Editor's note: The coronavirus pandemic devastated Dallas' arts and entertainment landscape this year. But, while we produced plenty of stories about event cancellations and closures, the headlines that our readers clicked on most were about things they COULD do safely: drive-in summer movies, socially distanced Fourth of July fireworks shows, drive-thru holiday light displays. There was a sad obituary, an abrupt theater show shut-down, and a bit of celebrity news in the mix, too. Here are the most-read A&E headlines of 2020.
1. Where to see the most spectacular Christmas lights around Dallas in 2020. Never had we needed the joy of holiday lights to brighten a dark year like we did in 2020. Beginning Thanksgiving weekend, readers devoured our list of the biggest, brightest, most spectacular Christmas light displays in the area, making it our most-read story of the year. Also getting a lot of attention were stories on a new 'holiday light spectacular' debuting in three cities, the top drive-thru holiday lights events, and homes with most over-the-top light displays.
2. New Halloween drive-thru experience takes over American Airlines Center parking garage. In an adaptation to fit in a pandemic world, Drive-Boo Halloween, a zero-contact, family-friendly drive-through Halloween experience, debuted at Dallas' American Airlines Center in October. The multi-level attraction allowed guests to celebrate Halloween from the safety of their cars, showing off traditional trick-or-treat imagery, a haunted carnival, Halloween monsters, and more.
3. Popular podcaster Joe Rogan punches one-way ticket from LA to Texas. In August, podcaster, stand-up comedian, and mixed-martial-arts commentator Joe Rogan appeared to follow through on his promise (or threat?) to pack up and move from Los Angeles to Texas. Austin real estate sources confirmed that Rogan had purchased a home along Lake Austin. His new place was reportedly near lakefront homes owned by movie star Sandra Bullock and billionaire John Paul DeJoria.
4. One-of-a-kind Barnes & Noble bookstore concept closes Plano location. A unique version of national bookseller chain Barnes & Noble, located at Plano shopping center Legacy West, sadly closed the book for good in June. The location was a combination bookstore and restaurant, a limited-edition concept for the national chain, and the only one in the Dallas-Fort Worth market. The store had been closed since March due to COVID-19, but management chose not to reopen.
5. The official list of top 4th of July events and fireworks around Dallas-Fort Worth. As it did with all events, the coronavirus pandemic took its toll on this year's Fourth of July celebrations around Dallas-Fort Worth. The vast majority of events were either fully or partially canceled if they typically involved people gathering together in one place. Fortunately for fireworks lovers, there were still a few explosive shows to enjoy from a safe distance. (One, however, got a little too explosive.)
6. Dallas theater production abruptly shuts down due to COVID-19 spread. The Firehouse Theatre in Farmers Branch suddenly canceled the remaining performances of its musical revue Back to the '80s! after at least 17 cases of coronavirus were confirmed among the cast, band, crew, and theater staff in October. The show was originally set to run October 16-25 on an outside stage at the Sound at Cypress Waters. The Actors' Equity Association then stated that The Firehouse Theatre would no longer be an Equity producer.
7. Dallas Symphony takes shows on the road with 16-foot mobile concert truck. If audiences couldn't go to Dallas Symphony Orchestra concerts this holiday season, the orchestra would haul the concerts to them. A mobile venue called The Concert Truck took up residency with the DSO, rolling out small pop-up shows around the city that featured orchestra musicians, members of other local arts organizations, and concert pianists Susan Zhang and Nick Luby.
8. Drive-in movie sets up shop on grassy East Dallas field off US-75. Hopping on the biggest summer entertainment trend of 2020, a drive-in company with three locations in Texas came to Dallas in August. Called Rooftop Cinema Club, it set up an outdoor theater — dubbed Drive-In at the Central — at 2999 N. Carroll Ave. It then returned in December to screen holiday movies throughout the festive season.
9. Donald Fowler, artistic tastemaker and Dallas playwright, has unexpectedly passed away. Donald Fowler, who led a notable career in both Dallas retail and theater, suddenly passed away at age 58 after being struck by a DART streetcar while jogging. The Nasher Sculpture Center, where he was the director of retail, announced his death on May 5. In the fall, a memorial fund was set up in Fowler's honor to help local artists create new work. In January 2021, the fund will open the application process for its first grant cycle.
10. Dallas art museum mounts first display of important Van Gogh paintings. The Dallas Museum of Art announced March 5 that it would partner with the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam to mount the first exhibition dedicated to Vincent van Gogh’s important olive grove series. Later that month, however, the DMA — like all museums — was forced to close due to the coronavirus pandemic. After reopening and reconfiguring its programming, the DMA revealed in October that "Van Gogh and the Olive Groves" would remain on its schedule, running October 17, 2021-February 6, 2022.