It's the most wonderful time of the year! Central Arkansas is ablaze with holiday light displays. Clear, multi-colored, twinkling, single strands or huge displays—we love them all! Visit these festivals and exhibits for a brighter holiday season, from the Holiday Lights at Garvan Woodland Gardens to the Arkansas State Capitol's display in downtown Little Rock.

1. Holiday Lights at Garvan Woodland Gardens in Hot Springs
See more than 4.5 million bulbs transform approximately 17 acres into a memorable animated holiday display. As you amble through through the winter wonderland, your family can sip complimentary hot cocoa. On special Santa nights (6-8 p.m. Dec. 4-7, 11-14), families can have their photos taken with the big guy. Professional photographer Rebecca Peterman will be on hand to snap pictures, which will be available for purchase. Plus, check the schedule for free holiday concerts held in the Anthony Chapel throughout the season. Leave your pooches at home, except during the special Jingle Dogs Pup Parade on Dec. 4 at 5 p.m.

Holiday lights are on display 5-9 p.m. nightly Nov. 18-Dec. 31 (closed Thanksgiving and Christmas). Admission to Gardens is $15 for adults, $5 for ages 6-12 and ages 6 & under get in free. For more info, call (501) 262-9300 or visit GarvanGardens.org.


2. Arkansas State Capitol in Downtown Little Rock
Following the Big Jingle Jubilee Holiday Parade (Dec. 2 at 3 p.m.) in downtown Little Rock, the State Capitol will be illuminated in its annual holiday display at 6 p.m. Santa Claus will help lead the festivities, which include fireworks, music and children's activities. And don't forget to take in the magnificent Rockefeller pine tree and elegant decorations in the Capitol building's rotunda.

Holiday lights will shine each night Dec. 2-Jan. 1. For details, call (501) 682-1010 or visit SOS.Arkansas.gov. FREE!


3. A Trail of Holiday Lights at Sherwood's Enchanted Forest
Drive through this mile-long trail of lights in Sherwood Forest to spot over 90 brightly-lit displays. Don't forget to pick up a complimentary candy cane at the end of the trail. Admission is free but nonperishable items, donated to local food pantries, are welcome.

Open from 6-9:30 p.m. Nov. 27-Dec. 30. For info call (501) 833-3790 or visit CityofSherwood.net. FREE!


4. Merry & Bright Holiday Celebration at The Promenade at Chenal
The shopping center's holdiay celebration includes free photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus, face painting and more! 

  • Free photos with Santa & Mrs. Claus from 1-5 p.m. Nov. 18 & 25 and Dec. 2, 9 & 16.
  • Free photos with Queen Elsa, Kristoff & Olaf the Snowman from noon-2 p.m. Nov. 18 and Dec. 16
  • Free face painting in the courtyard from noon-2 p.m. Nov. 18 and Dec. 16
  • Arkansas Circus Arts will be live with performances by hula hoopers, stilt walkers and more at 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 25 and Dec. 9.

Holiday lights shine and the animated tree show begins Nov. 22 and continues throughout the holiday season. With questions, call (501) 821-5552 or head to ChenalShopping.com. FREE!


5. Jacksonville Fantasy in Lights Decorating Contest
Jacksonville residents will channel their inner Clark Griswold to compete in the city-wide contest! Homes, churches and businesses in the Jacksonville city limits are eligible to compete. If you're driving through town to ogle the displays, be sure to call and nominate your favorite for a prize! Judging takes place after 6 p.m. on Dec. 19.

For info call (501) 982-4171 or visit CityofJacksonville.net. FREE!


6. Hot Springs Holiday Lights on Bathhouse Row
Swing through downtown Hot Springs to see its annual light display along Bathhouse Row starting on Nov. 20. While you're there, stop by the Arlington Resort Hotel and Spa's lobby to see the giant gingerbread house and Christmas tree.

The hotel is located at 239 Central Ave., Hot Springs National Park. For info: (501) 321-2277. FREE!

For more holiday light displays throughout the state, visit the Arkansas Parks & Tourism Trail of Holiday Lights website.