Seasonal happenings in Hot Springs

A scene from past Holiday Lights at Garvan Woodland Gardens
A scene from past Holiday Lights at Garvan Woodland Gardens

The holiday season is a memorable time of year to experience Hot Springs, which is surrounded by the picturesque Ouachita Mountains.

Taking in the beauty of Holiday Lights at Garvan Woodland Gardens in Hot Springs is an annual tradition for many in the state. During this event, which is returning this year for the first time since the pandemic, lights transform the location into a whimsical holiday display. Holiday Lights starts Saturday Nov. 19 and runs nightly, except Christmas and Thanksgiving, through Saturday Dec. 31 from 4 p.m to 9 p.m. The gardens will not be open during the day during the event. Tickets are not available on site this year and must be purchased in advance online.  

Of note, dogs are not allowed at Garvan Woodland Gardens during the event. Check out their website for information on free holiday concerts and events taking place during the holiday season. Below is a video of the type of lights that have been featured at Holiday Lights through the years.

Along with the lights at Garvan Woodland Gardens more lights can also be seen throughout the city. The holiday lights in downtown Hot Springs will be turned on Monday Nov. 21 during the Tom Daniel Holiday Chili Cook Off on Exchange Street. During this popular event, also the city's official kickoff to the holiday season, local businesses compete to see who can concoct the best chili in town. 

Chili Cook Off

The Arlington Lawn, which is part of Hot Springs National Park, is also home to a beautiful display of lights each year. The lawn is a picturesque place for photos with the famous Arlington Hotel, which can be found north of the park across the street, in the background. The lawn has interesting historical ties to the hotel, which you can read more about here. 

The lights at Arlington Lawn

Along with holiday lights, the Piccolo Zoppé Winter Circus will also be in town from Friday Nov. 18 to Sunday Dec. 4. This European circus, performed by the Zoppe family since 1842, will be at the Memorial Field Airport.


The holiday lights showcased at Mid-America Science Museum are an annual event with an added twist: dinosaurs! The holiday lighting display is at the museum’s Dino Trek, where holiday lights and cheer can be found along with dinosaurs. This year Dino-Lites will be open from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays from Friday Nov. 25 through Friday Dec. 23.

An annual Christmas parade also takes place downtown every year in early December. The parade has a different theme each year and is a seasonal tradition for many. This year the event takes place on December 5

Monday Dec. 9 is also a special festive day for the city as it marks Opening Day for live racing at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort.

For more details on these annual events and others, check out the Visit Hot Springs calendar here.

Along with festive events, the city is also home to Kringles in the Park, a year-round Christmas store! The store is located downtown at 118 Central Ave., Suite B and is a perfect stopping spot for your holiday shopping. Across the street you can find Kringles and Kones, which is a Christmas themed sweet shop.