Christmas in Branson Still Legendary

By Bob Lindsey

The Christmas lights at Silver Dollar City are consistently rated among the Top 10 in the country for its immense holiday display.

If you only looked at the holiday line-up of shows this season in Branson, you would think very little has changed from last year. And you would be right for the most part, but not entirely, as some things are always evolving there.

Gone is the legendary Andy Williams who many viewed as the voice of the Christmas season. It was once stated that the reason the Christmas season starts so early in Branson is because Andy Williams wanted it that way. We were at the opening night of the Andy Williams holiday show last year when it was announced he wasn’t performing that night. The next day the whole world learned that Mr. Williams had cancer, which took his life in September. But Andy’s memory and influence remain in this area. His holiday show still goes on this season without him, but his presence is evident at the Andy Williams Moon River Theater, as he had planned the 2012 show prior to his death.

The other big change is less noticeable. Many of the businesses and theaters on Highway 76 were damaged by the Leap Year Day tornado that hit the town during the slowest part of the tourist year. But many places, some with major damage, have been repaired and are back in business.

The 12 Irish Tenors are performing again with a holiday show at the renamed King’s Castle Theater, formerly the Branson Variety Theater.

One theater that was severely damaged is back with a new roof, upgrades and a new name. The Branson Variety Theater is now the King’s Castle Theater and its lead act, the Twelve Irish Tenors (my wife’s favorite Branson group), returns with a new holiday show featuring some favorite Irish songs and ballads. The lads—especially Jay McManus–will wow the lassies in the audience.

The King’s Castle also has a very festive and colorful Christmas in Hollywood show which features songs from many of the Christmas movies of all time, including recent films such as Home Alone and  Elf. Most Branson holiday shows have two segments–one featuring popular music and the other part Christmas and Christian music. Christmas in Hollywood is almost all holiday music from a talented cast. We even noticed a couple of the Twelve Irish Tenors in the troupe. The other new show at King’s Castle this year is the Best of the Beach Boys and Four Seasons.   For more information on King’s Castle visit: kingscastletheatre.com.

The Andy Williams Moon River Theater, which had some damage from the Feb. 29th twister, currently has a morning, afternoon and evening show. The morning show is called Cat’s Pajamas, an appropriate name for the five guys who sing acappella with no instruments involved at all. This group, similar to another Branson group called SIX, showcases their vocal talents with both song and sound.

The afternoon show at Andy Williams Moon River Theater is the adorable Lennon Sisters, who now have children and grandchildren in their show.  We saw them last year and highly recommend their show.  The evening show is still called the Andy Williams Show and is a tribute to the legend. One of main concerns of the producers was to keep the Christmas show in the same vein as Andy created it.  In a video presentation, Andy sings his famous “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” with clips of his TV show on the big screen.  The show runs until Dec. 12. For more information 800-666-6094 or andywilliams.com.

THE PRICE IS RIGHT LIVE is the latest addition to the Branson show scene offering an audience participation production with prizes and on the games you see on the TV show. There are several winners at each show appearing now at Welk Resort in Branson, located on Hwy 165, three miles south of Hwy 67. For tickets and times call 417-337-SHOW or visit: WelkBranson.com

Another production we’ve seen several times is the popular and always-changing Legends at Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater. Two mainstays seem to be in every show and for good reason. The two guys who portray The Blues Brothers are the best in the business and Dean Z is first rate at impersonating a young Elvis Presley.  Added for the winter season through Dec. 31 are Whitney Houston, George Strait and the flamboyant one, Liberace who graces the stage in full feathered attire and flashy jewelry. Each of the five acts is worth the price of admission. For more information: 800-374-7469 or visit: legendsinconcert.com.

Always a highlight of the Branson Ozark Mountain Christmas is Silver Dollar City, which we missed this time due to not having enough time during one weekend. Silver Dollar City’s An Old Time Christmas, which continues through Dec. 30, has more than 4 million lights, 1,000 decorated Christmas trees, and a 5-story special effects Christmas tree. The all-new musical show It’s a Wonderful Life, adapted from the Frank Capra classic, debuted with a new musical interpretation of the inspirational story of George Bailey’s effect on the citizens of Bedford Falls.  More information available at silverdollarcity.com

Other Holiday Shows in Branson 

Larry Gatlin and The Gatlin Brothers along with Debby Boone are together at The Mansion Theatre while Tony Orlando’s Great American Christmas is at the Welk Resort Theatre. Additionally, the Starlite Theatre will present The Bellamy Brothers Tropical Christmas and Joey and Rory’s Farmhouse Christmas, and Jim Stafford Theatre will present Jim Stafford’s Christmas Show. Audiences will also enjoy the Hughes Brothers Christmas Show at Hughes Brothers Theatre, the Buck Trent Country Music Show at RFD-TV The Theatre, the Acrobats of China featuring the New Shanghai Circus at the New Shanghai Theatre, and dozens of other holiday shows.

The Shepherd of the Hills Trail of Lights is a drive-through animation display that winds its way through the historic 160-acre homestead. The Branson Area Festival of Lights drive-through is designed to delight children of all ages with a one-mile drive of more than 175 displays.

For the adventurous types, the Branson Zipline Canopy Tours will present the “World-Class Adventure during Ozark Mountain Christmas,” which includes a guided canopy tour in the Ozark Mountains and Wolfe Creek Preserve.

The Titanic Christmas Winter Wonderland at the Titanic Museum features thousands of glittering lights, Edwardian-style decorations, costumed merry-makers and a Gift Shoppe brimming with one-of-a-kind selections.  Santa and the Titanic Fantasy Princess will be available for meet-and-greets and photos.



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