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Holidays in Houston 2017

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Performing Arts

The Nutcracker

Soulful Sounds of Christmas
Nov. 16 - Dec. 31

Get into the Christmas spirit with this adventure that connects two unlikely families in a story of friendship, giving and love. Infused with original songs, Soulful Sounds of Christmas at The Ensemble Theatre tells the story of Ella Washington, the owner of a family soul food restaurant in Florida whose motto is “when you give to others, it comes back to you.”

A Charlie Brown Christmas
Nov. 21 - Dec. 16

Kids will love this Main Street Theater production at MATCH featuring the beloved Peanuts Gang. In the play, Charlie Brown is sad because Christmas has become too commercialized. Following Lucy’s advice, he decides to direct the Christmas pageant. Allow yourself to be charmed by this holiday classic. Recommended for pre-kindergarten and up.

A Christmas Carol - A Ghost Story of Christmas
Nov. 24 - Dec. 30

A Christmas Carol - A Ghost Story of Christmas returns this year to the Alley Theater 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.

The House Without a Christmas Tree
Nov. 30 - Dec. 17

Houston Grand Opera continues its series of holiday operas with the world premiere of The House Without A Christmas Tree at the HGO Resilience Theater at the George R. Brown Convention Center. Based on the uplifting story by Gail Rock, the opera tells the story of a daughter who struggles to understand her father’s resentment of the holidays and longs to “make her house look happy.”  

Houston Ballet's The Nutcracker
Dec. 3 - 10 and Dec. 30 - Jan. 6

This year, Stanton Welch’s production of The Nutcracker is going on tour in Bayou City. Because Houston’s Ballet home venue, The Wortham Center, is closed due to damage during Hurricane Harvey, the company will present this beloved holiday ballet at The Smart Financial Center in Sugar Land and The Hobby Center For The Performing Arts in Downtown Houston. Don’t miss this magical Christmas journey! 

Very Merry Pops with Megan Hilty
Dec. 1-3

The Houston Symphony welcomes Megan Hilty of NBC’s Smash and Broadway’s Wicked to its annual Christmas Very Merry Pops. Join Megan, the orchestra and chorus for a weekend packed with holiday classics. Enjoy favorites such as “Jingle Bells,” “Santa baby” and “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”

A Carol’s Christmas
Dec. 2-3

Bayou City Performing Arts presents a journey past and present holiday music at MATCH. Kickstart the festive season with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Houston, the Bayou City Women’s Chorus, and three spirited guests in an evening of traditional and new holiday music.

 

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Holiday Festivals

Magical winter lights

Festival of Lights 
Nov. 11 - Jan. 7

This holiday season 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, and life-size animated animal sculptures.

Magical Winter Lights
Nov. 10 - Jan. 2

The 2017 Magical Winter Lights will return to Houston at Gulf Greyhound Park this winter from November 10, 2017 to January 2, 2018. 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.

12th Annual WHAM (Winter Holiday Art Market) 
Nov. 17 - 19

One of Houston's favorite artists' enclaves, Winter Street Studios, 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. Don’t miss the “Ugly Sweater” themed preview party and happy hour on Nov. 17.

Annual Houston Thanksgiving Day Parade
Nov. 23

Thousands of spectators make their way Downtown for Houston's signature H-E-B Holiday Parade, now in its 68th year. Enjoy watching fantastic floats, high-flying hot air balloons, marching bands and costumed characters.

Pop Shop Houston Holiday Festival
Dec. 1 - 3

It's an annual Houston tradition. Head to GreenStreet for Pop Shop’s Houston Holiday Festival and pick up holiday gifts from local and indie makers. The festival features an array of art, products, design items, vintage and antiques in a fun setting. Admission gets you local bites, free DIYs, free beauty bar demos and live music. 

Mayor's Holiday Celebration and Tree Lighting
Dec. 1

Mayor Sylvester Turner will host the 87th 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. 1

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. 1 - 3

Bah, humbug! The 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. 1-2

The 5th Annual Galveston County Fair & Rodeo WinterFest returns on December 1-2, 2017 with a craft market, snow, Santa and mutton bustin action a part of this year’s holiday fun.

Tomball German Christmas Market & Festival
Dec. 8 - 10

Kick off your holiday season with this Texan German celebration in the old downtown streets of Tomball, Texas. Enjoy live musical performances on four stages, food, beer and wine, kids games, street performers and more. Admission, parking and shuttle re completely free. You don't have to be German to enjoy this festival!

Holiday Tree Lighting and Kwanzaa Celebration
Dec. 10

Houston City Council Member Dwight Boykins hosts the 4th Annual Holiday Tree Lighting & Kwanzaa Celebration on Almeda. Festivities begin at 4 p.m. with live music, fireworks, a one-of-a-kind fashion show and an interactive Kwanzaa Village.

Campfire Christmas 
Dec. 9 and Dec. 16

Travel back to Christmases past at George Ranch Historical Park’s Campfire Christmas. Enjoy a multi-era dinner that takes you from the 1930s George Ranch home to an 1860 cowboy campfire, to an 1820s log cabin, to an 1890s Victorian mansion. Listen to music and learn about each era while you enjoy your holiday meal.

Sugar Land Holiday Lights
Nov. 24 - Jan 8

The fourth 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 a number of exciting additions including a carnival outside the ballpark, new theme nights and more. Santa Claus will also be available each night through December 23, along with a variety of food trucks and children’s activities.

Ice Land: Ice Sculptures, A Caribbean Christmas
Nov. 11 - Jan. 7

Moody Gardens takes the holidays to a whole new level of cool with Ice Land. A skilled team of master ice carvers has charted your course through the rainforest. Embark on a breathtaking journey made of two million pounds of ice!

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Holiday Concerts

Holly Jolly Jingle
Nov. 30

Enjoy visits with Santa, Frosty and other holiday characters, make arts and crafts, play in the snow, listen to carolers sing and much more at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion.

Handel's Messiah
Dec. 14 - 17

Celebrate Christmas with this true holiday tradition. Conductor Paul Agnew leads the Houston Symphony Chorus, soloists and orchestra in Houston’s performances of this Baroque masterpiece. From “Comfort ye, my people” to the final “Amen” chorus, Messiah will leave you singing “Hallelujah” for Handel!

Mother and Child at The Christmas Villa
Dec. 8-10

A tradition for many Houstonians, Christmas at the Villa is a joyful celebration bringing together fresh carols and seasonal favorites offered by the Chamber Choir in the Chapel of Villa de matel. Returning to join the Chamber Choir for its matinee performances is The Treble Choir of Houston under the direction of Marianna Parnas-Simpson. 

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Exhibitions/Events

Santa with kids at the children's museum

Thanksgiving With Santa
Nov. 22

Kick off the holiday season with the Children’s Museum of Houston’s 12th annual Thanksgiving with Santa. Bring your camera and snap a picture with Santa. You can also meet Santa’s elves and enjoy other fun activities as part of the museum’s Thanksgiving tradition.

2017 TXU Energy Baker Ripley Turkey Trot 
Nov. 23

Move your feet before you eat! Houston’s Turkey Trot, a competitive run or fun run/walk in the Galleria area, benefits Baker Ripley. More than 15,000 people will be at the starting line on Thanksgiving morning to run, walk or just have a good time for a good cause. Choose from the 10K, 5K or Kids Run (less than 1K) races. 

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!  

Christmas Village at Bayou Bend
Dec. 15 - Jan. 6

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. Get in the holiday spirit with carolers, a faux-snowball play area, and a handcrafted model train.

Holiday Brews on the Bayou
Dec. 9

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. This year, all proceeds from this event will go to toward helping Bayou Bend recover from Hurricane Harvey.

Old Town Spring: Home for the Holidays
Nov. 11 - Dec. 23

The 37th Annual Home for the Holidays returns to historic Old Town Spring to get you into the spirit of the season. 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

Discovery Green Ice Skating

Ice at Discovery Green
Nov. 18 - Jan. 21

Ice skating returns and it’s bigger than ever! Skate among the downtown skyline at Discovery Green's now 7,716-square-feet outdoor ice skating rink. Park-goers will enjoy a variety of family-friendly programming throughout the holidays, including concerts, movies and more.

Frostival!
Nov. 18

The winter season kicks off with Frostival, a fun-filled night celebrating the opening of the Ice at Discovery Green and the debut of the park’s winter art installation, Hello, Trees: A Walking Serenade. Enjoy a live musical performance by Peterson Brothers Band, live ICE battles with Reverend Butter, interactive ice sculptures, and more! 

Galveston Holiday Lighting Celebration
Nov. 24

The Holiday Lighting Celebration kicks off with the arrival of Santa Claus by horse-drawn carriage, performances by the Galveston Ballet, 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. 1 - 23

The Alvin Christmas 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
Saturdays from Dec. 2 - 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. Don’t miss tree house storytime with Santa and cattle demonstrations.

9th Annual Gingerbread Build-Off 
Dec. 9

Don’t miss this fun holiday competition! More than 30 teams will create gingerbread buildings and structures within 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. 2

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.

Santa Hustle
Dec. 17

Runners have a "jolly good time" in Galveston at 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. 

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Festive Hotels

Hilton Gingerbread House

Holidays at the Houstonian
Nov. 27  – Dec. 16

Hundreds of thousands of lights sparkle throughout The Houstonian Hotel, 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
Nov. 30 - Dec. 28

The Hilton Americas-Houston pastry team has created a monumental chocolate display in its lobby. The hotel also hosts 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, which include a ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas marionette show, ornament and cookie decorating, face painting, balloon animal artist, and Ice Princess story time.

Sunday Brunch with Santa at Hotel Galvez & Spa
Sundays, Dec. 3-23

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. Make sure you take a look at the hotel's impressive gingerbread display. Sunday Brunch is served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Reservations are strongly recommended.



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

 

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