Monthly Archives: December 2015

The Railyard Bike Park Is Open in Rogers

If you like to bike, number one on your list of things to do in 2016 should be visiting The Railyard Bike Park in downtown Rogers. It’s the newest off-road offering for Northwest Arkansas, an Rogers_The_Railyardexcellent cycling destination.

It’s named “The Railyard” because it is located only blocks from the Arkansas-Missouri railroad and some obstacles are made from recycled trains. Its signature piece is a full-scale rail car set on real railroad tracks that bikers ride through.

This dirt jump bike park features wall rides, whale tales, and concrete lips. The park is designed to accommodate riders of all different skill-levels, beginner to expert, and different types of bicycles, striders to full suspension bikes to dirt jumpers to BMX. It will be open day and night, has lights, a pavilion, and a large parking lot.

Funded in part by The Walton Family Foundation and connected to the Lake Atalanta trail system, The Railyard opened Nov. 7, 2015. While it is definitely a treat for local residents, the park is also expected to draw people from outside the region. There’s no doubt bikers will be headed to Northwest Arkansas in the future to take part in events held at bike parks such as The Railyard and to ride the region’s trails. Putting a huge spotlight on this area is the upcoming International Mountain Bicycling Association’s World Summit, which Bentonville is hosting on Nov. 10-12, 2016.

Also, IMBA’s 2015 Model Trails recognition included the Northwest Arkansas Regional Ride Center. With the Bentonville (silver-level) and Fayetteville (bronze-level) Ride Centers located less than 30 miles apart, the two towns have formed the first and only region-wide Ride Center designation. Mountain bikers visiting the Ozarks can double-down with a wide range of riding to choose from and two cycling-crazed communities hosting some of the Nation’s finest trails.

by Jill Rohrbach

Holiday Happenings in Eureka Springs

Eureka_Springs_Santa_kidsYou can’t feel the holiday spirit any stronger than in Eureka Springs, a Victorian-era village with a historic downtown seemingly ripped out of the pages of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”

The ambiance, and numerous events throughout the holiday season make Eureka Springs a festive place to visit.

  • Christmas at The Crescent – More than 30 trees are adorned and illuminated on nearly 15 acres of The East Lawn of the 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa. Each tree is decorated by and for a local charity. On Thursday, Dec. 10, the Ozarks Chorale will sing carols and secular tunes in the Crystal Dining Room Restaurant at 6 p.m. Dinner is served from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. For more information, visit crescent-hotel.com.
  • Lights of The Great Passion Play – Christmas lights are on display at The Great Passion Play as you make your way to see the Christ of the Ozarks statue. You can see the lights from dark until 8 p.m. every night until Jan. 2. The lights are available to see by donations, which help produce the 2016 Passion Play season that starts in May of 2016. At night see the lights, by day visit the Holy Land Tour, Backstage Area, and enjoy lunch. These daytime tickets are available November through April. Call 479-253-9200 or click here to get your tickets. For more information, visit greatpassionplay.org.
  • Holidays in the Hills Concert – The celebratory sounds of four-part harmony by the Ozarks Chorale usher in the holiday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 12 at the historic Eureka Springs Auditorium. Now in its 20th season, the Ozarks Chorale has come to mean the highest standard of choral music to both its singers and audiences. Ozarks Chorale members hail from throughout the region. This year’s holiday concert features selections from a variety of musical styles from Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” to traditional Spanish carols, and features the compositions of the Ozarks “composer in residence, Ellen Stephenson, who is also the group’s accompanist. Tickets may be purchased at The Auditorium ticket office for $10. Student tickets are free. The box office will open one hour prior to the performance. Proceeds from the sale of intermission refreshments will benefit the Carroll County Music Group, a local nonprofit organization associated with the National Federation of Music Clubs. For more information, visit theozarkschorale.org.
  • Snow Village and Train — The Snow Village and Train display at Gaskins Switch Village is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays, and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays through Dec. 20. The exhibit consists of over 300 buildings in a wintry setting, together with three Lionel 0 scale trains, a Lionel 0 scale trolley, and many accessories and surprises. Special evening hours, and final dates of the event are 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Wednesday, December 21, 22, and 23. Admission is $5 for adults and $2 for children ages 5 through 12. Advance tickets not needed, just pay at the door. This amazing collection is shown through the generosity of Larry and Cathy Handley, Gaskins Switch and Shirley Bird. It is a fundraiser for the Eureka Springs Historical Museum. For more information, call 479-253-9417.
  • Eureka_Springs_Bad_Santa_Selfie_2015Night of a Thousand Santas – Meet at Basin Spring Park to get some Santa gear, or wear your own. Then, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., stroll along with all the Santas to pubs throughout the downtown to play some Reindeer Games. The cost to play is $10. Along the way, you can also play the Bad Santa Selfie game by posting selfies to Instagram for a chance to win prizes. Get tickets at ReserveEureka.com
  • Illuminated Springs Tour – From 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 12, guided holiday walking tours are offered every half hour. Tickets are available at Basin Park Hotel and Sweet Spring during the tour hours. The cost is $15 for adults, and free for children. During the event, hot cocoa is available at All Seasons Inn. For more information, visit eurekaspringschristmas.com.
  • Elfie Selfie Contest – There are 12 elves hidden in downtown shop windows. Take a selfie with an elf and post it on Instagram. Use the hashtags #OnlyinEurekaand #ElfinEureka, and tag the store if possible. The contest for prizes goes through Dec. 13. Details available at on the Facebook Page.Eureka_Springs_Basin_Park_Christmas
  • Santa in the Park featuring Santa & Reindeer Games– Sit on Santa’s lap, enjoy performances by momandpop, and plenty of other fun for the whole family from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. in Basin Spring Park.

For a full list of events, visit http://eurekaspringschristmas.com/, and http://www.eurekasprings.org/events/.

by Jill Rohrbach

Embrace Your Inner Cupid — Or Not! — at NWA Valentine’s Celebrations

For Valentine’s Day 2016 we’ve got you covered in the music, romance and chocolates department, but Heart Day doesn’t have to be conventional. Check out these upcoming events and make this lovely holiday one for the books!

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Le Chocolate Feast in Fayetteville

Le Chocolate Feast – Jan. 30 – Attention chocolate lovers: this one‘s for you! Celebrate Valentine’s Day a little early this year and come to the Northwest Arkansas Mall in Fayetteville to taste chocolate themed treats from various restaurants and catering businesses throughout Northwest Arkansas! All proceeds go to the Pink Divas – an organization that provides support for breast cancer patients, survivors and their families in Northwest Arkansas. lechocolatefeast.org

Valentines Pops: The American Songbook – Feb. 6 – Join the Symphony of Northwest Arkansas for a romantic evening of incredible music at Walton Arts Center. This concert features America’s beloved popular musical output from the first half of the last century, with a generous helping of songs about love. Featuring jazz vocalist Genine LaTrice Perez, this concert is one you won’t want to miss! sonamusic.org

Eureka Springs Chocolate Lovers’ Festival – Feb. 13 – Embrace your sweet tooth this Valentine’s Day at the Eureka Springs Chocolate Lovers’ Festival! Cakes, cookies, ice cream, dipping fountains, beverages and more can be found at this tasty event. From organic and household brand names to select boutique labels, vendors will showcase and promote their products while offering gourmet and homemade take-home samples to attendees! The festival provides funds for multiple non-profit organizations in the Eureka Springs area. eurekachocfest.org

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Black Hearts Ball at Crystal Bridges

Black Hearts Ball: Anti-Valentine’s Day – Feb. 14 – Not the biggest fan of Valentine’s Day? Crystal Bridges Museum of America Art has you covered! The Bentonville museum invites members and guests to the 2016 Black Hearts Ball. Dance your blues away on the 3D projected dance floor, and indulge in delicious comfort cuisine prepared by chefs at the museum’s restaurant, Eleven. After the ball, drown your sorrows at the after party downtown at The Hive inside 21c Museum Hotel. crystalbridges.org

Arkansas Razorbacks Sports Play at its Finest

Need your sports fix this winter? The Arkansas Razorbacks have you covered with back-to-back SEC basketball and baseball action!

The University of Arkansas men’s basketball team just launched its 2015-16 season, while the “OmaHogs” baseball team will ramp up in February, following a trip earlier this year to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.

Fans Crowd Bud Walton Arena 2014-15-7391

Bud Walton Arena

Hogs Courtside at Bud Walton Arena

Fans go hog wild over the Razorback basketball team, which is fresh off a solid, home-court win of 117-78 against Northwestern State on Dec. 2nd. Fans love to fill up Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville and call the Hogs for the “Fastest 40 Minutes in College Basketball.”

With the season already fast underway, home games at Bud Walton are great fun for the entire family. Come cheer the Hogs courtside on Tues., Dec. 8, as they face off against Evansville, and again on Sat., Dec. 12, when they host Tennessee Tech. On Tues., Dec. 22, the Hogs play against North Florida here at home, and again on Tues., Jan. 5 against Vanderbilt, and on Sat., Jan. 9 against Mississippi State.

Basketball season runs through March 5, so there will be plenty of chances to see the basketball Hogs in action. For a complete and up-to-date schedule, click hereWoo Pig Sooie!

Diamond Hogs

The Arkansas Razorback baseball team is gearing up for its 2016 season. Following a trip to the College World Series earlier this year, the Diamond Hogs will play their season opener on Fri., Feb. 19 against Central Michigan.

Team Celebration BSB 2015-0470

The Arkansas Razorback Diamond Hogs

The baseball team will return in 2016 with several players from their 2015 College World Series team, including All-SEC closer Zach Jackson and SEC All-Freshman team pitcher Keaton McKinney.

The Diamond Hogs will play 34 home games at the state-of-the-art Baum Stadium in Fayetteville, as well as matchups against NCAA tournament teams. In Spring 2016, they will host Southeastern Conference weekend series games against Auburn, Missouri, Florida, Texas A&M and Alabama. For a complete and up-to-date schedule, click here.

For Razorback baseball and basketball tickets, as well as information on all Razorback athletics programs including Women’s Basketball, visit arkansasrazorbacks.com.

“Picturing the Americas” Makes Only U.S. Stop at Crystal Bridges

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is hosting a stunning landscape art exhibition that is sweeping through the Americas with only a limited number of stops at select museums.

The Bentonville museum is the only venue in the U.S. to host Picturing the Americas: Landscape Painting from Tierra Del Fuego to the Arctic – on display through Jan. 18.

Yosemite Valley

Yosemite Valley

The traveling exhibition connects deeply with Crystal Bridges’ mission of celebrating art with nature. The exhibit arrived from Canada’s Art Gallery of Ontario and will travel next to the Brazilian gallery, Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo.

Picturing the Americas shows the evolution of landscape painting during the 1800s and 1900s in a unique hemispheric context – from the southern tip of Argentina and Chile to the Canadian Arctic.

Visitors will find 100 oil paintings, watercolors, prints and photographs. Well- known American landscape painters such as Albert Bierstadt, Frederic E. Church, Thomas Cole, Martin Johnson Heade and Georgia O’Keeffe will be represented, as well as masters of the genre Jose Maria Velasco, Juan Manuel Blanes and more.

AGO Photography by Carlo Catenazzi

Montmorency Falls

Highlights include depiction of Rio de Janiero, Félix-Émile Taunay’s Baia De Guanabara Vista Da Ilha Das Cobras, Albert Bierstadt’s Yosemite Valley, 1868 and Emily Carr’s Inside a Forest II.

General admission is $10, and free for museum members and youth ages 18 and under. More information about exhibition is available in English, French, Portuguese and Spanish at picturingtheamericas.org.

For more information about this Crystal Bridges exhibition, visit crystalbridges.org.

Eureka Gras 2016: Hooray for Hollywood!

Marking its 11th year, Arkansas’ largest Mardi Gras celebration is back and better than ever with a month’s worth of events Jan. 9 – Feb. 9. 

Eureka Gras Parade

Eureka Gras Parade

Colorful parades, masquerade balls, costume contests and traditional New Orleans style food are just a few of the reasons why Eureka Gras in Eureka Springs is one festival that simply cannot be missed! With a theme of Hooray for Hollywood!, this year’s repertoire includes:

  • Kings Day Kick-off at the Rowdy Beaver – Jan. 9 – Come meet the king, queen and members of the royal court! Break out your masks and costumes and enjoy free food and music, followed by King Cake for dessert.
  • The Taste of N’Awlins – Jan. 23 – A favorite among Eureka Gras-goers takes place at the Grand Central Hotel. Enjoy delicious New Orleans style cuisine that rivals the French Quarter.
  • Mayor’s Ball – Jan. 29 – The Basin Park Hotel hosts this colorful ball with live music and beads galore!
  • Eureka Gras Light & Sound Parade – Jan. 30 – Colorful floats with riders in full costume will light their way through downtown. After the parade, visitors are welcome at the Black Light Ball, an artistic soiree held in an underground space featuring black light paint, models, music and more!
  • Jazz Brunch at the Crescent Hotel – Feb. 7 – The aroma of traditional Cajun food will fill the air of the historic hotel as guests enjoy live jazz music. Attendees are invited to bring their decorated umbrellas, a Mardi Gras tradition that dates back decades.
  • St. Liz Cajun King Cake Ball – Feb. 9 – Wrapping up the festival, this evening features the jazz combo “Naturally Brass,” an authentic Louisiana dinner and partaking of “the largest King Cake in Arkansas.” Costumes are encouraged!

For more info, visit eurekasprings.org.

Queen Eureka

 

Countdown New Year’s Eve!

2016 will be a year to remember, so ring in the New Year with a night (or afternoon!) you’ll never forget. Make memories that’ll last a lifetime at these signature Northwest Arkansas events.

last night

Last Night Fayetteville Celebration

Last Night Fayetteville – Dec. 31 – Come find out why TripAdvisor named Last Night Fayetteville one of the Top Ten New Year’s Eve celebrations in the U.S. With the world famous Hog Drop at midnight and a spectacular fireworks display, Arkansas’s largest New Year’s festival provides a full evening of entertainment for revelers of all ages. Performers including Groovement, Galaxy Tour Guides and National Park Radio will headline the main stage at the Fayetteville Town Center, and 10 more indoor stages around the downtown square will host live music, comedy, theatre, dance, youth and kids performances. lastnightfayetteville.com

Noon Year’s Eve Family Celebration! – Dec. 31 – Ring in the New Year (without staying up past bedtime!) at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art’s first-ever, family-friendly Noon Year’s Eve celebration from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Enjoy a toast at noon after a special Noon Year’s Eve countdown, a new marionette show from StoneLion Puppet Theatre, music, dancing, magic, art-making and more! And, just down the street, the good folks at the Scott Family Amazeum will be celebrating Noon Year’s Eve as well. crystalbridges.org amazeum.org

new 365

The World-Class Crystal Bridges Museum at Night

NEW 365 at Crystal Bridges – Dec. 31 – Beginning at 9 p.m., celebrate your New Year’s Eve immersed in art, fantasy and inspiration amidst the breathtaking architecture of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville. Experience stunning dance performances, theater acts and art-making activities as a mesmerizing Video Art & Light Show on the walls of the Great Hall lights the way to midnight. Enjoy access to galleries, have a festive beverage and sample mouthwatering delights from the Eleven Restaurant chefs. The celebration doesn’t end when the New Year begins! Dance in the Great Hall until 1 a.m. Members ages 21 and up are welcome. crystalbridges.org

 

Home for the Holidays at Walton Arts Center

From symphonic holiday classics to the musical version of the beloved “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” the new “Home for the Holidays” series presented by the region’s performing arts powerhouse has something for all ages!

Walton Arts Center and SoNA present The Snowman: A Family Concert – Dec. 6 – Experience a very special screening of the award-winning film “The Snowman” as musicians of the Symphony of Northwest Arkansas bring to life the extraordinary score for an afternoon that is sure to enchant your little ones. With young guest soprano Mallorie Spielmaker.

Brickman-209 - credit Janet Macoska

Jim Brickman

Jim Brickman: Comfort & Joy – Dec. 13 – Jim Brickman, the best-selling solo pianist of our time, will once again wow audiences with Comfort & Joy, a celebration of the season. During this concert extravaganza, Brickman will showcase two decades of music, including the favorites that made him the most charted Billboard Adult Contemporary artist ever.

Christmas with SONOS Handbell  Ensemble – Dec. 14 – Making their Arkansas debut, this California-based group — widely considered to be the best handbell group in the U.S. — presents an enchanting program of traditional, sacred and contemporary Christmas music that will give you a delightful new appreciation of bell choirs.

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Home Free

Home Free: Full of Cheer – Dec. 15 – The fan-favorite vocal sensation Home Free returns to WAC with their first holiday tour! These five guys were the winners of the fourth season of NBC’s “The Sing-Off ” in December 2013, claiming the title of the world’s first country music a cappella group and catapulting the vocal band to stardom. You can expect to hear all of your favorite holiday harmonies like “O Holy Night,” “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and the always-entertaining “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.”

 

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Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical – Dec. 21-23 – The beloved TV classic “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” soars off the screen and onto the stage this holiday season! Join us in celebrating Rudolph’s 50 years on television and come see all of your favorite characters from the TV special. Don’t miss this wonderful new holiday tradition, which teaches us all that what makes you different might just be what makes you special.

For more information, visit waltonartscenter.org.

Ice Skating, Train Excursions, Reindeer Games: There’s Fun for Everyone This Season!

From Christmas festivals and ice-skating under the stars to the A&M Railroad holiday train and a Night of a Thousand Santas – festivities across Northwest Arkansas are sure to put you in the brightest of spirits!

The Rink at Lawrence Plaza – Join in on the holiday fun at the Lawrence Plaza Ice Rink (the area’s only outdoor ice rink), open Friday through Sunday until Jan. 16, located just off the Bentonville Square.

Dine at one of the trendy restaurants downtown, enjoy the specular downtown holiday lights display, then lock arms with your honey or kiddos and skate the night away under the stars. Or, grab your friends and drop in on hockey night for a friendly face-off with other hockey fans in Northwest Arkansas.

Lawrence Plaza

The Ice Rink at Lawrence Plaza

Don’t know how to skate? Lawrence Plaza has you covered with lessons for all ages. The rink is also available for private parties if you’re looking for a fun place to host your next holiday bash!

The whole family will want to watch their favorite Christmas movies during Frosty’s Flicks. Skate around the rink while holiday classics like “The Grinch,” “Frozen” and “The Santa Claus” play on the big screen. Kids, be sure to drop off your letter in Santa’s Mailbox by Dec. 17 and get a reply by Christmas! For more info, visit bentonvilleusa.org.

The Eureka Springs Christmas Festival – Let the magic of Eureka Springs pull you into its enchanted holiday spell! This year’s Christmas Festival features family fun, lighted tours, historic hotel celebrations, Santa strolls and more! Highlights include:

Crescent Xmas

Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs

  • The 15th Annual Christmas at the 1886 Crescent Hotel – Thru Dec. 11 – One of the Ozarks’ most popular winter holiday traditions! Arrive at the doorstep of this delightfully decorated mountaintop hotel and be swept away by the spirit of Christmas. crescent-hotel.com/blog
  • Night of a Thousand Santas – Dec. 11 – Meet at Basin Spring Park to get your Santa gear (or wear your own!) and stroll along with Santas of all stripes and participate in reindeer games at local pubs! Play along with the “Bad Santa” Instagram game along the way for a chance to win prizes! eurekaspringsdowntown.com
  • Light the Hills: An Illuminated Evening in Downtown Eureka Springs – Dec. 12 – Bring the entire family on this magical guided tour with luminaries lining the path downtown from Sweet Spring to Grotto Spring. Yuletide stories and stops on local Victorian porches for hot cocoa and goodies will delight young and old alike. eurekaspringsdowntown.com

Arkansas & Missouri Railroad Holiday Express – All aboard for this holiday train-ride excursion! On select dates through Dec. 23, train riders can depart from the Emma Street Train Depot in Springdale and ride to local destinations and back aboard a restored 1940s era train. Enjoy candy canes, hot chocolate and cookies, and more. On Dec. 19, the Pajama Train excursion from Springdale to Fayetteville lets kids stay in their PJ’s, meet Santa and bring in the holiday spirit! amrailroad.com

RogersSantaCaboose31st Annual Rogers Downtown Tree Lighting & Christmas Parade – Dec. 4 – Enjoy a Nutcracker performance by Ballet Westside at 6 p.m., followed by the lighting of the Christmas Tree at 6:30 p.m., and the festive Christmas Parade that will wind through the Downtown Rogers District beginning at 7 p.m. – this year’s theme is “Twas the Lights before Christmas.” Also, boys and girls are invited to visit Santa on the Caboose on Saturday, Dec. 5, 12 and 19 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Frisco Caboose in Downtown Rogers, where you can take family photos and deliver holiday wishes to Santa on a real locomotive! visitrogersarkansas.com

Light Up Siloam Springs – Dec. 5 – Historic downtown Siloam Springs will be aglow with glimmering lights at the annual Light Up Siloam Springs Celebration and Christmas Parade! At dusk, the Mayor of Siloam Springs will wave a magical candy cane to light up downtown, followed by Santa’s much-anticipated appearance as holiday floats make their way down Broadway Street! mainstreetsiloam.org

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Light Up Siloam Springs

For more information, including details on these and other holiday happenings throughout the four-county region, visit NorthwestArkansas.org.

The Lights of the Ozarks: A Winter Wonderland of Twinkling Lights!

The Lights of the Ozarks on the Fayetteville Square

The Lights of the Ozarks is a magical festival of Christmas lights, carriage rides, Santa Claus and more on the historic downtown Fayetteville Square. With a half a million lights shimmering every evening now through Dec. 31, this holiday spectacular cannot be missed!

Chosen by AAA Southern Traveler as a must-see holiday lights display, people from all over the country come to Northwest Arkansas to experience The Lights of the Ozarks for themselves. You can stroll or drive through every evening from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. and enjoy festive holiday music, choir performances and more.

The Lights of the Ozarks includes these activities, too:

Horse-drawn Carriage Rides – Enjoy nightly carriage rides with family and friends starting at 5:30 p.m. Snuggle up with a blanket and get ready to be mesmerized as one of the handsome horses pulls you around the downtown square.

Camel Rides – Both kids and adults love the family fun of camel rides (weather permitting!). Pet, ride and get your picture made with the friendly creatures strutting down Center Street.

Partytime Ponies – The fun continues with pony rides every night, too! Your kids will love spending time and getting pictures made with these adorable furry friends.

Santa Claus – Ho ho ho! Santa is free to see (tickets are $2 to see his reindeer), but there is a $5 fee for photos with Santa. Santa and his reindeer are out on the Square every evening until December 23rd from 6 to 9 p.m., weather permitting.

Holiday Refreshments – Vendors will be serving holiday refreshments including hot chocolate, white hot chocolate, apple cider, hot coffee, and more!

For more information, visit thelightsoftheozarks.com.