2018 Northwest Arkansas Holiday Events Guide: Christmas lights, fun activities, family events

It’s time to kick off the season of holiday FUN in Northwest Arkansas! We’ve got the big list of things to do with your family in November and December right here.

Click on the name of any event below for more information. CLICK HERE to see a printer-friendly version of this list so you can put it on your refrigerator for future reference! Or snap a pic of the front and back to save on your phone.

BOOKMARK THIS POST because we’ll be updating with new holiday events frequently!

The NWA Holiday Events Guide printable, which includes a section for where to see the best Christmas lights, is sponsored by the Northwest Arkansas Mall where Santa will be arriving on Nov. 16!

Santa’s hours at the NWA Mall are: Mon-Sat:  11am – 8pm (with breaks from 2-2:30pm and 5:30-6pm); Sunday: Noon – 6pm (with a break from 3-3:30pm)

Pet Nights with Santa are Dec. 4 & 11 from 6-8 p.m., so bring your fur babies to pose with St. Nick!

Now, here’s the big list of holiday events, listed by city:


Nov. 16: Santa arrives at the Northwest Arkansas Mall. Santa will be at his home in Center Court waiting to take professional pictures with your kids beginning Nov. 16!

Nov. 16: Lights of the Ozarks Parade, Fayetteville Square. The parade will kick off the winter wonderland of lights on the Downtown Square at 6 p.m. with the lighting night parade. Then the lights will illuminate the square each evening from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Nightly pony rides, fresh hot chocolate and festive holiday music. The lights remain on through December 31, 2018.

Nov. 16-17: Christmas in the City, Fayetteville Town Center. Enjoy shopping, drawings, good food & live music. Also, vote for your favorite ugly sweater contestant to benefit local charities. Friday Nov 16 @ 3pm-8pm during the annual lighting of the square and Sat. Nov. 17 @ 11am-8pm @ The Fayetteville Town Center. Free to the public.

Nov. 18: Meet the Artists Holiday Showcase, Terra Studios. Coffee and cider, hor d’oeuvres catered by Nellie B’s Bakery, wine donated by Post Winery, live music by local musician Dominic B. Roy, live art demonstrations, and a chance to meet some of the artists whose work can be found in the Gallery at Terra Studios. Art Lab will be open for drop-in arts & crafts for all ages with an emphasis on handmade holiday gifts. Free.

Nov. 23-25: The Nutcracker, Walton Arts Center. Rediscover the magic of one of the most popular Christmas stories of all time, The Nutcracker. As the clock strikes midnight, the adventure of a lifetime begins. Watch Clara battle the evil Mouse King, fall in love with the dashing Nutcracker prince and find herself on a storybook journey that will take her into the heart of a timeless fairytale. This breathtaking production features Canada’s premiere ballet company, local children and a magical Tchaikovsky score, gloriously showcased by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.

Nov. 24: Teddy Bear Tea benefiting JDRF, Inn at Carnall Hall, 3-5 p.m.  A fun and festive event to kick off the holiday season and start a new tradition for parents, grandparents and children in Northwest Arkansas. The event will feature cookies, a hot chocolate bar, a Letters to Santa station and even an appearance by the man of the season himself, Santa Claus, complete with a professional photo to capture the memory. Child Ticket (2+ years)* $25; Adult Ticket (over 18) $40 *children under 2 are free as lap tickets.

Nov. 28-Dec. 30: Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley, Theatre Squared. As the family gathers at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Darcy to celebrate Christmas, Mary – the bookish middle child of the Bennets – finally has her day.  Set two years after the events of Pride and Prejudice, this winning sequel with period style and modern wit is sure to delight Jane Austen fans and newcomers alike.

Nov. 30-Dec. 1: The Little Craft Show, Fayetteville Town Center, 8th annual Little Craft Show in downtown Fayetteville. This is your chance to snag a thoughtful and truly one-of-a-kind gift for your loved ones this yea. Meet over 100 of the best independent artists, crafters, and makers from across the region just in time for the holidays. And you can’t miss The Lights of the Ozarks on the square facing the Town Center. Local food, free photo booth, giveaways.

Dec. 1: Make Holiday Ornaments, Community Creative Center (6+), 1-3 p.m. Get the family together and create ceramic holiday ornaments. All supplies provided. $20 per person

Dec. 7-8: Wampus Wonderland and Nerd Prom. Hilton Garden Inn, Fayetteville. The Saturday show will be free to the public but for the first time the show is adding a second event on Friday that will be an exclusive shopping event and party. The nerd prom will feature music, drinks, cosplay and special prizes.

Dec. 8: Make Ceramic Gingerbread Houses, Community Creative Center (6+), 1-3 p.m. Get the family together and create ceramic gingerbread houses. $20 per person

Dec. 16: SoNA and Walton Arts Center present The Snowman: A Family Concert, 2 p.m. A special screening of the hit film “The Snowman” with SoNA musicians bringing the extraordinary score to life. Tickets: Only $9. Available at sonamusic.org/tickets or by calling 479.443.5600

Dec. 16: Live Nativity (Camel rides). Rolling Hills Baptist Church, 5-7 p.m. Christmas wouldn’t be complete without a live nativity and… camel rides. This event will have free camel rides, a free petting zoo, and a live nativity for the whole family to enjoy.


Nov. 16-17: The NWA Boutique Show, NWA Convention Center, Springdale. This juried show features boutique booths with custom and one-of-a-kind creations from local and regional designers. Clothing, jewelry, art, stationery, gifts, personalized items, home décor, furniture, baby essentials and so much more. There’s a VIP event Friday morning and Girls’ Night Out Friday night and regular shopping in between as well as on Saturday. Bring the kids to have cookies with Santa from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.

Nov. 17: Make a Holiday Ornament, Shiloh Museum, 10-11 a.m. Kids of all ages are invited to make and take a holiday ornament at the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History. The program is part of the museum’s Shiloh Saturday series for families. The Shiloh Museum is located at 118 W. Johnson Avenue in downtown Springdale. For more information on the museum, call 750-8165 or visit shilohmuseum.org.

Nov. 24: Christmas Parade of the Ozarks, downtown Springdale. Meet downtown on Emma Street to kick off the holidays and get into the Christmas spirit with music, lights, rodeo queens, and “Merry Christmas” wishes. Parade begins at 6 pm and proceeds West to Downtown Emma. Everyone is welcome.

Nov. 24: Christmas on the Creek, downtown Springdale, 3-8 p.m.  Always the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Christmas on the Creek is Springdale’s holiday family tradition. Downtown fills with lights, live music, the region’s largest live Christmas tree, photos with Santa, mini-train rides, and more.

Dec. 1: Breakfast with Santa, Arts Center of the Ozarks. 8:30, 9:15 and 10 a.m. Join Santa and Mrs. Claus at the Arts Center of the Ozarks. Kids of all ages are invited to eat a scrumptious breakfast, make holiday crafts, and get their picture taken with Santa.

Dec. 1: Children’s Christmas Train. The 15th annual Children’s Christmas Train riders will depart from the Emma Street Train Depot in Downtown Springdale on Saturday, December 1st aboard a restored 1940’s era train. The 40 minute ride to Johnson and back will include singing Christmas carols and story telling. After returning to the Train Depot families can enjoy holiday games and entertainment. Children 2 years of age and under do not require a ticket but will have to sit on your lap, $10 for ages 3-12, and $20 for adults. This event will sell out. The Children’s Christmas Train is a fundraiser for the Children’s Safety Center of Washington County which provides services for abused children.

Dec. 8: A Merry and Bright Christmas show, Jones Center for Families. Annual Christmas Show on ice.
Shows are at 1pm and 5pm. Tickets range from $8-20.


Nov. 10: Santa’s Wonderland at Bass Pro Shops (formerly Cabela’s). Beginning Saturday, November 10, 2018 and continuing through Monday, December 24, 2018. Families are invited to enjoy an enchanting Christmas village offering free 4×6 photos with Santa and free family holiday activities, including fun crafts and games. Kids can also write a letter to Santa. Reserve your free visit and photo with Santa using the free Bass Pass system. Visit the Bass Pass Ticket Depot located at the entrance of Santa’s Wonderland to pick up a time-stamped pass.

Nov. 30: A Modern Christmas Carol, Peel Mansion, Bentonville, 6-9 p.m. The mansion will be transformed into an interactive representation of A Christmas Carol. Come experience Christmas past, present and future portrayed through period-themed rooms, food and drink pairings, and live music.

Nov. 30-Dec. 2: 3rd Annual Holidays on the Bricks Holiday on the Bricks is a downtown-wide holiday open house mixed in with other fun holiday activities and events. Times vary based on the events.

Dec. 1-2: Cocoa in the Park. December 1, noon to 8 p.m.; Dec. 2, noon to 4 p.m. Come enjoy free hot cocoa and candy canes in Centennial Park. Stroll down 1st Street and stop to enjoy the beautifully decorated Centennial Park. There will be several photo opportunities to capture some great family memories while you sip on some cocoa. All donations for cocoa and candy canes will go the Arkansas Children’s Foundation.

Dec. 1-2: Santa’s Workshop, Rogers Experimental House. You’re invited to come by and have your picture taken with Santa. In light of his special visit, artists are busy getting Santa’s workshop all set up. You can bring the kids and watch them create a fluid art piece or two for holiday gift giving. All supplies are included, along with complimentary holiday goodies and beverages. The cost is 8×10: $10.00 – 11×14: $15.00

Dec. 7: Rogers Christmas Parade, downtown Rogers, 7-9 p.m. The 2018 Christmas parade includes music and floats. This year’s theme is Simply Christmas.

Dec. 8-9: The Nutcracker performed by The Northwest Arkansas Regional Dance Company. Performances will be December 8 at 7 p.m. and December 9, 2018 at 2 p.m. at Rogers High School. All tickets are general admission and can be purchased at the door or in advance at Ballet Westside, 101 E Chestnut St., Rogers. For more information call 479-636-6678


Nov. 2: First Friday Toyland. 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. The biggest toy event you may ever see. Walmart fills the Bentonville Square with vendors who give out toys all day. Kids and parents can go crazy together and have a blast. Come as early as you can because around 4pm it gets more packed than any other First Friday.

Nov. 17: Lighting of the Bentonville Square. 5-6:30 p.m. Join thousands on the square for a beautiful, classic Bentonville tradition. Before the lights come on, there will be live music and Santa is usually around for some pictures. Ice rink opens at noon at Lawrence Plaza. The holiday lights will come on at 6pm on the Square. The lighting of the tree will be at 6:30pm at Lawrence Plaza.

Nov. 17: The Little Craft Show, The Record, noon to 6 p.m. The Little Craft Show is returning to downtown Bentonville for the second year. LCS has partnered with Downtown Bentonville Inc., Inc. to host the 2nd annual Bentonville edition of the winter show. 60+ makers, giveaways, photo booth, local food.

Nov. 24: Skate-A-Long: The Polar Express, 5-8 p.m. Bring the family to Lawrence Plaza for Frosty Flix and a Skate-A-Long. Enjoy a festive holiday movie after skating to the soundtrack with some of the movies star characters. Grab a picture with your favorite star after the Skate-A-Long. Skate-A-Long Begins at 5 p.m. Movie will begin at 6:30pm. $10 pre-sale ticket/ $15 day of ticket

Dec. 1: Skate-A-Long: Arthur Christmas, 5-8 p.m. Bring the family to Lawrence Plaza for Frosty Flix and a Skate-A-Long. Enjoy a festive holiday movie after skating to the soundtrack with some of the movies star characters. Grab a picture with your favorite star after the Skate-A-Long. Skate-A-Long Begins at 5 p.m. Movie will begin at 6:30pm. $10 pre-sale ticket/ $15 day of ticket

Dec. 5: Children’s Concert at Crystal Bridges: Melody’s Mostly Musical Day. 6-7 p.m. Join Van Cliburn pianist Jenny Lin for this family concert inspired by her book, Melody’s Mostly Musical Day. Follow a child’s musical day from breakfast to bedtime featuring works from Mozart to Chopin to Gershwin to Chick Corea. This concert for the entire family was developed with Steinway and incorporates live music, props, storytelling and screening of the illustrations for each musical selection. Free, register online or with Guest Services at 479.657.2335.

Dec. 8: A Morning with Santa, Bentonville Community Center, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Santa Claus is coming to the Bentonville Community Center. There will be a photographer on site to take free photos of families with Santa (1 photo per family). Choir music, refreshments, and fun! Event is free to members / $5 for non-members.

Dec. 8: Bentonville Christmas Parade. Thousands of people line Main Street for the annual Christmas Parade. Enter a float or just enjoy the show and music. Parade starts at 10 a.m. The route: From the fire station, up Main to the Square. It turns left on 2nd street and ends on the corner near Preacher’s Son.

Dec. 15: Skate-A-Long: A Christmas Story at Lawrence Plaza, 5-8 p.m. Bring the family to Lawrence Plaza for Frosty Flix and a Skate-A-Long. Enjoy a festive holiday movie after skating to the soundtrack with some of the movies star characters. Grab a picture with your favorite star after the Skate-A-Long. Skate-A-Long Begins at 5 p.m. Movie will begin at 6:30pm. $10 pre-sale ticket/ $15 day of ticket.

Dec. 15-16: Winter Wonderland, Benton County Fairgrounds. Handcrafted and unique gifts for Christmas. Free Christmas workshop for kids to make a fun Christmas craft to take home or share with a loved one. This event supports Autumn’s ReRide Youth Ranch.

Dec. 22-Jan. 4: Winter Break Wonders at Crystal Bridges. December 22 through January 4, 1 to 4 pm; December 24, 11 am to 2 pm Make memories at the museum over your school break as you create with artists, make buttons in the gallery, and listen to fun music together as a family. Special activities each afternoon, including artmaking, creative play, puppets, dance, and more. Free, no registration required.

Dec. 31: Zing in the New Year at the Amazeum. 10 am to 3 pm (member hour from 9-10 am). Zing in the New Year with family and friends at the Scott Family Amazeum. Activities throughout the day include a photo booth, creating wishing balloons to be released during our countdown, the Hershey’s S’mores Pit (weather permitting), and a final end-of-day parade for 2018.

Bella Vista:

Nov. 10: Christmas Bazaar 2018, Riordan Hall. 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. More than 50 vendors and local crafters.

Nov. 28: A Charlie Brown Christmas Live event. 6-8 p.m. The “A Charlie Brown Christmas” event will include a Santa’s Village area complete with local food trucks, vendors, an opportunity for pictures with Santa Claus and the Peanuts Characters along with other fun activities. All proceeds will be donated to Arkansas Children’s Hospital.  This event will be at Loch Lomond recreation complex at the corner of Glasgow Rd & Scotsdale Dr.

Eureka Springs

Nov. 30: Christmas Parade of Lights, downtown Eureka Springs, 6-7 p.m. One of Eureka’s favorite parades. This evening’s Parade of Lights rolls at 6 PM through the beautifully decorated downtown streets with floats, walkers, bands and thousands of lights.

Dec. 1: 36th Annual Christmas Tour of Homes, Eureka Springs. A walking tour of a sampling of Eureka’s most beautifully restored homes giving guests a glimpse of a bygone era. All stops on the self-guided tour will be lavishly decorated for the season with docents attired for the period to relate the history of each home. Advance tickets are $20 and will be available online.

Did we miss your event? Send us at email at mamas{at}nwamotherlode{dot}com and let us know so we can add it!

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