South of the Arkansas River Holiday Lights Driving Tour
Follow the Christmas lights from Little Rock to Saline County and back for a bright holiday tour. Start in Little Rock where a new event takes place in Riverfront Park. The inaugural illumination of the First Security Amphitheater begins on Nov. 29 as part of Little Rock’s Holidays in the Park. A 10-minute light and music show will be available during the season. Santa will be on hand before the opening ceremony from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. to kick off the event. Refreshments, games and crafts will be offered in the River Market Pavilions. Hours for the lights are 5 p.m. – 10 p.m. each evening through Jan. 3.
You can’t mention Christmas in Little Rock without including the Lighting of the Arkansas State Capitol. Prior to the throwing of the switch on Saturday, Dec. 6, the annual Big Jingle Jubilee Christmas Parade will be held. It begins at Second and Broadway, ending at the State Capitol. Bands, marching groups, glowing floats, animals, beauty queens, cars and, of course, Santa and Mrs. Claus take part in the procession.
After the march, the State Capitol will be illuminated by thousands of lights as it has been for the past 75 years. Choral music and fireworks are also a part of the evening.
Benton once again lights up the beautiful courthouse as the town hosts the Saline County Celebration of Lights. The annual parade is on Dec. 1 at 6 p.m. followed by activities at the square. Santa will be in the courthouse lawn gazebo from 6 p.m.-8 p.m. listening to children’s wish lists on Dec. 1 and several other evenings during the season. Free hot chocolate and cookies will be served by local talent performs.
Ready for more?
Spend the day exploring Little Rock’s many attractions or do some shopping. If you’re in town the weekend of Dec. 5-7, don’t miss the 36th annual Arkansas Craft Guild Christmas Showcase, where you can pick up one-of-a-kind gifts. Approximately 110 booths feature fine handmade art and crafts from members of the guild. It will be held at the Statehouse Convention Center in downtown Little Rock.
On Sunday, several central Arkansas museums will host their yearly holiday events. Historic Arkansas Museum, also in downtown Little Rock holds its 47th annual Christmas Frolic and Open House from 1 p.m.-4 p.m. Here Christmas is presented as it was in the 1800s with living history, re-enactments, music, dancing, caroling and the museum’s famous hot mulled cider and ginger cake. You can shop here as well at the Museum Store.
Nearby, the Old State House Museum has its Holiday Open House 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Traditions of Christmas past are celebrated with hands-on activities including card making by children, music performed by local groups, and cookies and punch service in the beautifully decorated facility.
On the south side of town, Mosaic Templars Cultural Center is another fine museum having its Holiday Open House on Dec. 7 A wide variety of entertainment, crafts stations, and the 3rd annual Say it Ain’t Say’s Sweet Potato Pie Contest are highlights. The pie contest is in honor of Little Rock’s Black Santa, Robert “Say” McIntosh, famous for his sweet potato confection.
Wrap up your day with more lights and shopping at The Promenade at Chenal in west Little Rock. The center’s 7th annual Celebration of Lights and Moonlight Madness begins on Nov. 29 and features a 24-foot animated tree with lighting display at 5 p.m. Shows are hourly from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. through January. 1. While you’re there check out the numerous stores and their holiday bargains.