Christmas in Branson, Missouri

Branson is big on entertainment

Andy Williams and entertainers at Branson Landing
Andy Williams and entertainers at Branson
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Christmas festivities in most American cities begins after the Thanksgiving feast, but in Branson, Missouri, you can expect the holiday season to be in full swing by the first week in November.

The myriad of live music shows, nearly 100 of them in this city, are jam-packed with Christmas songs and scenery that are bound to get you in the holiday spirit long before the season. And everything is geared to families, with no four letter words in any of the shows.

Entertainer Andy Williams makes his home in Branson and puts on a Christmas show with all of the trimmings. At the age of 80, he can still get audiences to their feet and the super star is just a regular guy in this hometown, appearing in parades and shaking hands with the locals.

Williams entertained locals and vacationers in a parade at Branson Landing, a shopping mall that opened in 2006. Branson Landing is located on the shores of Lake Taneycomo, just steps away from historic area of downtown Branson. The mall has more than 100 shops and restaurants including quaint boutiques and anchor stores like Belk's and Bass Pro Shops.

Hilton Branson Convention Center Hotel
Hilton Branson Convention Center
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Branson is bustling with new developments. I stayed at the Hilton Branson Convention Center Hotel, which opened in the summer of 2007. It is the tallest building in the area, raising 12-stories high, and located across the street from Branson Landing and adjacent to the historic downtown area. My room was spacious and the hotel had all of the amenities that you would expect from a Hilton. My stay at the Hilton was complimented by a caring staff and excellent service.

The Branson Scenic Railway is located adjacent to the Hilton and offers a daily scenic ride through the Ozark foothills. The train also serves meals on board. This popular attraction is great for families and a fun way to spend a day in Branson.

Branson Scenic Railway
Branson Scenic Railway | Larger

I also enjoyed walking around in the historic district of downtown Branson with its interesting stores which have been there since the town was founded. There are numerous antique stores and thrift shops with treasures that you simply won't find anywhere else. I especially enjoyed the quilt shop, a store with 1,000 clocks and Dick's Old Time 5 and 10 cent store.

Dick's Five and 10
Dick's Five and 10 | Larger

For serious bargain hunting, I would suggest Tanger Outlets Mall where I found great prices on brand name merchandise at stores such as Coach, Bass, Liz Claiborne and Ann Taylor. Tanger has 65 brand name outlets and an eatery if you get hungry. The mall is all on one level and it is an easy place to shop.

Tanger Outlet Mall
Tanger Outlet Mall

Branson also has outlet malls at The Shopes of Branson Meadows and Factory Merchants Branson. The Branson Mall is the place to purchase leather, souvenirs, nostalgic memorabilia and musical instruments.

A visit to Branson should include Silver Dollar City, the area's 1880's theme park nestled in the Ozark Mountains. Here, visitors can enjoy watching craftsmen ply their trades from woodworking and leathmaking to glassblowing.

Woodworking | Larger

Silver Dollar City also has live shows, restaurants, theme park rides including roller coasters and kiddy rides.

The major attraction of the region is its live entertainment. Here, you can see the stars of yesteryear, like the remaining members of groups such as the Temptations, the Platters and Bill Haley and the Comets. My heart skipped a beat as I watched the Comets perform their hits of yesteryear in Dick Clark's American Bandstand Theater.

The Comets
The Comets | Larger

However, it isn't just the bands of yesteryear that appear in Branson. There are many talented young stars appearing on Branson stages. The Liverpool Legends, the Ultimate Beatles Experience, is a prime example. This young singing group recreates the sound of the Beatles at the Caravelle Theatre where audiences are packed with young people standing on their feet and dancing in the aisles. This dispels the myth that Branson is just for the grey hairs.

However, the area does cater to veterans and they are acknowledged at every performance and are requested to stand, often accompanied by a patriot song in their honor.

Love My Country
Love My Country | Larger

In addition to all of the entertainment, shopping and numerous family activities in Branson, the one thing that stands out in my mind that characterizes the area is its patriotic spirit. The red, white and blue are held in high esteem everyone in Branson, including at theme parks. At Silver Dollar City, there is even store called Love My Country. That seems to say it all!

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