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Totally East Texas: Marshall's Wonderland of Lights offers beautiful experience for families

The Wonderland of Lights really is a charming small town winter wonderland in Marshall. It's 'Totally East Texas!'

MARSHALL, Texas — A number of websites rank the Wonderland of Lights in Marshall as must-see Christmas destination in Texas.

RELATED: LIST: Christmas lights, events across East Texas

Marshall's downtown square is like stepping right into a Hallmark Christmas movie. 

"It's fabulous here. It's amazing," Cecilia, a visitor to Wonderland of Lights, said.

Thousands upon thousands of lights adorn the historic Harrison County Courthouse and illuminate the night sky.

Wonderland of Lights has been taking place in Marshall for 33 years. They begin setting up in October, though the inspection of the thousands of lights begins even earlier.

"I have been coming here for 11 years, since I moved here," said Ann, another Wonderland of Lights visitor. "It's absolutely beautiful. That courthouse, since they've redone it is gorgeous and just everybody. The people are so friendly. Everybody is so sweet and nice, hot cocoa, ice skating rink, everything!"

One of the favorite features is the ice skating rink, giving East Texans the rare opportunity to lace up a pair of skates and hit the ice outdoors.

"It's really fun and I like the ice a lot," said Blaize Putnam.

Another magical experience is a carriage ride. Riders can enjoy the sounds of horses trotting through downtown and hear stories about the city's history. 

There are also opportunities to sing Christmas carols, talk with neighbors over a cup of hot chocolate or ride on a historic carousel.

"We've also got a really great restored, antique carousel, as well," said Mallori James, Director of Tourism and Cultural Arts for the City of Marshall.

She says the Wonderland of Lights offers something for everyone. Of course, most of the younger visitors are most excited to visit Santa's Village to see St. Nick himself.

"That area is free for children of all ages and adults," James said. "Over there, they can go visit with Santa Claus, tell him their wish lists. They can go to [the] train depot and make a wooden train." 

Mrs. Claus's Bakery is also open for business. You can stop to ice and decorate your own Christmas cookies.

One of the newest attractions is one of the most popular: The Wonderland Train.

"The Wonderland Train is at the Amtrak station and the historic depot in Longview. Families will ride that train that's Christmas decorated from Longview over to our historic depot, where it is also decorated with Christmas lights. And then, they'll be bused downtown," James said. "It's a whole experience."

While the event is free, most of the attractions, including the ice skating rink, carriage rides and carousels, do cost money. 

The Wonderland of Lights is open for visitors Tuesday - Sunday from 6 p.m. - 9 p.m. On Saturday, the hours are extended from 4 p.m. - 10 p.m.

The Wonderland of Lights will be closed on Christmas and Christmas Eve.