KERA Arts Story Search

Looking for events? Click here for the Go See DFW events calendar.

Art&Seek Jr: Best Free Holiday Stuff To Do This Weekend

by Therese Powell 3 Dec 2013 9:21 PM

‘Tis the season to enjoy fun, free events! Here’s the Junior’s list for this weekend.


Art&Seek Jr. is one mom‘s quest to find activities to end the seemingly endless chorus of the “I’m Bored Blues” while having fun herself.  Impossible you say? Check back on Tuesdays for kid-friendly events that are fun for adults, too.

Has Black Friday and Cyber Monday left both your wallet and your spirit depleted? Don’t worry, the Junior’s got you covered. Here are some ideas for FREE  fun that are guaranteed to put you in the holiday spirit without having to take out a second mortgage on the house.

Scrub those Black Friday memories from your brain and start the holiday season right with a small-town celebration. There’s no better celebration than the 25th Annual Holiday Lighting Festival on Denton’s Historic Courthouse Square.  The event kicks off this Friday evening at 5:30 with a community sing-along and the lighting of the giant Christmas tree. You and the tinies can stroll around the courtyard and peek in the windows of the festive shops, or for few bucks, you can have your picture made with Santa or take a ride in a horse-drawn wagon. There will also be musical performances all around the Square that begin at 6 p.m.

Get there early if you want a good spot to see the Children's Medical Center Parade. (Photo: Therese Powell)

Get there early if you want a good spot to see the Children’s Medical Center Holiday Parade. (Photo: Therese Powell)

For more small-town fun head over to the annual Old Town Holiday Stroll in Lewisville on Saturday. The event starts with a Christmas Parade at 3 p.m., followed by a wide range of Holiday Stroll activities from 4 to 8 p.m. which include  the city’s Christmas Tree Lighting, a Gingerbread House Contest, visits with Santa Claus, the Christmas Window Display tour, live music and entertainment, children’s crafts and more.

No doubt about it, it’s going to be a cold one Saturday morning. If you and the kids laugh in the face of old man winter then bundle up and head to downtown Dallas to catch the annual Children’s Medical Center Holiday Parade. The event draws an estimated 350,000 spectators and includes marching bands, giant helium balloons, spectacular floats and unique performances. Our personal favorites are the clowns that entertain the crowds before the start of the parade. Here are a few tips before you go: 1. Get there early. Parking can be challenging and all the good viewing areas get snapped up , so plan to arrive an hour and 1/2 before the parade starts. 2. Bring blankets and lawn chairs to sit on (that pavement is cold on little tushies). 3. Lastly, it goes without saying to dress warm- if the outside temperature reads 35 outside, it’ll feel like -35 with the wind blowing.

On the other hand, if you’re the type that weeps openly in the face of old man winter, here are several indoor options for yuletide cheer this weekend as well.

Stop by the Irving Arts Center on Friday evening for Navidad Latinoamericana! A Celebration of the Christmas Traditions of Latin America. The main gallery of the center will feature colorful artwork including paper mâché sculptures called alebrejes created by Irving resident Pastor Garcia.  Kids can chat with Santa or take a ride on the Aztec Eagle around the Sculpture Garden. The evening ends with a free performance of Fiesta Navidad! led by Natividad “Nati” Cano, who has shared the tradition of Mexican Mariachi with audiences for more than 50 years. The band will play holiday favorites mixed with traditional mariachi music.

The Macy’s Grand Tree Lighting Celebration at Galleria Dallas is one of my favorite holiday events. Each show features live performances from Olympic, World and National skating champions and cute kids in pretty costumes performing around a 95-foot-tall Christmas tree. The 30-minute show leads up to the grand finale of Missile Toes, the Galleria’s ice-skating, back-flipping, pyrotechnic Santa Claus who lights the tree. Much like the parade, this is one of those things where it pays to be the early worm and get there way in advance. The show starts at 6 on Saturday night but you’re going to want to have your claim staked by 5. The best viewing is from the 1st or 2nd level.

Speaking of malls, NorthPark also has a passel of free events that the tinies will love. Get to the mall early Saturday so you can catch Storytime with Santa at 10:30 a.m. Some mall Santas can be a little bit lame, but this Santa is the real deal. Besides having a genuine beard and a hearty laugh, he has a gentle manner with children that is magical to watch.  After story time, hurry over to the Scrooge Puppet Theatre for a little comic relief from the famous Christmas curmudgeon.  This is Scrooge’s 36th year at NorthPark, but he always seems to add something new to his performance. Finish up the trip by taking a look at the custom dog houses on display in the 2nd Annual Home for the Holidays event. The houses will be raffled off and all proceeds will benefit the SPCA of Texas efforts to rescue, heal and find homes for thousands of animals in North Texas.

Stay warm and check in next week for more Holiday fun!

Therese Powell is an Art&Seek calendar coordinator and KERA-TV producer.  She spends most of her free time seeking out adventures for her 8-year-old daughter, Rose.  Tell us about your quirky kid adventures by leaving a comment. Or e-mail Therese at [email protected].