lighted displays at the Wiley A. McGehee Memorial Park are the town of McGehee’s way of celebrating the season. Pine Bluff’s Enchanted Land of Lights and Legends is a drive-through lights display with more than 240 scenes depicted along the 1.3-mile route in Pine Bluff/Jefferson County Regional Park.
The Southwest area boasts numerous events along the trail. Courthouses, town squares, parades, city parks, and streets will be glowing for the season. Historic Washington State Park lights its preserved cityscape with luminaries and offers candlelight tours. Take a horse-drawn surrey ride throughout town. Hot Springs festoons its historic downtown with lights, while Garvan Woodland Gardens features more than four million lights throughout 17 acres. Magnolia highlights its picturesque courthouse square with lights and the Greenhouse Cottages of Wentworth hosts their annual drive-through display throughout the town. In El Dorado you can drive under one of the largest man-made Christmas trees in Arkansas. At nearby Smackover, the Museum of Natural Resources turns Oil Field Park into a winter wonderland of animated displays and lights. The world-famous Clydesdales pulling a stagecoach provide transportation for Santa in Texarkana’s Christmas parade.
The Arkansas State Capitol lighting is a tradition dating back more than 75 years. The Big Jingle Jubilee Parade ends at the capitol for the throwing of the switch by Secretary of State Mark Martin. The historic Argenta District of downtown North Little Rock is where you’ll find the Northern Lights Christmas tree lighting. Sherwood Forest lights up nightly and features a mile of displays, the Sherwood Express and Santa Claus while the Jacksonville City Hall is set aglow during the city’s Holiday Lights Ceremony. The Saline County Courthouse in Benton is lighted for the season and offers a gazebo for visits with Santa. One of the pioneers of holiday lighting in Arkansas, Searcy, returns after a brief hiatus. All new lighting displays will be in Berryhill Park while the campus of Harding University is ablaze with more than 100,000 lights.
This is a brief overview of just some of the communities taking part this year. Complete information is available at www.Arkansas.com/travel-tools/trail-of-lights.