The hubbub of holiday tasks can often overshadow the joys of the season. If you find your family in need of relaxing respite, set aside the checklists for a day or two and hit the road for a festive trip! From old-fashioned fun like horse-drawn light tours to a high-tech winter wonderland, the Sooner state offers families plenty of ways to make memories together this holiday season.
Set your sights on sparkling Sulphur
Sulphur blends quaint small-town charm with the picturesque beauty of the Chickasaw National Recreation Area, making it a popular destination throughout the year. At Christmastime, the city
turns up the cheer with holiday light displays, carriage rides through town, carolers and classic holiday movies. Kicking off just after Thanksgiving, The Artesian Hotel welcomes all families, not just those staying at the hotel, with lavish décor, carolers, story times with Mrs. Claus and breakfast with Santa.
Families can embark on a candlelit tour of the Chickasaw National Recreation Area’s Flower Park, aglow with 1,000 candlelit luminaries, Dec. 6 and 7. The tour is free, but reservations are
required with the Travertine Nature Center (580-622-7234). Afterward, warm up under a cozy blanket on a tour of the city’s lights aboard a horse-drawn carriage on Friday and Saturday evenings
through Dec. 21, then enjoy a nightcap of complimentary cookies and milk with Santa in the hotel lobby. Complimentary apple cider and hot cocoa will also be available throughout the day in The Artesian lobby during the weekends. Another exciting feature, kids can pose for photos with a real reindeer on Dec. 14 and 21 from 8 to 10:30 a.m. at the entrance of the hotel.
Muskogee Street in downtown Sulphur transforms nightly into an elaborate light show with sparkling trees, towering lighted structures, ribbons and cannons, all synchronized to music. On opening night Nov. 30, the city will host a lighted Christmas parade complete with the Inspyral fire show, stilt walkers dressed in LED costumes, food trucks and the man of the season, Santa Claus.
The Chickasaw Cultural Center offers families even more holiday fun with its month-long children’s holiday movie series with classics like How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and newer flicks like Trolls Holiday and The Polar Express. Mom and dad can squeeze in a date night and enjoy a gourmet dinner and screening of It’s a Wonderful Life on Dec. 14. Opening Dec. 2 and running nightly throughout the month, the Center’s grounds will feature a twinkling drive-through light display. A Festival of Trees will explore Christmas through the decades and one-of-a-kind gifts from renowned Chickasaw artists will be available at the holiday art market.
Explore turn-of-the-century Christmas in Enid
Travel to Christmases of yesteryear at the Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center’s Christmas in the Village. The cobblestone streets and buildings of the turn-of-the-century replica town are adorned with the sights and sounds of an early Oklahoma Christmas. Families can explore a one-room schoolhouse decorated with paper snowflakes and handmade paper chains and the Glidewell homestead, elegantly decked with garland and greenery, crafted as if right out of the early 1900s.
On Dec. 6 starting at 6 p.m., attendees can take part in character-led tours, musical performances, holiday refreshments and the lighting of the village Christmas tree. Kids can craft, sip hot cocoa and enjoy cookies with Santa.
As the sun sets on the activities in the village, festive fun begins to twinkle at Meadowlake Park. During Enid’s annual Christmas in the Park celebration, families can hop aboard a holiday train and carnival rides, decorate cookies and write letters to Santa at this community gathering hosted by the City of Enid Parks and Recreation Department. Activities are free and open to the public on four Saturdays: Nov. 30, Dec. 7, 14 and 21.
Several holiday performances coincide with the Christmas in the Village opening weekend including “The Nutcracker” at Briggs Auditorium starring a cast of local kids; “The Prophecy Show: The Music of Trans-Siberian Orchestra,” one of the only touring TSO tribute orchestras, at Stride Bank Center; and Gaslight Theatre’s rendition of “Scrooge!”, a musical retelling of the classic Dickens tale.
Celebrate big in Claremore
Festivities kick off in Claremore on Dec. 2 as the community lights its 65-foot live Christmas tree, the largest fresh-cut Christmas tree in the state of Oklahoma and the centerpiece of the third
annual Christmas celebration, Winterland. The towering Norway spruce will begin its journey to the Sooner state all the way from the Dutchman Tree Farm in Manton, Mich. The tree will find its holiday home on the West Bend Green, outside the Claremore Expo Center, in a unique tree stand of sorts, an 8-foot manhole!
The fun in Winterland continues all season long with ice skating, pictures with Santa, local shopping, hot cocoa and caroling. Special events include a lighted holiday parade on Dec. 7 and a New Year’s Eve bash on Dec. 31, complete with an apple cider toast, s’mores and a fireworks finale. On Saturdays in December, visitors can hop aboard a trolley departing from West Bend to explore historic Downtown Claremore or browse shops in the Ne-Mar Shopping Center.