December 2019: Tulsa is a celebratory city, and during the holiday season, there are many events that are date-worthy, family-friendly and group welcoming. How about a night full of Christmas lights—some 2 million lights worth—and season-themed activities? Some area organizations spend half a year preparing for the arrival of holiday spectators.
Rhema Lights Extravaganza can be seen at the Rhema Bible Church campus located at 1025 West Kenosha Street in Broken Arrow. This outing can be a drive-thru, walk-through or carriage-ride tour. Lights turn on Thanksgiving Eve, Nov. 27, at 6 p.m. through new year’s eve. The glitz continues daily from 5:30 to 11:30 p.m. Admission is free, but donations are accepted. Snacks are available on-site. For more information or to book that carriage ride, call (918) 258-1588 or visit rhemalights.org.
Pictures with Santa, garden games, live music performances, make-and-take activities for the children, train rides through the gardens, Lego Village, refreshments, thousands of pulsating lights and self-guided educational activities for families, groups, individuals, and couples are available at Philbrook Festival at Philbrook Museum of Art located at 2727 South Rockford Road in Tulsa. Thousands of lights illuminate the museum’s back exterior and garden area. The Festival runs on designated nights only, Nov. 29 and 30 and Dec. 6, 7, 13, 14, 20, 21, 24, 27 and 28.
Tickets are required as there is a capacity limit each festival night. Adult members are $5 with youth 17 and under free and adult not-yet-members are $15 with youth 17 and under $3. A 15% can be discounted off ticket and event online prices by bundling activities. For additional information or to pre-purchase tickets, call (918) 748-5300 or visit philbrook.org/visit/fundraising/festival.
Lights On at Utica Square has a 51-year history providing Tulsa a spectacular kickoff for the holiday season. Located at 1709 Utica Square, Santa will take the night off from toymaking to be on-site to countdown the switch throw as 1 million lights strewn over 175 trees come aglow.
Grady Nichols Band, Mary Cogan, Weston Horn, Denise Hoey and Anabel White will provide holiday music with local TV personality Julie Chin emceeing the event. Hot chocolate will be available, so those who want to sing along to the festive tunes can wet their whistle. Want to remember the evening? A photo booth will be on-site for visitors who are not camera shy.
Lights On at Utica Square is scheduled for Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 28, at 6:30 p.m. Call (918) 742-5531 or www.uticasquare.com/events/lights-on for more details. Admission is free.
For its 12th consecutive year, Arvest Winterfest returns to downtown Tulsa located at the BOK Center at 200 South Denver Ave. for a whopping 44 days of memory-making fun, Nov. 23 through Jan. 5. Activities abound for not only children to enjoy but for adults as well.
As a first stop, board onto the Winterfest Express, a train that winds its way around Winterfest activities so passengers can scope out what to try next. The train is free for all ages and takes passengers from noon until 3 p.m. each Saturday before Christmas Eve.
There’s nothing that says Christmas more than ice-skating, and nothing says accommodation more than a 9,000-square-foot outdoor ice rink set to a backdrop of the towering Tulsa skyline. Skating guides are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
No Christmas event is complete without a visit from Santa. Each Sunday in December from 2 to 4 p.m., Santa is on-site to hear children’s secret gift wishes. Capture that moment in a photo with Saint Nick.
Carriage rides are also available Friday and Saturday evenings. More information can be found at 918-277-1810. Snacks are available for those who skate up an appetite. The Bandwagon food truck can take care of that grub craving.
The Winterfest Express is sponsored by Fox 23. Cox customers get half-price adult skating passes when they present a bill or online account on a mobile device at the point of sale, Sundays only. Patrons receive half-price skating admission on Mondays with the donation of a non-perishable canned food item for the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma, courtesy of sponsor Arvest. Patrons also receive half-price skating admissions on Wednesdays with the donation of a new or gently-used coat, blanket, scarf or gloves for Night Light Tulsa, courtesy of ONE Gas.
Gathering Place is not only a destination for warm-weather events but during the holiday months, it transforms into a winter wonderland. Visitors can expect to experience carolers, special performances, a train for the children, a holiday market and festive food and drinks. The five-acre Adventure Playground is covered in lights all aglow and timed to music. Santa Claus sitting by a fireplace is waiting for fun-loving families to strike a pose for a holiday photo. All this activity is available Wednesday, Dec. 18 through Wednesday, Jan. 1. The lights come on at dark, and the park closes at 8 p.m. Admission is free.
Gathering Place is located at 2650 South John Williams Way East in Tulsa. For more information, call (918) 779-1000 or visit gatheringplace.org.
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