As usual, holiday celebrations are happening across the state this year, but many have been re-imagined with COVID-19 safety protocols in mind.
“I believe we’re still going to bring the magic to downtown Tulsa,” says Brenna Mullins, special events and festivals manager for ASM Tulsa, which hosts Arvest Winterfest.
This year, the popular ice rink was moved indoors to the BOK Center. Ticketed reservations mean a limited number of skaters per session are spread across the 17,000-square-foot rink. The rink is open until Jan. 3, barring a couple of dates for a hockey game and a basketball tournament.
BOK visitors can see “social distancing signage everywhere, and hand sanitizer stations about every 10 feet,” says Mullins. Masks are required for those ages 10 and up, and vendors are also upholding protocols within the building.
“I want to acknowledge how positive and hardworking this crew has been throughout the entire pandemic,” says Mullins. “It definitely has been a challenge for us and every other venue to create a great season.”
Skaters must go to the website (tulsawinterfest.com) to get to the ticket link and reserve a date and time for a 90-minute skating session. Sundays with Santa, carriage rides on weekends, the Winterfest Express trackless train and Breakfast with Santa are all still happening this year.
Winterfest Express train rides are free and open to all ages every Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. Sundays with Santa are from 2 to 4 p.m., sponsored by Cox, and photo opportunities with the jolly old elf are available.
Visitors receive half-price skating on Mondays with the donation of a non-perishable canned food item to benefit the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma, and there’s also half-price skating on Warmth Wednesdays with the donation of a new or gently used coat, blanket, scarf or pair of gloves.
Breakfast with Santa sessions are at 9 and 11 a.m. Dec. 12 in the Cox Business Center Tulsa Ballroom, Mullins says, and tickets sell quickly.
And Tulsa Ballet this year offers a re-imagined version of its beloved holiday favorite. The Lost Nutcracker runs at the Cox Business Convention Center from Dec. 17-20 with limited seating and virtual livestream opportunities.
Musical and theatrical celebrations highlight Downtown in December in Oklahoma City, and this year The Nutcracker is a “short and sweet version,” says Danielle Dodson, communications manager for the Downtown OKC Partnership. The show runs Dec. 12-20 at the Civic Center. Robert Mills, artistic director for OKC Ballet, has selected favorites from Tchaikovsky’s beloved ballet for a one-act show designed to help facilitate pandemic protocols.
The Oklahoma City Philharmonic’s A Classic Christmas on Dec. 4-5 is a simpler yet elegant blend of sentimental favorites and fun Christmas standards, organizers say, designed to help patrons imagine a future of hope and possibility.
The historic Harn Homestead in Oklahoma City is this year’s outdoor setting for Lyric Theatre’s A Christmas Carol, which continues through Dec. 27. The venue, designed to keep people socially distant, does not have seating. Ticketed patrons walk from scene to scene during the 75-minute production that showcases the journey of Ebenezer Scrooge and the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future.
Downtown in December’s Santa Run is virtual this year, with runners invited to complete the 5K anytime during the month. Merchants on Automobile Alley are holding special activities and giveaways on Saturdays, and Santa Claus is socially distanced inside a snow globe.
Bricktown Water Taxi is offering limited service. For information about boat rides on the Bricktown Canal, go to bricktownwatertaxi.com.
Owner and artistic director of Kringle’s Christmas Land, Ben Sumner, moved the show to his home in Jenks, and guests can drive past the magical scene that features more than 200 vintage animated store displays. The light show is open to the public from 5:30 to 10 p.m. nightly through Dec. 31 at 12520 S. Date Place.
“I want to transport people back in time, to New York City, during the holidays,” says Sumner. “Think of 34th Street window displays, and that’s what I’m going for.” Go to KringlesChristmasLand on Facebook for a video preview of the show.
Myriad Botanical Gardens in downtown Oklahoma City enhanced its outdoor holiday décor this year, “to ensure that the gardens continue to be a place of peace and respite,” says Leslie Spears, director of marketing and public relations for the Myriad Gardens Foundation. “As our grounds are free and open to the public, displays will be accessible to the entire community, day and evening.”
Santa at the Gardens is a free event from 6 to 8 p.m. Dec. 5 at Myriad Gardens, Spears says.
“Children can interact with Santa from a safe social distance, drop off letters in his personal mailbox, and enjoy the wonder and beauty of his winter workshop.”