Holidays with stars on top

Visit Branson and Broadway for holiday finery and Christmas shows galore

By Jackie Sheckler Finch

Ebenezer Scrooge has a change of heart and vows to change his miserly ways. Clarence the angel earns his wings by helping George Bailey realize It’s a Wonderful Life. The Grinch discovers the true meaning of Christmas. And Branson and Broadway entertainers dust off holiday favorites for festive annual shows.

Christmas in Missouri’s Branson and New York’s Broadway starts early with colorful lights, gaily decorated trees, marvelous stage shows and holiday finery galore. Christmas in Branson usually begins the first week of November and continues through Dec. 30, although some shows cease production earlier so performers can be with family.

In New York City, the Great White Way lures theatergoers all year long, but especially so at Christmas. The NYC holidays officially commence with the help of Broadway performers, marching bands from all over the United States, world-renowned music artists and spectacular floats in the 92nd edition of America’s pre-Thanksgiving dinner ritual of Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. The huge parade steps off on Nov. 22.

Whichever you pick—or maybe it’s worth offering trips to both—you’ll find a way to capture holiday spirit in an unparalleled ways.

Philip Bryan as The Grinch-Courtesy, Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden

In New York, the list of Broadway shows is long and diverse. For starters, there is the traditional Nutcracker, plus A Charlie Brown Christmas, Christmas Carol, Chanticleer Christmas, Disney on Ice, How the Grinch Stole Christmas and much more.

The Radio City Christmas Spectacular is a tradition started in 1933 with plenty of singing and dancing, plus the high-kicking Rockettes. The 36-member, world-famous dance troupe is guaranteed showstoppers in holly and gold costumes. Then the man himself arrives: Santa Claus in a sleigh drawn by some beautiful prancing reindeer.

“The holiday season in New York City is a spectacle unlike any other,” said Fred Dixon, NYC & Company President and CEO. “It is a time when the vibrant energy that makes up the very fabric of our city is magnified through the joy of dozens of multicultural celebrations among New Yorkers and global visitors who make the five boroughs a centerpiece of their annual festivities.”

In Branson, a favorite production is at the Andy Williams Performing Arts Center where the Lennon sisters and the Osmond Brothers pay tribute to their mentor. Known as Mr. Christmas, Andy Williams died of cancer at his Branson home in 2012 at the age of 84.

“I think Andy Williams would be pleased and proud that we are continuing his Christmas tradition,” singer Janet Lennon said. “He always loved Christmas and Branson.”


Silver Dollar City Offers ‘An Old-Time Christmas’

At the almost 50-year-old Silver Dollar City theme park in Branson, An Old-Time Christmas features two Broadway-style productions, a five-story tree with special effects, spectacular light parade, more than 6.5 million dazzling lights and 1,000 decorated Christmas trees.

Encompassing more than 100 acres, Silver Dollar City showcases America’s heritage crafts with about 100 resident craftsmen, including glass blowers, potters, leather crafters, candle makers and knife artisans. Shoppers often head there for handcrafted Christmas gifts.

For the It’s a Wonderful Life production at Silver Dollar City, the bridge scene with George Bailey and Clarence the angel is beautifully staged. It’s easy to see why the old Frank Capra movie was voted the No. 1 inspirational film of all time by the American Film Institute.

The Showboat Branson Belle is another wonderful way to enjoy the holiday spirit. The boat is decked out with Christmas lights and offers a three-course meal served in the three-story atrium dining room while cruising Table Rock Lake. After dinner comes an entertaining Christmas musical program.


Broadway lights up for the holidays

A more than seven-story tree will spread holiday cheer at the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on Nov. 28. A lineup of live performers will help light up New York City’s biggest and brightest home for Santa’s Christmas Eve delivery. The lights will dim on Jan. 7.

For some shoppers, it wouldn’t be Christmas without a visit to Macy’s, followed by a chance to curl up at home and watch the beloved 1947 film Miracle on 34th Street where a Macy’s Santa proves to a little girl that there really is a Santa Claus. The world-famous department store windows glisten, glitter and glow as shoppers search for special gifts in Barneys, Bergdorf Goodman, Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue.

Nothing says winter like ice-skating in New York City. Options abound for outdoor skating rinks as a popular way to warm up and burn off energy. Although the best known is the Rink at Rockefeller Center where novice and expert skaters twirl under the watchful gaze of the Prometheus statue, the city has plenty of other usually less-crowded outdoor rinks.

Whether you pick Branson or Broadway or both, the music and the shows and the Christmas traditions are sure to be a colorful way to enjoy the holiday spirit.

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