Celebrate Christmas in Style: Texas’ Top Festive Events

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It’s beginning to look a lot like…Well, we’re not quite there yet, but it seems like Christmas decorations go up in stores earlier and earlier each year. As we start counting to yet another festive season, it’s important to get planning, even if you’re not ready to put up a tree. 

Texas is an amazing place to spend the holidays. First, the temperature drops, but it’s not too cold. Secondly, Texans take Christmas seriously; every city and town has colorful lights and decorations. Thirdly, the food and drinks are heavenly. And, finally, there are tons of Christmas Texas events. 

Christmas Texas Events - Texas View

Christmas Texas Events

Christmas is a special time when people celebrate with family and friends. Many of us take some well-earned time off work to relax and reset before the turning of the new year. One of the most magical things about Christmas is the festive feeling that spreads everywhere. 

Christmas cheer and this distinct festive atmosphere are created by several things, from cozy Christmas markets to colorfully lit city streets and Christmas carol concerts to the tree in your living room. During December, there’s no mistaking that it’s Christmas time, wherever you are in Texas.

If you’re like us, you like nothing more than diving into the Christmas spirit by participating in local events. There are countless events throughout Texas that everyone should experience in their lifetime. Some are simply events to mark the lights going up, while others are massive parades.

Either way, regardless of the size of the event, some occasions have a concise way of capturing that true Christmas feeling. So, if you’re spending Christmas in Texas this year, we’ve assembled our ultimate events guide. We included Christmas Texas events for families and adults, so you’re sure to find something for you.

Part of christmas fir tree under the snow outdoors with lights - Texas View
Part of christmas fir-tree under the snow outdoors with lights

Austin Trail Of Lights

If you plan to spend Christmas in the Texas capital, your number one priority is visiting the Austin Trail of Lights. In December, Zilker Park hosts the trail, featuring over two million lights, 90 Christmas trees, and 70 other holiday displays. 

Zilker Park is a beautiful place to stroll on any given day, but come December, it’s unique. The Trail started in 1965 with an event called Yule Fest, where locals would light a yule log to mark the beginning of the festive season. Almost 60 years later, the tradition is now the oldest of its kind in the city.

On some nights, you can enter the Trail for free. However, you may need to buy tickets on nights when there’s music and live performances. General admission tickets are usually cheap and shouldn’t cost you much more than $5 per person. Trust us, it’s well worth it. 

Santa’s Wonderland, College Station

College Station, a city filled with students for 11 months out of the year, turns into something entirely different come December. For decades, the city has developed a reputation for being one of the most festive in Texas, with its signature event taking center stage. 

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Santa’s Wonderland is essentially a miniature Christmas town in Texas. It’s the quintessential Christmas event to take the whole family to. If you’re in a rush, you can drive through the 40-acre light display, but we highly recommend parking up and spending some quality time there. 

Children enjoying gingerbread at a Christmas market - Texas View

There are endless activities for the kids, like visiting the gingerbread village, going snow tubing, ice skating, taking photos at the trail of lights, or going on a hayride (it’s still Texas after all). There’s daily entertainment at the Wonderland and festive music aplenty. 

Kids can even visit Santa himself or drop off a letter at a special postbox that goes directly to the North Pole. If you’ve got young kids, don’t miss out on making once-in-a-lifetime memories at Santa’s Wonderland. Just remember to take lots of photos. 

Christmas at Moody Gardens, Galveston

Moody Gardens in Galveston is one of the most popular places in the state for summer vacations. People don’t realize that it’s also a spectacular location to visit during the holidays, especially if you enjoy spending Christmas in the sun or next to a beach. 

Moody Gardens is an activity-based family resort year-round. At Christmas, the water slides, 4D movie theaters, train rides, and other activities take on holiday themes. The water slide turns into the Arctic Slide, the theaters play Christmas movies, and the train becomes the Polar Express.

One of the highlights of Moody Gardens at Christmas is its Festival of Lights display, which is a mile long. The staff knows how to set the mood. While most activities are catered toward kids, adults love the resort for its quality food, fun bars, and spa. There’s something for everyone.

Lantern and christmas decoration on snow and garland lights background - Texas View

Cowboys Christmas Extravaganza, Plano 

The Cowboys Christmas Extravaganza has occurred in Plano over the last few years and has become a massively popular event. The idea of the Christmas Extravaganza is to spread Christmas cheer and build game-day hype by celebrating the best-loved team in Texas, the Dallas Cowboys. 

The events are held on Friday and Saturday evenings during November and December at Tostitos Championship Plaza in Plano. All shows feature performances from the exceptional Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, with the 67-foot LED Christmas tree providing the backdrop. 

The Christmas Extravaganza also welcomes special guests to speak or perform for crowds. In the past, the events have featured current and past players and live musical performances. The best part? It’s accessible to the public, and there is free parking onsite.

This is an enjoyable event if you spend time in Plano, Dallas, or even Fort Worth and love the Cowboys. It’s the perfect way to set the mood before a night with friends or family on the town. 

The twinkliest town in Texas Hill Country is a perfect family vactaction spot - Texas View

Lights Spectacular, Johnson City

Johnson City is fondly known as the “Twinkliest Town in Hill Country,” it certainly lives up to that reputation come the holiday season. For over 30 years, it’s held the Lights Spectacular display, a beautiful arrangement of over two million holiday lights.

Christmas lights are draped around every corner of the city. One of the biggest draws is the Johnson City courthouse, which is given a miraculous makeover of Christmas lights every December. The lights are so bright that NASA claimed they could see them from space.

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If you’re in Johnson City over the holidays, there are plenty more festive activities, like pop-up stalls and Christmas markets. Walking around the historic downtown is one of the most popular things to do this time of year. 

River Walk Caroling, San Antonio

If you’re a fan of traditional Christmas activities, San Antonio may be the place for you when the holidays roll around. One of the most magical Christmas events in San Antonio is the River Walk carol singing that occurs every day from the end of November until a day before Christmas. 

Musicians gather in boats in the evening sail through the city, spreading cheer through renditions of famous Christmas carols. The best place to enjoy the music is from the banks of the river. Grab a hot cocoa and listen to the voices echo over the water, and before long, you’ll be singing too. 

You can also join the musicians in a boat. However, this option tends to get expensive. Once the melodies have finished, you’re in the perfect place to take a late-night stroll or grab some festive drinks before bed. 

A Magical Cirque Christmas

A Magical Cirque Christmas is one of the most novel and exciting events to come to Texas in many years. While it’s not quite Cirque Du Soleil, it has elements of it but with a Christmas twist. The talented performers showcase acrobatics, balance, juggling, dancing, and more. 

Watching the incredible show fills your ears with the best Christmas songs, helping keep a festive feel. The Magical Cirque Christmas is a perfect family event or a fun date night for couples. Tickets start at $39.50, which won’t break the bank either.

Cirque is a traveling show that will make stops throughout the United States. Four events are earmarked for Texas in mid-December: Grand Prairie, Lubbock, San Antonio, and Houston. 

South Padre Island is a fun place for a sunny Christmas - Texas View

Lighted Boat Parade, South Padre Island

One of the more unique Christmas events occurs on South Padre Island, a popular destination for sunny holiday vacations. South Padre is unique because it’s somewhat of a tropical haven within Texas that combines sand, sun, and sea. 

In keeping with its coastal vibes, an annual Christmas Lighted Boat Parade has been going from Marina in Port Isabel to Louie Backyard on South Padre Island for several years. Boats ride by and light up the night sky with festive decorations and stunning light arrangements. 

Every year, a panel of judges award first, second, and third-place winners. The boats are divided into categories (according to size), but there’s also an overall classification. There are a lot of other fun activities in South Padre at this time of year, too, like ice skating, light shows, and live music performances. 

Grapevine Texas Christmas Events

Grapevine is known as the Christmas Capital of Texas. It’s been trademarked as such. With an estimated 1,400 Christmas events occurring over 40 days, this wonderful city warrants a section for itself. If you want an authentic Christmas experience in Texas, visit Grapevine.

Christmas in Grapevine officially begins at the end of November with the annual Carol of Lights event. This takes place at the Historic Main Street and is one of the best events of the holiday period. The Mayor turns on the Christmas lights, and you can watch the 40-foot Christmas tree come to life. 

As the Christmas Capital, you can expect the entire city to be immaculately decorated. Your kids will love walking through the streets on the night of the Carol of Lights. Many food vendors around the city serve festive drinks and snacks. There’s a stunning fireworks show at the City Hall to close the show. 

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For the next month, you can enjoy Christmas movies, ballet, and shows at the Palace Theatre every day. You or your kids can take part in craft shows and workshops. There are plenty of opportunities to visit Santa and snap some photos. An ice rink is set up every year at Peace Plaza. 

Two must-do activities in Grapevine are the North Pole Express and the Elf Adventure. The North Pole Express is a train ride with Christmas singalongs, interactions with characters, and a visit from Santa. Elf Adventure is a workshop where attendees learn to craft handmade items, like toys, ornaments, and other Christmas surprises. 

Christmas deer at local park - Texas View

Fredericksburg Texas Christmas Events

Fredericksburg is another city with a reputation for nailing the festive celebrations every year. The city has a rich German heritage clearly reflected in its stunning architecture and European-influenced Christmas traditions. 

Fredericksburg is often compared to fictional cities that feature in Hallmark Christmas movies. And if you ever visit, you’ll understand why. In the Texas Hill Country, Fredericksburg is surrounded by rolling hills and breathtaking vineyards. The city itself is quite small, quaint, and beautifully designed. 

Once the end of November comes along, Fredericksburg is transformed into a Christmas village. Much of the festive feel is generated from the city center where there’s a giant Christmas tree, an authentic German Christmas pyramid, a traditional German Christmas market, and a lot of decorations.

Most of the major Christmas events take place here, too. You can ice skate, take photos by the tree, and sample mulled wine and other treats at the Christmas market. Every night of the Christmas season, there’s a Fredericksburg Christmas Night of Lights show at the Marktplatz at 6 p.m.

The show goes through the city’s history, features beautiful Christmas carol performances, and finishes with a countdown to the light display. The city has tons of events, shows, workshops, and activities throughout November and December. 

References

Author Profile

Christian Linden is a seasoned writer and contributor at Texas View, specializing in topics that resonate with the Texan community. With over a decade of experience in journalism, Christian brings a wealth of knowledge in local politics, culture, and lifestyle. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Texas. When he's not writing, Christian enjoys spending weekends traveling across Texas with his family, exploring everything from bustling cities to serene landscapes.

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