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Holiday Events

What to do this season

Kelly Engler
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Zoo Lights

LIGHT IT UP Join the rest of Houston getting into the holiday spirit with the Zoo Lights display at the Houston Zoo. (Photo: Stephanie Adams/Houston Zoo)

Spread holiday cheer by rounding up your friends and loved ones for some once-a-year fun in Houston and Galveston.

Houston Ballet’s The Nutcracker

Wortham Theater Center, downtown

Now-Dec. 27

Journey with Clara and her Nutcracker through the Land of Sweets with Tchaikovsky’s ballet. The Houston Ballet presents this holiday classic with its iconic, stunning set.

Admission: $19 and up

The Alley Theatre’s A Christmas Carol

The Alley Theatre, downtown

Now-Dec. 29

Follow Ebenezer Scrooge’s journey of redemption as he learns about the spirit of the holiday season in the Alley’s annual performance of this classic tale.

Admission: $30-60

2016 Magical Winter Lights

Gulf Greyhound Park, La Marque

Now-Jan. 8. 5-10 p.m. Mon.-Thurs.; 3-11 p.m. Fri.-Sun.

The holiday festival includes large lanterns shaped like landmarks and landscapes from around the world, international performances, food, carnival rides and holiday shopping.

Admission: $13-22; children under 4: free

Zoo Lights

Houston Zoo, Hermann Park

Now-Jan. 16, 6-10 p.m. Mon.-Thurs.; 6-11 p.m. Fri.-Sun.; Closed Dec. 25-26

The Houston Zoo is transformed into a wonderland of colorful lights, holiday music and animal sculptures.

Admission: $10-20; 1 and under: free.

The ICE at Discovery Green

Discovery Green, downtown

Now-Feb. 8

Discovery Green will host a 7,716-square-foot ice-skating rink, holiday music and hot beverages throughout the season.

Admission: $14 includes skate rental

Holiday in the Park

Bellaire Town Square

Dec. 1, 6-8:30 p.m.

Santa, holiday music, the official tree lighting, rides aboard a kiddie train, holiday crafts, pony rides, moon bounces and a petting zoo. Highlight: 40,000 pounds of snow, with two snow slides.

Admission: Free

The Annual Mayor’s Holiday Celebration

Hermann Square at City Hall, downtown

Dec. 2, 6-8 p.m.

Ring in the holiday season with the Mayor’s Holiday Celebration and Tree Lighting presented by Reliant. Holiday music, Santa, fireworks, a lit holiday tree and more.

Admission: Free

Very Merry Pops

Jones Hall, downtown

Dec. 2-4

Listen to new arrangements of classic holiday tunes, including Jingle Bell Rock and Carol of the Bells, played by the Houston Symphony and conducted by Steven Reineke.

Admission: $25-138

Christmas Concert and Coffee

Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens, 6003 Memorial Dr.

Dec. 5, 10 a.m.

Enjoy bites and beverages while you listen to the ROCO Brass Quintet perform holiday favorites in the Spiegeltent, “tent of mirrors.” Then, take part in an exclusive tour with portrayals of Ima Hogg and Santa.

Admission: $55

28th Annual West U Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony

West U Community Building, 6104 Auden St.

Dec. 5, 5:30 p.m.

Get in the holiday spirit with the West U Tree Lighting Ceremony. Holiday activities and photos with Santa.

Admission: Free

It’s A Wonderful Life with the Houston Symphony

Jones Hall, downtown

Dec. 9, 7:30 p.m.

Frank Capra’s holiday classic, It’s A Wonderful Life, just got even more wonderful. The film will be played with live accompaniment from the Houston Symphony.

Admission: $22-115

6th Annual Rudolph Fun Run

CityCentre Houston, 800 Town and Country Blvd.

Dec. 10, 7:40 a.m.

Benefitting the Firefighters Helping Firefighters organization, the Rudolph Fun Run includes the Rudolph 5k Fun Run, a Dasher 10k and a Cupid 1k. Costume contest, pictures with Santa and holiday decorations.

Admission: Prices vary.

The Heritage Society’s Annual Candlelight Tour

The Heritage Society at Sam Houston Park, downtown

Dec. 11, 4-8 p.m.

Take in Houston’s history through 19th-century houses and notable characters. Learn about Houston’s early residents and customs with a cup of cocoa in hand. Children’s activities in Santa’s Workshop, plus performances.

Admission: $5-10; children 5 and under: free

2016 Gingerbread Build Off

Hermann Square, downtown

Dec. 12-16, 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Architects will build gingerbread houses. More than 3,000 are expected to cheer on the teams and view the edible masterpieces. Includes a kids’ construction zone and Santa appearance.

Admission: Free; team registration to participate: $125

Houston’s 12k of Christmas

The Wortham Center, downtown

Dec. 17, 7-11 a.m.

Run with Santa and his elves before they venture back to the North Pole. Finishers will receive a medal and a T-shirt. Costume contest, food, drinks, music and more.

Admission: Prices vary.

Dickens on the Strand

BACK IN TIME Dress up in Victorian clothes for half-price admission to Dickens on the Strand in Galveston Dec. 4-6. (Photo: Galveston Historical Foundation/Illumine Photographic Services)

Down in Galveston

15th Annual Festival of Lights

Moody Gardens, 1 Hope Blvd.

Now-Jan. 8, 6-10 p.m.

More than 1 million lights within 100 sound-enhanced animated light displays, live entertainment, ice skating, the Arctic Ice Slide and photos with Santa.

Admission: $11 (includes ice skating)

Ice Land: Ice Sculptures

Moody Gardens, 1 Hope Blvd.

Now-Jan. 9, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Using 2 million pounds of ice, ice carvers have designed the ultimate Caribbean Christmas, including dolphins, sharks, tropical fish and more. The new Shivers Ice Bar will be serving holiday drinks.

Admission: $11-27

Island ETC’s Winter Wonderettes

Island ETC, 2317 Mechanic St.

Dec. 1-3 and 8-10, 8 p.m.

Enjoy this 1960s holiday musical at Galveston’s professional repertory theater company. The musical features a holiday party, a missing Santa and four lovable, talented women determined to save the day.


Dickens on the Strand

2300 Strand

Dec. 2-4. Times vary.

Travel back to 19th-century Victorian London in this annual holiday street festival. Parades, entertainment, strolling carolers, musicians, bagpipers, costumed vendors, crafts, gift items.

Admission: $7-15. Attendees in Victorian costume are admitted for half-price. Everyone free Friday night.

Santa Train

Galveston Railroad Museum, The Strand

Dec. 10, 10 a.m.-noon

All aboard! Santa is coming to the Galveston Railroad Museum. Enjoy holiday lights and decorations, and learn about railroads.

Admission: $5-10

Cirque Joyeux Noel Dinner and Show

Moody Gardens Convention Center, 7 Hope Blvd.

Dec. 16-25, 6:30 p.m.

Sit down to enjoy Moody Gardens executive chef Felipe Gonzalez’s cuisine and then revel in a one-hour holiday circus spectacular. Tickets include admission to the Moody Gardens Festival of Lights.

Admission: $15-95

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