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Christmas light displays illuminate the state's sky

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Photographs by Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism

The booklet for this year’s Arkansas Trail of Holiday Lights contains details on Christmas festivities in more than 50 locations.

Community shows of Christmas lights are perennially one of the brightest features of this festive season. More than 50 are listed in the 2017 Arkansas Trail of Holiday Lights booklet, illuminating pretty much every corner of the state.

In the Little Rock area, Sherwood is the prime venue for lights, thanks to its mile-long illuminated trail through Sherwood Forest -- now through Dec. 30 -- with scenes featuring reindeer in a soda shop and a field of angels. There's a new entrance, turning left just past Sylvan Hills High School and heading to the lighted arch in the Sherwood Sports Complex parking lot.

Elsewhere around Arkansas, here is a sampler of seasonal lighting displays. The sites are already open unless otherwise indicated and generally will operate until the end of the year. Some charge an entrance fee, while others welcome donations:

Ashdown. The 110-year-old Little River County Courthouse is sparkling nightly from dome to lawn in keeping with the season's festive mood. Next Wednesday, the touring six-car KCS Holiday Express train will roll into town, carrying Santa, his elves and holiday displays.

Batesville. The biggest deal at Batesville's cavalcade of a million lights downtown and in Riverside Park is a 34-foot snowman, touted as the state's tallest. There's also an ice-skating rink open nightly through December except on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Blytheville. Lights of the Delta organizers don't shy away from touting their seasonal extravaganza as "the Mid-South's largest holiday lighting display." The half-mile route through Jingle Bell Park passes 6 million lights and 48 motion displays. Hayrides take place in the evening.

Crossett. Three miles north of downtown Crossett, Finney's Christmas Wonderland stretches over a half-mile circuit. Highlights include animated scenes, giant murals and a drive-through train tunnel. A patriotic tableau, snow machines and a light show add to the fun.

Hot Springs. On the outskirts of the Spa City, Garvan Woodland Gardens is the setting for the glow of more than 4 million lights on its 18 acres. New this season is the Ice Dandelion, an animated scene using novel "color blossom" technology. Garden officials caution that there are long waits for parking and entry on Friday and Saturday evenings.

Newport. Jackson County Courthouse is decked out in lights galore. New displays elsewhere downtown include a 21-foot-tall, red-white-and-blue Christmas tree in Veterans Park, seven Nutcracker soldiers lining Front Street and a seven-piece soldier band. The city's Christmas parade takes place Dec. 14.

Paris. Twenty-five decorated Christmas trees adorn Paris' town square, with free horse-and-buggy rides offered Saturday evenings. Visitors are also invited to place a lock on the Love Lock fence and throw the key for good luck in the fountain of the local Eiffel Tower, a miniature copy of the French original.

Pine Bluff. This is the 21st season for Pine Bluff's Enchanted Land of Lights and Legends drive-through display of holiday lights. The route stretches for 1.3 miles through Pine Bluff/Jefferson County Regional Park, going past more than 280 illuminated tableaux.

Searcy. White County Courthouse and the historic Rialto Theater are hubs for Searcy's holiday lights. So are Berryhill and Spring parks as well as Harding University. An added allure at Spring Park is an ice-skating rink.

Smackover. On Fridays and Saturdays only through Dec. 23, a Santa-theme rock band in Oil Field Park will entertain visitors strolling past lighted vignettes that include ice-skating bears, a gingerbread village and a 66-foot-tall Christmas tree that changes its illuminated designs.

For information on the Arkansas Trail of Holiday Lights or to download the booklet, visit arkansas.com/travel-tools/seasons/winter/trail-of-lights/

Weekend on 11/30/2017

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