10 Things to Experience in the Ozarks This Winter

Experience the winter season in the Ozarks, with traditional and delightful holiday events that fill the air with anticipation and excitement. Whether you’re home for the holidays or are traveling, the Ozarks invites you to join the seasonal festivities and spread holiday cheer.

An Old Time Christmas

Silver Dollar City

December 14, 2016-December 30, 2016

399 Silver Dollar City Parkway Branson, MO 65616

Website:  http://www.explorebranson.com/festivals-fairs/old-time-christmas


Silver Dollar City presents one of the nation’s most acclaimed Christmas festivals hosting a variety of festivities including:

•Rudolph’s Holly Jolly™ Christmas Light Parade, led by the most famous reindeer of all, with musical lighted floats with 200,000 lights accompanied by 33 costumed characters

•Two original musical productions: It’s a Wonderful Life, adapted from the Frank Capra classic, and the acclaimed production A Dickens’ Christmas Carol

•The Christmas on Main Street light & sound show featuring the 5-Story Special Effects Christmas Tree

•5 million lights, holiday shows, a musical Living Nativity, rides, shopping, and dining

Ozark Mountain Christmas Lights & Village

Branson-Springfield Area

December 14, 2016-December 30, 2016

558 Buena Vista Branson, MO 65616


Website:  http://www.ozarkmountainchristmaslights.com/


Immerse yourself in thousands of glittering light displays by horse-drawn carriage with your family and friends to celebrate the holiday season. Afterwards, explore the Christmas Village (Thursday – Sunday nights) and experience the beautifully-decorated 6,000 square foot Christmas marquee filled with sweet holiday aromas; sounds of Christmas; The North Pole Express Train ride; “Selfies with Santa”; crafts; Holiday Treats and flavors and so much more!

Over 12 ways to create a memory of a lifetime at the Ozark Mountain Christmas Lights & Village!

Tour includes tuning into a Christmas music station to feel the sounds of Christmas while driving by the displays.

The 12 Memories of Ozark Mountain Christmas Lights & Village

1. New Location: Magical Mile of amazing light displays with music by North Pole Productions

2. Light tour in a Clydesdale horse-drawn carriage or wagon

3. Light tour in a two-seater scooter

4. Photos with the Clydesdale horses

5. North Pole Express: Kids & adults Christmas train ride

6. Animated Life-Size Nativity Scene (Free)

7. Christmas story-telling at a campfire (Free)

8.Family Photos by professional photographer

9. Selfies With Santa (Free)

10. Gourmet Hot Chocolate and Cider

11. Fresh made Kettle corn / Bavarian nuts / Food choices available

12. Hilarious Cacklin’ animated chickens sing Christmas songs (Free)

Springfield Ballet’s The Nutcracker

Landers Theatre

311 E. Walnut Street – Springfield, MO 65807

Admission: $18-$65

(417) 862-1343

Website: http://springfieldballet.org/Tickets


 Springfield Ballet is celebrating its 40th anniversary by introducing a brand new design, directed by Roger LaVoie. Immerse yourself in the magic and the excitement as this year’s production features a new set–unveiled for the first time! You and your family will be awed and inspired by the breathtaking new details that will heighten the beloved story of Clara and her Nutcracker Prince. Follow along as they dash from an extravagant Christmas party to a fierce battle with the evil Mouse Queen, then on a magical journey through the Land of Snow and Kingdom of Sweets. Celebrate this holiday tradition with Springfield Ballet and the ones you love!

Hughes Brothers Christmas Show

Hughes Brothers Theatre

December 19, 2016-December 31, 2016

3425 West 76 Country Blvd Branson, MO 65616

Website: http://www.hughesbrotherschristmasshow.com/


Awarded Best Christmas Show 8 years in a row by BransonShowAwards.com

USA Today says, “The Hughes Brothers Show owns the title of World’s Largest Performing Family!”

During Nov. and Dec. step back in time as the Hughes Brothers -Marty, Jason, Ryan, Adam & Andy- and their families create a Christmas wonderland filled with the season’s best vocal harmonies, exciting dances, inspiring instrumentals, and of course, the charm that everyone loves about these five multi-talented brothers. The show is filled with festive surprises, extraordinary performances, and treasured family traditions. You’ll see Santa in a new light when he explains the symbols of Christmas in the most moving Christmas presentation you’ve ever witnessed.

It’s a triumph of everything you want to feel at Christmas time!

C-Street Lights Up the Holidays!

C-Street Historic District

Commercial St. between Washington Ave. and Grant Ave. – Springfield, MO 65803

Free Admission

Recurring daily now through Dec 25, 2016.

5:00pm – 9:00pm

Website: https://www.facebook.com/HistoricCStreet


Explore a winter wonderland of over 10,000 twinkling lights and displays this holiday at Rutledge-Wilson Farm Park!

Festival of Lights

Downtown Springfield

Occurring at various downtown locations

Recurring daily now through Dec 31, 2016.

(417) 864-1105

Website: http://www.itsalldowntown.com/


Join this ongoing celebration of the winter holidays featuring fireworks, free ice skating, light displays, and more!

New Year’s Eve Masquerade Ball

Springfield-Branson Area (Savoy Ballroom)

December 31, 2016

8:00pm – 1:00am

Address: 224 E. Commercial Street – Springfield, MO

(417) 869-6789

Website: http://www.cstreetsavoy.com/events.html


Combination of Live and DJ’ed entertainment featuring the Bel Airs! Midnight revelry, complimentary champagne, countdown to midnight ends with our signature ballroom drop, where the balloons hold over $1,000 in cash and prizes!

Winter Solstice Tour

Smallin Civil War Cave

Recurring daily beginning Dec 14, 2016 through Dec 28, 2016.

Admission: $16.95 Adult ticket, $8.95 Children (4-12 years old)

(417) 551-4545

Website: http://www.smallincave.com


Winter Solstice Mystery: The Sun’s Alignment With An Ancient Petroglyph Inside Smallin Civil War Cave 300 feet inside of the shadowy 10-story wide arched entrance of Smallin Civil War Cave, lies a mystery. Carved on the side of a huge flowstone formation named “The Indian Ladder”, a strange petroglyph could be a silent legacy left by ancient Native American astronomers.

During the shortest days of the year (December 14th through December 28th), a remarkable phenomenon occurs at the entrance of Smallin Cave. Due to the winter tilt of the Earth and the south-facing position of the massive entrance of the cave, the rays of winter sunshine stream far back into Smallin’s depths. Reflecting on the floor and the walls of the cave, the morning rays of sunlight shine across the sun-shaped petroglyph (sometimes known as a “sun-glyph”), and cause the cave to take on a remarkable glow at around 10:00 A.M.

On sunny mornings during this Solstice period, between December 14th & December 28th (with the exceptions of Dec. 18th & Dec. 25th) the Solstice effect is on full display….come for the “Solstice Tour” at 10:00 A.M. and be amazed!

Lights of the Ozarks

Fayettville, Arkansas

November 18, 2016 – December 31, 2016

21 S. Block Ave.

Fayetteville, AR 72701

Website: www.thelightsoftheozarks.com


Enjoy the amazing winter wonderland of lights on the Downtown Square. The lights illuminate the square each evening from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Nightly carriages and pony rides, fresh hot chocolate, and festive holiday music make the Lights of the Ozarks an event that cannot be missed. The romantic and breathtaking display of a half-million twinkling lights is cherished by the locals and visitors alike that stroll or drive through the Lights of the Ozarks each year.

Viewing Of The Trumpeter Swans

North-Central Arkansas

November 26, 2016 – February 1, 2017

Heber Springs, AR 72543

Website: www.heber-springs.com


A wintering population of trumpeter swans descends on Magness Lake every November. It is a scientific mystery why more than 100 of these birds flock to Heber Springs from their mid-western homes, but their arrival makes for an exciting birding experience. To view the swans, drive east on Hwy 110 from its intersection with Hwy 5 and Hwy 25 just east of Heber Springs. Go 3.9 miles from the intersection, turn left on paved Hays Road; the road sign is very small. Magness Lake is about a half-mile down Hays Road.

Hidden Natural Wonders of the Ozarks: Mammoth Spring

Marvel, Explore, Discover

Emerging from hundreds of underground caverns, the turquoise water that creates Mammoth Spring is fueled by rivers spanning across the North American continent, making it the seventh largest natural spring in the world. The cold water that surfaces from the spring creates excellent trout fishing conditions and sufficient flow for water sports on the Spring River.

Ancient Geology of the Ozarks

During the Paleozoic Periodwhich spanned from about 542 million years ago to 251 million years ago—the Ozarks was submerged beneath a shallow sea. After several millennia, the limestone deposits left from the ancient sea bed were eroded, forming hundreds of caverns throughout the Ozarks. Many Pre-Columbian artifacts have been discovered in these cave systems, suggesting that early Native American cultures utilized these underground chambers for shelter, food, and storage. For thousands of years, Native Americansparticularly the Osageinhabited the area of Mammoth Spring. Leaving a small ecological footprint, this ancient culture utilized the land and left behind artifacts and relics that can still be unearthed today.

The History of Mammoth Spring

Intrigued by the lush oak forests, azure springs, and abundance of wildlife, travelers from around the world began to flourish to the Ozarks. The early settlers prospered by exploiting the river fed by the spring, creating a mill, train depot, and a hydroelectric plant. Winding through mountains carpeted in forest, golden plains, and river valleys, the railroad connected to several cities spanning from St. Louis, Missouri to Memphis, Tennessee; eventually, increasing the population of Mammoth Spring.

Attractions and Events

Although no longer in service, the time-worn train station stands as a historical treasure, reminiscing the memories of the past. Formerly providing a connection to the nearby city of Mammoth Spring, the 1886 Frisco train depot is one of many pieces of history located in the area. The former hydroelectric plant and mill nearby allows visitors and locals to understand the economic importance the spring had to the early development of the early settlers of Mammoth Spring. A pavilion, picnic areas, baseball field, and playground are available for visitors as well. Seasonal boat rentals on Spring Lake can be obtained at the visitor center.

Visitor Center:
Jan. – Dec. Sun. – Sat. 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
With the following exception:
May 22 – Sept. 6 Sun. – Sat. 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Jan. – Dec.
Sun. 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Tues. – Sat. 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Closed Monday (except Mon. holidays)

Boat Rental:
Apr. 1 – Sept. 30 Sun. – Sat. 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.


  • Springer and Scotchmoor (2010); “Paleontology and geology”.
  • “Meramec Caverns”. St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 2007-05-24. p. 60. An hour’s drive from St. Louis down Interstate 44, Meramec Caverns packages 400 million years of history and science into hour-long tours of five layers of underground caverns. It’s Missouri’s largest show cave.
  • Bailey, Garrick Alan (ed.). 1999. The Osage and the Invisible World: From the Works of Francis La Flesche. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press.
  • USGS Surface Water for Arkansas: Peak Streamflow”. Nwis.waterdata.usgs.gov. Retrieved 2016-12-12.
  • A. G. Unklesbay, Jerry D. Vineyard. Missouri Geology — Three Billion Years of Volcanoes, Seas, Sediments, and Erosion, University of Missouri Press, 1992.
  • Rafferty, Milton D. The Ozarks: Land and Life, University of Arkansas Press, 2nd ed., 2001.

The Essence of Capturing a Home: Professional vs Amateur Photography

House Comparison

Similarly to the cover of a book, the exterior and interior photos of a home should catch the eye of the affluent buyer. Homes that are professionally photographed can sell for several $1000’s more than the original listing price. The photo taken on the left is the average quality of what real estate agents and amateur photographers take with a camera phone or point-and-shoot camera. By choosing a professional photographer with years of experience, art direction, and high quality equipment, a photographer can add appeal to the home, increasing the likelihood of selling it faster and for a greater value.

Consequences of Not Hiring a Professional

Photographs evoke emotion and impact buyers’ decision to further evaluate a home. They Inspire creativity and expose a home’s true potential for future possibilities. A false or incorrect presentation of a property can mislead and turn away potential buyers, consequently leading to future conflict. Photos that display differential color schemes, distortion, and erroneous lighting are all false impressions of a home.

False or Incorrect Presentation of Colors

Incorrect in-camera white balance, fluorescent lighting, and color cast can alter the true colors of the interior and exterior of a home.

Bad Composition and Angles

Unlike an experienced photographer, amateur photographers lack art direction. An adept artist can highlight the best features of a home by mastering composition and lighting. They aspire to capture the most intriguing angles and architecture of a home, to make it as desirable as possible.

Distorted Photos

Camera and lens distortion can greatly deceive one’s perception of a home. Amateur photographers lack the expertise on how to correct distortion through editing software, consequently leading to warped architecture, bent furniture, and crooked angles.

Overexposed/Underexposed Images

Underexposed and overexposed photos can eliminate essential details of a home. Inexperienced photographers frequently make the mistake of trying to compensate for dark shadows by simply brightening a photo. This can lead to overexposed skies and outdoor lighting. Amateur photographers lack the knowledge of how to properly adjust RGB levels through editing software, which preserves crucial elements of the home.

Noisy and Grainy Photos

Most amateur photographers and real estate agents do not use high-end DSLR cameras, nor are they capable of calibrating the ideal settings through the camera’s manual mode. In dark environments, photos taken without the correct in-camera settings, external light sources, and a tripod will turn out blurry or noisy. A professional photographer will adjust their camera settings accordingly to the scenefine-tuning the ISO, shutter speed, and aperture whilst having the camera mounted atop a tripod.

The image displayed on the left shows what most amateurs and real estate agents capture using a point-and-shoot camera in a low-light setting. Without the aid of a tripod, the auto settings in the camera were incorrect. The windows and ceiling lights are also overexposed; the indoor lighting cast warm color tones against the wood floors, making them appear orange. The composition is off centered. Noticeable noise and grain shows throughout the photo due to the dark lighting and high ISO set in the camera.

The Benefits of Hiring a Professional Photographer

Professionally-photographed homes can sell from $3,400 to $11,000 more than the original listing price and significantly faster, according to a study conducted by Redfin. Photos are the second most important element in marketing a home (after price). It is estimated that 92% of home buyers use the internet and digital media to search for a new home (as reported by realtor.org) . If they are displeased by the images they see online, chances are they will pass on the house.

Professional Photography: What you’re Paying for

Education and Experience

An experienced photographer will have dedicated several thousand hours on training in the art of photography. They will understand and comprehend their equipment to the full extent. While possessing the mastery of technical details, they will thoroughly understand how to correct color imbalance by adjusting color temperature and levels. Professional photographers will utilize light painting, selectively lighting certain areas and blending the exposures together. An adept photographer will also be able to properly set their camera to the correct exposure intuitively to the scene without needing to flip through a manual.

Photography Equipment

As technology evolves, professional photographers must be up-to-date with modern equipment to produce the most compelling, high definition images to present-day. Which means a large portion of their income will be used to purchase an assortment of high quality lenses, computer software, filters, and more.

Art Direction

The first impression is essential, it should inspire and motivate the buyer of future capabilities. Professional photographers immediately know how to direct the focus to the best horizontal and vertical lines of a home, capturing the most appealing elements and details.

Want to Have a Professional Photograph your Home?

Contact Ozarks Mountain Living to schedule a photoshoot of your home/property.

We offer the best expertise to properly market your listing to thousands of people internationally.

Our photography packages include:

  • Aerial Photography captured with a DJI Phantom 4 Drone utilizing GPS Controlled Quad-copter Technology
  • High Definition Interior and Exterior Photography
  • Advanced Lighting and Editing techniques processed through Adobe Photoshop CS6 & Creative Cloud
  • Virtual Tours and Video Services



The image on the left—taken with a point and shoot camera on auto settings—displays several problems. The windows are overexposed, eliminating details of the home including the curtains, wood floors, and cabinets. The composition is incorrect, camera distortion and warping can be visibly seen on the edges of the photo. It was also unnecessary to include the wall cluttered with outlets, extended ceiling, door frame, and a cropped ceiling fan in the corner.

Professional photographers are equipped with the best gear for the job. Most point-and-shoot cameras have small sensors and do not include a variety of lenses. This limitation can leave out important details of a home. Both images displayed were taken at the same spot, but with different cameras and settings. On the right, a professional photographer used a DSLR with a wide angle lens. This expanded the view, including the entire bathroom. The image on the left has cropped out half of the bathroom. It also displays warm color cast on the white counter tops from the interior lighting (altering the true color), overexposed windows, and harsh shadows.