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Destinations to discover

By Heide Brandes December 2022

Oklahoma’s rural communities offer unforgettable holiday celebrations

Holiday wreath hung with lights

Oklahoma families can celebrate the joy of the holidays with events, displays, visits from Santa, special performances and festivals that capture not only the Christmas spirit, but the personalities of the state’s different regions.

While Oklahoma City and Tulsa have the largest and most comprehensive holiday celebrations and events, the state’s rural and close-knit communities also host Yuletide festivities that capture the heart of their communities. One-of-a-kind shopping experiences, historic glimpses into Christmases of the past and even a real camel make an appearance when the holidays begin.

From illuminated castles and medieval style villages to Old West Christmas parades and a wilderness filled with lights, here are four unique and unforgettable holiday celebrations to visit in rural Oklahoma this year.

Woolaroc Wonderland of Lights
Osage County

Tucked within the wooded hills of Osage County in northeastern Oklahoma, the Woolaroc Museum & Wildlife Preserve will once again host the spectacular Wonderland of Lights from Nov. 25 – Dec. 18. The grounds and buildings of Frank Phillips’ beloved Woolaroc will glow with more than 750,000 lights as the historic ranch becomes a winter wonderland. In addition to the drive-through lights display set against the rolling Osage hills, Santa will be in the museum on Fridays and Sundays.

Ardmore Festival of Lights
Carter County

The Ardmore Festival of Lights kicks off Nov. 19. Through Dec. 30, visitors can drive through a 1.5-mile Christmas light show featuring more than 125 stunning light displays and scenes. One of the state’s more popular light exhibitions, this Christmas lights display attracts more than 80,000 people each year, making it one of the largest light displays in southern Oklahoma. Held in the Ardmore Regional Park, the displays change each year, so there’s always something new to see.

The Castle Christmas in Muskogee
Muskogee County

The medieval-themed Castle in Muskogee brings holiday traditions, knights of old and Middle Ages fun and feasting together for a Castle Christmas, starting Thanksgiving and running through Dec. 26. From old time hayrides and a train ride through the village, to a traditional Boare’s Head Feaste and a journey through the village on Cletus the Camel, families will feel as if they’ve time-jumped back to a quaint kingdom in jolly olde England during this unique Christmas celebration.

Tonkawa Olde Tyme Christmas Celebration
Kay County

Step back into the Land Run days when the whole community would come together for a town square Christmas celebration on Dec. 1 at Tonkawa’s Olde Tyme Christmas Celebration. Complete with a downtown Christmas parade, a giant tree lighting, visits with Mr. and Mrs. Claus at the historic depot and local shopping and vendors, Christmas comes early to the Plains. The lights and holiday decorations line the streets of this Land Run town, turning it into a prairie winter wonderland in the state’s tallgrass prairie country.

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