Even though Texas doesn’t have snow to welcome the holiday season like most other parts of the United States, that doesn’t mean there’s a lack of vacation activities. It is the opposite! Like most other things, the holiday celebrations live up to the slogan, “Everything is bigger in Texas!”
From late November through the New Year, Texas is filled with fun and exciting holiday events across the state. Visitors are invited to join locals in experiencing grand light shows, fun small town parades, and other magical holiday events taking place throughout the state of Lone Star.
Being a native Texan (and still calling it home today) has given me the opportunity to experience so many fun holiday events in Texas. Let’s dive into a few holiday favorites!
1. Christmas at the Gaylord Texan Hotel
The Gaylord Texan Hotel transforms into a magical wonderland during the holiday season. Also known as the “Texas Capital of Christmas,” the hotel, located in the town of Grapevine, greets guests with millions of twinkling lights, dozens of Christmas trees and an incredible amount of festive decorations.
Holiday events at the Gaylord Texan Hotel are sure to please the whole family. The resort offers us plenty of celebrations including live shows, character experiences, delicious culinary treats and fun, interactive activities. For the 2022 holiday season, the Gaylord Texan presents a Cirque titled performance winter wonderland for guests to enjoy.
The main attraction at the Gaylord Texan Hotel is the signature event ICE!, which features incredible ice sculptures. This year the theme is ICE! is The Polar Express. This 17,000 square foot holiday event allows visitors to surround themselves with incredible sculptures made from over 2 million pounds of ice.
Attractions at Gaylord Texan are wheelchair accessible. There are some stairs to reach the snow hill or the ice slides.
The complete calendar of events and ticket prices can be found here.
Pro Tip: ICE! at the Gaylord Texan Hotel has a history of selling out. Get your tickets early if you want to see this annual event.
2nd Festival of Lights at Moody Gardens
Each year, Moody Gardens on Galveston Island flicks the switch and turns on over two million Christmas lights as they welcome visitors to their holiday Festival of Lights. Families come from far and wide to experience the mile-long trail with all its twinkling lights. In addition to the fun and unique light shows, there’s also a four-story digital Christmas tree that syncs to music! In addition to the lights, the Festival of Lights also features photo opportunities with Santa Claus, marshmallow roasts, ice slides, and an ice skating rink.
The Festival of Lights isn’t the only holiday attraction at Moody Gardens. The resort is home to several different vacation attractions. During your time at Moody Gardens you can also visit Ice Land, watch a holiday movie in 3D or 4D, take a train ride or enjoy a celebratory holiday meal.
The lights will be set up along a paved path accessible to all participants.
You can read all about this year’s attractions and get more information on the Moody Gardens website.
Pro Tip: A visit to Moody Gardens is a great family vacation experience. Book a resort package and take the extended family on a holiday trip to remember!
3. Prairie Lights
As you approach the entrance to Prairie Lights in Grand Prairie, Texas, you know you’re in for a special vacation treat. One of the most popular attractions in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the annual Prairie Lights show is located on the shores of Joe Pool Lake.
Visitors are treated to a 2 mile drive-through light display containing over 4 million lights! Halfway, visitors have the opportunity to hop out of their cars to explore the on-site holiday village. As you explore Holiday Village, you can grab a bite to eat, snap photos with Santa, shop for special gifts, and even take a walk through the illuminated forest.
The highlight of the light show is the incredible light tunnel that participants must drive through before exiting the Prairie Lights.
Please note that some areas of the Holiday Village are on natural terrain within the park.
Pro Tip: Lines for Prairie Lights can be extremely long. I recommend buying a pre-paid fast pass so you can skip the line through a dedicated entrance! Full details, including opening times and entrance fees, can be found here.
4. Holiday Parade on the River Walk
This year marks the 41st Annual Ford Holiday River Parade along the San Antonio River Walk. If you haven’t had a chance to see the annual holiday parade, then this must be on your list of holiday events to see in Texas! The parade, held the day after Thanksgiving, features over 20 lighted floats. The Grand Marshall of the Parade for 2022 is none other than the Grinch himself!
In addition to the parade, this evening also marks the start of the holiday season on the River Walk. That means you can also witness the River Walk Illumination, when over 100,000 lights shine across the San Antonio River Walk. After this event, the Christmas lights on the River Walk will be switched on every day from sunset to sunrise until the weekend after the New Year. This Texas holiday event is truly a treat for all!
If you are reserving tickets for the Holiday Parade and have mobility issues, be sure to select appropriate seating as some areas are stair-accessible during this event.
Pro Tip: While there are several free spectator areas for the parade, these areas quickly become overcrowded. I recommend either purchasing reserved tickets for seating along the River Walk or checking out the many dinner packages that River Walk restaurants offer. The full details can be found here.
5. Wimberley light trail
The Wimberley Trail of Lights, hosted at the EmilyAnn Theater & Gardens, is a great small town light festival well worth a visit. In its 14th year, the Wimberley Trail of Lights is truly a community event. All of the displays on the Trail of Lights are available thanks to the hard work and generosity of the companies and individuals who volunteer their time to make the event a success.
Stroll through the 6 acres of fun and festive light displays before preparing Ye Olde Yule Log s’mores (weather permitting). The best thing about the Wimberly Trail of Lights is that it’s completely free!
Please note that this light show is on natural terrain and requires quite a bit of walking, sometimes on uneven surfaces. The trail itself is not wheelchair accessible but they do offer golf carts to help those who need them. More information can be found here.
Pro Tip: The town of Wimberley is a delightful, artistic community. I recommend spending a few days here so you can enjoy everything this charming city has to offer.
6th Winter Festival
The holiday season means downtown El Paso comes alive with a fabulous, family-friendly event called WinterFest. Celebrations begin each year with the Celebration of Lights Parade, which meanders through downtown El Paso and circles the city center. Spectators can enjoy colorful and illuminated floats, as well as holiday-themed performances.
The town also has a large ice rink that is open seven days a week (a fee applies for the ice rink). There’s also a WinterFest Arts and Farmers’ Market where visitors can purchase goods from local vendors. Of course, the area is covered in lights and festive decorations even during the holiday season.
7. Christmas at Marble Falls
The fun lakeside community of Marble Falls, Texas is an excellent place to have on your vacation bucket list as they host 44 different events throughout the holiday season! Like most small towns in Texas, Marble Falls’ Christmas celebration begins with the lighting of the downtown Christmas tree. From there, the celebrations begin! Visitors can enjoy Downtown Sip N’ Shops, Breakfast with Santa, Maine Christmas Markets and Maine Music to name a few.
The highlight for many visitors is of course the annual Walkway of Lights, which celebrates its 32nd anniversary in Marble Falls. The Walkway of Lights features more than two million lights on more than 130 sculptures placed throughout Lakeside Park. Best of all, visiting the Walkway of Lights is completely free!
For more information about Christmas in Marble Falls, visit their website.
Pro Tip: Marble Falls is a glorious time that offers great food, craft breweries and Texas wineries. The city is small and can get crowded on weekends. If you want to avoid crowds, consider visiting during the week!
8. Festive Walk in Georgetown
If you’re spending time in Georgetown during the holiday season, be spending time in “The Nicest Town Square in Texas.” Downtown Georgetown sparkles during the holiday season thanks to the thousands of lights that adorn the town square. When you combine that with the beautiful Christmas decorations and fun holiday events, you know you’re in for a festive good time!
One of the fun events this small town has to offer is the Christmas Walk. The annual Georgetown Christmas Walk will take place on the evening of Friday December 2nd and all day Saturday December 3rd 2022. In addition to downtown shops that stay open late, you can also enjoy two stages with live entertainment, a parade, food and produce vendors, and special holiday events like Dessert with the Grinch! Please click here for more information.