Hot Springs has so much to offer during the holidays, so today I’m going to make a little bucket list for anyone looking to experience Holidays in Hot Springs to the fullest.
Item one on this bucket list has to be the nearly one million lights decorating downtown. Through Hill Wheatley Plaza, Adair Park, Arlington Park, and everything in between, these lights hanging and standing in our already-charming downtown area make it like a winter wonderland. Strolling downtown just to see the lights is worth it, but as they decorate local businesses flashing their holiday products and restaurants serving warm delights, you’re sure to find holiday joy in more ways than one.
Since we’re on the subject of lights, I have two more light scenes for you that you can’t miss. Second up, we have the stunning and dazzling Holiday Lights at Garvan Woodland Gardens. Running from 4 p.m. - 9 p.m. through December 31st (Closed Christmas Day), you don’t want to miss this light extravaganza of seven million lights. For anyone who has seen the unmatched beauty of the gardens in the daytime, this is a special and unique opportunity that should not be missed when visiting Hot Springs in the month of December.
Last but not least on the must-see holiday light displays, you won’t want to overlook the lights at the Garland County Courthouse. Located on Ouachita Avenue, which is just off downtown, lies the hidden magical gem that is the sparkling courthouse. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this very traditional light display will give you all the nostalgic feelings. So don’t forget to drop by when checking out the lights in the downtown area!
Speaking of traditional holiday experiences that give you all the nostalgic feelings, check out the carriage rides. Circle Double D Carriage Company leaves from The Arlington Resort Hotel & Spa in the evenings, giving you a horse-drawn carriage ride downtown alongside the lights. Bundle up and take your sweetie along for an enchanting ride through hsitoric downtown - a magical experience during the holidays!
While at The Arlington checking out the carriage rides, don’t forget to slip inside the hotel to write a letter to Santa and see the annual giant gingerbread house set up in the lobby. This 11-foot gingerbread house has been a tradition for four decades. Covered in real candy and gingerbread, each area of the house pays extreme attention to detail. Visitors can enter to win a prize if they guess the closest to the number of candy pieces used in this year’s creation. The house will be on display through New Year's Day.
Another can’t-miss downtown attraction during the holidays is Kringle’s in the Park. Although less of an attraction and more of a year-round business bringing ample amounts of holiday cheer, this still isn’t something you want to miss especially during the holidays. Kringles in the Park is decorated from ceiling to floor with Christmas decorations available for purchase. It’s like getting an inside glimpse of Santa’s actual workshop. Kringles and Kones is located across the street from the shop, serving up delectable Christmas-themed treats and beverages.
Who doesn’t love a good old-fashioned Christmas Parade? This year’s theme is Hollywood in Hot Springs, and it’s happening TOMORROW! (Dec. 4.) It will be held in Downtown Hot Springs. Proceeds from this parade help fund scholarships for local youth. Come line up and check out the parade boasting local creations parading down Central Avenue.
The Pocket Community Theatre will host eight showings of a story based on the beloved holiday film, this hilarious fish-out-of-water comedy follows Buddy the Elf in his quest to find his true identity. That’s right, “Elf” is coming to a stage near you! The Pocket Community Theatre does a great job time and time again with gathering astounding local talent and leaving the audience laughing, crying, or both! Take it from a local, this is one you won’t want to miss. Remaining show dates are Dec. 3 and Dec. 7 - 10.
He’s elusive, but we must put Santa sightings on this list to help you know where to look! The following locations, dates, and times should help you in getting to the big man in the red suit while visiting Hot Springs - just in time to let him know what it is you want for Christmas.
Last, and of the utmost importance among all else on this list — spread some good cheer. The holiday season is here, but there are always happenings around the world available on our screens at the tip of our fingertips. Sadness and sorrow can feel overwhelming sometimes, so spread good cheer when and where you can. So yes, enjoy holiday lights and all things Santa, but also take some time to be a friendly face to a stranger, volunteer for a local organization, give your leftovers to someone less fortunate. It’s a time of giving and receiving, and I hope you all have a great holiday season full of peace while doing both, my friends. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year.
Cassidy is a Hot Springs-based freelance journalist. In her free time, she enjoys playing games, skating, walking her dog Murphey and spending time with her nieces and nephews. Cassidy aspires to create a positive impact with her writing, be it fun or informative (or both!)