From town lightings to Santa sightings, the Lone Star State is aglow with holiday magic from now through the new year. Saddle up your sleigh and start planning a holiday-themed trip –– below is Austin Travels’ guide to yuletide featuring 15 Texas towns twinkling bright throughout the season.
From an old-fashioned Main Street Christmas to a lighted night parade, Bastrop offers a festive lineup of holiday events to enjoy with the whole family during its merry, month-long Lost Pines Christmas. Don’t miss the sparkling sights of the Bastrop River of Lights, featuring numerous seasonal displays lining Bastrop’s scenic June Hill Pape River Walk which is free to attend and runs nightly through Jan. 3, or check out the Lost Pines Christmas Lighted Parade taking place at 6 p.m. on Dec. 10 as 130 fanciful floats light up downtown Main Street. Find more holiday events at lostpineschristmas.com.
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Celebrate the spirit of the season in Boerne at Toast of Olde Town, taking place Dec. 9-11, which celebrates the olde town’s heritage with Wassail tastings, music at local breweries, and the annual Christmas Market bustling with over 130 artisans, craftsmen and handmade items, plus holiday lights, snow machines and visits with Santa. Then head back with the family Dec. 16-18 for Kinder Fest to take part in a child-friendly weekend where highlights include a downtown cookie crawl, a free Santa scavenger hunt, visits with Santa, Christmas card decorating under the Fig Tree, and a Cowboy Christmas Market. More at www.adickenscelebration.com/.
Corpus Christi’s Merry Days by the Bay is a citywide collaboration of holiday-themed events, family-friendly activities, festive light displays and more guaranteed to get even the Grinchiest person into the holiday spirit. Plan your trip to the Coastal Bend this time of year when it’s transformed into the ultimate hub for holiday cheer. From the La Posada Lighted Boat Parade (Dec. 9-10) to celebrating “Holly-Days” on December weekends at South Texas Botanical Gardens & Nature Center with hot cocoa, hayrides, photos with Santa and plenty of kid-friendly activities, Merry Days by the Bay is jam-packed with events throughout the month. For a complete list of events, coast on over to www.visitcorpuschristi.com.
Everything is bigger and brighter in the Big D, including the city’s extensive lineup of winter holiday festivities. From now through Jan. 1, become captivated by the holiday season as Enchant, the world’s largest Christmas light spectacular, returns to Fair Park with an all-new interactive light-maze adventure created from more than 4 million sparkling lights, a 100-foot-tall holiday tree, an ice skating trail, live entertainment, Santa visits and more. Or check out Holiday at the Arboretum –– featuring its 50-foot-tall Dazzling Musical Tree, The 12 Days of Christmas life-size 25-foot-tall Victorian-style glass gazebos, the European-inspired Christmas Village and more –– now through December 31. More at www.visitdallas.com/campaigns/bigdholiday.
Feel festive in Fort Worth by snapping a pic in Sundance Square with the larger than life Christmas Tree, decorated and lit through the new year; soaking in sparkling sights at Modern Lights at the Modern Art Museum now through Feb. 5; racing to the Gift of Lights at Texas Motor Speedway to see millions of lights from the comfort of your car through Jan. 1; or gliding around the Stockyards Rodeo Rink now through Feb. 5. Find more holiday events “worth” checking off your list at www.fortworth.com/holiday-checklist.
Fredericksburg is most magical during the holiday season when you can marvel at the town’s 30-foot Christmas tree and authentic German Christmas pyramid each evening and go shopping for gifts along a decked-out Main Street each day. Don’t miss Fredericksburg’s Christmas Nights of Lights (nightly through Jan. 6), ice skating at the town’s only outdoor ice skating rink, Eisbahn, attending the Santa Fly-In at Gillespie County Airport (Dec. 17), or seeing the Annual LBJ Tree Lighting (Dec. 18). More at https://www.visitfredericksburgtx.com/events/holiday.
Wander to Winter Wonder Island, also known as Galveston, where you can experience the seasonal spirit along with tropical weather and a 32-mile coastline. Experience Galveston’s coastal cheer this time of year at Moody Gardens’ Holiday in the Gardens featuring a mile-long Festival of Lights trail of illuminated holiday displays, Ice Land, an ice skating rink, artic slide, pictures with Santa and more (now through Jan. 7). If you’re in Galveston on Dec. 18, join thousands of jolly joggers jingling through the streets of downtown Galveston at the Santa Hustle Galveston 5K, Half Marathon and Kids Dash. Find more merriment at www.galveston.com/holidaymagic.
Go to Grapevine, the Christmas Capital of Texas, to experience merriment in the form of 40 days of continual Christmas events. From now through the new year, you can feel the joy and cheer at Grapevine Christmas Village, along Christmas Wine Trails, or by spinning around Peace Plaza Ice Rink. Enjoy a magical stay with the kids at Snowland at Great Wolf Lodge or Christmas at the Gaylord Texan. Find the full festive lineup at www.grapevinetexasusa.com/christmas-capital-of-texas.
Go to historic Gruene to experience holiday magic with a country twist. Make an online reservation to pose with Cowboy Kringle, the town’s own brand of Santa, Dec. 10-11 or Dec. 16-18. Burn off holiday treats at the 30th annual Jingle Bell 5K run/walk on Dec. 10. Let the sounds of the season whisk you away with holiday performances at Gruene Hall –– Randall King’s Neon Christmas is slated for Dec. 15-16 and Deck the Dancehalls with Kevin Fowler takes place Dec. 23. More at www.gruenetexas.com/holidays.php.
Road trip to the “Twinkliest Town in Texas” to experience the 33rd season of Lights Spectacular. This free holiday lights display taking place through Jan. 8 from dusk to midnight features over 2 million Christmas lights in a display so significant that NASA has reported seeing it from space. On Dec. 10, don’t miss the Lights Spectacular Scholarship Chili Cook Off on the courthouse square, head to Johnson City on Dec. 16 to see The Grinch at Memorial Park, or visit with Deaf Santa and Mrs. Claus along with an interpreter Elf on Sunday, Dec. 18. More at https://www.lightsspectacular.com/.
From merrily decorated storefronts to an ever-changing roster of 44 days of joyful holiday events, Marble Falls is simply magical during the holidays. Make the hour-long drive to experience Marble Fall’s 32nd annual Walkway of Lights featuring 2 million lights in Lakeside Park –– and stick around to spin around the Winter Ice Skating Rink and visit with Santa. Find out about special nights and see Santa’s schedule at https://visitmarblefalls.org/event/walkway2022.
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From Colorful Christmas at Crayola Experience to twinkle-lit nights at Heritage Farmstead, there’s something to get everyone into the spirit of the season in Plano. From now until Jan. 3, deck the halls with tons of color at Colorful Christmas at Crayola Experience where you can make handmade gifts from the heart, complete a seasonal scavenger hunt and more. Lights on the Farm returns to Heritage Farmstead Museum through Dec. 30, transforming the historic farmstead into a delightful winter wonderland with more than one million lights and numerous animated holiday displays, a 20-foot Christmas tree, and tasty treats such as hot cocoa, kettle corn and make your own s’mores. More at visitplano.com.
Celebrate the holidays on the beautiful beaches of Port Aransas, which fills the season with everything from Sand Santa to fireworks over the Gulf. Port A’s official tree-lighting ceremony will light up the Port Aransas Community Center on Dec. 8, complete with hot cocoa and cookies, musical entertainment, ornament decorating and a special gift delivery by Santa. Snap a photo with the incredible Sand Santa sculpture which stays up until Christmas. Then bid farewell to 2022 on New Year’s Eve with an impressive fireworks display over the Gulf at Robert’s Point Park. More at www.portaransas.org/events/holiday.
South Padre Island is decking the palms this holiday season, offering pleasant temperatures, Hallmark-worthy views and a spectacular lineup of festivities and fun events. Visit this coastal destination situated off the southern tip of Texas this time of year to experience holiday cheer in the form of the Holiday Light Show (nightly now through Jan. 15), ice skating at the Skate-A-Palooza Ice Rink (through Dec. 17), the BFF Holiday Paw Parade (Dec. 11), an Elfie’s Selfies Photo Contest (through Dec. 11), a Country Christmas concert (Dec. 16) and more at https://www.sopadre.com/.
Wimberley is winter wonderland in the middle of the Hill Country. Wander out to Wimberley for Winter’s Eve on Dec. 10 from noon to 7, featuring live music, face painting, shopping, and of course, Santa Claus. Now in its 24th year, Wimberley’s Trail of Lights at the EmilyAnn Theatre draws visitors from all over Central Texas to stroll through six acres of trails set aglow with the magic of the holidays now though Dec. 26. More at http://visitwimberley.com/.