Tulsa has so much to offer during the holidays. Simply driving through neighborhoods adorned with Christmas lights can provide a certain holiday charm, but if you’re like me, you want to be involved in the full gamut of festivities. I’m finally sitting down to make my bucket list of places to go to spread Christmas cheer for all to hear, as Buddy the Elf would say!
1. Rhema Bible College.
If you’ve been around Tulsa for even just one year, you likely know that Rhema is THE PLACE to go to see millions of Christmas lights. Yes, literally millions — 2 million lights, not to mention 100,000 bulbs. And many of those lights are synchronized to Christmas music. My personal favorite part of the attraction is the bridge of lights, which illuminates in time to your favorite Christmas carols. (Notice the lovely picture of our friends Matt and Megan on the bridge. I took this photo of them, but Megan gets the credit for the other Rhema photos here!)
My first stop when visiting Rhema is usually the hot cocoa stand. Nearby is a giant American flag with hundreds of bulbs — always a popular photo opp. One of my favorite parts of the attraction is the duck pond and gazebo, which in recent years has hosted Santa Claus. While I would recommend getting out of your car and walking through the main part of the lights, you may want to drive through some of the extremities of the campus. There, you will find a display that always makes me chuckle — the face of the late Kenneth Hagin Sr., the founder of Rhema Ministries, illuminated in Christmas lights.
Rhema lights will run Nov. 26, 2014 to Jan. 1, 2015.
2. WinterFest at the BOK Center.
WinterFest 2014 will open November 28, 2014 and run through January 19, 2015.
WinterFest is a true holiday experience, featuring ice skating, horse and carriage rides, free live entertainment, and tons of delicious food, like S’mores, snowflake cookies, chili cheese dogs, and more. The long run time of WinterFest gives you plenty of time to bundle up (or not, depending on what the weather decides to do!) and enjoy all of the exciting festivities! I, for one, look forward to enjoying my first ever horse and carriage ride this Christmas!
I had a chance to check out Chandler Park’s (6500 W. 21st. St.) Holiday Lights on the Hill for the first time last year, and I was definitely wowed by how many holiday twinklies aligning the hilltop is west Tulsa. If you have kids, they will especially enjoy the many colorful, and often times, character-driven displays. The park includes over 100 light displays spread over three miles. Rumor has it that horse-drawn carriage rides are also available at Chandler Park. The Holiday Lights on the Hill are blazing from dusk to 9 p.m., Friday through Sunday Nov. 28 through Dec. 28, 2014. Entry to the park is free, but donations are appreciated.
4. Holiday Performances
The Tulsa Ballet each year puts on dazzling performances of The Nutcracker at the Tulsa PAC. A larger children’s cast, fresh new choreography, and the return of Mother Ginger make this year’s production even more spectacular! Uniquely set in 1920s Paris, Tulsa Ballet’s “Nutcracker” evokes the Art Deco era, an important and glamorous time in Tulsa’s history. The Tulsa Symphony also performs live at each performance.
Also this year, the PAC has added “A Christmas Carol” to its repertoire. Performances will run Dec. 11-14.
For a full list of performances, visit the Tulsa PAC web site.
5. Utica Square Yuletide
This lovely shopping center at 21st St. and Utica is illuminated for the holidays and features several whimsical holiday scenes, like the one on the left. Here’s a question for folks who have been around Tulsa for a long time: Are these scenes the same as the ones that used to be at Children’s Medical Center (which was demolished in the early 2000s, near Promenade Mall on Skelly Dr.)? I visited the Christmas decorations at the CMC every year as a child, and these displays remind me a lot of them!
Utica Square also hosts visits with Santa, near the Snow Goose from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.
6. Philbrook’s Christmas Festivities
The Philbrook Museum of Art comes alive with the joy of Christmas with plenty of things to see both indoors and outdoors. Inside from Nov. 22 through Dec. 14, you’ll enjoy touring the immaculately-decorated Christmas trees in the Festival of Trees display. Travel upstairs to view the gingerbread houses decorated by local businesses and schools. I simply fell in love with this pink gingerbread house during last year’s festivities!
On Thursday evenings at Philbrook, you can also enjoy the Garden Glow — the beautiful gardens and the Philbrook Mansion are aglow until 8 p.m. for visitors and Philbrook members alike.
No matter where the holidays lead you in Tulsa this Christmas, I wish you a very special and happy Christmas! Please let me know if I failed to mention any of your favorite holiday spots in Tulsa!