Christmas Holidays in Eureka Springs

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:  eureka springs christmas festivalthe 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 christmas at the crescentcoffee 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 cedowntown living windowsremonial 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 night of a thousand santasbeautiful 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,illuminated stroll the springs tour 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.

A New Tradition of Family Christmas in Eureka Springs

A New Tradition of Family Christmas in Eureka Springs

Almost all households who celebrate Christmas will do so at home on Christmas Eve or Christmas Morning.  However, for many families from ArDSC_0095kansas, Western Oklahoma, Southwest Missouri, Southeast Kansas and beyond, their newest holiday tradition has become a “family Christmas” reunion where everybody comes together the week between Christmas and New Year’s in a town that’s not too far away, in a charming place that feels like home, and at a destination the whole family enjoys.  That place for the past dozen years or so has been the 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa, located in historic Eureka Springs, Arkansas.  The families that “gather up” at the Crescent not only appreciate and take pride in this mountaintop spa resort being the gathering place for their family but the hotel itself, its vast garden area and the cottages are magnificently decorated for that crowning “feel of home” touch.

            “When you add our Cottages at Crescent Park and Lookout Cottage Estate to our numerous spacious suites and penthouses located in our hotel proper, the Crescent now has  lcManorHouse_snow_300multiple choices for a family to choose for their Christmas week holiday family reunion,” said Jack Moyer, general manager of the Crescent.  “In Lookout Estate, our five-bedroom Manor House can accommodate most families while some families choose a combination of Crescent cottages and selected suites to accommodate their family members.  No need to pull out the sleeper sofa at Grandma’s for the kids, to set up cots for the cousins, or to convince Uncle Willy that sleeping in the recliner really can be a relaxing experience.”

            Moyer explained that the normal pattern is for family members to start arriving from all directions on Christmas or the day after, still while the kids are out of school.  “Hugs-n-howdies” that first night followed by “the roundup” in the hotel’s lobby or other designated spot the next day for the onset of the family’s week of discovering each other as well as one America’s Dozen Distinctive Destinations, Eureka Springs.

            “Some families find that the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is ideal for them, “continued Moyer “Those six nights and seven days are usually free of commitments and those few days invested in a family get-together are guaranteed to make wonderful lifetime memories.”

In past years, families have seemed to enjoy the more than 100 local shops to pick up on after-Christmas sales.  Eureka shops, eclectic in nature and “non-chain”, are perfect 484152_550898464923607_1894183831_nfor finding those just right, one-of-a-kind gifts.  This year they will also be able to enjoy Crescent Hotel Ghost Tours, Intrigue Theater, and other area attractions open during this special week.

            Moyer explained that the Manor House, other cottages and suites become quickly reserved.  So he encouraged families to exercise haste in calling in or going online to reserve their group of rooms.  Reservations for our Christmas Buffet, spa appointments, and certain holiday events should also be made far in advance.

            “Once the reservations have been made,” Moyer concluded, ”the only thing left for the family to do is to go over the river and through the woods to their historic holiday home, the 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa, for an unforgettable family reunion in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.  ”

            For reservations and information, one should go to crescenthotel.com or call 800-342-9766.