Updated for the 2016 Season
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas all over the Gulf Coast of Texas with big city lights and fabulous shopping opportunities. Finding the spirit of the season with kids means lots of fun excitement with visiting Santa, watching eye-popping light displays, and visions of dancing sugar plums. So come celebrate the holidays in Houston, Texas with all the fun events that will make this holiday season sparkle for kids and adults alike!
Sparkling Light Displays
All the holiday fun starts on Thanksgiving evening as the annual Uptown Houston Holiday Lighting starts off with a bang. This is a FREE family event and features a special appearance from Santa, fireworks, festive music, holiday characters, and the lighting of more than 500,000 twinkling lights. If you miss this event, the holiday trees will continue lighting the season along Post Oak Boulevard.
Zoo Lights at the Houston Zoo is a family favorite. Lighted pathways under sparkling majestic oaks will delight kids and adults as they stroll the walkways to see the sleeping animals. Many of the cats at the zoo (ocelots, cougars, leopards, and more) will still be seen with their eyes shining. Holiday music, cups of 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 lighted animal sculptures, and the dollhouse village. This nightly event requires separate admission and takes place from Nov 28, 2016 – Jan 20, 2017.
Ooh and aah over the amazing and 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 with a train traveling through them all, and nightly entertainment with local musicians nightly from 6-7pm, complete with hot chocolate and cookies.
The people and events from Houston’s past will come alive for kids at The Heritage Society’s 54th Annual Candlelight Tour at Sam Houston Park on Dec 10 – 11, 2016. The whole family can tour eight of Houston’s oldest historic homes, trimmed to perfection in traditional 19th century décor and lit with festive lights. Kids will love Santa’s Workshop where they can make crafts, or hear a holiday story reading from historic characters.
Kick up your boots around the campfire with your kids at the Children’s Campfire Christmas held December 15, 2016 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, fun Christmas crafts, and singing Christmas songs around the campfire. More Christmas fun can be found at George Ranch with Christmas in the Park events throughout the month of December.
Enter the 19th-century Victorian world of Charles Dickens at the Annual Dickens on The Strand Festival on December 2, 3, & 4, 2016 on Galveston Island. This annual holiday street festival will entertain families with parades, live entertainment, roving musicians and carolers, along with food, drink, and gift-buying opportunities.
Fantastic Ice Skating
The largest outdoor ice-skating rink in the Southwest is ICE at Discovery Green. Skate among the downtown skyline and enjoy a variety of holiday programming. Check the schedule to see outdoor movies, skating with Santa, live music and DJs, 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 that their rink is one of the top 10 places to skate in the USA, named 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 day care service and fun activities on 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!
Start off the holiday season with the 67th Annual Thanksgiving Day Parade presented by H-E-B, which is 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 10, 2016 at 6pm along the Kemah Boardwalk. Bring hot chocolate and festive snacks and watch as the long line of boats decorated in Christmas lights go sailing past.
Theatre Shows & Special Events
Get swept away with dancing sugarplums or watch the amazing choreography of the Radio City Rockettes. Check out these amazing performances and special events intended to delight kids and adults. All dates are in 2016.
“The Nutcracker” at Wortham Theater Center – Nov 25 – Dec 27
“It’s a Wonderful Life” at the Wortham Theater Center – Dec 2 – Dec 17
“Tis the Season to be Jolly” at Hobby Center for the Performing Arts – Dec 11
St. Regis Teddy Bear Tea – weekends in December
“The Nutcracker” at University of Houston – Clear Lake – Dec 2-4 & 9-11
“All of the Other Reindeer” by the Interactive Theater Company – December 2016
All Wrapped Up Together
All the fun of the holiday season can be found 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, skate around on the outdoor ice skating rink, or smile 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 there at Moody Gardens from Nov 12, 2016 – Jan 8, 2017 from 6-10pm.
Image of Moody Gardens courtesy of www.moodygardens.com
Pin this to bookmark all the holiday fun; we update it yearly: