Put on your hat and gloves, fill that thermos with cocoa and pack some cookies. It's time to take in all things twinkly. We've rounded up some top area light displays to help you plan a perfectly merry and bright outing. For the neighborhood displays, note that it's very early in the season and things might get sparklier as Christmas draws near.
Centennial Park Holiday Lights
The Irving Parks and Recreation Department has decorated the park to create a winter wonderland featuring trees wrapped in lights, displays of illuminated trains, wreaths and other seasonal scenes.
Dec. 1-25, nightly from dusk till 10 p.m., at Centennial Park, 444 W. Second St., Irving. Free. irvingevents.org.
Christmas in the Square
More than 175,000 lights blink along to holiday music at this Frisco attraction. You can drive through and tune in on the radio — the station will be posted on signs. If you choose to brave the elements and walk through the display, you'll hear the music on speakers throughout the square. For those not averse to the cold, the Skate the Square outdoor ice rink is $12 per person, including skates (closed Dec. 25). And new this year, there will be a maze of 250 flocked Christmas trees inside a tent. The maze is $8 per person. The festivities will kick off Nov. 23 with a free festival featuring a parachuting Santa, a trackless train and an ice skating show. Frisco's Merry Main Street free festival and tree lighting will follow on Dec. 1.
Christmas on the Square
On Garland's downtown square, more than 100,000 lights programmed to holiday music available via radio will be on display through New Year's Eve. A tree-lighting ceremony kicks off the event Nov. 29 at 5:30 p.m. On the first three Saturdays in December, Santa will be at the square from 7 to 9 p.m. for photos, plus there will be carolers and hot chocolate. Christmas movies will play at the nearby Plaza Theater on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, 8 and 9.
The Colony Christmas Spectacular
A light show set to music playing on 99.9 FM will be presented nightly through New Year's Day. The lights will be switched on Dec. 1 following The Colony's daylong holiday celebration, which also includes the Parade of Lights, starting at 5:45 p.m. at Peters Colony Elementary.
Dec. 1-Jan. 1, Sundays through Thursdays from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 5:30 to 10:50 p.m., at Central Fire Station, 4900 Blair Oaks Drive, The Colony. Free. visitthecolonytx.com.
Dallas Zoo Lights
For 30-plus nights, more than a million bulbs will liven up a path through the ZooNorth section. Expect animal-shaped light sculptures, a light show, holiday performances, crafts, animal encounters and, of course, visits with Santa. Little ones might get a kick out of riding a gorilla or a giraffe on the carousel, or taking a spin on the mini train (both the carousel and mini train will have lights). The lights are on from 5 to 9 p.m. You also can go to the zoo during the day and stay without paying extra for the nighttime fun.
Through Jan. 1 on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, as well as select weeknights, at the Dallas Zoo, 650 S. R.L. Thornton Freeway, Dallas. $15 for adults, $12 for children 3-11 and for ages 65 and up, free for kids 2 and younger. dallaszoo.com.
Daystar Television Network
The grounds of the Christian television network are lit with more than a million lights. The displays include Christmas trees, snowflakes, an interactive sign that says "JOY" and a life-size nativity scene. Santa Claus will visit for photos Dec. 14-15 and Dec. 19-21 from 6 to 8 p.m., and he'll read a Christmas story on Dec. 21. On select nights, Daystar's Scratch Cafe will serve coffee, hot chocolate, cookies and other treats.
Through Jan. 4 at Daystar Television Network, 3901 State Highway 121, Bedford. Free. daystar.com/christmas/christmas-lights.
For its second year, this attraction — including what's billed as the world's largest light maze — will move inside Globe Life Park from the parking lot. Expect an ice-skating trail, a holiday market with more than 60 vendors, visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus, live entertainment, and food and drink.
Nov. 23-Dec. 30 at Globe Life Park, 1000 Ballpark Way, Arlington. $24.99-$32.99 for adults, $19.99-$23.99 for children 4-13 and seniors 65 and older, free for kids 3 and younger. enchantchristmas.com.
Gift of Lights at Texas Motor Speedway
Texas Motor Speedway turns into a winter wonderland for this annual drive-through attraction, which stretches 2 miles and features nearly 3 million LED lights. Head to Santa's Village to get your photo taken with old St. Nick. The annual Gift of Lights event benefits local charities including the Ronald McDonald House of Fort Worth, Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children and Speedway Children's Charities.
Grapevine Christmas Light Show Spectacular
Head to the Christmas tree in the Town Square for the nightly Christmas Light Show Spectacular, featuring sparkling lights choreographed to holiday music. The city, which calls itself the Christmas Capital of Texas, has a schedule full of holiday performances and activities, such as Christmas on Main, with seasonal photo ops and tractor-drawn wagon rides (weekends Nov. 23-Dec. 23). See illuminated floats and marching bands in the Parade of Lights on Dec. 6, as well as lighted boats in the Twinkle Light Boat Parade on Grapevine Lake on Dec. 1.
The Modern Lights
The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth and its tree-dotted grounds are illuminated for the season. Most days, the museum closes before dark, but it's open until 7 p.m. on Tuesdays and 8 p.m. on Fridays. Gallery admission is free on Fridays, and Cafe Modern is open for dinner until 8:30 p.m. with dining room views of the lights.
Through Feb. 3, nightly from 5 p.m. to midnight, at Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, 3200 Darnell St., Fort Worth. Free. themodern.org.
Four million lights twinkle along a 2-mile path throughout this drive-through holiday attraction. Visitors can hop out at Holiday Village to view the updated Holiday Magic Walk-Through Forest and the new Indoor Holiday Show — both of which are included in general admission this year. Holiday Village also includes photos with Santa, a carousel, carnival rides, concessions, a gift shop and other vendors.
Santa Land Village
Visit Little Elm Park to tour elf houses and other decorations around the clock through Dec.1-31. The display debuts with a Light-Up Parade, followed by the tree lighting and fireworks, Dec. 1 at 6 p.m. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be on-site Saturdays and Sundays, Dec. 1-9. There will be train rides ($3 per ticket) Dec. 2, Dec. 8 and Dec. 9 and live reindeer (Dec. 2 only).
Wander around this tiny town of 15 colorful holiday dwellings. There will be a children's activity at each stop, a visit with Santa Claus and performances by choirs, dance and theater groups.
Dec. 1-16 from 6 to 9 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays for the public and Thursdays for Richardson residents only (advance tickets required). Next to Richardson City Hall, 411 W. Arapaho Road, Richardson. Free. cor.net.
Roam through Vitruvian Park's 12 acres and view more than 550 illuminated trees wrapped in 1.5 million sparkling LED lights. The large number of single-color trees gives this display a modern flair. On Nov. 23 at 6 p.m., the lights will be turned on for the first time this season. After the ceremony, guests can enjoy a concert by the Jordan Kahn Orchestra, free photos with Santa, a balloon artist, holiday characters, food trucks and more. The celebration includes additional 6 p.m. performances by Dallas String Quartet on Dec. 1 and Sonny's Holiday on Dec. 8.
This Plano neighborhood display is traditionally one of Collin County's biggest, with merry penguins, glittering gift boxes and plenty of Santas. Times that lights will usually be on are Dec. 1-30 from 6 to 10 p.m., but most homeowners turn their lights on at dark. The neighborhood covers a large area north of Legacy Drive between Preston and Coit roads.
Visitors should obey the signs in the neighborhood. And vote for their favorite decorations by texting the address to 469-440-2011: Also indicate A for best overall; B for most traditional; C for children's favorite; or D for funniest. To make a reservation for a carriage ride through the neighborhood in December, go to dfwcarriages.com. The exhibit is free to view. There's a map of the recommended driving route on the homeowners' association website, deerfieldplano.org.
In the vicinity of Armstrong Parkway and Preston Road, sprawling homes stand majestically on endless lawns. The mansions themselves are sights to behold, and there's also a particularly spectacular pecan tree there that's covered in lights. Expect the houses to be glittering for the holidays with classic light decorations. Check out the area south of Preston and Mockingbird for even more lights. Several companies offer carriage rides.
The Griswold Award is just one of the prizes handed out to residents of this Arlington neighborhood, which has gained legendary status for its lights and decorations. More than 200 homes usually participate. The route has official hours and police direct traffic on some dates near Christmas. (There tends to be lots of traffic near the holiday.) The neighborhood's drive-through entrance point is at Westwood Drive and Randol Mill Road. The lights have been a tradition for more than 40 years.
This quiet and charming neighborhood near Red Bird turns up the volume during the holidays with its light displays. Take the West Camp Wisdom exit off 67 South and you'll be in the thick of the twinkling when you hit South Hampton Road. It's close enough to the downtown Dallas to be a convenient tiptoe off the beaten path.