Raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens, etc., etc. Yet, here in the Arkansas Ozarks, it seems as though one more thing has been added to the holiday list of favorite things: the Christmas holidays in Eureka Springs. This year’s schedule of traditional events, orchestrated by Main Street Eureka Springs | ESDN, is scheduled from November 27 through December 19.
The festivities begin this year once the leftover turkey and dressing has been safely wrapped and refrigerated. Alternate Black Friday (November 27) allows those hungry to begin their holiday shopping to calmly stroll through the region’s premier shopping district, downtown Eureka Springs, and enjoy every moment of this inaugural holiday happening. No crowds, no long lines, nor dodging those rushing to grab things allows shoppers to do so in peace and while discovering those perfect, unique gifts in perfectly unique stores.
One of the hairiest events is the Great Ozarkan Beard Off (November 27-29). Gentlemen from a five-state area come into town to for this celebration of hair to measure and compare. This is a benefit for men’s prostate health and cancer awareness.
Shop Small Saturday (November 28) starts in Basin Spring Park where shoppers are given a free VIP shopping bag stuffed with discounts and gift certificates for the first 100 holiday consumers. Featured that afternoon from 1 to 3 o’clock will be Santa In The Park enabling the kids to have their photo take with ol’ Saint Nick. Another event is Santa’s Beard Contest where any man, woman, child or pet with a beard, real or otherwise, will be judged for valuable prizes.
Being one of the Top 25 Art Communities, Eureka’s 300 artists will be displaying their art for sale at the Eureka Springs Art Bazaar (November 28). The Convention Center will be full of great art at great prices from 10am to 5pm.
The first Thursday in December starts a very active holiday week, Christmas At The Crescent (December 3-11), with the 49th Annual Silver Tea. Polished tea and coffee sets gently tipped to fill the cups of patrons are the focal point at this annual fundraiser for the St. James Episcopal Church. The ladies of the church, festooned in Victorian gowns, have also filled the tables throughout the well-decorated Crystal Ballroom of the historic 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa with trays and trays of handmade holiday snacks and hors d’oeuvres.
That next evening, bright lights, holiday tunes, magnificent floats, marching bands and of course, Santa Claus follow the concrete serpentine pathway through downtown that is lined with thousands of bright eyes and smiles. The annual Christmas Parade of Lights (December 4) never fails to excite.
Santa hops out of his convertible just in time to revisit Basin Spring Park for the second installment of Santa In The Park (December 5). In addition to photo opps with Kris Kringle from 1p to 3p, the downtown park will be alive with “Reindeer Games” and entertainment by “momandpop”.
For those who have driven by Eureka Springs’ Victorian homes longing for a chance to step inside one or more of those ornately decorated domiciles, the Preservation Society’s Candlelight Parade of Homes (December 5) affords patrons that opportunity from 3p to 8p. Dynamically decorated homes, most with snacks, and music heard along the way, make for an evening to cherish.
Included in the Parade of Homes will be the Crescent’s Annual Christmas Tree Forest Lighting Ceremony (December 5) A 6p the ceremonial light switch will be flipped to “on” illuminating the more than 30 trees that will be adorning the holiday focal point of the hotel’s nearly 15 acres, The East Lawn. It should be noted that each tree is decorated by and for a local charity.
During that same evening (December 5), holiday strollers downtown will have the opportunity to window shop and have the windows look back. ESDN secures living, breathing mannequins and womannquins and places them in shop windows from 3p to 8p throughout the shopping district for their Living Windows presentation.
The magnetic, some say healing, sounds of the Native American Flute will fill The Aud (Eureka Springs’ City Auditorium) to round out the evening (December 5) beginning at 7p. The Grammy and Emmy nominated John Two-Hawks, a local resident and Platinum Award Winner, will be performing.
Santa pops up once again the next day as he appears at Santa’s Sunday Brunch (December 6). This champagne brunch is a food extravaganza from 10a to 2p with Santa availing himself from 11a to 1p to hear the children’s wishes while mom and dad capture the moment on their camera or phone. Reservations are highly recommended for this event.
Between Monday and Friday of that week (December 7-11), Christmas guests and Eureka visitors will assemble in the Crescent Hotel’s huge, historic lobby each of these days at both 10a and 2p for varying holiday activities. The evenings of Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, will see the sounds of the season being served up as a “side dish” accompanying the regular (or holiday?) dinner menu in the Crystal Dining Room at 6 o’clock, with dinner being served from 5 to 9.
The sweet sounds of Christmas will be emanating from The Aud during the Ozarks Chorale Holiday Concert annual concert (December 12). A stage full of beautiful voices will blend for an evening performance of popular holiday songs; a sound sweeter than grandma’s pecan pie.
The Night of a Thousand Santas (December 11) is an evening event where latent Kris Kringles strut their red suits and white beards as they enjoy a Reindeer Games at participating pubs. Those wishing to join in may do so even if they are not in costume. Folks can join in the #EurekaAfterDark Instagram contest that night to frame their Santa for the chance to win prizes!
The “real” Kris Kringle returns the next day (December 12) for another Santa In The Park event from 1p to 3p. The public is invited; kids and cameras are the order of the day.
Later that evening, costumed guides will take visitors on a Stroll The Springs tours (December 12) that combines a luminary with a lantern-led walk to see springs, hear about historic homes along the route, and a stop or two for some holiday snacks. The tours start from Sweet Spring and conclude at Grotto Spring with a motorized return trip.
Illuminate the Hills (December 12) is an extension of the aforementioned luminary. Throughout Basin Spring Park and all along Spring Street the stage will be set for a memorable shopping experience in a setting reminiscent of images from Christmas cards of old.
Wrapping up Eureka Springs holiday festival is the Home for the Holidays concert (December 19) at The Aud. Local musicians and vocalists gather to present their gift of music. In addition to the music, patrons will be amazed at the plethora of performing art that exists in this small, Ozark community.
Christmas comes but once a year, but ESDN has tried to spread it out over a couple dozen days. For more information, go to EurekaSpringsChristmas.com and ChristmasAtTheCrescent.com.