Candlelight at the Ranch

Event Information:

Check out this fun Candlelight Video

Date Information:

December 10 – 11, 2021

Time Information:

6:30pm to 9pm Friday

6:30pm to 9pm Saturday

Cow Trail Christmas, NRHC J.J. Gibson Park, every evening Dec. 1–Jan. 3

Pricing Information:

FREE event ($5 donation suggested)

VIP tickets may be purchased for
early entry and reserved parking

Tickets Go On Sale Nov. 1

National Ranching Heritage Center Will Host 43rd Annual Candlelight at the Ranch

Visitors will celebrate a frontier Christmas Dec. 10 and 11 from 6:30 to 9 p.m. when the National Ranching Heritage Center (NRHC) celebrates its 43rd Annual Candlelight at the Ranch.

“We regularly have totaled 10,000 visitors a year for this one event over the past decade,” explained Helen DeVitt Jones Endowed Director of Education Julie Hodges. “The pathways of our historic park are lined with more than 4,000 luminarias and the entire park is lit as much as possible with only lanterns, fireplaces and campfires.”

The annual event is free to the public with a minimum suggested $5 donation per family. VIP tickets costing $75 per carload (max 7 persons) will be available for those seeking reserved parking and early admission at 6 p.m.

Hodges said Candlelight at the Ranch has become the signature event most associated with the NRHC as visitors experience what Christmas might have been like on the open prairie from 1780 to 1950.

Holiday scenes will be recreated in 15 historic structures such as the 1838 El Capote Log Cabin, 1886 XIT Ranch headquarters, 1888 Matador Half-Dugout and 1909 Queen-Anne style Barton House. Visitors will have maps pointing the way to each structure, and they can download the NRHC app for specific details about each structure and a more guided experience.

The event requires the help of 150 volunteers each night, according to Hodges. “It’s not just the living history volunteers that everyone sees dressed in period clothing, but it’s all the other people working behind the scenes.”

Workers include volunteers who welcome guests at the door, play live music, sell hot cocoa, make kettle corn, help Santa with his visitors, serve meals to the volunteers, keep pathways safe, sing Christmas carols, oversee the parking lot and much more.

The lighted pathways will be wheelchair and stroller accessible as visitors pass cowboys camped out near their horses and brewing coffee over a campfire. Visitors will have maps guiding them to Santa Claus will be located in the Pitchfork Pavilion but will leave promptly at 9:30 p.m. Visitors can purchase refreshments in the decorated 6666 Barn and on the Campbell patio while they listen to Brazos West play Christmas music with a Texas swing.

Hodges said Candlelight visitors will no longer experience long entry lines but will enter through the front doors and proceed to the patio, where they can access park trails and buy kettle-corn. Visitors can choose in what order they see the historic structures, which lighted pathways they take, and when they exit the park prior to closing.

Visit to learn more information and see frequently asked questions about Candlelight at the Ranch. The National Ranching Heritage Center is located on the Texas Tech University campus at 3121 Fourth St. For additional information, call (806) 742-0498.