Nestled in the Ozark mountain range you’ll find the small bustling city of Branson, Missouri. The main strip is filled with bright lights, unique buildings and 100s of shows – It’s like a mini Vegas. But during the holiday season, this small town transforms into a Christmas wonderland straight out of a Hallmark Christmas movie! Read on to find out what a true Ozark Mountain Christmas entails.
I was invited by Stone Castle Hotel and Conference Center as part of a media FAM to explore Branson, Missouri. All opinions are 100% my own.
What is an Ozark Mountain Christmas?
I’ll be the first to admit that I was clueless as to what an Ozark Mountain Christmas was before this trip. Heck, I didn’t even know where the Ozarks were until my trip to Branson this past April. (Geography has never been my strong suit.) But, the holidays is where I shine, so I was so excited to experience an Ozark Mountain Christmas!
When does an Ozark Mountain Christmas season start?
Branson becomes a ghost town the last week of October to undergo the dramatic transformation. As swiftly as it closed, Branson reopens on November 1st, as a holiday paradise and travelers from all over have descended.
To give an example of the crazy change, our host hotel, the Stone Castle Hotel and Conference Center, went from 50-60 rooms rented to 296 and full capacity in one day!
How are the shows different for the holidays?
Let me start by saying this – All of the shows in Branson are run on similar values which include Family, Faith and proud to be American. No one hides this and each of the shows highlights their values. If any of this offends you – Branson may not be for you, but I encourage you to give it a chance!
Branson is home to over 50 theaters and features more than 100 shows that include comedy, live music, variety and magic shows. When it’s said there is something for everyone – they mean it!
Branson Famous Baldknobbers
In 1959, The Baldknobbers Jamboree was the first show to open in Branson. Now known as the Branson Famous Baldknobbers, Brandon Mabe and his family continue the history-making variety show.
For tickets visit Baldknobbers.com
Starting in November, the Branson Famous Baldknobbers revamp the last half of the show to focus on Christmas. From foot-stomping fiddle playing to gospel ballads and country twang Christmas songs to the holiday classics, the Baldknobbers Christmas show is magnificent from start to finish.
Read more about the Branson Famous Baldknobbers HERE.
Clay Cooper’s Country Express
Clay Cooper’s Country Express is non-stop fun from the moment Clay hits the stage. Y’all know when someone says “he’s got it” in show business and you wonder what “it” is? Clay Cooper has that it factor.
So what’s different for the holiday season? First, the name transforms to Clay Cooper’s Christmas Express. Secondly, Tina Cooper, who everyone says is the brains behind the man, has outdone herself. There is a surprise skit that features some unlikely villains who are out to ruin Christmas for everyone. Lastly, the musical talents of the entire crew bring you joy with their renditions of some of your favorite Christmas songs.
Grab your tickets to see Clay and the Gang at ClayCooperTheatre.com
With 10 dancers, a male trio, comedian Matt Gumm, the live band and the Cooper family – You’ll have the time of your life!
Check out my live interview with James Redden from the Clay Cooper theatre.
Hughes Brothers Christmas Show
Unlike some of the other shows, The Hughes Brothers Christmas show is Christmas from start to finish! As a lover of all things Christmas that was fabulous to me.
Head over to Hughes-Brothers.com for your tickets
So what sets the Hughes Brothers Christmas Show apart from others? The story of Christmas told by Santa Claus is unlike anything I’ve ever seen that includes a live nativity scene with Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus. The musical performances showcasing the incredible talents of the Hughes children.
All the shows we saw are family friendly, but the Hughes Family show is genuinely all about family. From grandpa and grandma to the youngest of grandchildren everyone will be entertained by the Hughes.
The Andy Williams Ozark Mountain Christmas Show
Starring the youngest Osmond, Jimmy and the fabulous Lennon Sisters the Andy Williams Ozark Mountain Christmas Show is a great way to kick off the holiday season.
The classics were sung with audience participation and highlighted with the magic ice skating performances.
We were treated to lively performances by America’s Got Talent trio AYO – Voices of Glory. They had our group dancing and singing along. And then goose bumps popped up when Britian’s Got Talent crooner, Charlie Green took the stage.
Honoring our Country – An Ozark Mountain Christmas tradition
Each year Branson rolls out the red, white and blue carpet for Veterans during the week leading up to Veterans Day. They set up a Veterans Village where service members from all branches are given the opportunity to get to know each other, dine for free, enjoy free entertainment and see what resources are available. Shows, restaurants and hotel establishments honor veterans with free admission, meals or discounted stays.
The people of Branson are proud to be Americans and love those that served and are currently serving our country.
What attractions are available for the holidays?
Silver Dollar City Holidays
I’ve always been partial to the late 1800’s era. I adore the clothes, am intrigued by the simple way of life and I’d give anything to attend a grand ball! Silver Dollar City allows me a glimpse into my favorite time in history.
As a Disney girl, I have high expectations for theme parks and Silver Dollar City can give Disney and Universal a run for their money on any given day. But when you add in Christmas – I have to give the top spot to Silver Dollar City.
You’ll find wonderous decor, strolling Christmas carolers and broadway worthy holiday shows including a 60 minute Dickens Christmas Carol play. But once the sun goes down, the park comes alive with over 6 million Christmas lights!
Dolly Parton’s Stampede Christmas Show
There are so many incredible secrets waiting to dazzle you at Dolly Parton’s Stampede Christmas Show. I loved the new spin on the friendly competition between sides. Instead of North and South it’s between the North pole and South pole. We were on the winning side – South Pole!
My favorite sequence was the mesmerizing ice skating by Anasztazia Kenyeres and Matthew Scoralle as they performed “Adagio On Ice”.
Guests will still get the yummy four-course meal which includes the local’s favorite, the Stampede’s original creamy vegetable soup.
Showboat Branson Belle
I have been wanting to do a showboat ride since I lived in New Orleans, so I was so excited when I saw this on our schedule!
General seating includes a three-course meal with salad, pot roast and chicken, veggies and a dessert. Which we had a lemon ice cream cake thing that was to die for! Probably the best dessert we had out of all the desserts we had (which was a lot).
The show was incredible and had hits from the 60s to today with some Christmas favorites thrown in. We had a fabulous time belting out as we sang along.
But my favorite part was getting to walk out side and see the stunning scenery as we floated along Table Rock Lake.
Titanic Museum Attraction
I had such an incredible visit the last time we did this attraction I was happy to get a chance to go back. Again we were given boarding passes as we entered and yes, once again my person lived to tell the tale of the Titanic. But what was unique about this time is that I was given a child! More details to follow in another post.
We had the same guide, Jim, who I swear knows just about everything there is to know about the Titanic. Throughout the attraction, you’ll find bright Christmas lights and cheerful holiday decor.
Branson’s IMAX Entertainment Complex
I love the Imax Entertainment Complex! It is so much more than a movie theater. Movies, shopping, shows – You name it and it probably can be found or done at the Branson’s IMAX Entertainment Complex.
For the holidays take in a newly released Christmas film or do some Christmas shopping at the fun and unique shops. Trust me no one will bring the same gift as you to your family’s white elephant gift exchange!
The Track Family Fun Park
It was early in the morning when we were there, so only the Branson Ferris Wheel was open. Which I bravely rode once again. Thinking that will be my last time, but of
The Branson Ferris Wheel has a long history including time on Chicago Navy Pier. It was brought to Branson in 2016 and has been lighting up the night sky every since.
Family – The heart of the Ozark Mountain Christmas
I know I harped on it after my last visit to Branson, but Y’all this place screams family! You will be welcomed with open arms and will leave with a heart full of new family members.
Where to dine in Branson?
There is no need for snacks when in Branson! The food is too good to stop eating, so you’ll clean your plate each meal.
McFarlain’s Family Restaurant
Down home comfort food that will have your taste buds singing! Bonus – there something for even the pickiest eater on the menu. But all I care about is the Fried Green Tomatoes. I could, and maybe did, eat a whole basket of those delicious things. And you must dip them in ranch. It’s truly the only way to eat them.
Pasghetti’s Italian Restaurant
Home to the world’s largest fork and meatball. Yep, you read that right! And that’s not all – there’s also a working ferris wheel inside the restaurant.
As you walk in you’ll be transported to New York in an instant and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by all of the themed dining rooms. Don’t forget to order the pasghetti and meatball plate – it’s a favorite with the locals.
Montana Mike’s Steakhouse
I walked in an started singing the Gaston theme song starting with “I use antlers in all of my decorating”.
Casual, good food and comfort can all be found at this restaurant. I had a juicy burger that was flavorful and decent size. Next time, I plan on trying out the steaks!
Check out my live from Montana Mike’s
Faith – The true meaning of an Ozark Mountain Christmas
In the town of Branson, there isn’t a Christmas without the birth of baby Jesus. You will hear the story of Mary and Joseph in each show and see a live nativity scene at Dolly Parton’s Stampede.
Faith is what brings the people of Branson together and what gets them through each day.
Where to stay during the holidays in Branson
Stone Castle Hotel and Conference Center
You’ll never find a place like the Stone Castle Hotel and Conference Center!
There is a free hot breakfast each and every morning, which is a huge value for families. The rooms are large and there are 30 themed suites including the Titanic Room which is where I stayed.
It’s a family hotel that is budget friendly that doesn’t strive to be a five-star hotel but does go out of its way to make sure you have everything you need and want.
So what is an Ozark Mountain Christmas?
It’s a feeling that you take with you even after you leave Branson. A feeling of patriotic happiness, a sense of family togetherness and the comfort of faith however you define it. Best way of describing it – An Ozark Mountain Christmas is the true spirit of Christmas.