Celebrating the Holiday Season in the Houston Area

Sometimes it can feel like the holidays are only geared toward kids, which can be disheartening for adults who love the season, too. Houston residents, don’t worry —Bayou City offers many holiday activities for adults, all ages, and your inner child. There’s something for everyone, from nostalgic (some might say cheesy) Christmas traditions to eclectic only-in-Houston events. Here are a few activities to check out:

The Ice at Discovery Green – daily November 24 through February 2, Discovery Green Park. 

Join this annual tradition in Downtown Houston. The park’s model boat basin is transformed into a 7,716 square-foot outdoor ice skating rink, the largest of its kind in the Southwest.

Mayor’s Holiday Celebration – Friday, December 4, 6-8 p.m., Hermann Square at City Hall. 

Ring in the holiday season with the 96th Annual Mayor’s Holiday Celebration and Tree Lighting. This holiday tradition includes music, fireworks, and gorgeous holiday displays. The massive tree is always gorgeous, glowing with energy efficient LED lights and shimmering ornaments. If you’re in a giving mood, bring a new, unwrapped toy to the Reliant booth, to help brighten a needy child’s Christmas.

53rd Annual Candlelight Tour – Saturday and Sunday December 12-13, 2015, 5:00-10:00pm, Heritage Society at Sam Houston Park. 

Enjoy warm fires, twinkling lights, and a hot cup of cocoa as you explore Houston’s history through interactive exhibits and tours of the decorated buildings. Shop at the Holiday Art Market. Choirs and musicians will perform throughout the park.

Dickens on the Strand – December 4-6, Galveston Historical Foundation.

Head down to Galveston for this annual Victorian holiday street festival, based on 19th-century London. Features parades, entertainment on six stages, strolling carolers, roving musicians and bagpipers, jugglers, and a host of others. Costumed vendors peddle their Victorian wares and holiday refreshments.

Chanukah Fest 2015 – Sunday, December 6, 2 p.m., Houston City Hall.

The City of Houston co-sponsors this vibrant Chanukah celebration in front of City Hall. Catch live music and entertainment, fireworks, activities for kids and adults alive, traditional foods, and much more. Entry is free, all proceeds benefit local charities including Houston Children’s Charity and Houston Food Bank.

Star Wars Release Pre-Party – Wednesday, December 16, 6 p.m., Houston Flying Saucer. 

Ok, so Star Wars isn’t your typical Christmas fare. But what better way to join the excitement and reconnect with your inner child? Join one of Houston’s favorite gastropubs to celebrate the release of Episode VII. They’ll be tapping special casks of Saint Arnold selections and screening the rare 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special.

2015 Magical Winter Lights – November 20-January 10, Sam Houston Race Park.

This spectacular, unique celebration bases its light designs on Chinese lantern structures, transforming them into “larger-than-life remakes of well-known landmarks and landscapes around the world.” Enjoy cultural performances, carnival attractions, food vendors, and much more. Although new this year, hopefully this festival will become an annual Houston tradition.

Christmas in the Park – December 5-31, George Ranch Historical Park. 

This may be the most uniquely Texas holiday celebration in the area. Celebrate like Texans of the past and explore the traditions and decorations from the 1830s through the 1930s and enjoy wassail, gingerbread, and hayrides.

Tomball German Christmas Market – December 11-13, Old Town Tomboll.

This open-air Christmas market will offer over 175 vendors, street performers, and bands playing on 5 stages. Linger to enjoy German and traditional holiday foods and adult beverages, and explore the Antiques Heritage Center.

14th Annual Festival of Lights – November 14 through January 10, 6-10 p.m., Moody Gardens. 

Enjoy another festive Galveston celebration offering over one million lights, state-of-the-art sound-enhanced animated light, and live entertainment. You can also ice-skate or try out the Arctic Ice Slide. If you’d like to experience what is perhaps the strangest holiday display in the area, go on one of the nights featuring Ice Land: Ice Sculptures, where professional ice carvers from China have created “majestic marvels featuring holiday scenes with the beloved characters from Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob SquarePants.” No, we’re not clear on the connection either, but it promises to be interesting.

Official Santa Crawl Houston 2015 – Saturday, December 19, 3 p.m., Midtown.

Don your full Santa outfit (or wuss out and wear a plush red hat) to hop between the best bars in Houston. With your wristband, enjoy free admission and drink specials throughout the neighborhood. Register at Midtown Drinkery to start the crawl.

Office Holiday Party and Watercooler Crawl – Wednesday, December 9, 6-10 p.m.

Dress up in your favorite retro office attire and head for the House of Blues Foundation Room for snacks and cocktails in a classic “holidays at the workplace” environment. Then join the

Water Cooler Crawl for drinks at several nearby bars, with Santa’s Helpers offering surprises along the way. End the evening by singing away your troubles at Pete’s Dueling Piano Bar. Proceeds will support Friday Harbour in their mission to provide free housing for cancer patients.