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Holidays in Houston 2016

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Performing Arts

A Christmas Carol - A Ghost Story of Christmas
Nov. 20 - Dec. 28 
A Christmas Carol - A Ghost Story of Christmas returns this year with a re-telling of Charles Dickens' classic story that follows Ebenezer Scrooge's journey with the three ghostly spirits that visit him on Christmas Eve.

It's a Wonderful Life
Dec. 3 - 17
HGO’s holiday opera series continues with the world premiere of Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’s It’s a Wonderful Life. Made famous by the 1946 Frank Capra movie, this timeless tale follows a troubled banker whose guardian angel helps us realize the lasting impact our lives can have on those around us.

The Honky Tonk Angels Holiday Spectacular
Nov. 9 - Dec. 31
The Honky Tonk Angels return in this holiday sequel to the heavenly hit musical! The Angels have been invited to perform a Christmas-time reunion concert in Nashville. Filled with both classic and comic yuletide favorites including Silent Night, Blue Christmas, Santa Claus is Coming to Town and Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer.

The First Noel
Nov. 12 - Dec. 30
Audiences will have to bundle up as they enter this winter wonderland where beloved Christmas carols emerge as dynamic new songs, destined to become holiday favorites for a new generation. The First Noel is a heartwarming musical that follows three generations of a family affected by the tragic loss of a loved one, when an unexpected visit reveals some long-absent Christmas joy. 

Houston Ballet's The Nutcracker
Nov. 25 - Dec. 27
Set in nineteenth-century Germany, the ballet opens at a charming Christmas party at which the mysterious Dr. Drosselmeyer gives his little niece Clara a magical toy that takes her on an unforgettable journey. From the Christmas tree that grows to a towering forty feet in the first act to the cooks who fly magically through the air in the second act, The Nutcracker is sure to enchant audiences of all ages.

Panto Wonderful Wizard
Nov. 30 - Dec. 31
Oz meets Pantoland in Stages’ latest irrepressible family adventure. Join Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion as they skip down the Yellow Brick Road in search of the way home. Stages continues its fresh holiday tradition for families with this playful mix of zany characters, toe-tapping pop songs, audience participation and spectacular fun for grownups and kids alike!

The Santaland Diaries
Dec. 1 - 31
Company Artist Todd Waite reprises his role as "Crumpet the Elf" in the outlandish, and true, chronicles of NPR humorist and best-selling author David Sedaris' experience as a worker in Macy's SantaLand display. This compact, one-character comedy is a hilarious cult classic, featuring comic encounters during the height of the holiday crunch.

Very Merry Pops
Dec. 2-4
Back again in 2016 is this much loved holiday tradition, with favorites like "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas," "Deck the Halls" and "Jingle Bell Rock," plus the return of a special piece, "Glad Tidings". Guest narrators include spiritual leaders from throughout the Houston community.

The Christmas Revels: A Welsh Celebration of the Winter Solstice
Dec. 16 - 19
Revels Houston presents "A Welsh Celebration of the Winter Solstice," December 16-19, 2016 at the MATCH Center in Midtown Houston. This newest Christmas Revels production in the repertoire, set in the Celtic land of Wales about 100 years ago, will showcase the strong tradition of choral singing in Wales with stunningly beautiful music for voices.


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Holiday Festivals

Houston Ballet Nutcracker Market
Nov. 12 - 15
This year's market, will feature more than 300 national and international merchants carefully selected for their unique offerings selling gifts for the entire family-home décor, gourmet food, garden, clothing, novelties, accessories and more. All proceeds from the market benefit the Houston Ballet Foundation.

Magical winter lights

Festival of Lights 
Nov. 12 - Jan. 8
Moody Gardens hosts the Gulf Coast's largest holiday lighting event features a 100-foot slide, ice skating, and a mile-long trail of more than a million lights and 100 sound-enhanced animated displays sparkling over the beautiful Galveston Bay. 

Zoo Lights
Nov. 18 - Jan. 14
The Houston Zoo transforms into a winter wonderland, filled with brilliant displays of colorful lights and festive holiday music. Sip hot chocolate as you stroll through the Zoo and take in all the awe-inspiring sights, including thousands of twinkling lights adorning the magnificent live oak trees, whimsical colorful projections over 15 feet tall, and life-size animated animal sculptures.

Magical Winter Lights
Nov. 18 - Jan. 8
The 2016 Magical Winter Lights will return to Houston at Gulf Greyhound Park this winter from November 18, 2016 to January 8, 2017. The 52-day festival is the largest holiday light festival in Houston, and the largest lantern festival of its kind to ever take place in the U.S.

11th Annual WHAM (Winter Holiday Art Market) 
Nov. 18 - 20
One of Houston's favorite artists' enclaves opens up for a weekend of great shopping. The event will feature items made by more than 60 local artists including jewelry, sculpture, photography, paintings, clothing and more.

Winterfest at Typhoon Texas
Nov. 25 - Dec. 31
Typhoon Texas lights up for the holidays! Festival admission includes: The Miracle of Christmas 4D Show, WinterFest Express Train Ride, Reindeer Run Big Slide, Petting Zoo, Pony Rides, Santa’s Workshop, Hay Ride, and other attractions within the park. 

Annual Houston Thanksgiving Day Parade w/ Simone Biles and Simone Manuel
Nov. 26
Thousands of spectators make their way Downtown for Houston's signature H-E-B Holiday Parade with fantastic floats, high-flying hot air balloons, marching bands and costumed characters.

Uptown Holiday Lighting
Nov. 27
This fun-filled family event will ring-in the holidays with more than a half-million twinkling lights on 80 brilliantly-lit holiday trees; festive music; holiday characters including clowns, larger than life Santa's reindeer; a special appearance from Santa and a fireworks extravaganza. 

Pop Shop Houston Holiday Festival
Nov. 25 - 27
It's an annual tradition. Shop from local and indie makers for the holidays. Pop Shop Houston Holiday Festival features an array of art, products, design items, vintage and antiques in a fun setting.

Mayor's Holiday Celebration
Dec. 2
Mayor Sylvester Turner will host his third Holiday Celebration at City Hall's Hermann Square. The annual event will include the Mayor's Official Tree Lighting Ceremony, music, a fireworks extravaganza and more. This popular event is free and open to the public.

Holiday on 19th Street
Dec. 3
The 19th Street Merchants proudly invite you to this year's Holiday on 19th. Shop, sip, and stroll with family and friends to enjoy the merriment of the season with music, food and more.

Dickens on the Strand
Dec. 2 - 4
Bah, humbug! The 43rd Annual Dickens on The Strand is a holiday festival, where bobbies, Beefeaters and the Queen herself will be on hand to recreate the Victorian London of Charles Dickens. Characters from Dickens novels walk the street. Food and entertainment fill the area with sights and smells that take you back to another era.

Galveston County Winterfest
Dec. 2-3
The 4th Annual Galveston County Fair & Rodeo WinterFest will return December 2-3, 2016 with snow, Santa and mutton bustin action a part of this year’s holiday fun.

Tomball German Christmas Market & Festival
Dec. 9 - 11
German Christmas Market & Festival Weihnachtsmarkt Texas Style - Free Admission, Parking, and Shuttle Herzlich Willkommen! It's a Texas German celebration on the old downtown streets of Tomball, Texas. You don't have to be German to enjoy this festival!

Holiday Tree Lighting and Kwanzaa Celebration
Dec. 10
Saturday, December 10th, Council Member Dwight Boykins host the 3nd Annual Holiday Tree Lighting & Kwanzaa Celebration on Almeda. Festivities will begin at 4 p.m. with live music, a one-of-a-kind fashion show and an interactive Kwanzaa Village.

Heritage Society's Annual Candlelight Tour
Dec. 10 - 11
Step back in time and tour eight of Houston's oldest historic homes, trimmed to perfection in traditional 19th century décor. Children may also visit with Santa, enjoy a holiday story reading from historic characters and make crafts at Santa's Workshop.

Campfire Christmas 
Dec. 9 - 10, 16- 17
Enjoy a progressive Christmas dinner, music, hay ride, exclusive evening tours of the 1890s Davis Victorian Mansion and 1930s George Ranch Home and finish up with dessert around the campfire with the George Ranch cowboys.

Sugar Land Holiday Lights
Nov. 25 - Jan 8
The third annual Sugar Land Holiday lights returns to Constellation Field. The showcase of lights will feature over 100 walkthrough displays and 2.5 million lights throughout the park. This year will also feature Texas' largest inflatable snow globe and Santa Claus each night through December 23.

Ice Land: Ice Sculptures, A Caribbean Christmas
Nov. 12 - Jan. 8
Moody Gardens takes the holidays to a whole new level of cool! A skilled team of master ice carvers has charted your course for the ultimate Caribbean Christmas! Embark on a breathtaking undersea journey made of two million pounds of ice!

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Holiday Concerts

Holly Jolly Jingle
Dec. 3
Frolic in our Winter Wonderland, complete with snow, with performances of holiday classics and popular carols. The plazas are all decked out for holiday fun. Guests can visit with Santa, Frosty and other holiday characters, make arts and crafts, play in the snow, listen to carolers sing and much more. All aboard for a ride on the Candy Cane Express for a merry good time.

Handel's Messiah
Dec. 16 - 18
Celebrate Christmas with Houston’s premier performances of Handel’s Messiah. This timeless classic is brought to life through brilliant Baroque arias and rousing choruses. From “Ev’ry Valley” to the famed “Hallelujah” chorus, Handel’s Messiah is a true Houston Symphony holiday tradition.

ROCO Yuletide: Annual Christmas Concert and Coffee​
Dec. 5
ROCO's traditional holiday celebration at Bayou Bend features The ROCO Brass Quintet.

It's a Wonderful Life (Symphony/Film)
Dec. 9
Watch It’s a Wonderful Life with music performed by our live orchestra. Your holiday just got even more special with Frank Capra’s great American Christmas classic.

Christmas at the Villa
Dec. 13 - 14
A tradition for many Houstonians, Christmas at the Villa is a joyful celebration bringing together fresh carols and seasonal favorites. Returning to join the Chamber Choir for its matinee performances is The Treble Choir of Houston under the direction of Marianna Parnas-Simpson, fresh from their successful Carnegie Hall debut.

Ars Lyrica New Year's Eve - Bachanalia
Dec. 31
A festive program rings in the New Year with cantatas J. S. Bach wrote specifically for this holiday plus other celebratory works. This special evening at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts begins with a decadent pre-concert dinner and continues at 9:00 pm in Zilkha Hall with Bachanalia. 

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Annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Service at Rothko Chapel
Nov. 17
This annual service brings together leaders and members of many faiths to offer prayers of thanksgiving. All are welcome. A reception on the plaza follows the program.

2016 TXU Energy Turkey Trot 
Nov. 24
Move your feet before you eat! This competitive run or fun run/walk benefiting Sheltering Arms Senior Services. There will be a 10K, 5K and a Kids Run (>1 K) on Thanksgiving Day. New this year - Go the extra mile and fundraise for Neighborhood Centers and Sheltering Arms. 

Heights Holiday Home Tour
Dec. 2 - 3
Deck the Heights! The Houston Heights Association Holiday Home Tour will include Friday and Saturday tours of five unique Houston Heights homes along with docents who will comment on the rich historical and architectural significance and unique holiday decor of each home.

Phoenicia Specialty Foods’ Yummy Wonderland
Dec. 3
Celebrate global customs and cuisines under one festive roof at Phoenicia Specialty Foods, Saturday, December 3rd, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at YUMMY! Wonderland. Bring the family to Phoenicia’s downtown location and enjoy a day full of food, crafts, live musical performances and shopping. 

Santa with kids at the children's museum

Meet Santa's Reindeer!
Nov. 26 and Dec. 17
One of Santa’s reindeer has taken a wild turn to the Children’s Museum of Houston before his big journey around the world! Come hear the sleigh bells jingle-ing when the Children’s Museum of Houston hosts a live reindeer.

Milk and Cookies with Santa
Dec. 24
Join the holiday countdown at the Children’s Museum of Houston with a cookie jar full of fun and events with Santa Claus before he embarks on his annual journey around the world!  Change your name from “naughty” to “nice” before it’s too late and have some Milk and Cookies with Santa!  

Cum Yah Gullah
Nov. 26
Aunt Pearlie Sue and the Gullah Kinfolk will put on a one-of-a-kind show at the Children’s Museum of Houston.   Filled with stories and songs this special event will showcase the under-told story of the Gullah people and their culture with the debut of the Cum Yah Gullahexhibit. 

Christmas Village at Bayou Bend
Dec. 10 - Jan. 1
Just in time for the holidays, Santa and his reindeer visit Bayou Bend for 12 evenings of festive fun this December. During “Christmas Village at Bayou Bend,” Ima Hogg’s former home is decked out with merry decorations, a trail of sparkling lights, animated projections, and performances. At the center of the “Christmas Village” will be an elaborate Spiegeltent—a Belgian “tent of mirrors” comprising more than 1,200 separate pieces. 

Holiday Brews on the Bayou
Nov. 19
Add some hops to your holiday and enjoy seasonal beer tastings from 14 craft breweries at Holiday Brews on the Bayou. The festive event takes place inside Bayou Bend’s elaborate Spiegeltent from Belgium, the perfect setting for afternoon brews.

Old Town Spring: Home for the Holidays
Nov. 12 - Dec. 24
The 36th Annual Home for the Holidays returns to historic Old Town Spring every weekend from November 12, 2016 to Christmas. The hometown holiday festival features a spectacular display of twinkling holiday lights, entertainment, family-friendly activities and photos with Santa every weekend! 

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Additional Family Activities

Ice at Discovery Green
Nov. 22 - Feb. 12
Ice skating returns and its bigger than ever! Skate among the downtown skyline at Discovery Green's now 7,716-sq. ft. outdoor rink in the heart of Texas. Park-goers will enjoy a variety of family-friendly programming throughout the holidays, including concerts, movies and more.

Nov. 22
The winter season kicks off with Frostival, a fun-filled night celebrating the opening of The ICE at Discovery Green as well as the debut of the winter art installations, Firmament and Enchanted Promenade! Enjoy a live musical performance by Mary Sarah of “The Voice," live ICE battles with Reverend Butter, a dance performance by Susie Talbot and Ryan O'Donnell, skating performance by Avril Phillips, Houston Art Cars, interactive ice sculptures, tunes from DJ Caps and more! 

Galveston Holiday Lighting Celebration
Nov. 25
The Holiday Lighting Celebration kicks off with the arrival of Santa Claus by horse-drawn carriage, performances from The Nutcracker, a hand bell choir, and Old-Fashioned Christmas Carolers, followed by the lighting of Hotel Galvez & Spa Hotel's iconic 35-foot Christmas tree on the front lawn.

Alvin Christmas Train
Dec.2 - 23
The train ride is a unique experience through over 300,000 lights and hundreds of Christmas decorations. Colorful gingerbread villages, penguin snow lands and life size storybook illustrations are all some of the scenes you and your family will experience along the way.

Christmas in the Park at George Ranch
Dec. 3 - 23
Ever wondered how the first settlers in Texas celebrated Christmas? Ever wanted to take a sneak peek into a Victorian home decorated in full Christmas regalia? Now is your chance! Through December, George Ranch Historical Park will explore special holiday traditions that evolved over a 100 years.

8th Annual Gingerbread Build-Off 
Dec. 10
Check out some holiday competition! More than 30 teams will create gingerbread buildings and structures with in a few hours to be judged by an independent panel of food, design, art, and architecture experts in downtown Houston's Market Square Park.

Brunch with Santa at Brennan's
Dec. 3
Join Brennan’s of Houston for its annual Brunch with Santa, featuring a two-course meal from Executive Chef Danny Trace, plus a dessert buffet. Families will have the opportunity to take a family photo with Santa, and will receive a keepsake ornament and magnetic picture frame. 

#ElfieSelfies with Santa
Dec. 3, 11, 17, 24
Santa Claus is coming to the Children’s Museum of Houston just before he embarks on his big annual journey around the world. Get your camera ready, bring your wish list, make and wear an elf hats, and snap an #ElfieSelfie with jolly, old Saint Nick!

Santa Hustle
Dec. 18
Runners have a "jolly good time" in Galveston for the annual Santa Hustle! At this event, half marathon and 5K runners compete in Santa suits and beards in a race that takes them along the island's gorgeous Gulf waters and historic downtown streets. Along the route, participants can stop at cookie and candy stations while enjoying holiday music.

Rockin' New Year's Noon
Dec. 31
The Children’s Museum of Houston’s Rockin’ New Year’s Noon is the city’s longest-running New Year’s Eve celebration just for kids. The end-of-year bash rings in the New Year at the stroke of noon with a parade and shimmering ball drop, just like they do in Times Square! 

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Festive Hotels

Holidays at the Houstonian
(all season long)
Hundreds of thousands of lights sparkle throughout the property, as dozens of Christmas trees are decorated with ornaments, poinsettias, ribbon and lighted garlands. Monday through Saturday from 6 to 7 p.m. in the lobby, holiday entertainment is provided by local organizations, from high school and church choirs to local pianists, bell ringers and instrumentalists. Cookies and hot chocolate are available for everyone. The pastry team creates several Gingerbread Houses to adorn the mantle in the lobby, each six feel tall and made of 325 pounds of a variety of colorful candies. A train continuously circles through the houses on the mantle.

Hilton Americas for the Holidays
(November 30 - December 28)
The Hilton Americas-Houston pastry team has created a monumental life-size gingerbread house in the hotel's main Lobby rotunda. Handcrafted from 500 pounds of gingerbread, 350 pounds of chocolate and 325 pounds of sugar, the structure towers over any holiday displays they’ve had in the past. Upon completion, an estimated 750 man hours will have been needed to create the display. 

New this year, the hotel will host a Breakfast with Santa in the lobby level 1600 Bar+Grille restaurant, Saturday and Sunday mornings starting the weekend after Thanksgiving. Children and adults alike will be able to enjoy breakfast with the jolly old elf himself!

Holidays at the St. Regis
(all season long)
Warm up this holiday with  Afternoon Tea at The St. Regis Houston  where tea service is a time-honored tradition. Experience legendary St. Regis Butler Service and delight in a traditional menu of petits fours, tea sandwiches, scones and Devonshire cream. For the little ones, there's the  Teddy Bear Tea .

Holidays at Hotel Granduca Houston
(all season long)
Enjoy Executive Chef Enrico Glaudo's inspired selection of savory delights and classic sweets with two bespoke menu offerings for both children and adults to enjoy at ​Hotel Granduca Houston's Holiday Nutcracker Tea. The adult, "Mr. and Mrs. Stahlbaum's Party Tea Menu" will include "Drosslemeyer's Delights" such as Lobster Salad with Caviar in Phyllo Dough, Smoked Salmon Tartar Puffs, and Beef Carpaccio Tartlets and more! A donation to Houston Ballet's new Stanton Welch production of The Nutcracker will be made at $10 for every $59 purchase and $7 for every $35 purchase. 

Hotel Granduca also offers fabulous holiday meals including Christmas Eve dinner, Christmas Day brunch, New Year's Eve dinner, and New Year's Day brunch.

Sunday Brunch with Santa at Hotel Galvez & Spa
(First four Sunday's in December)
Santa Claus will make a special appearance at Hotel Galvez during its popular  Sunday Brunch. Children are invited to visit with Santa to share their wish list and families will enjoy dining on this sumptuous holiday brunch. Take time to see the hotel's gingerbread display created by Executive Chef Antonio Galan and his team. Sunday Brunch is served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and was named one of the Best Brunches in Texas by Southern Living Magazine and voted as one of the Top 100 Brunches in the U.S. by Open Table Users. Reservations are strongly recommended. Call 409-765-7721 or make reservations via Open Table.

Note: Some organizations have not yet finalized their holiday plans. Please check back on this page for updates.


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