Are you looking for the most magical places to celebrate Christmas in Texas? I mean, Texas is full of great things to do year round, so why would Christmas be any different? They say (and they are right) that everything is bigger in Texas and guess what, it’s true about Texas holiday celebrations too!
If you are looking for the best things to do for Christmas in Texas, you have come to the right place. Once the cool air starts to appear, you can expect the holiday spirit to make its entrance into the Lone Star State. You probably won’t get that childhood fantasy of a white Christmas (it is Texas, after all), but don’t worry. There will be glittering lights, smiling faces, and good old-fashioned Texas charm when you explore these magical places to celebrate Christmas in Texas.
Slip on your favorite holiday boots and let’s head out on an adventure. From the Gulf cities to Austin to Grapevine and beyond, there is nothing like Texas Christmas events to remind you what the holidays are all about.
Magical Places To Celebrate a Texas Christmas
Events in DFW
It would be impossible to cover all of the Dallas Christmas events, so I’ll just share some of the highlights. Start with the Dallas Holiday parade, one of the largest parades in the United States held on the first Saturday of December. It features bands, dancers, floats, and even Santa and Mrs. Claus.
Dallas Zoo Lights features a holiday light show with animal light sculptures, nightly musical performances, ornament making, and photo opportunities galore. The zoo even offers a sensory friendly event where the Dallas Zoo Lights are more comfortable for those with sensory sensitivities. I love an event that caters to everyone.
If your kid loves model trains, head to the Trains at NorthPark. You will find an impressive holiday model train display decked out for the holidays, set up for everyone to enjoy. Kids can even decorate their gingerbread cookies while you explore.
Don’t miss Holiday at the Arboretum where the gardens are decorated with over a million lights. This year’s theme is the “12 Days of Christmas”, and each of the Dallas Arboretum’s twelve gazebos will be decorated accordingly. There’s also a Christmas Village that is sure to entertain all ages.
You can’t have a best places to celebrate Christmas in Texas post without mentioning Grapevine, otherwise known as “The Christmas Capital of Texas.” In this Dallas suburb, everyone will find something holiday related to love in the almost 1500 different holiday events that the town hosts.
Some favorites of our favorite Grapevine Christmas events include the Grapevine Vintage Railroad which transforms into the North Pole Express for the holidays. There’s also the City Hall Light Show Spectacular, a choreographed light show every night at Grapevine City Hall, a light boat parade, a Christmas market, and holiday performances.
Grand Prairie celebrates the season with Prairie Lights, over 4 millions lights decorating two miles of roadway. Families can drive through the first part of the lights, stop in the middle and enjoy the Holiday Village, then continue on through the animated light tunnel at the end. The Holiday Village has food, Santa, a lighted forest, and even an indoor snow maze. Kids will go crazy for the Grand Prairie lights!
There’s a ton to do in the north Dallas suburb of Frisco, including the annual Christmas in the Square, the largest choreographed lights and music show in North Texas! Families can watch the light show, skate in the square, and enjoy snow falling every 15 minutes. It’s magical!
Frisco also has Christmas Spectacular at The Star (the Dallas Cowboys world headquarters). The Star has a 67 foot Christmas tree, performances by the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders and drum line, and even special appearances by Dallas Cowboys football players. Fans won’t want to miss this!
And a new event for this year is Radiance! and Frozen in Frisco. One ticket allows you to experience the Radiance! Light Show, and at Frozen in Frisco you’ll experience an outdoor Winter Carnival, Tubing Hills, Ice Skating, a Giant Ferris wheel, Bumper Cars on Ice, Meet Santa Claus and More. It sounds pretty fun if you ask me!
The small, lakeside community of Granbury is the perfect place to celebrate an old-fashioned Christmas. The town is filled with many historic homes that are festively decorated and open for candlelight tours during the holidays. It all kicks off with the Night of Lights Christmas parade and Santa’s arrival. Now that’s what I call a magical Christmas in Texas!
Those in East Texas know to head to Marshall to experience a true old-fashioned Christmas. The city’s annual Wonderland of Lights Festival lights up the town with millions of lights, and there is an ice skating rink, horse drawn carriage rides, a Christmas market, and more!
There are two major events in Bryan, Texas that you don’t want to miss, Lights On and Holiday Stroll & Lighted Parade.
Help countdown to turn on thousands of lights along Main St. and Bryan Ave to illuminate picturesque Historic Downtown Bryan. This free, family-friendly event will include holiday photo backdrop stations, live music at the Palace Theater, and Santa Claus. It truly looks like a scene straight out of a Hallmark movie.
On December 9, don’t miss the Holiday Stroll & Lighted Parade, the ONLY lighted Christmas Parade in Bryan-College Station! Floats, vehicles, fire engines and more, all complete with lights, of course, will join us for this night of fun! It’s been rumored that SANTA CLAUS will also be making an appearance at the end of the parade! Come shop the local businesses before the parade and check those gifts off your list!
Most Texans will tell you that for the most magical Texas Christmas experience, you need to head to College Station. College Station is home to one of Texas’ greatest Christmas treasures: Santa’s Wonderland. Here you will find over a 1 million holiday lights with festive music and delicious Texas food. You can even take Santa’s hayride or hop on a VIP carriage for the best view of the lights before grabbing some food or taking a ride on the toboggan chute.
Holiday Events in Austin
You will have a hard time staying away from Austin during the holidays once you discover the amazing holiday activities in this great city. Some of our favorite Austin Christmas activities include the Austin Trail of Lights, a mile long holiday light drive-thru display that also features food and craft vendors, live holiday music, visits with Santa and more. This community wide event celebrates the spirit of Austin and the people who make it special.
Circuit of The Americas (COTA) will celebrate with the Peppermint Parkway, a holiday drive-thru experience. COTA is home to America’s only Formula 1 racetrack and this year they will put on the grandest light display in Texas. COTA’s Observation Tower will serve as Peppermint Parkway’s centerpiece and the rest of the display will have millions of holiday lights, a 6-story light show tree, and more.
In addition to exploring Peppermint Parkway, guests can enjoy the rides and food trucks at COTA’s Peppermint Plaza. Visitors looking for an adrenaline rush can race their loved ones at COTA Karting and take in a bird’s eye view of the holiday spectacular on the Zip Line.
Hotels in Austin are all about celebrating the holidays, so don’t miss the Gingerbread Village at the Four Seasons Austin. This year the theme is inspired by the enchantment of the North Pole. The Hotel’s 2021 Village will feature 11 edible “houses,” from Santa’s Workshop and an Elf Dormitory to a Town Square, complete with a large-scale Christmas tree and a live countdown to Christmas.
The Driskill goes all out for the holidays, an especially magical time of year at the hotel. There’s an abundance of festive cocktails and dishes, and it’s a can’t-miss destination for holiday decor. Each space is thoughtfully decked out with festive lights and decorations, from the famous Driskill Bar to the grand staircase and the 16-foot Douglas Fir tree in the lobby.
In the spirit of giving back, The Driskill has multiple partnerships with nonprofits all season long, including a gingerbread village, which is decorated by the children at Dell Children’s Hospital and hotel staff, and the 7th annual ‘Cookies for Caring’ event (a traditional holiday cookie swap featuring restaurants and bakeries around town) that benefits local Austin families in need.
The Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa just outside Austin transforms into a winter wonderland with an enormous decorated tree in their lobby and holiday decorations. Santa arrives at the resort Texas style, on a Texas Longhorn bull.
There’s also a “Holiday Light Stroll” with holiday lights spanning the grounds of the property, including a 20 foot pine tree with a dancing light display, and a weekly holiday parade.
Holiday Events in Hill Country
The town of Fredericksburg mixes German traditions with Texas fun when they kick off the season with the lighting of the German Christmas Pyramid. This town was settled by German immigrants and it has everything from an ice skating rink to historic home tours to Christmas markets. It looks like I’ve found my new favorite place to visit!
Hill Country Galleria
Hill Country Galleria will have several must-see events this holiday season. On November 27, their signature holiday event returns with Light Up The Plaza, where guests can see the holiday tree and Central Plaza light up while rock band American Authors performs. There’s also a Jingle Bell 5K, Holiday Market that runs Thursday – Saturdays from November 26 through December 24, and of course, “Selfies with Santa” at Santa’s Workshop.
If you are in the Austin area, you must make the drive to the Walkway of Lights in Marble Falls. This little town in the Texas Hill Country is lit up by over 2 million holiday lights. It’s the perfect location to enjoy a cup of cocoa with the family while enjoying the light display. A great way to unwind during the hectic holiday season.
JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort and Spa
JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort and Spa is a winter wonderland for families. There are plenty of holiday activities throughout the resort including an Elf on the Shelf Scavenger Hunt, Polar Plunge, Letters to Santa, Ornament and Cookie Decorating, Holiday Carriage rides and more!
Families who book the Hill Country Wonderland Suite can enjoy an in-suite Christmas tree, stockings next to the fireplace, garland and wreath decorations along the patio and holiday music. Guests are welcomed to their spectacular holiday retreat with fresh baked Christmas cookies, artisanal chocolate, and candy canes. For each booking the resort will provide a $50 donation to The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio. What a wonderful way to give back!
Omni Barton Creek Resort
Beginning December 1st, Omni Barton Creek Resort will transform into a Texas winter wonderland for their annual Holiday in The Hills programming. Highlights include a lighted holiday trail, 15′ Christmas trees inside and out decorated for the holidays, Santa’s Toy Shop, Cowboy Santa Stories, Caroling and Cocktails, and more. There’s even an opportunity to see snow in Texas. How cool is that?
A San Antonio Christmas is one of the best Texas has to offer with a variety of events everyone will love. The season begins with the Ford Holiday River Parade which features the lighting of the River Walk, and illuminated floats decorated for the theme. Lights line the river for the duration of the season and you can take a boat tour to enjoy these San Antonio Christmas lights.
Don’t miss the Natural Bridge Caverns with their giant snow globe, ice skating, and cowboy Christmas ride. Head to the San Antonio Zoo for animal lights, hot cocoa, and cookies with Santa. Other fun events include Pearl’s Holiday Night Markets and Posada, SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration, and Six Flags Fiesta Texas Holiday in the Park.
There are too many Houston holiday events to even mention in this one post, but if you are visiting the largest city in Texas during the holidays, don’t miss these holiday favorites.
Put on those skates and hit the ice, Houston’s ice skating rink in the shadow of the city’s downtown buildings. If your kids are into theatre, don’t miss shows like “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” and “A Seussified Christmas Carol”. Other favorites include Houston Zoo Lights and Magical Winter Lights, a larger-than-life lantern festival with acrobats, carnival rides and games.
Each year, The Woodlands lights up with thousands of white lights, creating a winter wonderland on the water. The holiday season kicks off with the Lighting of the Doves in which Santa makes his way down The Waterway by sleigh and reads The Night Before Christmas aloud before he illuminates the doves and fireworks begin. Other fun events include The Woodlands ice rink, Market Street in Lights, and Breakfast with Santa at The Woodlands Resort.
We love Beaumont, and are super excited about their Holiday at Ford Park! This is the premier holiday experience in southeast Texas featuring over 630,000 lights and more than 180 twinkling sculptures and displays. Kids will love seeing the live reindeer, ice skating, mechanical reindeer ride, food, and nightly entertainment. This is one Christmas event in Texas you don’t want to miss!
Port Arthur celebrates “A Very Marshy Christmas” as Santa travels through the marsh to visit good little boys and girls on his airboat! Children can find him at Sea Rim State Park where the Clauses have booked a cabin for the winter. There’s hot cocoa and cookies to enjoy for all ages.
Other fun events include the Port Arthur Cultural Lighted Holiday Parade and parades in neighboring Nederland, Port Neches, and Groves. There’s also the Christmas Tree Trail to Groves which encourages shoppers to support creative small businesses in Groves. Sounds like a great way to get a start on that holiday shopping!
Galveston might be an island in the Gulf of Mexico, but during the holidays it feels like old town London. The city is home to a famous Victorian holiday festival, Dickens on the Strand, which takes visitors back in time to the holiday settings of the Christmas stories we grew up reading. Carolers, guests dressed in Victorian attire, old fashioned holiday food vendors, and more will greet you at this festival.
Galveston also has ICE LAND at Moody Gardens. Here you will see monkeys, birds and stunning vegetation, while enjoying amazing ice sculptures. You can even take your turn on a giant ice slide!