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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Houston, Texas! Holiday shopping and festive tree lighting ceremonies are just around the corner. Get into the spirit of the season with hot chocolate at the Houston Zoo or Magical Winter Lights. Don’t forget to mark the occasion with a keepsake photo with Santa. Here are some of our favorite Houston Christmas events. Updated for the 2019 season!
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Zoo Lights at the Houston Zoo is a family favorite. Perfectly lit pathways meander beneath sparkling, majestic oaks. Families will be delighted to stroll right by the sleeping animals. Many of the cats at the zoo (ocelots, cougars, leopards, and more) are still active at night.
Holiday music, hot chocolate, and festive treats will get guests in the spirit of the season. Don’t miss the enchanted forest where you can see holiday trains chugging through the landscape, life-sized animal sculptures, and the dollhouse village. This nightly event requires separate admission.
Ooh and aah over the spectacular Christmas lights and holiday décor at The Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa. Wander through the property to enjoy the 19-foot-tall Christmas tree, the six-foot-tall Gingerbread Houses, sweet treats, and nightly live music from local musicians.
Last but not least, opt to keep things free and low key. Simply pile into the car, play some Christmas carols, and cruise the neighborhoods of Houston. You will be amazed at the light displays at the homes in the upscale River Oaks Neighborhood. River Oaks Country Club, Inwood Drive, and Willowick are the don’t miss streets.
Kick up your boots and get cozy around the campfire at the Children’s Campfire Christmas held December 14th and 21st, 2019 at George Ranch Historical Park. Families will love seeing what Christmas was like for the first settlers in Texas. A light dinner is included, along with a hayride through the park, Christmas crafts, and a campfire sing-along. More Christmas fun can be found at George Ranch Park throughout the month of December.
Enter the 19th century Victorian world of Charles Dickens at the Annual Dickens on The Strand Festival December 6 – 8, 2019 on Galveston Island. This holiday street festival entertains families with parades, live entertainment, roving Christmas Carols, food, hot chocolate, and gift-buying opportunities galore.
The largest outdoor ice-skating rink in the Southwest is ICE at Discovery Green. Skate under the downtown skyline and enjoy a variety of holiday programming throughout the season.
Opening night on November 22nd includes ice sculpture carving, live music, and more. Check the schedule to see outdoor movies, live music, and Jazz on Ice. The rink is open until 7 pm on Christmas Eve. Perfect for young families is the Ice Box, a special, toddler-friendly rink.
Ice at The Galleria was named one of the top 10 places to skate in the USA by Olympian Evan Lysacek. Perhaps it’s skating under the amazing glass atrium, or twirling around the tall Christmas Tree during the holiday season that warrants this honor. Families can enjoy Kids Night Out with drop off daycare service and fun activities on the ice.
The Ice Rink in the Woodlands is a fun place for families to enjoy ice skating plus all the Christmas events of Holiday in the Woodlands. As a bonus, there is a separate ice rink for beginners and children 5-years-old and under. Perfect for families with young kids to enjoy their first skating experience!
Find out what made our list of the Top 10 Things to do in Houston with Kids!
Start off the holiday season with the 70th Annual Thanksgiving Day Parade presented by H-E-B. It’s free and open to the public. Find a seat curbside and bring chairs and blankets for the parade’s start at 9 am.
Join families gathering for the Christmas Boat Lane Parade on Saturday, December 14, 2019, along the Kemah Boardwalk. Bring hot chocolate and festive snacks and watch as the long line of decked-out boats goes sailing past.
Check out these amazing performances and special events intended to delight kids and adults alike. All dates are for the 2019/2020 holiday season.
“Christmas Cantata” at the NRG Center – October 9
“The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” at MATCH – November 5 through December 21
“A Christmas Carol” at the Alley Theater – November 15
The 32nd Annual Uptown Holiday Lighting – November 28
The Holiday Christmas Lighting Downtown Houston in Hermann Square – November 30
“A Bronze Christmas” by the Houston Bronze Ensemble at MATCH – December 7
“A Seussified Christmas Carol” at The Company Onstage – December 7, 14 & 21
“Twas the Night Before Christmas” by the Houston Symphony at the Jones Hall for the Performing Arts – December 14
“Christmas Eve and Other Stories” by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra at the Toyota Center – December 22
“Elf the Musical” at the Hobby Center – December 7 – December 22
“Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer” at Jones Hall – December 26 & 27
Find the ultimate winter wonderland at Moody Gardens on Galveston Island. This is one of the largest Christmas events in the greater Houston area with more than 1 million lights, animated light displays, and nightly live entertainment.
Christmas events at Moody Gardens include both the Festival of Lights and Ice Land: Christmas Around the World. Hop on an inner tube and slide down the 100-foot-long ice slide, go ice skating, or pose for a photo with Santa. All the holiday fun a family could imagine is at Moody Gardens from Nov 16, 2019 – Jan 12, 2020.
Houston Magical Winter Lights returns to La Marque for its fifth year to present immense lantern displays organized into eight themed areas. Visitors will also love the holiday market, cultural performances, character encounters, amusement rides, and so much more. The festival runs from November 15th, 2019 to January 5th, 2020.