Fans at a Dallas Cowboys game

9 traditions that defined the holidays in DFW

Some of these events are old enough to be passed down among generations.

Some holiday events in DFW come and go, while others become so entrenched in the culture that we can’t imagine the season without them. Whether you’re a lifelong resident or newcomer to North Texas, these defining events are something to experience at least once. Take a scroll through some of the performances, destinations and attractions that have endured through time to create some magic for people of all ages and proclivities.

Turtle Creek Chorale’s annual holiday concert

For most of its 40-year history, the Turtle Creek Chorale has created some of the most imaginative holiday performances in DFW. The “most recorded male chorus in the world” has perfected its over-the-top holiday show, and this year’s Celtic theme continues the tradition, featuring a full orchestra and muse Chloe Agnew (of the Celtic Woman). The TCCC website promises a concert “that will have you leaping from your seat with joy” — which is something we can probably all use. Buy your tickets and add this event to your list of things to do in dfw during the holidays.

Holidays at NorthPark Center

NorthPark Center has transformed into a holiday destination for kids and families for more than five decades. The most enduring display dates back to 1965: A candy Santa helming his team of pecan reindeer, “flying” near the Neiman Marcus on Level One. This year, visit the adorable miniature train exhibition, visit Santa Claus himself, hear stories from the Children’s Puppet Theatre and more. See a full list of activities if you want a shopping experience that’s heavy on the experience. 

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The Gaylord Texan

For kids and the young-at-heart, Christmas the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center is a monument to holiday chaos in the best way possible. Located in Grapevine – the self-proclaimed “Christmas Capital of Texas,” — the showplace features a dizzying array of activities, from snow tubing, ice sliding, gingerbread decorating and even a brunch alongside The Grinch himself. (No word on if green eggs and ham will be served to stay on the Seussian theme.) Take in the eye-popping Christmas decorations and larger-than-life ice sculptures during your stay — you can choose from plenty of packages that allow you to get the most out of this memorable DFW Christmas tradition.

Dallas Cowboys Games

Fun fact: Did you know that The Dallas Cowboys have played more games on Christmas than any other team in the NFL? While best known for their annual Thanksgiving game, The Cowboys typically have a busy schedule during the entire holiday season, and many fans have created special traditions to support the ‘Boys. This year, you can catch a Christmas Eve game on Fox, when The Cowboys take on the Miami Dolphins at the Hard Rock Stadium in Florida.

Dallas Holiday Parade

Dating back to 1988, the Dallas Holiday Parade is Dallas’ largest one-day outdoor event, aired in more than 100 markets and attended by tens of thousands of visitors. This holiday spectacle offers elaborate floats and giant balloons (including a 45-foot-tall inflatable nutcracker), oversized character costumes like Curious George and the Berenstain Bears, plus numerous community groups, performers and more. While it’s free to the public, you can purchase tickets to reserve a seat. It’s held on Dec 2. From 9:00 a.m.  – 11:00 a.m.; make sure to bring a cozy coat to create warm memories.

Christmas in the Stockyards

If you like your Christmas with a little bit of country, look no further than Fort Worth, where Christmas in the Stockyards riffs on the standard holiday offerings. Enjoy classics like ice skating on the Stockyards Rodeo Rink, photos with Santa and story-time with his better-half Mrs. Claus. But look for distinctive draws, like horse-drawn wagons, cowboy poetry, strolling Dickens Carolers and reindeer games. Stroll through the many shops and eateries to grab some gifts while you enjoy the festivities, or take advantage of Hotel Drover’s 12 Days of Drover, where guests can enjoy spirited experiences at the resort. See the full list of events and enjoy a very Texan holiday.

Holiday at the Arboretum

Called “Texas’ best Christmas event” by Southern Living Magazine, this annual extravaganza hosted at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden has been a family favorite for years. Visit the Christmas Village and be transported to a “quaint European hamlet” by way of large, themed houses and charming shops offering candy, baked goods, flowers, books and more. It also includes the beloved 12 Days of Christmas, an exhibit with (you guessed it) 12 Victorian style gazebos, decorated with twinkling lights, mechanical parts and music. The festivities kick off with an opening ceremony on Nov. 8, but check out the full list of activities that run through the holiday season.

“Santa House”

For many years, one home in University Park created an eye-popping experience that outmatched even professional Christmas light exhibits. The homeowner — who suffered a major health episode in 2021 — erected more than 500 Santa figurines and the original head of The State Fair of Texas’ beloved Big Tex. Though details are scant on if this tradition is on for 2023, drive by the 3700 block of Southwestern Boulevard to check out the best holiday lights in DFW. This is the one that started the go-big residential home decorations you might notice in your own neighborhood.

A Christmas Carol

The Dallas Arts District offers plenty of holiday-themed events and performances, from perennial fan-favorite performances of The Nutcracker to Reliant Lights Your Holidays and Klyde Warren Park’s Tree Lighting Celebration. But the Dallas Theater Center’s adaptation of the Charles Dickens play has become a holiday must for theater lovers and Christmas enthusiasts. Witness the change of heart for miserly, miserable Ebenezer Scrooge as he becomes generous captain-Christmas and just try not to feel merry — especially if you’ve got that “bah humbug” spirit. Get your tickets here. 

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Thanksgiving to-go meals on a table

6 local Thanksgiving meals that are affordable and delicious

Because sometimes you don’t feel like cooking.

The holiday season is imminent, which means it’s time to get the most important aspect nailed down: the food. Whether you’re hosting a Friendsgiving, family gathering or holiday date, keep reading for some solid local choices (for dine-in and to-go) that speak to every dining style. Since we’re all looking for a deal, we made sure to offer Thanksgiving packages with the most bang for your buck, bringing you a considerable amount of delicious food for a price that won’t bite. (Plus, one splurge option, because … ‘tis the season.)  

The Metropolitan Café

2032 Main St, Dallas, TX 75201

Guess what, Dallas? This funky downtown joint is back in action after closing in 2021. The Metropolitan Café debuted this fall with a new owner, a chic new design and a menu that practically screams Thanksgiving joy.

The feast: Your meal for two includes two meats, three sides and not one but two desserts. (Because, let’s face it, it’s not a complete Thanksgiving feast without pie.) Options include stuffed Cornish game hen, smoked gouda mac and cheese, brioche stuffing, garlic-whipped potatoes and cumin-glazed carrots. And to top it all off, indulge in some sugary desserts like chocolate pecan pie and apple pie. This is a good deal at $65 (serves two). Have more than two hungry mouths to feed? Easy. Order more. 

Mark your calendar: The clock is ticking! Place your order between Nov. 6 and Nov. 15, then pick it up on Nov. 21 or 22. Call 214-741-2233 and let the holiday feasting begin. 

Dive Coastal Cuisine

3404 Rankin St, Dallas, TX 75205

Want to avoid diving into cooking this Thanksgiving? (See what we did there?) No problem, this seafood restaurant has you covered. Dive Coastal Cuisine offers a festive Thanksgiving pick-up menu that will impress your guests. 

The feast: Mini potato latkes, bruschetta ciabatta crostinis, charcuterie boards, herbed/brined chicken, shrimp cocktail skewers, roasted salmon dip, seasoned and seared beef tenderloin and stuffed sweet potatoes. For dessert, you can pick between key lime pie (untraditional, but delicious) and pumpkin spice (traditional and delicious). Prices vary, but we consider this a good deal. Turkey breast for five people is $50, mini crab cakes for six to 12 people are $42, and bruschetta ciabatta crostinis for six to 12 people are $25. Plus, you didn’t have to go to the grocery store during the holidays. Pretty sure that’s priceless. 

Mark your calendar: Place your order 24 hours in advance for pickup on Nov. 22. Head to the website or call 214-891-1700 order. 

La Parisienne

6740 Winning Dr Suite 1000, Frisco, TX 75034

Bonjour, Thanksgiving! La Parisienne French Bistro at the Frisco Star is putting a Parisian twist on your holiday shindigs. The restaurant serves its regular dinner menu for dine-in or to-go from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving, but they also offer a prix fixe menu with a festive flair.

The feast: Choose from options like lobster bisque or butternut squash soup, Caesar salad or wedge salad, and turkey breast with cranberry port wine sauce or prime rib (with a $15 upcharge) served with bearnaise sauce or au poivre sauce. Don’t forget the sweetest part: an apple pecan caramel tart or sweet potato pie. Consider this a Thanksgiving bargain at just $45 per person or $60 if you choose the prime rib. 

Mark your calendar: All to-go orders must be placed by Nov. 21. Call 469-200-5411 for more information. 

Central Market

Multiple locations 

The feast: Before you scoff at the $369 price tag, do the math. This to-go Thanksgiving smorgasbord from Central Market feeds 12-14 people. That’s roughly $28 per person. The meal has so much food that we’re putting it in list form. 

You get: 

  • Hickory-smoked, spiral-sliced, bone-in ham with apricot-ginger glaze
  • All-natural oven-roasted turkey
  • Mixed greens, roasted carrots and feta salad
  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Cheesy potato casserole
  • Whipped Yukon mashed potatoes
  • Green beans with toasted almonds
  • Oven-roasted vegetables
  • Savory cornbread dressing
  • Turkey gravy
  • Cranberry sauce

Plus:

  • Roasting pan for turkey
  • Roasting turkey bag
  • Oven pan for ham

Mark your calendar: If you reserve your chef-made Thanksgiving meal by Nov. 8, 2023, you’ll receive a coupon for $15 off your next $75 in-store purchase. Otherwise, head to the website to order. 

Andrew’s American Pizza Kitchen

1401 Preston Rd, Plano, TX 75093

Turkey’s not your thing? (Not everybody likes traditional Thanksgiving food, and that’s OK.) Andrew’s American Pizza Kitchen is open on Thanksgiving Day for dine-in from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and they’re offering catering for those who prefer pizza and pasta over poultry. 

The feast: Savor their signature Dallas-style pizza, Chicago-style pizza, Detroit-style pizza and more. Plus, indulge in holiday delights: pumpkin pie tarts, caramel tarts and pecan pie tarts, each a steal at $9.

Mark your calendar: The deadline to order is Nov. 22, with pickup on Nov. 23. Call 469-825-6500 to lock in your unconventional Thanksgiving feast.

BONUS OPTION: 

Quarter Acre

2023 Greenville Ave #110, Dallas, TX 75206

If you do want to splurge this Thanksgiving, Quarter Acre has just the package for you. 

The feast: Choose between smoked turkey breast with confit turkey legs or slow-cooked leg of New Zealand lamb. Both options serve four and come with two scrumptious sauces, three sides including and delicious extras like sourdough bread, New Zealand butter and Tajin popcorn. Prices are $295 for turkey breast and $325 for the leg of New Zealand lamb.

Mark your calendar: Reserve your order by Nov. 15 for pickup on Nov. 22 between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. To treat yourself to this lavish experience, call them at 214-647-1616.

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Thanksgiving Meal at a Dining Table

The best Thanksgiving packages for your buck

Skip the long hours in the kitchen and enjoy a delicious meal that takes the standard Thanksgiving fare up several notches.

The holiday season is nearly upon us, and it’s that time to start making plans for everyone’s favorite part: the meals. If the thought of spending your Thanksgiving break prepping and cooking an elaborate meal fills you with dread, never fear. Atlanta has plenty of Thanksgiving packages to remove holiday stress and add some panache to your gathering, whether your tastes run traditional or outside-the-box. Keep reading to find the perfect meal for friends, family or your special someone.  

Tio Lucho’s

Peruvian restaurant Tio Lucho’s, helmed by chef Arnaldo Castillo, will serve up its Dia de Gracias Turkey Feast. The package feeds up to eight guests for $250 ($30/person!) for zero effort and all the flavors. The 16-pound pan-roasted Thanksgiving turkey comes with an aji panca marinade, a mild red pepper common in Peruvian cuisine. The tamales verdes, frijoles de casa, jasmine rice and pumpkin bread pudding will make your Thanksgiving different—but might be your new go-to for holidays to come. 

Pre-order on their website, pick up on Wednesday, Nov. 22, between 11 am-4 pm.

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Kinship Butcher & Sundry

This choice covers any size crowd with multiple meat options and your favorite “fixins.” Kinship’s Thanksgiving pre-order allows you to choose from a half-turkey, turkey wings or a 10-14-pound turkey from Joyce Farms. If you’re not feeling like turkey this year, you can also put down a deposit on a ham, prime rib roast or tenderloin. Chef Stella Dillard of Dandelion Food & Goods is cooking up all the sides, and you can select the ones you’d like, including her old family recipe for mac and cheese. 

Pre-order on their website, order before Nov. 10 and pick up from Nov. 18, Nov. 19 or Nov. 22. 

Sweet Auburn Barbecue

Sweet Auburn Barbecue’s Thanksgiving package lets you skip the prep with its Sliced Turkey Package. For $140, you can get 2.25 pounds of sliced smoked turkey with two sides, cornbread dressing, biscuits, cranberry sauce and turkey gravy. Add their southern creamed corn to your lineup for about $20 bucks per quart (which feeds up to six people). You will not regret this meal kit delivery. 

Pre-order on their website, pick up on Nov. 21 and Nov. 22. 

JenChan’s

Cabbagetown favorite JenChan’s offers many options—but all of them are executed impeccably. While the restaurant will offer a classic Thanksgiving dinner with a large turkey and sides, stop by if you’re flying solo and pick up one of their individual turkey dinners for $28. Plus, it’s available with turkey or a plant-based, vegan option. 

If you’re looking for something different, JenChan’s also offers its Very Dim Sum Thanksgiving meal. You can build your perfect dim sum feast and choose from a three-day Hoisin duck, sesame-roasted Brussels sprouts, glass noodles, pork and shrimp dumplings, and more. 

Pre-order on their site for pickup on Wednesday, Nov. 22. 

Little Rey

If you’re not feeling like turkey, head to Little Rey and pick their whole pollo al carbon—part of their regular menu but also an excellent pick for a special holiday feast. It’s truly a deal that cannot be missed. For $36, you can feed three to four people with a whole bird, salsa and chips, and pints of rice and beans. Don’t forget to grab extra tortillas! If you have a few friends coming over, pick up the $64 meal that feeds six to eight people. 

Order ahead of time the week of Thanksgiving for easy window pick up. 

Casa Nuova 

If you’re in the suburbs, Alpharetta’s Casa Nuova Italian Restaurant scraps the turkey altogether and offers to-go take-and-bake specials. With two tray size options, choose from lasagna, chicken Francese, eggplant parmigiana or meatballs for your bake. It all comes with a house salad and garlic bread—just grab a bottle of wine and you’ll be all set. The half tray special feeds four to six people for $75, and the full tray feeds eight to 12 people for $150.

Pick up hot or cold on Wednesday, Nov. 22. Call them at 770-475-9100 to place your order.

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