In addition to its many cultural and historic landmarks, this destination hosts a number of outstanding festivals and events that may coincide with your visit.
For many years, Branson was traditionally a summer destination, and tourist activities pretty much shut down during the winter. But these days, the “season” is all year. The Hot Winter Fun Big Show at Dick Clark's American Bandstand Theater, in late January or early February, brings a slew of Branson performers together on one stage.
Ozark Mountain Spring runs from March through May and features more than 40 special events and festivals, including collector car auctions and sporting events. Kewpiesta in April is one of the planned events; it honors Ozarks artist Rose O'Neill, creator of the Kewpie doll.
Spring also brings Bluegrass & BBQ . Hundreds of bluegrass performances feature both up-and-coming artists and big-name headliners. The singing and fiddling is complemented by a lip-smackin' lineup of barbecue—pit-cooking demonstrations highlight everything from Texas smoked beef brisket to St. Louis-style ribs and Memphis dry-rubbed meats, which can be doused with all kinds of different barbecue sauces.
The rousing Southern Gospel Picnic brings together the rich harmonies of top-name gospel vocal groups along with another Southern tradition—an old-fashioned picnic spread featuring chicken and all the fixings plus a tempting array of desserts. This family-style music celebration runs from late August to early September.
During the Harvest Festival from mid-September to late October, more than 150 artisans and craftspeople present their work. A lumberjack show, an art show, sand sculpting, a barn dance, musical performances and harvest foods also are offered. Silver Dollar City's final event of the year is An Old Time Christmas in November and December.
In September, the 3-day Autumn Daze Arts, Crafts & Music Festival takes place in downtown Branson.
From Nov. 5-11 Branson hosts the Veterans Homecoming Week celebration, which draws tens of thousands of veterans, their friends and families. The week features a variety of events, including special appearances by high-ranking military personnel, tribute shows and military reunions. It concludes with a downtown Veterans Day parade.
Branson pulls out the stops for the holidays. Throughout November and December, more than 5 million twinkling lights adorn the streets during the Branson's Gift of Lights . The Branson Adoration Parade rolls through the downtown area in early December. This nighttime parade is a joyful expression of small-town pride and a faith-based celebration of Christmas, with lighted floats, high school marching bands, musicians and singers all ringing in the season.
The parade starts with the lighting of the enormous Adoration Nativity Scene on Mount Branson, a tradition that goes back almost 70 years. Incorporating figures nearly 28 feet tall, it remains lit through Dec. 31. Branson's music theaters also get into the spirit, presenting literally dozens of special holiday-themed productions in November and December during the Ozark Mountain Christmas Lights & Village celebration.
See all the AAA recommended events for this destination.
In-person hotel evaluations are unscheduled to ensure the inspector has an experience similar to that of members. All hotels must meet the same basic requirements for cleanliness, comfort and hospitality to be AAA Approved. A rating of one to five AAA Diamonds tells members what type of experience to expect, from no-frills to highly personalized.
The Branson/Lakes area levies general retail sales, tourism sales and food and beverage sales taxes based on three different jurisdictions: Branson Landing/downtown, citywide and Branson Hills. General retail sales taxes range from 8.6 to 9.6 percent; sales that include a tourism sales tax range from 11.6 to 12.6 percent; food and beverage sales taxes range from 8.975 to 9.975 percent.
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Skaggs Regional Medical Center, (417) 335-7000; CoxHealth Cox North (Springfield, Mo.), (417) 269-3000; CoxHealth Cox South (Springfield, Mo.), (417) 269-6000; Mercy Hospital (Springfield, Mo.), (417) 820-2000.
269 SR 248 Branson, MO 65615. Phone:(417)334-4084 or (800)214-3661
(BKG), 1 mile south of the Hollister exit off US 65, east on Branson Creek Boulevard, then following signs to 4000 Branson Airport Blvd., is served by Buzz Airways and Frontier and handles commercial and general aviation; phone (417) 334-7813.
Hertz, which only operates out of Springfield-Branson National Airport, offers discounts to AAA members; phone (417) 597-5313, (800) 654-3131 or (800) 654-3080. Rental cars are available at Branson Airport.
Gray Line Branson
Cab companies include Jerry’s Shuttle, (417) 348-1419; and Checker Cab, City Cabs and Yellow Cab, all of which can be reached at (417) 332-2227 (Branson Cab Service).
Unless you're part of a motor coach tour, getting around Branson is much easier if you have your own vehicle. One convenient alternative to driving is a free ride aboard the Downtown Trolley. The red-and-gold, hop-on and hop-off trolley makes 12 stops in the historic downtown area, including two stops at Branson Landing. It operates daily 9-6, Mar.-Dec.; closed Thanksgiving and Christmas. Trolley maps are available at downtown retail locations and at the Downtown Branson Betterment Association, 112 W. College St.; phone (417) 334-1548 or (866) 523-1190.