Branson aglow with Christmas lights
We wanted to take an evening to view the numerous lighting displays in the Branson area, so we decided to drive a circuit of several displays.
The night started with driving through historic Downtown Branson, where it seemed that every light pole and tree had been wrapped in lights and decorations. After dinner at Branson Landing on Lake Taneycomo, we walked the Promenade and marveled at the Christmas trees in the Town Square.
After leaving The Landing, we put some Christmas music in the CD player and made a quick stop for hot chocolate. We then started our driving tour by going up the Red Route (State Highway 248). At the traffic roundabout in front of Skaggs Community Health Center we saw two big lighting displays, a teaser for what was to come.
Continuing on the Red Route, we then went to the Branson Area Festival of Lights Drive Through, a mile-long light display. The entrance to BAFOL is on the Red Route (Shepherd of the Hills Expressway) directly across from Sight & Sound Theater.
After a few hundred yards of lights, you come to the check-in booth, where you pay a per-vehicle admission fee ($10 for family vehicles, $25 for small buses and limos, and $50 for motorcoaches). Don't forget to print out your $2 off Internet coupon before going.
The display can only be viewed from a vehicle (no foot traffic), but cars take their time as they cruise past each display. It took about 20 minutes to go through the display.
After exiting the Festival of Lights and getting our goodie bag, we returned to the Shepherd of the Hills Expressway and turned right onto Highway 76, heading west. It was here we found the Shepherd of the Hills Trail of Lights, a 2 1/2-mile drive-through lighting and figurine display that starts at the main parking lot and winds through the 160-acre Shepherd of the Hills Homestead. We saw lots of lights, as well as animatronic characters and displays. We cranked up the heat and rolled down the window so we could hear the music along the trail.
Admission is $10 per adult and $5 per child, which includes a ride to the top of the Inspiration Tower so you can see the display from above. The whole experience took about 45 minutes.
Leaving Shepherd of the Hills, we headed west on 76 and turned left on Indian Point Road. The Silver Dollar City signs at the turn-off were surrounded with numerous Christmas trees, and we took the new Indian Point bypass to the tip of the peninsula, where we found the Indian Point Enchanted Forest lighting display.
Our third and final drive-through of the night was very colorful and very peaceful. Drivers were asked to dim their headlights, and the roadway was lined with red Christmas lights. Trees were wrapped with white, red and green lights, and several arches spanned the road.
The Indian Point lighting display is free (donations are accepted to help offset the cost) and takes about 10 minutes to complete.
Our hot chocolate cups empty, we ended the night with a cruise down The Strip. Like most of the rest of Branson, the streetlights had Christmas decorations, and most of the theaters had impressive lighting and decorations.
It's not difficult to find impressive Christmas displays in Branson... they're practically everywhere. It's truly a wonderful place to experience the holiday season.