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Holiday Lights in Houston

 See stunning Christmas displays all over the Bayou City 

Houston Holiday lights in the heights
Lights in the Heights is an annual neighborhood celebration in the Woodland Heights. Photo courtesty of KTRK

It's a holiday tradition many begin as kids with their parents -- piling into the car and riding around town looking at Christmas lights. Sometimes the excursion involves hot cocoa or cider. Typically it includes Christmas music on the radio. Some destinations merit a stop; others are best viewed as drive-bys. However it's done in your family, there are many places to view beautiful seasonal displays around Houston.

River Oaks

Houston's upscale River Oaks neighborhood offers tastefully executed displays around stately homes. Along River Oaks Boulevard and the streets on either side of it, white lights wrap majestic oaks and hang in cascades from their canopies. Large ornaments dazzle and homes are outlined in brilliant LED lights. Streets not to miss include Inwood and Bellmeade.

Prestonwood Forest

The residents of Prestonwood Forest in Northwest Houston have been decorating their homes in grand fashion since the 1970s. Hundreds of homes participate in the neighborhood's annual Night of Lights event in mid-December. Neighbors compete in several categories, such as best block, best house and even best mailbox. Many of the decorations revolve around a theme, such as the Twelve Days of Christmas, Texas Christmas and more. Start on Prestonwood Forest Drive, just off of Texas Highway 249.

Shepherd Park and Candlelight Park

You'll find a lot of large cutouts and dioramas in the Shepherd Park and Candlelight Park neighborhoods' holiday displays. Arches over the streets and big inflatables make this a winner for the kids. The best spot to start is north of West 43rd Street on either side of Ella Boulevard.

Woodland Heights

Each year, the Woodland Heights neighborhood comes alive for Lights in the Heights on a Saturday evening in early December. But the lights don't go dim in this charming neighborhood until well after Christmas. Awards for best decorations keep residents in the Heights creative. You'll find a concentration of lights along Highland Street and Bayland Avenue.

Zoo Lights

Zoo Lights is back and more spectacular than ever this year - now with more than 2 million lights! This special night-time spectacular transforms the zoo into a winter wonderland, filled with brilliant displays of colorful lights and festive holiday music. Sip hot chocolate as you stroll through the grounds and take in all the awe-inspiring sights, including more than a million twinkling lights adorning the magnificent live oak trees, whimsical colorful projections over 15 feet tall, and life-size animated animal sculptures. There is also a fascinating miniature train display along the Enchanted Forest Trail. Tickets can be purchased online or at the gate. General admission varies from $10.95 online to $12.95 at the gate.

Highland Village, River Oaks Shopping Center and Uptown

Get in the coastal spirit with beautiful white lights encircling palms along Westheimer in Highland Village and on West Gray in the River Oaks Shopping Center. Another dazzling display decks out the Galleria area along Post Oak. The lights come as part of a big, family-friendly street party on Thanksgiving Evening.

Moody Gardens, Galveston

For years now, the folks at Moody Gardens have been staging the Festival of Lights a big display on the grounds of the Galveston attraction. There are giant displays and more than 1 million lights along a driving tour through the park. The entire family will enjoy the ice rink, pictures with Santa, holiday films and more. Admission is $6.95 per person.

New this year, Moody Gardens and Nickelodeon have come together to create the Gulf Coast's only holiday ice sculpture attraction featuring the world-renowned underwater characters from Nickelodeon's SpongeBob SquarePants. ICE LAND: Ice Sculptures with SpongeBob SquarePants spans 28,000 square-feet and features 900 tons of ice transformed SpongeBob, his pals and his neighborhood! Admission is $16 for children and $27 for adults.

Holiday Lights Tour

Once again, the Houston Wave will take guests on a Holiday Lights Tour to check out all that dazzles and sparkles this holiday season. The tour will start at Market Square Park downtown before embarking on a journey past the tree at City Hall, the giant ornaments at Discovery Green, and the always decorated neighborhoods of River Oaks and the Woodland Heights.

By AJ Mistretta