Holiday season is here, and with it comes gift shopping, parades, tree lightings and Santa Claus sightings around the Central Texas area.
The annual Belton Lake Outdoor Recreation Area’s “Nature in Lights” 5.5-mile-long holiday light trail is open Friday night and will continue until Jan. 7.
The trail will be open every day from 5:30 to 11 p.m., including Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas holidays.
In addition to the over 100 light scene setups, Santa’s Village will be open this weekend, and Thursday through Sunday from Nov. 23 to Dec. 10, and nightly Dec. 14-24.
Located at Live Oak Pavilion, Santa’s Village will offer guests concessions, holiday novelties and photos with Santa.
Surveys will be available inside Santa’s Village until Nov. 30 for guests to fill out for a chance to win a 43-inch television or a two-night stay in a cottage at BLORA. This is the first year BLORA has offered a grand-prize drawing for the survey, said Shamirah Lowe, recreation aid at BLORA.
Santa’s Depot will run concurrently with Santa’s Village and offers an exclusive look at the trail of lights by train, as well as pony rides, in the parking lot of the marina cove.
Tickets for Santa’s Depot are $5 for adults and $3 for children.
The cost for one car, mini-van or pickup is $15, which is an increase in price from years past. Fifteen-person passenger vans, limos or RVs pay $30. Twenty-four-person passenger vans pay $50, and 47-person passenger vans or larger buses pay $75.
Use this listing of other local events through the end of the month and into the beginning of December to plan out the rest of the holiday season:
Grace United Methodist Church in Copperas Cove is hosting GraceGiving from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. The community is welcome to grab a free turkey dinner complete with sides and dessert. The church is at 101 W. Avenue F.
The Soldiers Hospitality House, 3950 Chaparral Road, in Killeen, is serving a Thanksgiving dinner at 2 p.m. Thursday for soldiers and their families.
Harker Heights H-E-B is hosting a Food For Families food drive from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday. The grocery store is asking that members of the community drop off non-perishable items such as canned goods to help fill the local food bank. H-E-B Grocery is located at 601 Indian Trail, Harker Heights.
The Annual Turkey Trot 5K Run/Walk will be held at 8 a.m. Saturday at Abrams Physical Fitness Center, 62nd Street and Support Avenue, Fort Hood. The event is free and open to the public. Registration is on-site from 7 to 7:30 a.m. the day of the event, or online through the MWR website.
A Thanksgiving 5K will be at 7 a.m. Thursday at the Andy K. Wells Trail, 2201 E. Veterans Memorial Blvd., in Killeen. The event is hosted by Under Konstruction Bootcamp and registration can be completed before race day at its office, 2802 W. Stan Schlueter Loop, suite 220, Killeen.
The Salado Christmas Parade will be from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Nov. 30, along Main Street to kick off the Salado Christmas Stroll.
The Copperas Cove 2017 Christmas Parade will be downtown at 3 p.m. Dec. 2. The theme for the parade this year is “Santa’s Workshop.”
Temple’s 71st annual Christmas Parade will kick off with a tree lighting in front of the Municipal Building on Adams Avenue at 6:15 p.m. Dec. 4. The parade will start at 6:30 p.m. at the intersection of East Adams Avenue and Eighth Street and will proceed west along Adams past the Municipal Building. The theme for this year is “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” and entry deadline to participate is Friday. For more information, call 254-298-5440.
Killeen’s 55th “Magic of Christmas” Parade will take place at 4:30 p.m. Dec. 9 in downtown. For more information, call 254-501-7878.
The annual Wreath Project, which prepares and places holiday wreaths at each grave at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery, will need volunteers to prepare the wreaths at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Killeen Special Events Center, 3301 W.S. Young Drive. Volunteers may also help distribute and lay the wreaths during the Wreath Laying Ceremony at 10 a.m. Nov. 25 at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery, 11463 State Highway 195. Wreath retrieval is at 10 a.m. Jan. 13, which will also be open to volunteers.
The 36th annual Holiday Bazaar, hosted by the Fort Hood Spouses’ Club, is taking place Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center, 3601 S. W.S. Young Drive. Visitors can expect arts and crafts vendors, food, door prizes and pictures with Santa.
The Harker Heights tree lighting ceremony will be at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 1 at 305 Millers Crossing in Harker Heights. Music will be provided by the Harker Heights High School Orchestra as well as refreshments for visitors.
Killeen’s tree lighting ceremony will be from 6 to 9 p.m. Dec. 1 at the Killeen Community Center, 2201 E. Veterans Memorial Blvd. Movies, live entertainment and photos with Santa will be available.
The Texas Metropolitan Ballet will perform “The Nutcracker” at 7 p.m. Dec. 1 at the Killeen Arts and Activities Center, 801 N. Fourth St., Killeen. Tickets can be purchased at texasmetropolitanballet.com.
Copperas Cove is hosting a Christmas Extravaganza from 4 to 8 p.m. Dec. 1 at the city park, 1206 West Avenue B. Admission is $5 a car with an option to purchase a wristband for an additional $5 per person for unlimited access to the events. Christmas tree lighting, live nativity scene, live music, food, petting zoo, pony rides and more will be available.
The 11th annual Christmas on the Farm event will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 2 at the Bell County Expo Center, 301 W. Loop 121, Belton.
Holiday Under the Stars will take place from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 2 at the Killeen Community Center, 2201 E. Veterans Memorial Blvd. Activities will include Breakfast with Santa, a Jingle Bell Dash, a car show, live entertainment and a kids’ fun zone.
The First United Methodist Church of Killeen is hosting a “Walk Through Bethlehem” from 6 to 8 p.m. Dec. 2 at the Methodist Park off Cunningham Road. Performances of a living nativity scene will be at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 3 and 9, and 5 p.m. Dec. 10. For admission to the event, bring one canned good or monetary donation per person to be donated to the Killeen Food Care Center.
Temple’s Santa Fest Holiday Market will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 2 at the Frank W. Mayborn Civic & Convention Center, 3303 N. Third St. Arts and crafts, food trucks and deals from local merchants will be available at the event. The market is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Sennett Farias at 254-298-5900, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Copperas Cove Downtown Christmas Bazaar and Krist Kindl Markt will be Dec. 1-3 at 204 E. Robertson Ave. The weekend will include free visits with Santa, food, crafts, music, a Krist Kindl Pageant and a tree lighting ceremony.
The Salado Christmas Stroll will take place Dec. 1- 3 and Dec. 8-10. Local stores will stay open late for Christmas shopping, live music can be found on South Main Street, a nativity scene at the First Baptist Church parking lot will be set up, funnel cakes and kettle corn can be purchased from food tents set up outside the Strawberry Patch parking lot and Main Street will be decorated with lights.
The Tri-County Toy Run “Ride for the Kids” will be Dec. 3 at the American Legion Post 133, 1300 S. 25th St,, corner of 25th and Avenue M in Temple. Free breakfast will be offered at 9:30 a.m. along with registration. The escorted ride will depart at 1 p.m. and will end at Holiday House, 908 E. Fourth Street, Lampasas. Toy distribution and a free chili supper will occur at the end of the ride. Admission for the ride will be either a cash donation or a new toy.
Tablerock Amphitheater on Royal Street in Salado will host the 25th annual performance of “A Christmas Carol” at 7 p.m. Dec. 1-2 and Dec. 8-9. Tickets can be purchased at the gate on the night of the performance and are $10 for adults, $5 for students and $3 for children 12 and younger.
The 14th annual Frost Fest will be from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 8 at the Market Heights Shopping Center parking lot, 201 East Central Texas Expressway, Harker Heights. Activities include free hot chocolate and cookies, live music by Skye Strickler, a wreath decorating contest, a synthetic ice skating rink, visits with Santa and a Holiday Farmers Market. Visitors can also bring a new, wrapped toy to the Harker Heights Fire Department drop off area for the Santa Pal program.