If you’ve ever had the great fortune to visit London during the holiday season, you know how special it is, with lights and and garland everywhere you turn. Fortunately, artists, barkeeps and production companies have caught on and created fabulous holiday experiences that are magical, virtually transporting you to the North Pole, the tropics or the winter wonderland of your dreams.
Santaland and Snow Day experiences are now open at Galleria Dallas in a cavernous space formerly housing Tiffany & Co. Filled with lights, textures, sounds and sights of holidays real and imagined, Santaland and Snow Day are experiences that will delight everyone. Perfect for little ones, families, and romantic dates, this holiday paradise is so sweet and perfectly-out-of-a-Hallmark movie set, but better.
Everyone on the creative team behind this wonderland has extensive experience in visual arts, including set building, film making, photography and immersive technology. They all also happen to have red hair and are all locals. The Bayers Brothers, legends in the set design business, paired up with locals Kristi and Scot Redman, known for their sartorial photography in D Magazine, among other publications, and their partner Ben Haschke, to combine technologically enhanced visual experiences with old fashioned smoke and mirrors, lights and forests of decorated trees and spaces that transport guests from the Galleria to the North Pole by train. You’ve got to see it to believe it.
Santaland and Snow Day are open seven days a week during the Galleria’s operating hours. Ticket prices range depending on the experience, some that include visits with Santa. Tickets may also be purchased in person, but time slots do sell out, so reservations are recommended. Visit www.snowdaydallas.com to purchase tickets and learn more about the visionaries behind this experience.
St. Henry Winter Wonderland
A velvety red carpet lined with brightly wrapped gifts on one side, and sparkling Christmas trees on the other, welcomes you into The Henry, the anchor restaurant of The Union Dallas in Uptown. But don’t stop there. Take the stairs, illuminated with warm white lights, up to the second floor and be transported to the St. Henry Winter Wonderland, an elegant place to celebrate the holidays with friends, family, and colleagues.
Servers outfitted in adorable holiday ensembles buzz around like Santa’s elves serving delicious holiday-themed drinks and The Henry’s menu favorites. The indoor/outdoor space is swagged with white lights and garlands, and a giant Christmas tree lords over the terrace. Standout drinks include the photogenic Junior & Mrs. Mint and the See You New Year’s Eve. Make reservations on Open Table or take your chances as a walk-in but treat yourself to the most elegant holiday-themed bar in town. www.thehenryrestaurant.com
Miracle at 38 Royal
Just ‘round the corner from The Henry sits 38 Royal where Miracle pop up has taken up residence this year. This is one of Dallas’ original holiday pop ups and it’s got the decorations down pat to prove it. Every inch of the space inside and out is festive, bright, and kitschy. The bar’s two stories are filled with every kind of stereotypical Christmas image and, quite frankly, it’s fun.
Cocktails here are nice and naughty. Since this is a family newspaper, I’ll just mention the Snowball Old Fashioned but there’s a full menu of cleverly named drinks that will put you in the holiday mood. Learn more about this Christmas miracle here.
Enchant Christmas at Fair Park is the ultimate immersive holiday experiences, and the venue is perfect for this indoor/outdoor experience. Stroll through the World’s Largest Light Maze, wind through the holiday Village searching for Santa’s nine reindeer and take a hot chocolate break. You can easily spend an hour here so, fortunately, this stadium-sized wonderland is wagon and stroller friendly.
General Admission “Enchant” tickets range in price up to $35 per person. The “Star” experience includes valet parking, priority access to every activity, hors d’oeuvres, exclusive lounge access and more starting at $179 per person. Learn more about Enchant Christmas here.
Back for its second year, this holiday pop up takes Christmas kitsch to a new level with its tropical/tiki themed décor and drinks. Located at Ropo & Logan, a “Midwestern dive bar” developed by the group behind Hide bar (which formerly occupied this space in Deep Ellum), 38 Royal and Toller Patio, Sippin’ Santa is a great place for adult children to meet up while they are home for holiday break. Old folk like me will like it, too.
The cocktail menu is festive and thematic and includes the White Russian Christmas, with vodka, cold brew, condensed milk, ancho chile liqueur and cinnamon. Dude, that sounds amazing. Food is also served and includes items found on midwestern menus – Cheese Curds, Toasted Ravioli, Hot Beef Sandwich and something called Midwestern Nosh which is described only as “the drunker you are, the better it tastes.” I feel like that’s a challenge I should take on. Learn more about Sippin’ Santa here.
Of course, there are oodles of things to do that don’t involve alcohol or ticket prices. In the Park Cities, lights are aglow throughout the neighborhood and Highland Park Village’s iconic tree lights are there, waiting for you to stroll through and wonder.