Celebrate the Holidays in Houston, TX with the Family

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas all over the Gulf Coast of Texas! Big city lights and fabulous shopping opportunities abound. Find the spirit of the season through Santa visits, eye-popping light displays, and festive holiday show! Here are some of our favorite Christmas events in Houston. Updated for the 2018 season!

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Sparkling Light Displays

Christmas events in Houston zoollights
Photo by Flickr/Snap713

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 and takes place from Nov 17, 2018 – Jan 13, 2019.

Ooh and aah over the spectacular lights and holiday décor of The Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa. Wander through the property to enjoy the 19.5-foot-tall tree, the six-foot-tall Gingerbread Houses, sweet treats, and nightly entertainment with local musicians.

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Living History

Holiday events in Houston
Photo by: Flickr/Awsheffield

Kick up your boots and get cozy around the campfire at the Children’s Campfire Christmas held December 8th and 15th, 2018 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 November 30 – December 2 on Galveston Island. This holiday street festival entertains families with parades, live entertainment, roving musicians and carolers, food, drink, and gift-buying opportunities galore.

Fantastic Ice Skating

Christmas events in Houston Ice Skating
Photo by: Flickr/Jeff

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. The rink opens on November 16th with Frostival, a special opening event of ice sculpture carving, live music, and more. Check the schedule to see outdoor movies, skating with Santa, live music, Jazz on Ice, and Cheap Skate Nights. Perfect for young families is the Ice Box, a special, toddler-friendly rink.

Ice at The Galleria boasts their rink as one of the top 10 places to skate in the USA, named so by Olympian Evan Lysacek. Perhaps it’s skating under the amazing glass atrium, or twirling around the tall Holiday Tree 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 festive happenings with 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!

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Thrilling Parades 

Christma events in Houston parade
Photo by: Flickr/Ethan Uthman

Start off the holiday season with the 69th 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 8, 2018, along the Kemah Boardwalk. Bring hot chocolate and festive snacks and watch as the long line of decked-out boats goes sailing past.

Theatre Shows & Special Events

Check out these amazing performances and special events intended to delight kids and adults alike. All dates are for the 2018/2019 holiday season.

“Houston’s Urban Nutcracker” at The Hobby Center – January 1 & 2

“Very Merry Pops” presented by the Houston Symphony at Jones Hall – December 7 & 8

The Brian Setzer Orchestra – Christmas Rocks! Tour at Jones Hall – December 12

Breakfast with Santa at the South Shore Harbor Resort – December 8

All Wrapped Up Together


Find all the fun of the holiday season wrapped up in sparkling lights at the Festival of Lights at Moody Gardens on Galveston Island. This is one of the largest holiday celebrations in the greater Houston area with more than 1 million lights, animated light displays, and nightly live entertainment. Hop on an inner tube and slide down the 100-foot-long ice slide, go ice skating, or catch a photo with Santa. Take a driving tour through the park to see the giant light displays or enjoy a fantastic holiday magic show at the Convention Center. All the holiday fun a family can find is right here at Moody Gardens from Nov 17, 2018 – Jan 6, 2018.

Houston Magical Winter Lights returns to Gulf Greyhound Park for its fourth year to present immense lantern displays organized into eight themed areas. Visitors will also love the holiday market, nightly entertainment, amusement rides, and so much more. The festival runs from November 16th, 2018 to January 6th, 2019.

Special thanks to Texas TourismBay Area Houston Convention & Visitors Bureau, and Mocha Dad for their great suggestions for Kid-Friendly holiday events in Houston, Texas.

Image of Moody Gardens courtesy of www.moodygardens.com

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Pin this to bookmark all the holiday fun; we update it yearly:

Christmas and Holiday fun for families in Houston, Texas


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About the author

Tarlie Harris is one of Trekaroo's Travel Experts. She is always planning her family's next trip and writing about the last one. She currently lives in Austin, TX where she enjoys hiking the greenbelt, swimming in Barton Springs, and catching shows at The Mohawk. She was raised in the deep south, spending many summers on the Florida Panhandle. While she is very accustomed to wide open green space and swimming pools these days, the memories from her decade in New York City are never far from her heart.

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