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Branson is the perfect place to blend two Christmas family traditions

Traditions are fantastic opportunities for families to grow together and bond with common experiences. Enjoying and creating them becomes even more meaningful when two people combine those traditions in a marriage.

My wife, Hannah, and I each brought something to our new family that the other had never experienced before: skiing, a favorite Christmas film, and even deciding between a real or plastic tree. We did, however, share one tradition: our own family visits to Branson and its many wonderful offerings.

This  year we began our Christmas season with a trip to Branson. And, of course, that means going to one of the nation’s premiere attractions – Silver Dollar City (SDC).

The Living Nativity at Silver Dollar City.

For 2019 the park’s Old Time Christmas Festival has grown bigger than ever before and added an amazing number of lights.

Part theme park, live entertainment venue and living history experience, SDC goes all out for the holiday season and we wanted to see their brand new eight-story Christmas tree. The height of the tree and the density of its colorful bulbs provides an extravagant light show that was a thing to behold. The park says this combination is a first in the world.


It was exciting to experience this again, as my family usually took trips for the park’s Christmas opening.

Making our way through the park, we watched two Broadway–quality productions of A Christmas Carol and It’s a Wonderful Life – my personal favorite Christmas story.

branson christmas

Leaving the grand theater houses, we couldn’t help but stare in awe of the nearly seven million lights above our heads. SDC has been completely decked out with lights seemingly on every surface.

For 2019, the park has added over 1.5 million new lights bringing the total to an astounding 6.5 million. In addition, a new and expansive area called Christmas in Midtown kept us busy with lots to do, see and eat.

We basked in the illuminating glory for quite some time, exploring every aspect.

Once we awoke from a trance seemingly created by the brilliant spectacle, we were ready for the thrills. The park offers a range of fantastic coasters and attractions to fill any daredevil’s heart with content. From Time Traveler to PowderKeg, we were reminded of the days when we were too scared to ride a Ferris wheel. Only recently have I actually enjoyed coasters in general – Hannah is the real thrill-seeker.

After an experience-filled and beautiful day at Silver Dollar City, we made our way down to the Branson Landing. The city’s “new” downtown area has really expanded since its construction in 2007. There are old-time diners, flea markets, specialty shops, and of course Dick’s 5 & 10 that anchors the original main street.

The store is a staple of all things nostalgia. Every aisle is guaranteed to make someone say, “Oh! I remember that!” It was fun for Hannah and me to discover more about what games we each grew up with and what games we now wanted to make our own traditions.

Leaving downtown Branson, we were on our way to another popular attraction. The Showboat Branson Belle is exactly what it sounds like, a show on a boat!

The classic riverboat still has as much charm and class as it did in its style’s heyday. Upon entering the ship, you are seated in its massive show room. A hot and delicious meal was provided alongside a fantastic show comprised of magic tricks, comedy acts, dancing, and singing. I can honestly say it was the most fun I’ve ever had on a boat. Hannah and I could definitely see this being on our list of must-dos when taking our next trip to Branson.

branson christmas

As the weekend was ending, we had some free time to explore Branson, now named America’s Christmas Tree City.

Just a short drive from the main strip was Branson’s Runaway Mountain Coaster. A thrilling ride through Branson’s beautiful countryside where you control the speed of the coaster.

Later, we had the opportunity to enjoy the show at Dolly Parton’s Stampede – Hannah’s personal favorite thing to do in Branson.

This show, too, provides a hot fresh meal with a small twist; you must eat with your hands! No silverware is provided! As you’re chowing down on some delicious chicken and potatoes, a marvelous show of expertise is going on before your eyes. Male and female riders come bursting out of one end of the arena to perform daring feats such as jumping through hoops of fire whilst on horseback. It is great fun for all ages and is always a joy for us to go.

While our trip may have been for only a weekend, we were able to pack it with new and old traditions that we hope to continue as we grow our family. It was exciting to experience the traditions that bring joy to my wife, and I hope to share many more memories like this with her.

Branson is a special place for both of us. It is where we encountered our fears of coasters and the love of eating with our hands. As we grow older, Branson will continue to be a great family destination for us and for those that want that bit of nostalgic fun and humor that the city provides – especially as one of our traditions at Christmas.­

New this year: Silver Dollar City’s An Old Time Christmas.  The festival also features a Christmas light parade, two original musical productions, a 5-Story Special Effects Christmas Tree, holiday dining and more. The festival runs November 4 – December 30. The Showboat Branson Belle features the new show Celebrate Christmas for Christmas season, presenting new musical selections plus a blend of classic and contemporary holiday favorites November 4 – December 31, plus January 1, 2018. The huge paddle-wheeler also presents Christmas adventure for kids on weekend Santa’s Pancakes & PJs cruises.

During An Old Time Christmas, Silver Dollar City is open Thursdays – Sundays November 4 – December 23, plus Wednesdays Nov. 22 and Dec. 20; closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and open daily December 26-30. Hours are 1 to 9 p.m. most days, with extended hours on Saturdays and Thanksgiving weekend. Information: 800-831-4FUN(386) or www.silverdollarcity.com.

–Mason Potter writes reviews for Metro Voice and is married to the publishers’ oldest daughter, Hannah.