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Clifton celebrates its Norwegian culture during its annual Norwegian Country Christmas, which begins with a lighted parade Friday night. Two years ago Clifton welcomed special visitors to the event (from left): Eldbjorg Manne and Sigmund Lier, both from Norway, and Belinda Klovning, a Houston resident with Norwegian roots.

Photo by Clifton Chamber of Commerce

(Editor's note: A previous version of this story listed the wrong date for the Bellmead Christmas parade)

Central Texas may not become a winter wonderland for Christmas, but there’s plenty happening at area towns to celebrate the joy of the holiday season.

That’s certain the case in Clifton, which fully embraces its roots with its Norwegian Country Christmas Tour the first weekend of December.

Its the 26th annual year of the event, which has a parade in which Santa arrives via Viking ship, and a tour that showcases several homes and buildings, including the Old Rock Church and Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in nearby Norse.

Cleng Peerson, “the father of Norwegian Immigration” who brought settlers to the area in 1854, is buried in the church’s cemetery.

“The Norwegian people played a big part in our history,” said Paige Key, executive vice president of the Clifton Chamber of Commerce. “This is a wonderful way to show and celebrate the Norwegian culture.”

Festivities begin the Friday evening of Dec. 1 with a lighted parade through downtown Clifton beginning at 6:30 p.m. Following the parade a reception will be held in the Bosque Memorial Museum until 8:30 p.m. The museum will be decked out for the season and the gift shop will be open for those seeking Christmas gifts.

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A Norwegian Christmas parade wouldn’t be complete without a Viking ship in tow, right?

The big day is Dec. 2 with the tour starting at 9 a.m. and going until 5 p.m. In addition to the historic churches on display for visitors, the historic Ringness Home will be open for the tour. The 1859-built structure was the first site of Lutheran church services in 1867. A monument was placed on the roadside in 1932.

Market at the Mill, which was recently reconstructed to look like the original Dansby Feed Mills, will be another venue on the tour along with the Edwin Olsen Railroad Museum, which houses railroad memorabilia.

If classic cars are more your interest, the Clifton Classic Chassic Auto Museum displays restored cars from the 1940s to the ’70s.

Two homes will be open for the tour. Nationally acclaimed artist Martin Grelle and his wife Joyce will welcome visitors to their home in the Harmony Valley region. Mark and Jaclyn Brown, meanwhile, will invite guests to explore the Trophy Room in their home. The room resembles the great halls of Europe, showcasing impressive architecture and trophies on display.

A Norwegian luncheon, which is separate from the tour, will be served by the Clifton Chamber of Commerce ambassadors from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Civic Center.

Live entertainment will be throughout downtown area during the day

A Cookie Stroll with baked goods for purchase and a Historic Village showcasing arts and crafts at booths also will be available downtown. Free carriage rides will be offered downtown from 3 to 6 p.m.

Tickets for the tour cost $12 per person. The Saturday luncheon is $10 a person.

For more information, call 254-675-3720 or 800-344-3720 or go online to visitclifton.org.

Salado

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The historic log cabins in Salado will be decorated for the holidays, beginning with the annual Christmas Home Tours.

The Salado Historical Society will have its annual Christmas Home Tours the first weekend of December.

The event includes three charming homes, two chapels, a Masonic lodge built in 1867, the Lyndon Baines Johnson Local Family Museum and the Salado Historical Log Cabins. Times for the tour are 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Tickets cost $20 and are available at the Salado Visitors Center, 423 Main St., and at the tour home locations during tour hours.

A portion of the proceeds will be donated to The Perpetual Help Home in Victoria, which helps women in recovery. The facility was damaged significantly by Hurricane Harvey but the residents have remained there.

For more information, visit www.saladohistoricalsociety.com or call 254-947-5040.

Bellmead

Bellmead continues a longtime holiday tradition with the 67th annual Bellmead Christmas Parade at 7 p.m. on Dec. 7.

Lineup for the parade starts at Bellmead Drive and Loop 340 and travels down Bellmead Drive until its ends at Eastgate Plaza.

A tree lighting precedes the parade at 6 p.m.

West

The city of West will continue its longstanding tradition with its Breakfast with Santa event. The free breakfast kicks off at 8 a.m. at the West Community Center.

In addition to the breakfast and visit by Santa, games for the children will keep them enthused.

For information, call the West Chamber of Commerce at 254-826-3188.

McGregor

The McGregor Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture will have its Christmas parade down Main Street beginning at 6 p.m. Several businesses also will be open during evening hours for shopping.

A Cookies with Santa event for the kids will be held afterward in Legacy Park.

Information is available on the McGregor Movement Facebook page.

Hewitt

Hewitt will have its annual tree-lighting ceremony at 5 p.m. Dec. 9 at the Hewitt Public Library, 200 Patriot Court.

The Spring Valley Elementary third-grade choir will sing Christmas carols. Cookies and hot chocolate will be served. Photos can be taken with Santa and crafts and story time will be among the activities.

Participants are invited to bring a new, unwrapped toy to donate to Toys for Tots.

Editor for Waco Today magazine and community editor at the Waco Tribune-Herald