Celebrate the season at holiday events across the Lone Star State. Two-step ’round the Christmas tree, visit with Santa, take a holiday hike, view miraculous light display or take part in a living history event. Here’s just a small sampling of things to do during this special season.
Festival of Lights
Dec. 1-31, Hidalgo
The 30th Annual Hidalgo Festival of Lights has returned as a drive-thru event at the Payne Arena. (*Due to the modified format, admission must be purchased online before arriving at the event.) The drive-thru Christmas lights experience is open nightly through the entire month of December. Enjoy two miles of over 5 million amazing lights, several lighted tunnels and over 500 holiday displays with holiday music via FM-transmitted station.
Through Jan. 9, Waco
T’was a night before Christmas, and all through the park not a creature was stirring as the evening grew dark. With the animals tucked away safely for a long winter’s night. The Zoo suddenly brightened with thousands of tiny lights. There were carolers singing and tasty treats, too. Now there’s just one thing missing– we’re all expecting you! Join us Wednesdays-Sundays from November 26- January 9 for a Holiday Light Spectacular at Cameron Park Zoo. Kids of all ages can visit with Santa from 6pm to closing through December 23rd.
Holiday Lights on the River Walk
Through Jan. 10, San Antonio
Experience the spectacular display of over 100,000 lights draped over the towering bald cypress trees that line the River Walk. Visiting the River Walk to enjoy the spectacular holiday lights is free. The River Walk is a public park and is open every day of the year, 24 hours a day. Holiday lights are on the downtown portion of the River Walk and lights have been added north of downtown on the river in the Pearl District.
Candlelight at the Ranch
Dec. 10-11, Lubbock
Visitors experience what Christmas might have been like on the open prairie from 1780 to 1950. Holiday scenes are recreated in 15 historic structures with volunteers dressed in period clothing. The historic park’s pathways 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 Texas Cowboys’ Christmas Ball
Dec. 16-18, Anson
The Ball is a traditional, highly anticipated event where generations of families and friends gather to socialize in the same manner as their predecessors did in 1885. In 2010 the Cowboys’ Christmas Ball was designated as a historical event by the Texas Historical Commission and honored with a Texas Historical Marker that is proudly displayed on its home, Pioneer Hall. The Ball observed its 81st consecutive year in 2015. Dance the night away to either Michael Martin Murphey (12/16), Jake Hooker (12/17) or Jody Nix and His Texas Cowboys (12/18).
Dec. 18, Washington-on-the-Brazos,
Celebrate the season with popular readings and songs from the 19th Century. Learn about common Christmas traditions that would have taken place in towns like Washington and listen to stories of Christmases gone by in the Brazos Valley.
Lastly, consider including a special activity at a state historic site or state park as part of your holiday festivities!
Texas State Historic Sites – Special Events
Experience Texas Christmases through the years: walk candlelit paths at an antebellum mansion as in the decade before the Civil War or view how holiday trees were decorated in the 1890s, 1940s, and 1950s! At many sites, guests can enjoy live entertainment, holiday refreshments, family activities, visits with Santa, living history programs, and more.
Texas State Parks – Holiday Events
Try your hand at a craft project, go on a holiday scavenger hunt, decorate a campsite, or sip some hot cocoa on a hike. The list goes on, see all events on the holiday calendar, download the Christmas in the Parks brochure, or pick up a printed copy of the brochure at your nearest state park or Texas Travel Information Center. When planning a trip to a Texas State Park keep in mind that holidays are popular times to visit parks. Reserving a day pass in advance is highly recommended since some parks will reach their capacity limits, especially for special events. Day passes can be reserved online or over the phone by calling (512) 389-8900.