ar christmas

Christmas in Arkansas: Southern Tradition at its Best

Christmas in Arkansas is a truly unique time in The Natural State. Parades, decorations, festivals and unpredictable weather always make Christmas unforgettable.

I don’t know about you but I love a good Christmas movie. We don’t have cable, satellite, Netflix or any of those other fancy TV service providers at our house so we get our Christmas movies the old fashioned way…through rabbit ear antennas. We call the movies the “knock off” Hallmark movies.

They’re as good as a Hallmark Christmas movie…almost. But, we don’t care. We make gingerbread cookies and coffee and settle in for a fun time.

The trouble is, rarely have I seen a Christmas movie that truly depicts a good southern Christmas. They’re usually filled with Christmas tree farms, snow and very thick sweaters. That’s just not what Christmas is usually like in Arkansas.

Christmas in Arkansas consists of 70 degree temperatures sometimes, 40 degree temperatures other times, Christmas trees for sale outside the Kroger grocery store always and snow rarely.

You won’t normally find Arkansans strolling hand in hand through a snow covered Christmas tree farm and drinking hot apple cider with mittens on in the gift shop just to warm up.

For some newbie Southerners, Christmas in Arkansas can be a real shock. Grabbing a steaming hot broccoli and cheese casserole and heading to Grandma’s in 70 degree weather just doesn’t seem very much like Christmas to some.

A friend of mine moved to Arkansas from Alaska a few years ago. It was 72 degrees here on her first Christmas. She said she had such a hard time feeling like it was Christmas because of the warm temperature and lack of snow.

Welcome to the South, y’all.

I remember Christmases with my husband’s Grandpa. Grandpa lived in a four-room house that his grandparents built. It was small, drafty and very welcoming. He kept the gas heating stove running full blast through the winter even when the weather outside was mild. Every Christmas, we wore our t-shirts to Grandpa’s house for Christmas.

In fact, my husband had a t-shirt with a gingerbread man printed on the front so he could feel festive but not sweat to death.

I don’t want to scare you though. Keep in mind that the 70 degree temperatures on Christmas aren’t normal around here. In fact, the average high temperature in Arkansas during December is 53 degrees.

Average maximum temperature: 53.3°F
Average minimum temperature: 34.3°F
Average precipitation: 4.9 inches
Average snowfall: 0.8 inches
Northwesterly winds


For us Southern natives, Arkansas Christmases are unmatched. The mild temperatures make perfect weather for all the Christmas parades that take place around the state. The lack of snow (generally) means we can easily make it to the BEST Christmas light displays in Arkansas and the Christmas trees lined up outside Kroger mean you can grab one when you go to pick up your Christmas ham.

Arkansas State Capitol on Christmas Eve - Christmas in Arkansas
The Arkansas State Capitol on Christmas Eve. Photo credit Jeff Heard/ Creative Commons

To be clear about the live Christmas trees, we do have Christmas tree farms where you can go cut your own. They just aren’t as prevalent as in other areas. In fact, we visited our first Christmas tree farm 2 years ago and it was all due to one of those darn “knock off” Hallmark movies.

My husband and I watched a movie about two families that owned neighboring Christmas tree farms. The families had a feud going between them like the Hatfields and the McCoys except their names were the Spruces and the Pines (clever, huh?) but there were no shootings. However, a son and daughter from each farm fell in love (much like Romeo and Juliet). Thankfully, everything ends happily and no one dies. But, it was the scenery of the Christmas farm that had us hooked.

We knew we’d have to go to a Christmas tree farm, drink some cider and cut down our own tree. We donned our jeans and jackets and jumped in the truck.

We visited the Holiday Forest Christmas Tree Farm in Central Arkansas. It was wonderful. They even served apple cider! Our “knock off” Hallmark Christmas movie dreams had come true. Except there wasn’t a gift shop and Mr. Pine wasn’t there arguing with Mr. Spruce about how he’s ripping people off by selling them special water for their live tree. You just can’t trust a Spruce.

Many towns and cities across the state also host Christmas parades during the Christmas season. Some towns turn the parade into a festival with food and photos with Santa. Just visit the Facebook page of any Arkansas town to find the announcements of their Christmas parades.

Pro tip: Greenwood Arkansas hosts one of the best (and most friendly) Christmas Parades I have ever attended.

I always loved going to our small town Christmas parade when I was a kid and catching the candy that was thrown from the floats! One year, my dad even drove my Grandpa’s antique tractor in the parade!

While I was in college at Arkansas Tech University, I remember seeing the Russellville Court House lit up in beautiful white lights through December. They had taken such care to place every bulb and the result was magnificent! Many of our towns decorate their court house or city hall with lights and you’ll even find decorations placed on every street light or electric pole down our main streets.

You can read more about that here: BEST Things to Do in Russellville, Arkansas.

A truly special part about Christmas in Arkansas are the live Nativity scenes. Many towns and churches across the state host live nativity scenes that are truly remarkable. The city of Blytheville in northeast Arkansas hosts Lights of the Delta every Christmas season. Their Christmas Light display is the largest in the mid-South region and it includes a beautiful live Nativity.

Find out more here: BEST Arkansas Christmas Light Displays

Christmas in Arkansas

I hope you get the privilege of spending a Christmas in Arkansas. If you’re the Queen of Broccoli and Cheese Casseroles, we’ll welcome you with open arms. If you have mastered the art of homemade cranberry sauce, I’ll come pick you up myself and bring you here. I happen to be the only person I know who doesn’t like cranberry sauce out of a can.

There is something here for everyone and, chances are, the weather will be perfect! You’ll love Christmas in Arkansas.

You’ll also love this: Walmart Christmas Trees – Are they worth it?

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