Editor's note: As we look back at the most-read entertainment stories of 2021, one thing is clear: Dallas was searching for shiny things this year. Specifically, Christmas lights. Not one, not two, but three different stories about the biggest and brightest holiday lights made it into the list. (If you hurry, you can still see some on display.) There was also a sad obituary, another sad bookstore closure, and the not-so-sad cancellation of The Real Housewives of Dallas.
1. Frisco family charged up for $50,000 battle on ABC's Great Christmas Light Fight. A Frisco family well-known locally for their "extreme," 70,000-light holiday displays got to shine in the national spotlight on December 2 as competitors on the hit ABC reality series The Great Christmas Light Fight. While the Burkman family didn't win the $50,000 grand prize, they won hearts with their charitable efforts. The lights switched on for the public to enjoy through Christmas.
2. Gas Monkey Bar & Grill in Dallas rebrands, farewell Richard Rawlings. The restaurant and live music spot formerly known as Gas Monkey Bar & Grill in Northwest Dallas announced in September it was rebranding. New name: Amplified, and former co-founder Richard Rawlings is no longer involved. Rawlings then announced he was back with Gas Monkey round two: He's partnered with Refined Hospitality Concepts to reopen Gas Monkey Dallas, at the Mercer Boardwalk development on LBJ Freeway near Luna Road.
3. Where to see the most spectacular Christmas lights dazzling Dallas in 2021. The magic is back. After a dimmer holiday celebration in 2020, the Dallas area has lit up, merry and bright, for the Christmas season once again — from towering trees that twinkle and shine to dazzling drive-thru displays and immersive walk-thru experiences. Here's our 2021 guide to the biggest, brightest, most spectacular Christmas light displays in the area — most of which will stay on through New Year's.
4. Dallas suburb nabs new Ferris wheel that rivals Fair Park's famed Texas Star. The Grandscape in The Colony debuted the Grandscape Wheel, a nearly 200-foot-tall Ferris wheel that rivals the Texas Star, a State Fair of Texas mainstay. Opened September 10, the Grandscape Wheel features 42 climate-controlled gondolas with music for riders to enjoy views of The Colony, nearby Frisco, and the North Texas skyline.
5. Final chapter for Barnes & Noble store at North Dallas shopping center. A North Dallas bookstore closed after 15 years: The Barnes & Noble located at Preston Royal Village closed for good, due to an inability to come to terms with the landlord. The store's final day was Sunday, June 13.
6. Best Dallas-area homes and neighborhoods for Christmas lights in 2021. Big Christmas light events are fun. But sometimes you just want to pour your own thermos of hot chocolate and hop in the car for a drive around the neighborhood. These residential neighborhoods and individual homes have been lighting up with choreographed shows, music, and over-the-top displays that would make Clark Griswold proud; many are still illuminated.
7. 3 fun weekend events in Dallas-Fort Worth call it quits due to COVID-19. As COVID-19 rushed back for its great summer encore in Dallas-Fort Worth, it brought with it the dreaded cancellation of fun things, which fans of fun things suffered through in 2020. In late July, three big DFW weekend events suddenly canceled or postponed just days ahead of their presentations, all citing rising coronavirus numbers as a cause.
8. Longtime Dallas radio DJ Russ Martin found dead at Frisco home. Longtime Dallas DJ Russ Martin was found dead at his home in Frisco on February 27; he was 60. According to a police report, Frisco police responded to a call at Martin's residence in the 6300 block of Douglas Avenue in Frisco, after a friend found him unresponsive. Martin, who was born Russell Dale Martin on October 4, 1960 and grew up in Pleasant Grove, was a Dallas radio personality for more than 30 years.
9. July 4th fireworks in Dallas canceled for 2021 – how about for good? The Dallas-Fort Worth area had no shortage of events from which to choose on the Fourth of July. Interestingly, the city of Dallas was not represented on our event list, as neither Fair Park Fourth nor Red White & Boom on the Bridge were scheduled to take place this year — here's why that could've been a good thing.
10. Bravo cuts off Real Housewives of Dallas' 'Jesus juice' after 5 overserved seasons. The Real Housewives of Dallas are cordially uninvited back to the party. In August, Bravo switched off the show after five seasons. By the final season — filmed and aired amid the COVID-19 pandemic, economic crisis, racial reckonings, and deeply divided political landscape — the show had gone off the rails in ways it couldn’t really recover from.