Ozark Mountain Christmas offers ‘Top 10’ US holiday vacation experience

America’s live entertainment capital takes on a dazzling holiday persona during its 2004 Ozark Mountain Christmas celebration. Named a “Top 10 Destination” in the nation for holiday celebrations by USA Today and A&E Network in 2003, Branson comes alive with production shows, world-recognized performers, 10 million holiday lights, and outdoor activities from theme parks, to shopping, to golf. Hundreds of shows and attractions, colorfully designed with holiday themes, are offered throughout the region through December.

Ozark Mountain Christmas, now in its 17th season, was profiled in the Wall Street Journal in 2003. While appreciative of the accolades, the famed entertainment town keeps adding yet more grandeur to the celebration, creating a magical combination of family traditions, breathtaking scenery, drive-through lighting displays, dazzling performances, and a spirited Ozarks celebration of the joys of the season.

Holiday shows feature live entertainment from performers known around the world. The show bill includes the always popular Andy Williams in his famous Christmas show and Tony Orlando in his original production of “Santa and Me,” to newly-introduced shows such as Neil Goldberg’s “Christmas Dreams,” a unique blend of pageantry, puppets and fantastical twists on holiday tradition. Branson Variety Theater’s “Broadway Christmas Spectacular” stars Jimmy Osmond. The final season of the Lawrence Welk Show reunites the Lennon Sisters and fabled Welk TV stars; the Hughes Brothers bring Santa to Bethlehem; Mickey Rooney and his wife, Jan, headline at the Americana Theatre along with the Lennon Brothers & Gail Lennon; and Neil Goldberg’s fantasy-filled “Cirque” continues through Christmas at the Remington Theatre. Funnymen Jim Stafford, Ray Stevens and Yakov Smirnoff add Christmas cheer and humor to their already hilarious comedy, music and dance shows. Perennial favorites the Baldknobbers Jamboree and Presleys’ Jubilee, along with shows like the Lowes, 50s At The Hop, Doug Gabriel, the Duttons and more are filled with holiday spirit and Christmas fun.

Visitors can immerse themselves in attractions such as the holiday wonderland at Silver Dollar City. The world-renowned 1880s style theme park features a dazzling Holiday Light Parade, a dramatic five-story Special Effects Christmas Tree, a popular musical production of the famous classic, A Dickens’ Christmas Carol, and over four million lights.

Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede Dinner & Show features 32 horses and trick riders performing in a holiday competition, a dramatic Living Nativity with live camels and Christmas musical performances. Dozens of exuberant elves serve up a four-course feast. The Showboat Branson Belle cruises scenic Table Rock Lake during Ozark Mountain Christmas, offering guests festive holiday shows and meals. Branson Scenic Railway sets the scene for holiday romance with their candlelight meal excursions through the Ozark foothills in 1940s-era Zephyr dome cars.

The Branson Area Festival of Lights (November 1, 2004 – January 1, 2005) links several Southwest Missouri communities in creating a two-month lighting festival. The popular Festival of Lights Parkway, a two-mile drive-through animated display in Branson, along with the spectacular Port of Lights in Kimberling City, the Indian Point Village display near Table Rock Lake, and many others are presented for visitors to enjoy. Area businesses participate in the Festival by adorning their storefronts and grounds with holiday lights to further add to the spirit-filled atmosphere of the season.

The 56th Annual Adoration Parade will be held December 5 in historic downtown Branson immediately following the lighting of the Nativity Scene on Mount Branson, which overlooks the downtown area.

The Branson area is an ever-popular shopping destination with three outlet centers offering more than 200 name-brand stores. Plus the historic downtown offers the charm of a small town with dozens of shops, restaurants and live music. The Grand Village, Engler Block and Silver Dollar City contain one-of-a-kind artwork and collectibles made by local artists and craftsmen.

Many shows and attractions will remain open through the end of December and offer special New Year’s Eve celebrations.

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