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Holidays in Houston 2018

2018 Holiday Roundup
Performing Arts Button Holiday Festivals Button Holiday Concerts Button
Museum Exhibitions Festive Hotels Additional Family Fun Button


Performing Arts

The Nutcracker

Christmas is Comin’ Uptown
Nov. 15 - Dec. 30

Who doesn’t love a classic with a twist! The traditional story of “A Christmas Carol” gets a jazzy and colorful makeover! In this version, Scrooge is a Harlem slumlord who is just about to foreclose on a tenement house and a church when a surprise visit from an “old friend” and some groovy ghosts make him reconsider.

A Christmas Carol – A Ghost Story of Christmas
Nov. 16 – Dec. 30

Houston’s seasonal favorite, A Christmas Carol - A Ghost Story of Christmas returns with a re-telling of Charles Dickens’ classic story, which follows Ebenezer Scrooge’s journey with the three ghostly spirits who visit him on Christmas Eve. A Christmas Carol instills a powerful message about redemption and the spirit of the holiday season.

Houston Ballet's The Nutcracker
Nov. 23 – Dec. 29

The Houston Ballet officially returns to its home at the Wortham Theater with this joyous production of The Nutcracker by Stanton Welch AM. The holiday season is not complete without the beloved characters from this timeless classic set to Tchaikovsky’s splendid score. Gather your family and friends and join Clara in holiday revelry as she journeys from her home on Christmas Eve, through a magical Christmas tree, and into the whimsical Kingdom of Sweets, accompanied by her Nutcracker Prince.

Very Merry Pops
Dec. 7-8

Sleigh bells ring and jingle bells chime as the Houston Symphony’s beloved holiday spectacular returns! Gather with family and friends in a cozy winter wonderland for a sparkling celebration filled to the brim with traditional carols, festive favorites and heartwarming cheer. The fabulous Ali Ewoldt, who currently stars as Christine in Broadway’s The Phantom of the Opera, joins in the fun, performing unforgettable renditions of your favorite holiday classics.

Merry & Bright
Dec. 8

Join the Houston Pride Band to celebrate what makes the holiday season our favorite time of the year. In a world that can sometimes get you down, we want to help remind you of how the love of family, friends, and fans can help keep your holiday season Merry and Bright!

A Charlie Brown Christmas Live On Stage
Dec. 23

This brand-new touring production of A Charlie Brown Christmas Live on Stage by Charles M. Schulz features everyone’s favorite Peanuts gang – Linus, Lucy, Snoopy, Sally, and more, all led by the lovable Charlie Brown – as they discover the true meaning of Christmas.  When Charlie Brown becomes discouraged by the materialism of the season, Lucy convinces him to direct the neighborhood Christmas play. In typical Charlie Brown fashion, things go awry and it’s up to Linus to save the day and remind everyone of the real message of the holiday.


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Holiday Festivals

Magical winter lights

2018 Winter Holiday Art Market Powered by Fresh Arts
Nov. 16 – Nov. 18

Fresh Arts will host their 13th Annual WHAM on Friday, Nov. 16 through Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018, at Winter Street Studios, (2101 Winter St.), bringing together Houston creatives for a weekend art sale that offers a unique mix of fine art and handmade crafts. On Friday, November 16, WHAM will kick-off the holidays with an “Ugly Sweater” themed Preview Party and Happy Hour from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Guests can purchase tickets to access early shopping, an open bar, light bites and festive live entertainment. WHAM will be free and open to the public on Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 17 and 18, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., respectively. Shoppers can browse handcrafted items from a variety of mediums including paintings, sculpture, photography, jewelry, clothing, soaps and more from emerging and established independent artists.

Magical Winter Lights
Nov. 17 - Jan. 6

The 2018 Magical Winter Lights will return to Houston for its fourth year to Gulf Greyhound Park this winter from November 16, 2018 to January 6, 2019 including Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day. The 52-day festival is one of the largest holiday lighting events in Houston, and the largest lantern festival of its kind in the U.S. Magical Winter Lights will showcase more impressive and creative lantern sets than its previous years. The festival will also include a Holiday Market Square where guests will have a chance to explore the festival food court and shopping areas.

Ice Land and Festival of Lights
Nov. 17 - Jan. 6

This year’s ICE LAND theme takes guests on a journey from the North to South poles. The CAA Ruijing Ice Carving Team will even create a giant ice slide that will take guests on a glacial journey. Guests will encounter polar bears, penguins, humpback whales, snowy owls, walruses, and of course, reindeer – all hand-carved out of two million pounds of ice inside a 28,000 sq. ft. insulated tent structure chilled and maintained at nine degrees. Shiver’s Ice Bar also returns to ICE LAND this year as guests enjoy ultra-cool holiday spirits as they enter this bar made completely of ice creatively transformed into an igloo this year to fit the Pole-to-Pole theme.

Zoo Lights
Nov. 17 - Jan. 13

The Houston Zoo is transformed into a winter wonderland! TXU Energy Presents Zoo Lights celebrates its seventh year as one of Houston’s most well-loved holiday traditions. Sip hot chocolate as you stroll through the beautiful Houston Zoo grounds and take in the sights and sounds of the season – including more than two million lights! Fifteen miles of earth-friendly LED lighting illuminate our ancient oak trees and decorate the paths to light your way.

Dickens on the Strand
Nov. 30 – Dec. 2

Galveston Island’s most famous holiday event recreates the Victorian London of Charles Dickens for an entire weekend in December. Characters from Dickens novels walk the streets and food and entertainment fill the area with sights and smells that take you back to another era. Dickens on The Strand will take you and your family on an enchanted journey through history as a bustling 19th Century cityscape comes to life. For an entire weekend, hundreds of costumed vendors and performers will provide a look at the pomp and pageantry of the British Empire, at a time when commercial and cultural ties provided a strong connection between London and Texas’ largest and richest city.

69th Annual H-E-B Houston Thanksgiving Day Parade
Nov. 22

Join Mayor Turner on Thanksgiving morning at 9:00 a.m., for the H-E-B Thanksgiving Day Parade. The Parade is located in downtown Houston and is FREE for all. For those who would like to purchase general seating, there is an opportunity to do so on this page that will post November 2018. The Houston Thanksgiving Day Parade remains a 69-year-old holiday tradition showcasing the Houston community and entertaining parade-goers lining the streets on Thanksgiving morning.

Sugar Land Holiday Lights
Nov. 23 – Jan. 1

Celebrate the season in the most magical way at the 5th annual Sugar Land Holiday Lights presented by Imperial Sugar. This sparkling wonderland features more than 2.5 million lights and numerous themed displays at Constellation Field. You can also get some holiday shopping done with a variety of vendors, enjoy great food, and meet Santa! The event is open from 6 pm to 9 pm Sundays through Thursdays, and 6 pm to 10 pm on Fridays and Saturdays. It will be open from 6 pm to 10 pm on Christmas Eve & Day and New Year's Eve & Day. It will be CLOSED on November 26th and December 3rd.

Mayor's Holiday Celebration and Tree Lighting
Nov. 30

Ring in the season with the 99th Annual Mayor's Holiday Celebration and Tree Lighting Presented by Reliant, an NRG Company on Friday, November 30, 2018 in the heart of downtown Houston. The spectacular event is a holiday tradition of music, Santa, fireworks and family fun. A towering Holiday Tree, glowing with energy efficient LED lights, shimmering ornaments and a stunning star topper will light up the streets of downtown Houston this holiday season. The event takes place in Hermann Square at City Hall from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

Galveston County Winterfest
Nov. 30 – Dec. 1

Kick off the holidays with the Galveston County Fair and Rodeo's WinterFest. Tree lighting cermony, craft market, jingle bell fun run, Santa Village, Winter Snow Land, MUTTON BUSTIN' AND much more!

Holiday in the Park – Pop Up Downtown HTX
Dec. 1

Pop Shop America is partnering with Downtown District to bring you a one-of-a-kind holiday shopping experience. Head to Market Square Park Houston 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.

Holiday on 19th Street
Dec. 7

Join us for our annual Holiday celebration! Your Holiday on 19th Street experience will include roaming Christmas carollers, in store festivities, cocktails, live music, REAL SNOW and local shopping! Sponsors: ALICE blue, Vinal Edge Records, Fly High Little Bunny, Big Blue Whale, Jubilee, Venus Hair Houston, Squared Away, The Lift, Bliss on 19th, Manready Mercantile, Dramatika Custom Framing, AG Antiques on West 19th, Harold's Restaurant & Tap Room, My Cabinet Source Jumper Maybach Fine Art Gallery, Emerson Rose, Boomtown Coffee, Casa Ramirez FOLKART Gallery, Eclectic Home, CODA in the Heights, Retropolis, We Olive, Dr. Nataly Perez, Thread, Boomtown Coffee

Tomball German Festival Christmas Market
Dec. 7 - 9

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. You don't have to be German to enjoy this festival!

Holiday Tree Lighting and Kwanzaa Celebration
Dec. 8

Houston City Council Member Dwight Boykins hosts the 5th 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. 8 and Dec. 15

Journey back into time to Christmases past with this one-of-a-kind immersive holiday experience! Start your evening with a merry greeting at the Visitor Center and hot chocolate and coffee to warm your soul. Then, enjoy a classic holiday meal featuring scrumptious recipes from Christmases gone by. After dinner, take a turn on the dance floor to the music of the ever-popular Pat Gavin and the Buckaroo Band. Finally, hop on our time-traveling tram for a journey. This event is recommended for children 8 and up.

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Holiday Concerts


Holly Jolly Jingle
Dec. 5

Caroling, performances by local students and everything you could possibly hope for to help get ready for the Holiday season!

The Wondrous Gift is Given: Christmas at the Villa
Dec. 7 – Dec. 9

An eagerly awaited holiday tradition, our annual Christmas at the Villa concerts feature five stunning performances. Beloved carols and works destined to become classics are offered by the Chamber Choir in the serene beauty of the Chapel of the Villa de Matel. Joining us for the matinee performances is the Treble Choir of Houston at Christ Church Cathedral, directed by Marianna Parnas-Simpson. Our evening performances will feature the highly popular and wildly talented Apollo Chamber Players, a Houston based string quartet.

Handel's Messiah
Dec. 21 - 23

This Christmas, be moved by Handel’s ever-glorious setting of the greatest story ever told. The Houston Symphony, chorus and guest soloists join forces to fill Jones Hall with joyous refrains and exultant arias, including the powerful “Hallelujah” Chorus. 

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Santa with kids at the children's museum

Old Town Spring: Home for the Holidays
Nov. 10 – Dec. 23

Join us for our annual holiday activities, beginning November 10th, 2018. Every weekend we will have activities for the whole family. Free carriage rides, choir entertainments, dance performances, petting zoo and much more. Santa will be waiting for you and take a picture with you for a small fee.

Thanksgiving With Santa / Great Gobbler Thanksgiving Parade
Nov. 21

The turkey is in town and trotting his way to the Children’s Museum of Houston for activities, games and special events!  Design banners and Thanksgiving vests and pennants to wobble alongside our turkey character during our colorful Thanksgiving Parade.  This two-part event will feature an indoor parade where kids will make their own festive banners and vests, followed by a meet-and-greet with Santa and Elves on a Shelf carolers.  Have you been naughty or nice? Bring your holiday wish list and camera.

Houston Turkey Trot 2018
Nov. 22

Houston Turkey Trot is a BakerRipley event held annually to challenge and encourage us to get up, get out, give back, and give thanks on a day devoted to family and togetherness. For nearly three decades, runners of all skill levels have made the Trot a Thanksgiving tradition, raising money and awareness to improve the lives of our neighbors by getting active in our very own communities. When we run together, no challenge is too great. The theme of Houston Turkey Trot 2018 is #HOUareStronger, a celebration of our community's endurance following Hurricane Harvey and our determination to maintain our city as a place of opportunity, driving us all to become stronger, healthier, and happier.

Holiday Brews on the Bayou
Dec. 1

Add some hops to your holiday! Enjoy beer tastings from select breweries at Holiday Brews on the Bayou, on the grounds of beautiful Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens. The tastings take place under a festive tent in the spectacular Diana Garden. The Richard Brown Trio, with vocals by Bob Luna, offers up live jazz and music from the Great American Songbook. Your ticket includes all tastings, plus admission to Bayou Bend’s historic house and 14 acres of gardens.

Milk and Cookies with Santa
Dec. 8

Our family friendly Jingle Tree event, this is your chance to catch Santa and Mrs. Claus during their holiday visit to the museum. Enjoy holiday crafts, the tradition of cookies and milk, but be sure to bring your camera to snap some candids!

Christmas Village at Bayou Bend
Dec. 14 – Jan. 5

Discover an immersive Christmas experience at beautiful Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens. A dazzling bridge brings you into a winter wonderland featuring thousands of lights and activities for all ages throughout the 14-acre estate. Fun, holiday-themed tours of Ima Hogg’s historic mansion feature live actors, theatrical effects, and Christmas decorations. 

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Additional Family Activities

Discovery Green Ice Skating


Ice at Discovery Green
Nov. 16 – Jan. 27

Glide beneath the glittering lights of downtown Houston and embrace the holiday cheer on The ICE powered by Green Mountain Energy!

Galveston Holiday Lighting Celebration
Nov. 23

Hotel Galvez invites guests and the community to celebrate the start of the holidays with the Official City of Galveston Holiday Lighting Celebration. Festivities begin at 6 p.m. and include a special appearance by Santa Claus, live holiday entertainment by local entertainment including the Galveston Ballet and the lighting of the hotel's 35-foot Christmas Tree on the front lawn. During the event, the hotel collects donations for the Salvation Army of Galveston County. The hotel offers a special weekend package as part of the weekend. See special offers at www.HotelGalvez.com.

Alvin Christmas Train
Nov. 30 – Dec. 23

The Christmas Train is a unique holiday experience, unlike anything else in Houston. An old-fashioned train ride though Christmas scenery and over 300,000 lights.

Christmas in the Park at George Ranch
Dec. 1 – 22

Christmas is coming to George Ranch this year in all of its historical glory. Travel through Christmas pasts to explore the customs and decorations from the 1830s to the 1930s. Make sure to stop by the 1860s Ryon Prairie Home for a Christmas treat or visit Santa’s temporary workshop at the 1930s “Bach House.” Special holiday activity classes will be held from 11 a.m – 2 p.m.

Brunch with Santa at Brennan's
Dec. 1

Thinking about taking the kids for a photo with Santa? Brennan's of Houston will host a one-time brunch with Santa! The event will include a 2-course with a dessert bar, photos with Santa and a keepsake ornament for the adults and an interactive ornament for children.

Gingerbread Build-Off
Dec. 8

The Architecture Center Houston (ArCH), the nonprofit arm of the American Institute of Architects Houston chapter, will host the 10th annual Gingerbread Build-Off competition on Saturday, December 8 from 10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. around the reflecting pool at City Hall’s Hermann Square. This free, family-friendly event presents an epic, edible battle among dozens of teams, using entirely consumable building materials, as they compete for the coveted Grand Prix de Show, plus a variety of additional category awards including Best Architectural Icon, Tallest Standing Structure, Best Traditionally (Holiday) Themed, Best Houston-centric Themed, Most Creative Interpretation of Materials, and Public Favorite.

Santa Hustle
Dec. 16

Experience the magic of the Santa Hustle® on Sunday, December 16, 2018. If you are a Christmas lover, enjoy overplayed holiday music, devouring candy and cookies, and joining in on an epic after party then grab your favorite friends and family and register for the 2018 Santa Hustle® Galveston 5K & Half Marathon! The 2018 Santa Hustle® swag is bound to make your jingle tingle even brighter with a Santa Hat, Santa Beard, Finisher Medal, and NEW! Performance Hoodie! Make it an even more magical experience by adding on the Santa Hustle Mrs. Claus Package to your registration, which includes a red tutu, arm warmers, candy cane socks, and two face tattoos. Don't forget about the Kids! Register them for 1-Mile Rudolph Run! 

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Festive Hotels

Hilton Gingerbread House

Holidays at the Houstonian
Nov. 30 – Dec. 17

Hundreds of thousands of lights sparkle throughout The Houstonian Hotel, as dozens of Christmas trees are decorated with ornaments, poinsettias, ribbon and lighted garlands. Select days 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!

Sunday Brunch with Santa at Hotel Galvez & Spa
Nov. 25 – Dec. 25

Sunday Brunch with Santa offers children the opportunity to personally speak with Kris Kringle and share their Christmas wishes as their families enjoy a grand dining experience at one of the best brunches in the State of Texas. The hotel's annual holiday gingerbread display is in place for guests to view while listening to traditional holiday favorites played on the lobby piano. Hotel Galvez always recommends advance reservations. 

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


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