A huge dinner, football games on the television, Black Friday shopping – we all know what to expect come Thanksgiving weekend; though, you can surprise the whole family by switching it up this year. Add some ‘whoas’ and ‘wows’ by tying in one of these Houston-area holiday events.

68th Annual H-E-B Thanksgiving Day Parade

The Parade is located in downtown Houston, begins at 9 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning and is free for all. The Houston Thanksgiving Day Parade began in 1949 when Santa arrived at Union Station and rode his sleigh to the downtown Foley’s. This tradition showcases the Houston community and entertains parade-goers lining the streets on Thanksgiving morning. This year the Grand Marshall of the parade will be Chandra Wilson, a Houston native best known for her 14 seasons on “Grey’s Anatomy.

The ICE powered by Green Mountain Energy

After you recover from a hectic day of tracking down holiday deals on Black Friday, head to the largest outdoor skating arena in the Southwest, which will be open on Saturday and Sunday (Nov. 24 & 25) at Discovery Green, in downtown. Once you’re done gliding around the park, shimmy across the street to Avenida Houston to view the winter art installation, Hello Trees: A Walking Serenade by Daily tous les jours.

Houston Holiday Latin Jazz Festival

What better way to share the excitement of the holiday season than to enjoy a full day of explosive music, talent, and concerts? With choreographed dance, family fun with games, vendors, and food, the festival will take place rain or shine, at Buffalo Bayou Park. Headlining the event is multi-Grammy winning musician Poncho Sanchez with special guests Jose Valentino Ruiz and Houston’s own Jose Antonio Diaz, and many more.

Magical Winter Lights

Embracing Houston’s diversity, Magical Winter Lights at Gulf Greyhound Park is a spectacular, larger-than-life festival that presents a fresh multicultural take on traditional holiday light shows. Including lighting themes such as Mystery of the East, Dinosaur Land, and Landmarks of the World, your family will not soon forget this atypical holiday celebration. Just a short drive away in La Marque, TX, the Magical Winter Lights will be open through the Thanksgiving weekend, including Thanksgiving Day.

Texas Renaissance Festival

As the final weekend of the 2017 Texas Renaissance Festival, the fairgrounds will be transformed into a momentous winter wonderland, taking on the theme of ‘Celtic Christmas’. Expect Christmas trees, holiday music, and shops decorated in the lights and symbols of the season. Looking to get started on your holiday shopping list? Find unique gifts at the Shoppes of New Market, which stocks items not of this century. Also, don’t forget to bring your competitive spirit to the holiday costume and pumpkin pie eating contests. Huzzah!

Find even more to do this Thanksgiving weekend with our Calendar of Events.