North Texas Wild: Bring nature into your holiday

Photo from the Interlochen Holiday Lights in Arlington.

Enjoy the holidays with Solstice celebrations, natural decorating, outdoor North Texas Wild logolighting, green gifts, winter hikes and bird counts.

While technology and news drive us 24/7, nature has a different plan. Bursting forth with vigor in the spring, hitting a steady summer stride,and winding down in the fall. Here in the shadowy weeks before Winter Solstice, we go within, draw together and restore ourselves with the regenerative power of darkness. The reduced pace from the cold allows us time to cherish nature and each other.

Holiday Events

The classes are small and the events quite popular, so go early and RSVP when possible.

Holidays at the Heard, McKinney – Dec. 10, 16 and 17

Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary goes all out with Holidays at the Heard. A half-mile trail is bedecked with lights, synchronized displays and holiday décor created to enhance the beauty of nature. Festivities include hot beverages and treats, live holiday music and strolling carolers.

Labyrinth Solstice Drummers

Winter Solstice Celebration, Dallas- Dec. 17

Winter Solstice Celebration at Unitarian Universalist Church of Oak Cliff on Sat. Dec. 17 is becoming a vital seasonal tradition. The wide-ranging winter festival, hosted by the Labyrinth Walk Coffeehouse, includes indoor Solstice ceremony, musical performances, storytelling and metaphysical fair, plus the outdoor Yule Log, Earth Loom, drum circle, and labyrinth. This year, marks my ceremonial return as creator of the longstanding former Winter SolstiCelebration tradition.

Christmas at the Cabin, Lewisville – Sat, Dec. 17

Celebrate a way old-fashioned at Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Area. The 1870s Minor-Porter Log Cabin will host the making of hand-dipped taper candles, corn husk dolls and ornaments. Sit by the campfire and enjoy hot cider, caroling and musical jams.

Story Time, Arlington – Dec. 17

The usual Saturday Story Time Children at River Legacy Living Science Center on Dec. 17 will focus on seasonal stories courtesy of Arlington Public Libraries.

Natural Décor & Crafts

The classes are small and the events quite popular, so go early and RSVP when possible.

River LegacyArtini Hour, Arlington- Dec. 8

Create reusable holiday gift boxes from holiday cards and other recycled materials on Thursday, Dec. 8, at River Legacy Living Science Center’s Artini Hour. Feel free to bring your own old cards, but instruction and supplies will be supplied along with a tasty adult beverage and light appetizers will be provided.

Make gift box at Artini Hour at River Legacy in Arlington.

Mommy & Me, Southlake – Dec. 10

The regular Mommy & Me on Saturday, Dec. 10, at Bob Jones Nature Center in Southlake is Evergreen Every Winter, with a focus on evergreen trees such as Christmas trees and native cedar trees. Includes a hike for kiddos if weather permits.

Sustainable Gift Wrapping and Ornament Making, Denton- Dec. 10

On Saturday, Dec. 10, Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center in Denton hosts Sustainable Gift Wrapping and Ornament Making. SCRAP and Sustainable Denton are providing the paper and decorative supplies. Kids will be kept busy making sustainable ornaments for the tree or house, so you can wrap their presents on the sly. Cocoa and light refreshments make it festive.

Nature Decked in Lights

Dallas County

Vitruvian LightsSeasonal lights need not be an energy-intensive affair with LEDs. Plus they’re lightweight and cool, enabling more extensive use on trees and shrubbery. In Dallas County, areas known for lighting up large magnificent trees include Highland Park, Kessler Park in Oak Cliff, and Forest Hills in east Dallas. Directions and details in this Dallas Morning News Guide Live article.

Vitruvian Lights.

No place celebrates trees better than Vitruvian Lights in Addison. Dozens of trees around a small lake light up in jewel tones that reflect in the water. Amble along paved walkways that loop the lake and even venture onto small islands. Occasional live entertainment and children’s activities occur.

Tarrant County

In Tarrant County, the Interlochen neighborhood in Arlington is known for its spectacular displays. The free light display is open to the public Dec. 16-Dec. 25. Whistlestop in Cleburne is hosted by the Cleburne Chamber of Commerce and the city of Cleburne through Dec. 31 and features an estimated 3.5 million lights in Hulen Park.

Natural Gifts

Bat World Sanctuary pocket watchMany of the nature centers in North Texas have excellent gift shops. Few do mail order, so take a hike and shop at the same place. Shops include Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center, Trinity River Audubon Center, Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge, International Exotic Animal Sanctuary, Blackland Prairie Raptor Center, Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife SanctuaryFossil Rim Wildlife Center and the Fort Worth Nature Center.

This bat filagree pocket watch sells for $22.95 at the Bat World Sanctuary online store.

Bat World Sanctuary in Weatherford has a whimsical and well-stocked online bat-themed store.

The wall calendar offered by In-Sync Exotics Wildlife Rescue and Educational Center features astounding photos of their big cats, including the young lion Lambert.

Birds of Texas Notecards from Audubon Dallas features photographs by Ron Baughman, Anna Palmer, Brenda Loveless, Don Hoggatt and Laurie C. Musick. Each set includes 10 blank cards and envelope

Winter Hikes

Bob Jones Nature Center’s Holiday Hike & Movie Night in Southlake on Fri. Dec. 9 includes a hike at dusk followed by a holiday movie. Pack an indoor picnic.

With no fear of being fried to a crisp on the sun baked open water, winter is a perfect time for float trips. Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Area hosts their usual monthly kayak excursions on Sat. Dec. 17 on the Elm Fork of the Trinity River.

Hagerman Whooping CranesSee huge flocks of wintering geese at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge north of Sherman-Denison on the Red River. The visitor center has maps, wildlife guide, and binoculars for loan. The all-electric Carlos and Eulalia Cardinal Express gives a 60 to 90 minute tour on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

Whooping Cranes at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge.

The Third Saturday Nature Talk on Dec. 17 at Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary in McKinney focuses on winter trees and ways you can identify them without their foliage.

On Dec. 31, head out to the 3,600-acre Fort Worth Nature Center for a Resolution Hike.

Christmas Bird Count

Get outside and do a good deed for science with the Christmas Bird Count, the nation’s largest ongoing citizen science project, held annually between Dec. 14 to Jan. 5. Participants follow specified routes through a designated 15-mile diameter circle, counting every bird they see or hear all day. Results are compiled by the National Audubon Society to study the long-term health and status of bird populations across North America.

Audubon Christmas Bird CountBelow are a few Christmas Bird Counts in North Texas on Saturday, Dec. 17. Visit this map here to find more. Or check with your local Audubon or Texas Master Naturalist chapter. You can also organize your own!

Bluejay, courtesy of

Saturday, Dec. 17

North Dallas

Dallas Audubon Society concludes with a countdown dinner at the end of the day. Some birding experience required.

Southwest Dallas

At Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center, experienced birdwatchers help newcomers identify birds. Binoculars for loan, games and crafts for kids, and excellent hot cocoa for purchase.

John Bunker Sands Wetland Center in conjunction with Trinity River Audubon Center. Focus on wetlands birds.


Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge welcomes bird watchers of all levels of experience. Focus on migrating waterfowl.

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