As winter approaches, colored lights flicker on, nativity scenes appear, and the metroplex’s most extravagant holiday events open their doors. While 2020 may have put a stop to large holiday gatherings and mistletoe hanging from the ceiling, there are plenty of drive-thru holiday events and experiences to the area.

From portraits with Santa, to drive-through toy drives and a giant hand-made Christmas pyramid, the DFW metroplex has something for everyone this holiday season.

Keep checking back, because we’ll be updating this list! Additionally, check out our guide to neighborhood light displays.

The Grinch’s Grotto, Stonebriar

Visit the Grinch’s Cave at Stonebriar Centre for a private meet and greet with the Grinch himself. Book a visit, and you’ll receive a free holiday photo with The Grinch and a few special holiday giveaways. Of all the holiday events in the metroplex, this one truly feels in the spirit of 2020.

At the Stonebriar Center, Frisco | shopstonebriar.com

Christmas in the Frisco Square

Frisco presents a huge, choreographed light and music show at the square, daily from 6 – 10 p.m. This show is free to the public. Visitors can tune in to 107.3 FM on the radio in their vehicles, or listen to the music piped through speakers as they take a walk through the Square. 

The show has over 180,000 lights, 200 dancing snowflakes, 10 miles of wiring, and 8 miles of extension cords. This year is going to be greater than ever before. They also offer ice skating, and there’s a toy drive with Operation Once in a Lifetime (OOIAL).

8843 Coleman Blvd., Frisco | friscosquare.com/cits-overview

The Star in Frisco

The Dallas Cowboys host their fourth annual Christmas Extravaganza. Only this year, it’s virtual. All season long, fans can watch the Christmas Extravaganza online.

On Nov. 27, Dec. 11, and Dec. 24 at 6 p.m., tune in on Dallas Cowboys Facebook and Dallas Cowboys Twitter, as well as on-demand at dallascowboys.com/christmas. Marvel at the 20-minute show, including the lighting of The Star’s 67-foot Christmas tree and a performance showcasing the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, Dallas Cowboys Rhythm and Blue Dancers and Rookie Squad, Dallas Cowboys Drumline, mascot Rowdy, Santa, and special Dallas Cowboys guest appearances.

9 Cowboys Way, Frisco | thestarinfrisco.com/christmas

Prairie lights drive-thru holiday light experience entrance

Grand Prairie Lights

For the 15th year, along the shores of Joe Pool Lake, Prairie Lights, a two-mile drive-through holiday stunning display of more than five million lights, is opening on Thanksgiving night. Since its premiere in 2005, Prairie Lights has become one of the top holiday attractions in the region, drawing more than 165,000 people every year.

Drive along the route, and see hundreds of displays, including the animated grand-finale tunnel, and enjoy the debut of drive-through concessions, which will be available via card purchase only (no cash). 

The city recommends scheduling plenty of time to fully enjoy the park—at least 45 minutes on slower nights, and up to three hours on holidays. There’s also a popular “Fast Pass” option that allows guests to upgrade their experience and bypass the line.

Lynn Creek Park, 5610 Lake Ridge Pkwy., Grand Prairie | prairielights.org

Courtesy of downtown mckinney’s facebook

A McKinney Christmas: Holiday Pop-up

Downtown McKinney is going big for the holidays. This season, they have a wide variety of options for celebrating, from candied apples and hot cocoa at Taylor’s Sweet Shop, to a Christmas carousel on Kentucky Street, to holiday photo-ops. 

They’re accepting reservations for Visits with Santa, and there are multiple storytimes available for children and their families, presented by McKinney Public Libraries. They have a set up for kids to write letters to Santa, and even receive a reply, and a Little Elves’ Workshop, where kids can do crafts, like homemade ornaments. 

222 N. Tennessee St., McKinney | 972.547.7500 | mckinneytexas.org/677/Home-for-the-Holidays

Legacy West North Pole

Legacy West is bringing the holiday magic back to Plano safely with their North Pole experience. From now until December 31, enter Santa’s Village at Legacy West’s North Pole. They’re mixing all the holiday favorites with some new classics for a 2020-style holiday experience. They’ve got an ‘Ugly Sweater Hall of Fame’, and Santa Portraits appointments that can be booked on select days (check Photography by Misty’s website), and CU•RAT•ED, a Modern Pop Up Market on Dec. 13.

Santa Portraits – Nov. 27, Nov. 28, Dec. 5, Dec. 6, Dec. 12, Dec. 13 from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Children and Santa will chat from a safe distance and get portraits taken in a professionally-built Holiday Scene. All photographers and workers will be required to wear masks and all props will be sanitized between families. Two digital images will be delivered within a week

The Imam Project invites guests to a thrilling afternoon of holiday shopping, crafting and more from more than 35 local vendors. Grab a hot chocolate and wander CU•RAT•ED on Dec. 13 from 12 – 5 p.m.

5908 Headquarters Dr., Plano | legacywest.com

Breakfast at the North Pole

Craig Ranch Fitness & Spa is holding its annual Breakfast at the North Pole event this December, with plenty of outdoor activities, social distancing guidelines, and sanitation stations. They’re offering free photos with Santa and a reindeer, complimentary samples from McKinney restaurants, and much, much more. Best of all, the entire event is free for kids.

From 9 a.m. to noon on Dec. 12 in the club’s backyard, families can enjoy a full North Pole Tour, games, carriage rides, goodie bags, and more.

 All attendees are asked to wear masks. 

Guests can purchase tickets at the door or pre-register by emailing events@craigranchfitness.com. 

7910 Collin McKinney Pkwy., McKinney | craigranchfitness.com

The Village at Allen

For the season, The Village at Allen is offering a free drive-up movie series behind Haverty’s. These family-friendly events allow guests to enjoy the big screen and stay safe in their own vehicles. It’s exciting, fresh, and a blast from the past fun.

They are showing The Polar Express on Dec. 5, A Christmas Story on Dec. 12, and Elf on Dec. 19. Grab carryout at a shop or restaurant at The Village, and enjoy a holiday movie in style. 

190 E. Stacy Rd., Allen | 972.678.4939 | villageatallen.com/events/holiday-movie-nights

Annual Santa Fire Engine Ride

The City of Murphy says that their traditional Santa Ride on a Fire Engine will be unaffected by 2020. It’s one of their most beloved traditions in Murphy. 

Starting on Monday, Dec. 7 and continuing for about 15 days, Santa is going to ride atop a Murphy fire engine with lights ablaze, and the bell ringing. An occasional blast from the siren will be sounded to announce the arrival. The rides will cover every street in Murphy except short cul-de-sacs. Departure from the Fire Station will occur promptly at 6:30 p.m. each evening, continuing until 8:30 p.m.

Santa is securely strapped to the engine, so he won’t be able to disembark and interact with anyone. In fact, the only way they can cover the entire city within 15 days is for the engine not to stop for any length of time.

Residents are asked to take the appropriate precautions regarding the pandemic, by remaining with members of the same household, social distancing, and if necessary, wearing face coverings.

An interactive map, with live tracking, will be posted on murphytx.org/480/Santas-Ride

Vitruvian lights | stevan koye photography

Vitruvian Lights

The most dazzling and spectacular time of the year, Vitruvian Park transforms into a magical holiday wonderland. Stroll through the park, enjoy the view. Beginning Friday, November 27, 2020, the lights will be on daily (5 p.m. – 11 p.m.) through Sunday, January 3, 2021.

This year, Vitruvian Park has made the difficult decision not to host special events in conjunction with Vitruvian Lights. However, visitors are encouraged to walk through the park in a socially distanced manner or drive through to enjoy the beauty that is Vitruvian Lights.

visitaddison.com/tourism/vitruvian-park-events

Christmas on the square, Celina

Celina’s annual Christmas on the Square is on schedule to launch on the evening of Dec 2. Events include a tree lighting in downtown Celina, with live reindeer, Christmas carols, treats, shopping, and more fun. They’re also offering Limited Edition Ornaments for $30. 

302 W. Walnut St., Celina | celina-tx.gov/1121/Christmas-on-the-Square

Watters Creek Holiday Events

Watters Creek, Allen’s best known shopping center, has a variety of events for the holiday season, including the arrival of an art pop-up, Sweet Tooth Motel. Modeled after the ever popular Sweet Tooth Hotel in Dallas, the installation is full of fantastical desserts, snowy pine trees, and northern lights. It’s exclusive for each individual group. 

There are also jazz musicians playing along Watters Creek Blvd. throughout the holiday seasons. Plus, Santa is touching down and is available virtually or in-person by reservation only. Book soon!

970 Garden Park Dr., Allen | 972.521.5004 | watterscreek.com/events

Shops at legacy in past years

The Lights at Legacy

Celebrate the season at The Shops at Legacy, at a holiday drive-through event, The Lights at Legacy. Beginning Nov. 22, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., guests can enjoy free, family-friendly fun from the comfort of their own vehicles.

The holiday journey includes appearances by Santa and Mrs. Claus, a live reindeer, the Sugar Plum Fairy, a snow queen, toy soldiers, drummers drumming, and more. Plus, an even more rare sight in Plano: snow. The grand finale is a beautifully lit Christmas tree. Attendees will be able to tune into the sounds of Lights at Legacy’s live DJ via their car radio, and will remain in their vehicle as they drive through the event.

There’s also a Gingerbread Village on the north side of The Shops at Legacy, where everyone can view life-sized gingerbread and sugar cookie characters, trees, candy canes, and snowflakes on colorful facades. 

5741 Legacy Dr., Plano | 469.467.9995 | ShopsatLegacy.com 

Courtesy of dallas arboretum

Holiday at the Arboretum

There’s no Christmas in DFW without Holiday at the Arboretum. This year, the Arboretum has The German-Built Christmas Pyramid Lighting on Tuesday, Nov. 24 at 5:30 p.m. inside the Christmas Village.

Inspired by European Christmas Markets, or Christkindlmarket, The Christmas Village is made of charming shops and façades representing a quaint European hamlet. The handcrafted German-built Christmas pyramid, which measures 23-feet-tall, is decorated with hand-carved elements, lighting and character movement on every level. It features a nativity on the bottom,  six flower children on the second level, four shopkeepers that would tend the shops in Christmas Village on the third level, and four angels on the top level. 

The Christmas Village opens November 27 and runs through December 31. Timed tickets are required.

8525 Garland Rd., Dallas| 214.515.6615 | dallasarboretum.org

Dickens in Downtown Plano

Get into the holiday spirit by celebrating a long-standing Plano tradition. It’s Dickens in Downtown Plano, coming on Sat., Dec. 5. The 2020 edition will be a virtual event only, taking place on Plano Arts and Events on Facebook. It will also be rebroadcast on PTV.

Dickens in Downtown Plano begins at 6:15 p.m. with a choir, and an annual tree lighting at 7 p.m. The city will also be posting Holiday Highlights videos in the week leading up to the event, featuring: British Baking, Christmas Cracker Craft, Creative S’mores, Ice Sculptures, Handcrafted Wooden Toys, and a Blacksmith. 

1037 E. 15th St., Plano | plano.gov/2395/Dickens-in-Downtown-Plano

Courtesy of reliant lights your holidays

Reliant Lights Your Holidays

Reliant Lights Your Holidays has been reimagined so families can safely explore and enjoy this popular North Texas holiday tradition at their own pace. The team has filled the campus with lights, festive projections, and pop-up performances.

Each evening from Fri., Dec. 4 through Sat., Dec. 20, the Winspear Opera House, Wyly Theatre, and trees in Sammons Park will again be illuminated by a stunning display of 550,000 LED lights. But this year, the Center is also featuring colorful light projections, family photo-ops, and surprise pop-up performances from the Center’s resident companies, arts organizations, and local artists.

2403 Flora St., Dallas | attpac.org

Christmas in the Park Trail of Lights

The City of Murphy Special Events staff presents Christmas in the Park Trail of Lights, an in-car drive-through event occurs on the evenings of Friday, Dec. 4 and Saturday, Dec. 5 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. along the Murphy City Hall throughways. 

The trail will feature an array of light displays, collection boxes for the Murphy Fire Department’s Toy Drive, a waving Santa Claus, and a large mailbox to drop off letters to Santa. The annual Murphy Fire Department Toy Drive, which collects toys for the Children’s Advocacy Center of Collin County, will be accepting new, unwrapped toys. Since no one will be allowed to exit their vehicles, the toys must be handed through the car window. Alternatively, toy donations may be dropped off at the Murphy Fire Department entry foyer between now and Dec. 6.

To accommodate the two-evening event in a safe and orderly manner, tickets for each evening are required. Tickets are free and cover all the occupants of one vehicle. Vehicles attending must be inside the PSA parking lot before 9 p.m. on their specific date to continue into the event.

Tickets for Friday’s event can be obtained here. Tickets for Saturday’s event can be obtained here