Last year, I attended my very first Live Nativity Scene at a nearby church in Dallas, TX. Wow, I mean, wow, it was not at all what I was expecting. I’ve always heard of the Live Nativity Scenes in Dallas, but held off on attending any, not sure how manageable or enjoyable they would be with three young boys in energetic tow.
In Italy, nativity scenes are also referred to as Nativity of Jesus in art. Last year, the Live Nativity that we visited was “One Starry Night” at Wilshire not only perfected the art of the crib but created a real world experience filled with living nativity pageants and a faultless marketplace in Bethlehem, giving one the feeling that you truly stepped through an artful picture into a real world. Wilshire delivers a true Christmas gift to the community.
The whole community hall, prayer garden and downstairs gallery were used for this marketplace. One could come and go during a three hour window frame.
Honestly, this Nativity Scene was nothing like what I was expecting.
My family was truly transformed into the past directly into Bethlehem and the manager scene. I was shocked at how minutely decorated it was, down to the costumed volunteers acting this event would present and role play and how hands-on, interactive it was for all attending.
The marketplace had stalls run by shopkeepers, shepherds, innkeepers, craftsman, artisans and musicians. Adults and children of all ages could enjoy making clay pots, playing different instruments, making and eating fresh bread, weaving, creating art with wood and shapes and so much more.
Upon entering, you received a bag filled with pretend coins and a passport that helps guide you along the route to take you through the market and get stamps upon completion of activities. You first had the option to go into a room where you could put clothing over your clothes to make you look and feel like you took a step back into the past into Bethlehem. A photographer took pictures of families. Next, we walked into a great hallway filled with food to taste and savor bringing the flavor and experience of food as it would have been prepared and served at that time.
Then we went into the marketplace of Bethlehem. We were told that tax collectors would sometimes come by, and we would need to pay them. However, as soon as we walked into the market, we came upon a poor family in need. My older son was afraid to give up his coins so quickly but one of my twins was quick to dive into his bag and give up a coin.
At one point, two women beggars came up to my twins and begged for coins for food. Both twin boys spent many minutes digging through their bags, but had only one coin left to give. One of the twins felt bad and tried to give them his passport and then his fresh bread.
Soon after, some tax collectors came up demanding money or they would haul the twins off to jail. The women beggars paid their only coin, via twins, to the tax collector. This was all very enjoyable and sweet to observe such interactions with my boys and the actors/actresses, subtle moral lesson fodder for later discussion therein.
All three of my boys especially enjoyed a woman storyteller using a hand puppet, and after listening to the story of Jesus we walked over to the live manager. At the manager, many kids were giving some of their coins to the baby Jesus. All three of my boys did this, which is why they only had one coin left by time the woman beggars and then tax collectors came along.
The manager scene was perfectly peaceful and quite a special focal point of the evening. Standing before such a reenactment, it is hard to imagine what the feel of the real manager would have been, the quiet and powerful intimacy of the great moment, wrapped in a humble and serene scene. Wilshire created a truly immersing and memorable experience for everyone.
If you are interested in attending a live nativity scene next year and live in Dallas, below is my list collected from others via recommendations from the past but has been updated for 2015.
1) Wilshire Baptist (4316 Abrams Rd. Dallas, 75214): “One Starry Night” See my review above. 2015 info: Friday, December 18, 6-9:00pm, Free Event!
2) Grace Bible (11306 Inwood Rd., Dallas, 75229): “Journey into Christmas” Friday & Saturday, December 11-12, 6-9pm. Interactive walk-through Christmas story! Petting zoo(with live camels), coloring books, caroling, cookie decorating, live music, face painting, and refreshments! Be captured by the nativity story and watching it come to life. Very Gospel oriented. Guided tours are every 10 minutes and every tour last about 40 minutes. Free Event!
3) Ascension Episcopal (8787 Greenville Ave. Dallas, 75243): Sunday 20th, 5-8pm: The nativity story is performed once every 45 minutes beginning at 5:00. So the times are 5:00, 5:45, 6:30, and 7:15pm. Nativity portrays the Pilgrimage to Bethlehem. Dinner available from Ruthie’s Rolling Café (food truck), crafts to make, animals to pet, and the proper setting to enter into the mystery of Christ’s birth.
4) St. Paul Plano (6565 Independence Pkwy, Plano, Tx 75023): “Journey to the Manager” Friday and Saturday, December 11 (7-9pm) & 12 (6-9pm). Six narrated outdoor scenes with the re-enactment of the coming of Jesus.
5) Lamb of God Lutheran Church in Flower Mound (1401 Cross Timbers Road, Flower Mound, 75028): Saturday, December 12, 2-6pm. Live nativity, hayride, Christmas Story acted out by costumed characters, petting zoo, hot cider and cookies. Free Event.
6) Walnut Hill United Methodist Church (10066 Marsh Lane, Dallas, 75229): Friday December 18, 6-9pm. Las Posadas, Christmas Carnival and Live Nativity. Sweet recreation of the birth of Christ, cookies and cocoa. Christmas games, music and Santa. Free Event.
7) Preston Hollow Presbyterian (9800 Preston Road, Dallas, 75230, Pecan Grove): “The Living Creche” Monday and Tuesday, December 14 & 15 (7-9pm) .Live enactment takes place every 30 minutes, with the last show at 8:30pm and between shows, children will be able to pet live sheep and goats.
8) First Frisco United Methodist Church (7659 Preston Road, Frisco): December 20, 5-7:30pm,Cost is $5, Hands on fun for kids to experience life in Bethlehem all those years ago when Jesus was born. Live nativity, petting zoo, sweets, drinks and a keepsake family photo.
9) Creekwood UMC in Allen (261 Country Club Road, Allen): December 9 and 10.
10) Bethlehem Revisited in Waxahachie (402 N. College Street, Waxahachie, 75165, behind Central Presbyterian Church): “Bethlehem Revisited” Friday December 4-Sunday December 6, AND Friday December 11-Sunday December 13, 6-9pm. This event was called #1 Holiday event in the Lone Star State by Fox 4 News. Is amazing; walk the streets as Mary and Joseph did 2000 years ago on the night of Christ’s birth.
Actually it looks like Waxahachie has many family fun annual events such as the Scarborough Renaissance Festival, Mini Grand Prix, Cinco de Mayo Fiesta, Gingerbread Trail Historic Home Tour & Arts/Crafts Show, Crape Myrtle Festival and more. I’m keeping my eye on Waxahachie!
11) Church of Cross in Grapevine: 45 minute walking tour also giving you the feel of what Mary and Joseph journeyed from Nazareth to Bethlehem.
Is there a Live Nativity Scene in DFW that you can recommend?
Not going to make it to a live Nativity Scene this year? Check out “The Promise” in Glen Rose Texas.
“The Promise” looks amazing and something that has been added to our family bucket list!! Tickets for the 2016 shows are already on sale. Friday and Saturday evenings, September 2- October 29 2016. This is a musical experience of the life of Christ performed annually at the Texas Amphitheater.
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