Branson Still One of the Brightest Destinations For Holiday Fun, Music

By Bob Lindsey

Ozark Mountain Christmas has become a holiday tradition in Branson. As always, many of the fan favorites from the past are returning to brighten the holiday spirit, which starts early down in these parts.

Back again this year are Andy Williams’ Christmas Show, Tony Orlando with the Lennon Sisters, Yakov, the famous Russian comedian, Shoji Tabuchi, Duttons, Jim Stafford, Gatlin Brothers, the Osmonds plus an assortment of other fine family holiday variety shows. We have seen these shows in the past, but are always looking for something new to write about. We’ve never been disappointed. In Branson there’s always new shows or shows that have been recommended, but we’ve missed in the past.

This year we finally caught the acclaimed Hughes Brothers show, the #1 Hits of the 60s show, the 12 Irish tenors and the new Legend of Kung Fu aerial ballet.

First stop was the high energy #1 Hits of the ’60s show now playing at the Caravelle Theater on Highway 76, after several years at the Branson Mall where we last saw them. The Caravella is a better fit for this group of six male and six female performers as they take you back to the turbulent, yet ever changing musical decade. They capture the essence of the innovative decade in music and add few of the Christmas songs from that era. The show was recently voted “best matinee” show in Branson. website: 1hitsofthe60s.com

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There are a half-dozen or more family musical groups in Branson, but none as versatile or as large as the Hughes Brothers (or should we say Hughes Family), now in their 16th season in Branson. Ev eryone gets into the act:  five brothers, their wives and  29 children.   Mom and Dad are also in the House at the Hughes Theater, which the family owns and operates.

Unlike most of the other Christmas shows in Branson that mix other music besides the holiday songs, the Hughes Brothers show is all Christmas this time of the year with just the right mix of secular and religious music. The youngsters, even down to the smallest toddler, sing and dance and some play the violins and fiddlers, all with natural stage presence. Santa takes on a new role in this show as he explains the symbols of Christmas.  website: Hughes-brothers.com

We’ve seen the 12 Irish Tenors a few times in Branson, as the show is my wife Pat’s favorite with every changing cast Their show is about 60 percent other music and 40 per cent Christmas.That other music seems to constantly change at this show.  The guys, all of some Irish ancestry, perform the standing Irish songs like Danny Boy but like to spice it up with a little Sinatra, Elvis, Glenn Miller and even the Blues Brothers, as they donned black hats and dark sunglasses to sing some of Jake and Elwood’s favorite songs.

The Irish Tenors only do morning shows at the Branson Variety Theater, which also has the Spirit of Christmas and a new ’50s musical revival called Shake, Rattle & Roll.

Website: bransonvarietytheater.com.

Silver Dollar City[i]

The centerpiece for an Ozark Mountain Christmas is Silver Dollar City’s An Old Time Christmas running through Dec. 30 (excluding Dec. 24 and 25)

SDC is celebrating its  50th anniversary this year, decking itself out with more than four million lights, a five-story special effects Christmas tree, and living up to its Travel Channel designation of being ”the most illuminated park on earth.” Tree has 350,000 LED lights  and lights up every 15 minutes after dark providing six different songs, two per show, on the Main Street Square

But that’s only part of activities and attractions at the Old Time Christmas. Other popular attractions include:

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A Dickens Christmas Carol, now in its 8th season, provides its own musical twist to the Charles Dickens classic condensing the story into a one-hour show.  The special effects are dazzling,  especially the visit by the three ghosts to Ebenezer Scrooge. We’ve seen this a couple of times and its seems to get better every year.

Both the gospel and secular Christmas songs are performed at the Sounds of Christmas with Pure Heart and Tracy Heaston.

The Frontier Follies is another holiday offering with the Saloon Girls and The Silver Dollar Band.  Sarsaparilla is the most potent drink here.

The Living Nativity is a 15-minute program retelling what happened in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago.

The Holiday Light Parade is held twice nightly winding through the narrow streets of Silver Dollar City.

Other attractions include the Cajun Connection Band from Louisiana, the 20-miute Frosty Show aimed at the youngsters and the sing-along lighted steam train through the park. Craftsmen making their special wares are found throughout the park, plus an array of other shops

The park offers two Christmas buffets complete will turkey and all the trimmings. The Reunion Hall buffet has a Prime Rib entrée plus the usual holiday goodies and sides.  Adult prices range from $15.99 to $17.99 and that includes drink and desserts.

Silver Dollar City maintains its reputation, cited by many TV and print media as one of the top holiday celebrations in the country. Website: silverdollarcity.com or call 800-831-4FUN (386)




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