Greetings my Loyal Reader(s), and welcome to the latest edition of the Branson Beat, your home for all the news on the Branson entertainment scene.
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Now, let’s get to it.
Ozark Mountain Christmas starts Friday
Even though Halloween is Thursday night, Ozark Mountain Christmas will kick off Friday with several light displays, Christmas shows and more taking center stage in Branson.
Friday sees the Shepherd of the Hills Historic Homestead & Adventure Park transform into a winter wonderland with shows, attractions and more fun, as well as the annual Trail of Lights, Branson‘s original, longest running drive-through light display at more than 30 years, that still garners lots of attention.
The Trail of Lights, which features “millions of multi-colored Christmas lights, and themed and animated displays,” will follow its traditional course, winding through The Shepherd of the Hills 160-acre historic property, featuring many of the classic Christmas scenes from the past.
The Shepherd of the Hills will also be home to the North Pole Adventure, the “Tree Top Lot-A-Maze-ing Fun,” “Jingle Junction,” and Inspiration Tower. The park is also featuring several live entertainment options for the holiday season, including “A Shepherd’s Christmas Carol,” which also features a full-course turkey dinner with pumpkin dessert. Dino and Cheryl Kartsonakis are hosting “Christmas with Dino,” and “Todd Oliver and Friends.”
For a full list of showtimes and additional information, visit theshepherdofthehills.com.
Also set to open Friday night is Branson’s Promised Land Zoo’s Let There Be Lights drive-thru display. This is one of the most unique, and coolest displays you’ll ever visit.
This two-mile stretch features dozens of LED displays, a living Nativity scene and Santa’s real reindeer team. Folks can also get a special glimpse at some of the zoo animals as they drive through the bright trail.
Friday also sees Branson’s Lights of Joy, an all-new, all-LED drive-thru Christmas light display at the intersection of Shepherd of the Hills Expressway and Expressway Lane, where the Gift of Lights display was held for many years.
Many classic favorites like the 12 Days of Christmas, Noah and the Ark, or the Christmas Tree Forest are all slated to return.
Plus, folks can also take a free selfie with Santa and Mrs. Claus while enjoying a cup of hot cocoa. Donations for KLife will be accepted. Also, Branson’s Lights of Joy will help collect non-perishable food items to donate to CAM.
Saturday finds Silver Dollar City’s An Old Time Christmas opening for the holidays, and this year, they’re adding a new 80-foot-tall, state-of-the-art Christmas tree.
According to a release, “the sheer height and immense density of lights on the tree make it the first of its kind on Earth.” The tree will feature hundreds of thousands of high-resolution lights with an infinite ability to combine color, music, light and animated imagery.
The custom-designed tree will serve as the centerpiece of the all-new “Joy on Town Square.” The “Christmas In Midtown” display includes 1.5 million LED lights with colorful, twinkling light tunnels and light displays including flying angels, reindeer, stars, snowflakes, and more in this 70,000-square-foot district.
In total, the tree’s output, along with Town Square, will equal more than 1 million LED lights. This significant $1.5-million project adds to the illumination of Silver Dollar City’s An Old Time Christmas, which already features nearly 7 million lights.
As always, the park will feature several live entertainment options. Silver Dollar City’s “A Dickens’ Christmas Carol” and “It’s A Wonderful Life,” both original, Broadway-style productions, return for another season. Other entertainment options include Santa Claus Lane, The Sing-Along Steam Train, Rudolph’s Christmas Town with crafts and activities, a talking Christmas tree at Tinker Junior’s Toy Shop, and even a holiday-themed Saloon show.
Also back for another year winding through the streets is Rudolph’s Holly Jolly Christmas Light Parade, led by “the most famous reindeer of all.” The parade features nine musical, lighted floats designed exclusively for Silver Dollar City with animated features all illuminated with 200,000 ultra-bright LED lights.
Silver Dollar City’s An Old Time Christmas opens Saturday, and will run through Dec. 30.
Big names at the Mansion
The Mansion Theatre is hosting two of my favorite acts Friday and Saturday as Neal McCoy takes the stage for 3 p.m. shows, followed by the Oak Ridge Boys at 8 p.m.
McCoy, a country music hitmaker and one of the most popular live acts working today, also boasts a boatload of hit tunes, including “No Doubt About It,” “Wink,” “The Shake,” “For a Change,” “You Gotta Love That” and “They’re Playin’ Our Song.” McCoy also plays everything else from rock ‘n’ roll to classic big-band era music, and I promise, it’s all fantastic.
He’s also a two-time winner of The Nashville Network-Music City News Entertainer of the Year award, Humanitarian of the Year, USO headliner. If you haven’t gotten the chance to see him before, I highly advise you do so. He is also set to return for more 3 p.m. shows Nov. 6-7 and 20-21.
Friday and Saturday night, Country Music Hall of Famers, five-time Grammy Award-winners, nine-time Gospel Music Association Dove Award-winners, and one of Branson’s most popular acts, the Oak Ridge Boys, take the stage.
Duane Allen, Joe Bonsall, William Lee Golden and Richard Sterban took control of the famous group in the late 1960s, and snagged their first hit with the release of the 1977 album “Y’all Come Back Saloon.” In 1981, the group hit it big with the pop crossover hit “Elvira.” They followed that with another crossover hit, “Bobbie Sue,” and the album of the same title went Gold.
The current lineup has released more than 40 albums, scored 17 No. 1 hits, and sold more than 41 million albums. Other popular hits include “Trying To Love Two Women,” “Beautiful You,” “Fancy Free,” “I Guess It Never Hurts To Hurt Sometimes,” “Make My Life With You,” and “Touch A Hand, Make A Friend.”
The Oaks, as we call them around here, will also return for more shows Nov. 6-7, followed by their “Down Home Christmas Show” Nov. 13-14 and 20-21.
‘Legends’ unwraps Christmas lineup
Like they do four times a year, the folks at “Legends in Concert,” a show featuring look- and sound-alike artists paying tribute to the most iconic artists in music history, will change cast members for the Christmas season.
Mainstay favorites such as Danny “Elwood” Z and Clint “Joliet Jake” Nievar, the Blues Brothers and Ryan “Big Business” Pelton performing as Elvis Presley, will continue to be featured in the holiday lineup. Beginning Friday, they’ll be joined by Billy Buchanan as Stevie Wonder, Amy Pelton as Trisha Yearwood, and Shawn Gerhard, who drew rave reviews for his tribute to Garth Brooks last year.
Once again, the producers have booked a balanced show, perfect for those looking for comedy, variety, and some of the greatest hits in the history of music. While I can attest to the awesomeness of Danny Z, Nievar, Ryan Pelton and Gehard, I’m awful excited to see Amy Pelton, the wife of Ryan, and Buchanan on that stage.
The Christmas lineup runs from Friday through Jan. 1. Thursday will be the final chance to catch the fall lineup, which features tributes to the Nievar and Danny Z as the Blues Brothers, a tribute to the Temptations, Stacey Whitton-Summers as Marilyn Monroe, and Pelton performing two different tributes to Presley, one paying homage to the 60s, the other to the 70s.