Celebrate a Very Special Holiday Season in Eureka Springs
Eureka Springs always does it up big for the holidays. Businesses and homes throughout town drip with lights. As Santa flies his sleigh over the Ozarks, he can look down and see the shining beacon that is Eureka Springs. It makes him smile, and the reindeer get their second wind.
Our weather gets brisk, but not brrrr cold. November’s average high is 60 degrees, December’s is 50. That makes for invigorating walks around town and in the country nearby.
Starting in late November and running through December, we put on a slate of events that amplify our long-term tradition of making the holidays in Eureka Springs special. Here’s a sampling. Come join the fun and feel the spirit.
Eureka Springs’ popular Christian-themed attraction, the 167-acre Great Passion Play, goes all out for the holidays. The illuminated grounds feature a forest of more than 300 gleaming Christmas trees on the way to the 66-foot Christ of the Ozarks statue, plus dozens of nativity scenes. It’s a donation drive-through spectacle that starts on Thanksgiving night and runs Friday through Sunday through New Year’s Day — from sundown to 8 p.m.
With no big box stores anywhere in downtown Eureka Springs — the nearest Walmart is 12 miles away — we do our post-Thanksgiving shopping a little differently here. An annual tradition, Shop Small Saturday encourages residents and visitors alike to hunt for those distinctive gifts and other merchandise at our wide array of unique and sometimes quirky shops and galleries. Downtown is lit up big time, and stores offer specials and hourly giveaways.
And if you head to Basin Spring Park at 10:00am, you’ll be able to pick up a FREE Shop Small goodie bag filled with merchant coupons, specials, and goodies! One lucky winner will receive a FREE 2-night stay and couples spa package to the historic Palace Hotel (valued over $950)! Then go and enjoy Eureka Springs and all the unique shops!
The 1886 Crescent Hotel that overlooks downtown features special Christmas-themed events throughout December — eggnog socials, gingerbread decorating, s’mores around the campfire, Santa brunches and more. Daily resort activities include concerts by bands from area schools, wine and craft beer tastings, Christmas craft classes, hatchet throwing, and walking tours. The Crescent grounds will showcase a Christmas Tree Forest.
Guests will love the hayride through light-draped Glenwood Hollow. On Dec. 8, the hotel will host a Community Dinner to benefit the Eureka Springs Community Center. The hotel’s annual ice-skating rink is tentatively set to open on Dec. 26. And the Crescent always throws a very special New Year’s Eve bash. All this fun takes place amid the splendor of a gorgeous 135-year-old hotel done up for the Holidays. Check the hotel’s website for updates and specifics on Holiday-themed events.
Dec. 3, Lights On in Basin Spring Park
At 5:30pm (right before the Christmas Parade of Lights), neighbors and visitors will gather in our main downtown park to ceremoniously turn on the festive light display. Tradition says the mayor does the honors, so the Honorable Robert “Butch” Berry will flip the switch.
Boy, does Eureka Springs love a parade — and this is one of our most popular. A steady stream of floats, bands, marchers, cars festooned with lights, pickup trucks wearing antlers, and other random sights winds through downtown. One small storefront after another gleams with holiday lights. This parade, like others throughout the year, is a delightfully unscripted affair, with a loose, improvisational feel that’s in sync with our town’s reputation for quirkiness. Grab a spot on the sidewalk and enjoy the spectacle or, even better, join in the procession if the spirit moves you. You might want to bring shades, as it gets mighty bright with all those lights. The parade is scheduled to start at 6:00pm and run to 8:00pm. And this year’s theme is “A Cinematic Christmas,” so pick your favorite holiday movie and run with it!
Dec. 4, 11, & 18, Santa in the Park
Prior to his big night, Santa Claus will be visiting Eureka Springs’ very own Basin Spring Park for the first three Saturdays in December — 12/4, 12/11 and 12/18 — from 12:00–2:00pm each day. Be sure to make plans for you and your family to give him your Christmas Lists in person in Eureka Springs!
Come to Downtown Eureka Springs on Saturday December 11, 2021 and enjoy Living Windows presented by the merchants of Eureka Springs! Living Windows — where real life people act out Christmas scenes in our shop windows — will be on display from 5:00–7:00pm. But come experience the entire day and night in Downtown Eureka Springs … shop late, free 2-hour metered parking, Christmas lights, Santa in the Park, carolers singing in the streets, and plenty more family friendly holiday fun!
Dec. 31, New Year’s Eve and Drag Show, Eureka Live
Been a while since you really cut loose on New Year’s Eve? Then this is the town to do it. The most inclusive nightclub in one of the most inclusive towns in the Ozark region always goes all out on New Year’s Eve. Eureka Live is famous for its drag shows, and that is the main event on this special night. But in addition, a DJ will rock the house, the place will be decked out in its usual over-the-top way, and dancing will last into the wee hours. Best of all, Eureka Live is not the only NYE game in town. Plenty of other bars and restaurants will be throwing bashes of their own — so join the fun and kick off 2022 in memorable fashion!