From Merry Mariachis to the Riverwalk holiday boat parade, San Antonio celebrates the Christmas season in unique style on a grand scale. Families looking to add a little magic to the holidays, without the bite of cold winter temperatures, will love Christmas in San Antonio. These are the best San Antonio Christmas events for 2023!
Visiting San Antonio? You will definitely want to check out the best things to do in San Antonio with kids.
The Best San Antonio Christmas Events for Families in 2023
San Antonio Riverwalk Christmas Events
The Ford Holiday River Parade commences the holiday season in San Antonio on the Friday after Thanksgiving every year. Every inch of the Riverwalk glitters with lights as almost 30 decorated boats glide down the river for the parade. It’s a popular and rowdy event!
Tickets for reserved seating along the parade route can be purchased here, but there are also free viewing areas (bring your own chair!) on the east side of Riverwalk between Pecan Street and Richmond Avenue.
Don’t worry if you miss the parade, you can still enjoy the lights on the Riverwalk all season long! Book a one-hour cruise on the Riverwalk with Go Rio Cruises for a tour of the lights with music, hot cocoa, and a comfy seat.
The River of Lights on the Musuem Reach portion of the San Antonio Riverwalk takes place on December 9, 2023 from 5 – 10pm. It features a light show, photos with Santa, cookie decorating, musical performances, food trucks, and the opportunity to participate in the annual Nighttime Kayak ride on the river.
San Antonio Holiday Performances
Even the littlest members of the family can enjoy live theater this Christmas in San Antonio in 2022!
The Majestic Theater presents Elf in Concert December 1 -2, Manheim Steamroller Christmas on December 6, Nutcracker on December 8 – 9, and A Magical Cirque Christmas on December 16.
Families with older children have lots of options for holiday shows as well. The Tobin Center presents Cirque Musica Holiday Wonderland on December 20th and The San Antonio Ballet’s The Nutcracker is December 6 – 8.
They also host a Holiday Art Market on November 25th with over 75 vendors. This event is free and includes pop-up performances, reindeer games, and festive food and drinks.
If theater tickets aren’t in the budget this year, check out the holiday performance by the Calmus Ensemble at the San Fernando Cathedral on December10th. The cathedral is conveniently located on the riverwalk and serves as a beautiful, historic backdrop for enjoying the sounds of the season.
San Antonio Light Displays
Zoo Lights at the San Antonio Zoo runs from November 18 – December 31, 2023. Grab a photo with Santa and a hot chocolate and hop aboard the Holiday Sing-Along Express to see the splendid holiday displays. Don’t miss the lakeside light show or light tunnel before you call it a night.
The HEB Christmas Tree Lighting at Travis Park takes place on November 24th at 4pm. The event is free and open to the public and includes holiday crafts, live music, a visit from Santa, and a showing of The Polar Express on the big screen. Don’t miss some time on the ice at The Rotary Ice Rink, open daily from November 17 to January 15th.
Lightscape at the San Antonio Botanical Garden is one of the newest San Antonio Christmas events. It premiered to rave reviews in 2021 and has been reimagined for 2023.
It’s a mile long path through light displays sets to music. Of course, hot chocolate and s’mores will be in no short supply! Lightscape runs from November 17, 2023 – January 1, 2024. Timed-entry tickets are required.
Of course, simply driving around and looking at Christmas lights is a time-honored tradition for many families. In San Antonio, your best bets are the King William Historic District, Alamo Heights, Monte Vista, and Windcrest neighborhoods.
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Christmas Events at San Antonio Theme Parks
SeaWorld Christmas Celebration in San Antonio
November 9th, 2023 is the first day of the nationally recognized SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration which runs through January 2nd! The entire park transforms into a joyous jubilee featuring the largest light display in Texas, 12 themed areas for photo ops galore, unique performances, festive treats, parades, and a scavenger hunt.
SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration includes O Wondrous Night in the second year. It’s the story of the nativity told by the animals that witnessed it using live animals as well as puppetry, special effects, and traditional Christmas music.
Other performances like the Merry Mariachis, Peace on Earth, and Ocean Discovery: A Splash of Christmas are sure to keep your family highly entertained.
Other highlights of the celebration include the Sesame Street Christmas Parade, a holiday scavenger hunt, and the opportunity to meet Santa or Rudolph and his closest friends for a holiday dinner (reservations required).
Holiday in the Park at Six Flags Fiesta Texas
Holiday in the Park at Six Flags Fiesta Texas runs from November 18, 2023 – January 7, 2024. Of course, the entire park is decked out in Christmas lights and decorations. Hop aboard the Holiday Express for a train ride around the park to see every last sparkle.
Holiday shows include a sing-along with Santa’s elves, a Looney Tunes Christmas, a light and water show set to music, and a nativity musical called the Majesty of Christmas.
Note: All theme park rides are open during Holiday in the Park!
Christmas at the Caverns at Natural Bridge Caverns
Christmas at the Caverns runs most days in December.
Listening to live singing inside a large, underground cavern is a unique experience any time, but Christmas carols inside the caverns is pure magic. It’s bound to set your holiday season off to a great start.
Additionally, Christmas at the Caverns features a trail of lights, story time with Mrs. Claus, s’mores on the firepit, a large outdoor reindeer maze, and a synthetic skating rink for kids 3-11.
Holiday Teas and Feasts in San Antonio
The Lambermont is a beautiful event space in central San Antonio. A prominent San Antonio family had the home designed to resemble the grand castles of Europe in the 1890s. Needless to say, it’s an inspiring, historic setting and the perfect place to enjoy a fancy, holiday tea with your most precious little ones. The Tea Party at The Lambermont has two seatings on December 17th.
The San Antonio Youth Ballet hosts a two hour Nutcracker Tea Party in the Ladies Parlor at the Scottish Rite Theater on December 10, 15, and 16.
If you want to see the holiday boat parade on the Riverwalk in style, most Riverwalk restaurants including Landrace, Paesanos, Rio Rio Cantina, and Little Rhein Prost Haus offer a ticketed meal with reserved seating on the Riverwalk to view the parade.
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Lead image by Visit San Antonio