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Unique Christmas Experiences in Arkansas


This time of year, we’re surrounded by the lights and sounds of Christmas and with so many opportunities to celebrate the season, it can be easy to miss some special Christmas events. The following are specifically tours—events where you can move through a home, museum, the outdoors and more—while enjoying all the unique Christmas experiences the holiday season has to offer.

5 Unique Ways to See North Arkansas - #2 From the Windows of a Passenger Train

Holiday Express Train with Arkansas & Missouri Railroad

A Christmas tour wouldn’t be complete without a trip on the Holiday Express. The Arkansas and Missouri Railroad offers train rides through December from select locations. Holiday Express rides include a visit with Santa, hot chocolate and Christmas cookies. Available rides include Springdale to Johnson, Van Buren to Rudy and Monett to Exeter. Check the calendar for dates and times. Holiday Express rides tend to be popular to consider booking ahead of time. If you’re in the mood to ring in the New Year in a special way, check out the New Year’s Eve ride on Car 109 Spirit of Arkansas. Visit amtrainrides.com for more information.

Christmas Light Tour by Helicopter

See the best Christmas light displays from the air on this helicopter tour by FlyARH. The tour takes you from Fayetteville to Bentonville over some of the largest displays in the area and promises an unforgettable view. Visit FlyARH.com for available tour dates and other Christmas tour flights to choose from.

The Crescent Hotel & Spa Christmas Forest and Walking Trail

The Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs is well known for its haunted tours, but at Christmas, the hotel transitions into a beautiful display of holiday lights. Thousands of lights sparkle in the gardens, walking trail and Christmas forest. Step into the lobby for a view of the decked halls and Christmas music. The holiday ice rink is set to return the day after Christmas and expect a New Year’s Eve bash, as well. Keep up with all the events this season at the Crescent Hotel & Spa by visiting crescent-hotel.com.

Christmas Tours at Moss Mountain Farm

Moss Mountain Farm, P. Allen Smith’s beautiful country home near Roland, will hold its Holiday Lunch & Tours on Saturday, December 4, and Thursday through Saturday, December 9, 10 and 11. The tours offer a view of Allen’s lovely three-story home decked for the holidays, as well as a tour of the grounds and gardens. A farm-to-table style lunch includes one of Smith’s seasonal recipes. Guests can also enjoy hot chocolate and warm up around a campfire after touring Allen’s famous Poultryville, where he raises heritage poultry breeds and other animals. Moss Mountain Christmas Tours fill up fast and are not to be missed. Visit pallensmith.com to reserve your Christmas tour.

35th Annual Christmas & Candlelight at Historic Washington State Park

On Friday, Dec. 10, the streets of the historic village will be lit with thousands of luminaries and the homes and shops decorated with period Christmas decorations. This year visitors won’t be allowed to go inside the homes and shops, but outside tours will begin at 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. The visitor’s center and 1874 Courthouse will be open. Stroll through the beautifully lit park and enjoy a meal at Williams’ Tavern. Admission is free for the walking tours. Find out more about this unique Christmas experience at arkansasstateparks.com.

GLOWILD at the Little Rock Zoo

Photo: Paul Caster – Little Rock Zoo

In the spirit of the season, the Little Rock Zoo is holding GLOWILD on select dates through Jan. 15, 2022. This event features lighted silk lanterns in the shape of animals, marine wildlife and more staged throughout the zoo. Over 30 displays are lit with 50,000 LED light bulbs and create an unforgettable experience this holiday season. GLOWILD runs from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and until 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights. Tickets can be purchased at the door, though advanced purchase is encouraged. Visit littlerockzoo.com for available dates and more information.

North Forest Lights at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

While distinctly a Christmas display, the North Forest Lights are ablaze with light and cheer this season and this display only runs through Jan. 2, 2022. These holiday nights are perfect for touring five different installations in the woods surrounding the museum. Music and sensory sounds accompany the experience. Children under 6 are free and children over 6 enjoy discounted tickets. Reserving tickets in advance is encouraged, but walk-up tickets are available if tickets are not sold out for the evening. The lights are open Wednesday through Sunday from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Find out more and reserve tickets at crystalbridges.org.

Choose a unique Christmas experience near you, or make a holiday weekend out of the experience, and enjoy all Christmas in Arkansas has to offer.

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Kimberly S. Mitchell loves journeys, real or imagined. She has hiked the Inca Trail, walked into Panama on a rickety wooden bridge and once missed the last train of the night in Paris and walked several miles home (with friends). She believes magic can be found in life and books, loves to watch the stars appear, and still dreams of backpacking the world. Now she writes adventures to send her characters on journeys, too. Pen & Quin: International Agents of Intrigue - The Mystery of the Painted Book is her debut novel. Find out more at KSMitchell.com.

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