Are you looking for the most magical places to celebrate Christmas in Texas? The Lone Star State is full of great things to do year-round, so why would Christmas be any different? They say that everything is bigger in Texas, and that includes Texas holiday celebrations!
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If you are looking for the best things to do for Christmas in Texas, you’ve come to the right place. Once the weather starts to cool down, you can expect the holiday spirit to make its debut across the state. You probably won’t get that childhood fantasy of a white Christmas (it is Texas, after all), but don’t worry.
A Texas Christmas means glittering lights, smiling faces, and good old-fashioned Texas charm! Texas resorts really put on a show during the holidays that shouldn’t be missed, and small towns drip with Christmas cheer.
So, slip on your favorite holiday boots, and head out on an adventure with my ultimate guide to Christmas in Texas. There’s nothing like the Christmas season in the great state of Texas, with events from the Gulf cities to Austin to Grapevine and beyond that will remind you what the holidays are all about!
Table of Contents
Magical Places To Celebrate a Texas Christmas
Holiday Events in DFW
It would be impossible to cover all of the Dallas Christmas events, so I’ll just share some of the highlights. Let’s start with the Dallas Holiday Parade, one of the largest parades and light shows in the United States. It’s held on the first Saturday of December and includes 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.
Get your kids in the Christmas spirit with model trains at the Trains at North Park. You’ll 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.
And one of the best things to do for Christmas in Texas is definitely the 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 12 gazebos will be decorated accordingly. There’s also a Christmas Village that’s perfect for all ages.
You can’t talk about Christmas in Texas without mentioning Grapevine, one of the very best Christmas towns in Texas! This Dallas suburb has been dubbed “The Christmas Capital of Texas,” and we think that title is well earned!
Everyone will find something holiday-related to love in the almost 1500 holiday events the town hosts. Some favorite Grapevine Christmas events include the Grapevine Vintage Railroad which transforms into the North Pole Express for the holidays and the Peace Plaza Ice Rink.
There’s also the Merry & Bright Drone Shows, a choreographed light show, held every Saturday night. You can also attend the Carol of Lights (a light boat parade on Grapevine Lake), a Christmas village, and other nightly performances.
Located in the heart of the Metroplex is Grand Prairie, which celebrates the season with Prairie Lights, over 4 million 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, get back in your car to continue through the animated light tunnel at the end. The Holiday Village has food, pictures with Santa, a lighted forest, and even an indoor snow maze. Kids will go crazy for the Grand Prairie lights!
Fort Worth Holiday Events
The ultimate way to celebrate Christmas in Texas is at the Stockyards in Fort Worth. The festivities kick off on November 19 with the Parade of Lights.
On November 24th, Cowboy Santa makes his arrival. Welcome him in his stagecoach following the 11:30 AM cattle drive, then head to the Stockyards Rodeo Rink for some ice-skating fun.
There are also opportunities for photos with Cowboy Santa, a 40-foot Christmas tree, a hot Cocoa Corral, and spectacular holiday lights display. Mrs. Claus will also make an appearance sharing tales in Santa’s Holiday Village all weekend long and throughout the holiday season.
Other fun holiday events include Christmas in the Stockyards Celebration on December 3 with a Christmas parade, Cowboy Santa picture opportunities, and live music.
There’s a ton to do in the north Dallas suburb of Frisco on your Christmas vacation. This includes 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!
Granbury is small, lakeside community 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.
The Night of Lights Christmas Parade and Santa’s arrival kick off the celebrations. Now that’s what I call a magical Christmas in Texas!
Christmas in East 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 illuminates the town with millions of lights. Plus, there’s an ice-skating rink, horse-drawn carriage rides, a Christmas market, and more!
Most Texans will tell you that you need to head to College Station for the most magical Christmas in Texas. College Station is home to one of Texas’ greatest Christmas treasures: Santa’s Wonderland.
If you’re searching for the best Christmas lights in Texas, you’ll want to check out Santa’s Workshop. It boasts over 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.
There are two major events in Bryan, Texas that you don’t want to miss: Lights On! and the Holiday Stroll & Lighted Parade.
The fun starts on November 17, when Destination Bryan kicks off the holiday season in Bryan with the annual Lights On! Help countdown to turn on thousands of lights along Main Street 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.
And on December 7, 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 lead the celebration.
It’s been rumored that SANTA CLAUS will also be making an appearance at the end of the parade! Come shop at the local businesses before the parade and check those gifts off your list.
Every holiday season, Bastrop hosts its Lost Pines Christmas. This month-long Christmas celebration in historic downtown Bastrop features family-friendly events including holiday shopping, craft classes, entertainment, and more.
Some of the highlights include the 2023 Lighted Christmas Parade, Bastrop River of Lights, Wassail Fest, and Holiday Homes tour. You can find all the details here.
Holiday Events in Austin
If you’re looking for the ultimate Texas Christmas, you’ll have a hard time staying away from Austin once you discover the amazing holiday activities in this great central Texas city.
Some of our favorite Austin Christmas activities and festive places include the Austin Trail of Lights. It’s 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’ll 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. If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, you can race at COTA Karting, or take in a bird’s eye view of the holiday spectacular on the Zip Line!
Four Seasons Austin
Hotels in Austin are all about celebrating the holidays, so don’t miss the Ice Rodeo at the Four Seasons Austin.
Ice Rodeo is downtown Austin’s newest holiday tradition! You can enjoy an ice-skating rink overlooking Lady Bird Lake, larger-than-life decorations, and luxe “cabins” where friends and families can gather together over festive food and drink. Book your tickets early!
A little bit more about the experience:
- There will be a life-size gingerbread Airstream trailer in the Lobby, crafted by the Hotel’s talented pastry chefs
- Ice Rodeo features 11 lodge-chic cabins surrounding the ice rink, serving festive food and drink add-ons for groups of up to 6 people
- The Ice Rodeo will showcase some elaborate holiday art installations, including a tunnel of illuminated stars, a Texas longhorn, and 10-foot electric guitar
The Driskill goes all out for the holidays, an especially magical time 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.
The hotel’s Afternoon Tea during the cooler months is a must-do! This long-standing tradition features three courses of classic French favorites from Chef Mark Dayanandan, along with bottomless tea, featuring special holiday flavors.
In the spirit of giving back, The Driskill has multiple partnerships with nonprofits all season long. They include a gingerbread village, which is decorated by the children by Dell Children’s Hospital and hotel staff.
You can also attend the annual ‘Cookies for Caring’ event, a traditional holiday cookie swap that benefits local Austin families in need, featuring restaurants and bakeries around town.
Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa
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.
Omni Barton Creek Resort
The Omni Barton Creek Resort will transform into a Texas winter wonderland for their annual Holiday in The Hills programming. From a family-friendly glowing miniature golf and breakfast with Santa and Mrs. Claus to whiskey and wood-burning classes for date night, Omni Barton Creek is bringing the ultimate North Pole experience to Texas.
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!
If you’re in the Austin area for Christmas, you must make the drive to the Walkway of Lights in Marble Falls. This small town on the Colorado River gets lit up during the holiday season with over 2 million holiday lights.
The Walkway of Lights is the perfect place to enjoy a cup of cocoa with the family while enjoying the scenery. It’s a great way to unwind during the hectic holiday season.
Holiday Events in Hill Country
The Hill Country is always a magical place, but if you want to experience a unique side of Christmas in Texas, this is a great place to start! Here are just a few of the best stops to add to your holiday itinerary.
The town of Fredericksburg blends its unique German heritage 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!
Camp Lucy in Dripping Springs
Nestled on a gorgeous ranch in Dripping Springs, Camp Lucy is the Texas Hill Country’s premier full-scale luxury resort. The 289-acre property becomes truly magical during the holidays.
Rooms, suites, and cottages include wreaths placed on the doors and s’mores kits! The kids can roast marshmallows around the fire pits while parents sip on Camp Lucy’s wine, which comes right from the vineyard on the property.
Step inside Tillie’s restaurant to find a Christmas tree, holiday décor, and seasonal cocktails. On December 4 there’s a Christmas Chili Cook-Off between Chef Andy Knudson and other local chefs. Families can enjoy live music, shopping, photos with Santa, and more.
And don’t miss the following holiday fun nearby:
- Dreamland in Dripping Springs: Holiday lights cover an 86-acre Hill Country property, and there’s a holiday village and illuminated igloos available for rent.
- Christmas on Mercer: Dripping Springs’ downtown area transforms into a hometown holiday festival featuring holiday shopping, arts and crafts booths, live entertainment, a petting zoo, trackless train, pony rides, and children’s activities.
- In Johnson City, there’s a Texas Lights Spectacular. A light display with 2 million lights, was reportedly seen in space by NASA’s International Space Station!
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 and visits from Santa and his reindeer.
You can enjoy Ornament and Cookie Decorating, gingerbread house making, horse-drawn sleigh rides, and more! There’s also the Arctic Lodge, a pop-up lounge featuring holiday-themed cocktails, delicious drinks for kids, and tasty treats, plus spectacular (Instagrammable) holiday decor.
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.
And when you stay at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country, you’re welcomed to your gorgeous holiday retreat with freshly baked Christmas cookies, artisanal chocolate, and candy canes!
San Antonio at Christmas
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.
San Antonio is known for having some of the best Christmas lights in Texas, with lights hanging from the trees over the San Antonio River for the duration of the season. A boat tour is the best way to enjoy the magical San Antonio Christmas lights display!
The whole family will love visiting the San Antonio Zoo for animal lights, hot cocoa, and cookies with Santa. Other fun events include Holiday Night Markets and Posada at the Pearl, SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration, and Six Flags Fiesta Texas Holiday in the Park.
Christmas Events in Houston
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 Ice, Houston’s ice-skating rink in the shadow of the city’s downtown buildings. If your kids are into theater, don’t miss shows like The Nutcracker and A Christmas Carol.
Holidays in this Houston suburb are all about family. Head to Constellation Field for the Sugar Land Holiday Lights annual festival. There are over 3 million lights, holiday shopping, a holiday carnival, and more. There’s even a movie night series at Center Field Cinema, with holiday-themed movies every week.
Sugar Land Town Square transforms each year into a massive holiday destination, and it’s one of the best places to experience Christmas in Texas. The annual Santa’s Sugar Land has all of the activities you need to get into the holiday spirit with a market, cookie decorating, wreath making, and more.
At the city’s annual Christmas Tree Lighting, families can enjoy live music, watch an ice sculpting competition, and witness the lighting of the city’s 40-foot-tall tree. Afterward, you’ll be treated to a fabulous fireworks show to kick off the holiday season!
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 annual lighting of the tree, the holiday gift market in Town Green Park, The Woodlands ice rink, and Breakfast with Santa at The Woodlands Resort.
Beaumont at Christmastime
For some of the best Christmas lights in Texas, we love Beaumont. And we’re super excited about their Magic Of Lights at Ford Park! This is the premier holiday experience in southeast Texas, and their first ever drive-thru holiday experience. Families can drive through a variety of displays including Barbie, 12 Days of Christmas, Big Foot Monster Trucks, and more! 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.
You can also check out the Port Arthur Cultural Lighted Holiday Parade, and parades in neighboring Nederland, Port Neches, and Groves.
Christmas Activities in Galveston
Galveston Island might be in the Gulf of Mexico, but it feels like old town London during the holidays, making it one of the best Christmas towns in Texas.
The city is home to a famous Victorian holiday festival, Dickens on the Strand, which takes you back in time to the holiday settings of the Christmas stories we grew up reading.
This year it celebrates its 50th anniversary! Carolers, guests dressed in Victorian attire, old-fashioned holiday food vendors, and more will greet you at this festival!
Galveston also has ICELAND at Moody Gardens. More than two million pounds of ice will be carved into a colorful world of ice sculptures for visitors of Ice Land: Rainforest Holiday. You can also stroll through the Festival of Lights, a mile-long trail of illuminated holiday displays, music, festive food and more.
Other attractions include an Arctic Ice Slide, pictures with Santa, and a family-friendly New Year’s Palooza. You can go on the Polar Express train rides, attend Christmas tree lightings in downtown Galveston and the Grand Galvez hotel, and see live holiday shows at The Grand 1894 Opera House.
The holidays in Corpus Christi kick off in earnest with the H-E-B Christmas Tree Lighting at Water’s Edge Park. The majestic tree is adorned with 7,000 lights and 2,000 ornaments just steps away from the waters of Corpus Christi Bay.
Other seasonal highlights include two boat parades, the Illuminated Boat Parade and La Posada Lighted Boat Parade. Decked out boats sail through the area’s waterways while locals and visitors gather around for the show.
Starting after Thanksgiving and running through December, the Texas Botanical Gardens & Nature Center will have HOLLY-DAYS at the GARDENS. On Fridays and Saturdays, families can admire the garden’s decorations while enjoying hot cocoa, hayrides, photos with Santa, and other kid-friendly activities.
Port Aransas on the Texas Coast has always welcomed generations of Texans to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year, and this year is no different. The city will host several holiday festivities including the charity Holiday Golf Cart Parade supporting the Port Aransas EMS toy drive.
After the parade, visitors can take in the spectacle of the dazzling Lighted Boat Parade. It’s the perfect destination for a tropical getaway in Texas!
If you’re feeling festive, check out my other holiday posts!