Christmas is right around the corner and, for many Oklahomans, this is a time when family members from far and wide will come together to begin their holiday celebrations. The last few days before Christmas Eve are a time to transition from planning your holidays to actually enjoying them.
If you are playing host to out-of-town guests this year, you may be grasping for entertainment ideas, especially if you're trying to entertain people of varied ages on a limited budget.
Fortunately, there are more holiday offerings in and around Oklahoma City this year than ever before. From downtown to Bricktown and the burgeoning arts and entertainment districts such as the Plaza District and Midtown, chances are, the evolving city has much to amaze and amuse your visiting friends and family.
Here are some entertainment options to keep your family happy and on budget for the holidays.
Downtown in December
Visit Santa from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at Devon Energy Center, 333 W Sheridan Ave. Free entertainment includes holiday crafts and music. Santa and his crew will be on hand for pictures, and kids can write last-minute letters to the North Pole.
Enjoy the tropical bounty of the Crystal Bridge at the Myriad Botanical Gardens, free from 6 to 9 p.m. Sunday. Free hot cocoa and entertainment will be provided.
Head to Bricktown for free Water Taxi rides. From 6 to 9:30 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays through Dec. 31, all ages are invited to take in the holiday lights and adornments along the Bricktown Canal. Board the boats on Mickey Mantle Drive across from the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.
While downtown, take a tour of the holiday lights that blanket buildings along Broadway in Automobile Alley, twinkle throughout Bricktown and brighten the Myriad Botanical Gardens.
North of downtown, the Chesapeake Energy Holiday Lights Display is a must-see that features about eight city blocks decked out for the holiday season surrounding Chesapeake Energy's main Oklahoma City campus. Bundle up the kids and head to the intersection of NW 63 and Western to see more than 61,000 strands of lights containing 4.3 million LED lights that decorate the trees and buildings of the area.
Oklahoma may not be covered in natural ice and snow, but the man-made stuff makes some of the season's most popular outdoor winter sports possible.
Careen down one of the country's largest man-made snow tubing slopes at Chesapeake Energy's Snow Tubing at the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark. For $10, you get an hour-and-a-half session of tubing fun. Snow tubing will be open Saturdays and Sundays through Jan. 5 with sessions beginning at noon, 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. The attraction will be closed Christmas Day, and the last session on Christmas Eve will be at 4 p.m. For more information, call 218-1000.
Or, if ice is more your speed, there's likely an outdoor ice skating rink near you: Norman Outdoor Holiday Ice Rink at 1221 Ed Noble Parkway in Norman; Edmond Outdoor Ice Rink at Festival Market Place, near First Street and Broadway in Edmond; and Devon Ice Rink at Myriad Botanical Gardens.
Enjoy winter sports from a spectator's seat at an Oklahoma City Barons game. The hockey team takes on the Texas Stars Dec. 21 and 22 at Cox Convention Center.
Along the river
The Boathouse District on the Oklahoma River offers Santa's Adventures on the Oklahoma River. The attraction features the Sandridge Santa Zip, a 200-foot zip line; Polar Paddle, a kayak activity for ages 3 to 9; five large holiday inflatable bounce toys and more.
Santa's Adventures are open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and from 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays through Jan. 5. Special New Year's Eve hours are 9 a.m. to midnight Dec. 31. Cost is $10 for a single zip line ride, plus all attractions, or $20 for an all-day pass with unlimited zip line rides and all attractions. The Boathouse District on the Oklahoma River is at 725 S Lincoln Blvd. The phone number is 552-4040.
Christmas tidings on stage
Take in some holiday theater with Lyric Theatre's production of Charles Dickens' “A Christmas Carol.” The show runs through Dec. 29 at Lyric at the Plaza, 1725 NW 16. For more information, call 524-9312.
For a thrilling performance that merges acrobatics, gymnastics and music, Cirque Du Soleil Dralion will offer shows through Dec. 23 at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Call 602-8700.
The Pollard Theatre in Guthrie is a traditional Oklahoma holiday destination for it's annual production of “A Territorial Christmas Carol.” The show combines the classic tale of redemption and brotherly love in Charles Dickens' novel with the Oklahoma Land Run. Shows continue through Dec. 23 at 120 W Harrison Ave. Call 282-2802.
Finally, if your family is still in town after the holidays, a trip to Oklahoma City isn't quite complete without the thrill of an Oklahoma City Thunder game. On Dec. 27, the Thunder plays the Dallas Mavericks in NBA action at Chesapeake Energy Arena.