Celebrate Christmas on the Square in Benton

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The holiday lights at the Saline County Courthouse in Benton
The holiday lights at the Saline County Courthouse in Benton

On the lookout to make holiday plans? The holidays are a prime time to head to Benton. The picturesque Benton town square is the focal point of the community. During the holiday season the town hosts Christmas on the Square, which begins Thanksgiving weekend and runs through New Year’s Eve. 

The spotlight location for Christmas on the Square is the Saline County Courthouse at 200 North Main Street. The two-story courthouse has picturesque Romanesque Revival architecture and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It was built in 1902 and is the third courthouse to have been built on the square.  It was designed by well-known architect Charles L. Thompson, who designed many buildings around the state including the historic St. Edwards Catholic Church in Little Rock. The courthouse was also featured in the 1970s movie White Lightning. 

During Christmas on the Square, an event called Santa Claus in the Gazebo takes place from 6-8 p.m. on the nights of December 6,  9, 10. 16, 17 and 20. A special Character Night, where the likes of Rudolph, Frosty the Snowman, Mrs. Claus, the Grinch and more will be on hand to take photos with, is slated for December 10 during the time that Santa is there. The Gazebo is located on the courthouse grounds. A Special Needs Night, which is also open to everyone, is December 16 and on this night Santa is relocated into the courthouse to accommodate those in wheelchairs and with other special needs. There is free hot chocolate and cookies on the nights Santa is there. 

In Benton there are sites to visit including the Gann Museum of Saline County, which is housed in the only known structure in the world constructed of bauxite. The Shoppach House, the oldest standing structure in town, was built in 1852.  A mural by artist Julius Woeltz featuring local bauxite miners can be found inside the courthouse and other murals can also be found around town. You can grab a bite to eat at a variety of places around Benton including restaurants in the historic Palace Theater building, which is on the Arkansas Register of Historic Places. The building was built in 1919 and has a history as a movie theater in the city as well as other roles over the years. And shops ranging from boutiques to food trucks can be found downtown. Benton is located halfway between Little Rock and Hot Springs along I-30.