Holiday Happenings

'Tis the season

Jordan Magaziner Steinfeld
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Levy Park

FESTIVAL IN THE PARK Levy Park will kick off the holidays with two days of live music, holiday markets, Santa Paws, DIY crafts, food and drinks. (Photo courtesy of Levy Park)

Ring in the holiday season with family-friendly festivals, tree lightings, menorah lightings, festive performances, food and more. Find ideas on what to do over the holidays here. For more, see our events calendar.

Mayor's Holiday Spectacular 
Sat., Nov 30, 5-8 p.m.
Hermann Square at City Hall
900 Bagby St.
Admission: Free and open to the public
Kick off the holiday season with the 100th Annual Reliant Lights Mayor's Holiday Spectacular. Tree lighting, music and Santa. Bring a new, unwrapped toy to the Reliant booth for a child. The toy drive benefits the Salvation Army Greater Houston Area Command.

Holiday in the Plaza 
Sat., Nov. 30, 12-5 p.m.
800 Town & Country Blvd.
Admission: Free and open to the public
Bring new, unwrapped toys for Texas Children's Hospital West Campus in exchange for a complimentary picture with Santa. Decorate a tree ornament and sing along with the Houston Show Choir.

West U Christmas Tree Lighting 
Mon., Dec. 2, 5:30 p.m.
West U Community Building
6104 Auden
Admission: Free and open to the public
The City of West U Place Parks and Recreation Departments hosts the 31st annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. Dance performances, ice sculptor, cookie decorating and Santa Claus.

Movies at Market Square Park: Bad Santa 
Weds., Dec. 4, 7 p.m.
Market Square Park
301 Milam St.
Admission: Free
The Downtown District hosts free film screenings under the stars on the first Wednesday of the month this winter. Get in the holiday spirit and watch a free screening of Bad Santa (rated R). 

Holiday in the Park 
Thurs., Dec. 5, 6-8:30 p.m.
Bellaire Town Square & Loftin Park
7008 S. Rice Ave.
Admission: Free and open to the public
Music performances by local schools, tree lighting, storytelling, a petting zoo, snow slides and photos with Santa.

Handcrafted Holiday Market 
Fri., Dec. 6, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Sun., Dec. 8, 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center
5601 S. Braeswood
Admission: Free and open to the public
More than 20 vendors will offer fine art, mixed media, woodworks, pottery and more at an indoor market.

Midtown Mistletoe Market 
Fri., Dec. 6, 5-10 p.m., Sat., Dec. 7, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Midtown Park
2811 Travis St.
Admission: Free
Contemporary craft makers, food, family-friendly activities, DIY gift stations, live entertainment and more. 

Dickens on the Strand 
Dec. 6-8, times vary
The Strand
2302 Strand, Galveston
Admission: $13; Children 6 and under are free
Travel back in time at this annual holiday street festival based on 19th-century Victorian London. Parades, four stages, Tiny Tim's Play Land, Shopkeepers Skills Villages, costumed vendors, holiday food and drink, and roaming characters.

9th Annual Rudolph Run 
Sat., Dec. 7, 7:30 a.m.
800 Town and Country Blvd.
Admission: $20-50
Fun run benefiting Firefighters Helping Firefighters. Dasher 10k, Rudolph 5k or Cupid 1k. Participant with the best Christmas outfit will win a prize. Photos with Santa.

Christmas in the Park 
George Ranch Historical Park
Dec. 7, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Dec. 14, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Dec 21, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
10215 FM 762 Rd., Richmond
Admission: $15 adults, $12 seniors (ages 65+), $10 children (ages 4-12), children ages 3 and under are free
Explore customs and decorations from the 1830s-1930s. Check out the 1860s Ryon Prairie Home for a Christmas treat or visit Santa's temporary workshop at the 1930s Bach House.

Southside Place Winter Wonderland Carnival 
Sat., Dec. 7, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Southside Clubhouse) (entrance at the field and through Firetruck Park), 3743 Garnet St.
Admission: Wristbands are $20
Carnival games, inflatables, a mechanical bull, rock-climbing wall, arts and crafts, face painting, balloon artist, confetti eggs, photos with Santa, bazaar, huge pile of snow. Proceeds go toward improving Fire Truck Park.

Levy Park’s Holiday Festival 
Dec. 7-8, 12-5 p.m.
Levy Park
3801 Eastside St.
Live music, DIY craft stations, holiday market, Santa Paws photo booth with the Houston Humane Society, a photo booth with Santa, holiday food and beverages.

Elf – the Musical 
Dec. 7-22, times vary
Sarofim Hall
800 Bagby
Admission: $40+
Theatre Under the Stars presents Elf – The Musical based on the popular 2003 movie. In the musical, Buddy – a human accidentally transported to the North Pole as a baby – embarks on a journey to New York City to find his birth father and help NYC remember the real meaning of Christmas.

11th Annual Gingerbread Build-Off
Sat., Dec. 7, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Hermann Square
901 Smith St.
Admission: Free for spectators

Architecture Center Houston hosts the annual Gingerbread Build-Off. Spectators can cheer on teams, see Santa, and play in the kids' construction zone. In honor of the Apollo moon landing, there will be a special competition category: Gingerbread in Space.

Holiday in the Park with Pop Shop America 
Sat., Dec. 7, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Historic Market Square Houston
301 Milam St.
Admission: Free

Holiday market experience with locally-designed goods, holiday crafting, photo booths, live music, food, drinks and more.

Bank of America Screen on the Green 
Thursdays, Dec. 12, Dec. 19, Dec. 26, 7 p.m.
Discovery Green
1500 McKinney
Admission: Free
Enjoy family-friendly movies and downtown Houston views. Bring blankets or lawn chairs and arrive early for contests and activities. Check for the full schedule. Movies include: Miracle on 34th St. (NR), Thurs., Dec. 5; It's a Wonderful Life (PG), Thurs., Dec. 12, (PG); A Christmas Story, Thurs., Dec. 19, (PG) A Dog's Way Home (PG), Thurs., Dec. 26.

Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens

HISTORY AND HOLIDAYS The Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens will be transformed by thousands of lights, snow, holiday-themed tours of Ima Hogg's historic mansion and more. (Photo by Cameron Bertuzzi, courtesy of the MFAH)

Christmas Village at Bayou Bend Bayou Bend Collections and Gardens
6003 Memorial Dr.
Dec. 12-30; Open every evening starting at 5:30 p.m. except Dec. 24-25
Admission: Nonmembers: $15 adult (ages 13+); $10 youth (ages 5-12); Children ages 4 and younger: free; Premium nights (Fridays, Saturdays and Dec. 22-23): nonmembers: $18 adult; $12 youth
Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens will be transformed into a winter wonderland, including thousands of lights throughout the historical estate, a snow slide, a snowball play area, a handcrafted model train circling a 15-foot tree, games and carols. Santa on Dec. 23. Holiday-themed tours of Ima Hogg's historic mansion will feature live actors, theatrical effects and Christmas decorations.

Tomball German Christmas Market 
Fri., Dec. 13, 6-10 p.m., Sat., Dec. 14, 10 a.m.-10 p.m., Sun., Dec. 15, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Old Town Tomball
201 S. Elm, Tomball
Admission: Free
Celebrate Christmas and get a taste of German culture at this festival which includes four music stages, more than 200 street vendors, food, beer and wine, a petting zoo, street performers, arts and crafts, antiques and a heritage center.

Very Merry Pops 
Dec. 13, 8 p.m., Dec. 14, 7 p.m., Dec. 15, 2:30 p.m., Dec. 17, 2:30 p.m.
Jones Hall
615 Louisiana St.
Admission: $25+
Holiday favorites, including the Houston Symphony commission Glad Tidings, a musical and narrative telling of the Christmas story packed with classic carols like What Child is This?, Silent Night and Joy to the World.

Carols on the Green: Celebrating the Season in Song 
Sat., Dec. 14, 7-8 p.m.
1500 McKinney St.
Admission: Free
Houston Grand Opera Chorus will be joined by more than 70 voices from the Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church Chapel Choir and AFA Girls Chorus for a concert of holiday music and singalong favorites.

'Twas the Night Before Christmas
Sat., Dec. 14, 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.
Jones Hall
615 Louisiana St.
Admission: $29+
The classic holiday story ’Twas the Night Before Christmas comes to life with live music from the Symphony and narration, plus sing along to popular holiday songs. Children of all ages are welcome.

City Ballet of Houston Presents The Nutcracker 
Sat., Dec. 14, 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 15, 2 p.m.
The Grand 1984 Opera House
2020 Postoffice St., Galveston
Admission: $19-50
City Ballet of Houston presents the holiday classic, The Nutcracker. As part of the matinee performances, there will be a presentation and opportunity to meet the dancers and take photos. 

Santa Hustle
Sun., Dec. 15, 6:45 a.m.
Moody Gardens
One Hope Blvd., Galveston
Admission: Entry fee varies; check website
Dress up as Santa and jingle to the finish line. 5k, half marathon and kids dash.

A Christmas Story Art Market
Sun., Dec. 15, 12-7 p.m.
Karbach Brewing Co.
2032 Karbach St.
Admission: Free
Enjoy a Karbach while browsing through items created by local artists and vendors. There will be an Ugly Christmas Sweater Contest and a gift-wrapping station. The market is pet-friendly. 

Twinkle Light Parade 
Thurs., Dec. 19, 6-8 p.m.
Frostwood Elementary
12214 Memorial Dr.
Admission: Free
The third annual Holiday Twinkle Light Parade will begin in front of Frostwood Elementary School and end at Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church for photos with Santa and Mrs. Clause and holiday fun.

Winter Flea by Night presented by Green Mountain Energy 
Discovery Green
1500 McKinney St.
Admission: Free
Saturdays through Dec. 21, 6-10 p.m.
Discovery Green's night market expands to a weekly event during the holiday season. Browse works by local artisans, antiques and other treasures plus live music, food trucks, lawn games and more.

Handel's Messiah
Dec. 20, 8 p.m., Dec. 21, 8 p.m., Dec. 22, 2:30 p.m.
Jones Hall
615 Louisiana St.
Admission: $24+
The Houston Symphony, chorus and guest soloists come together to perform Handel's Messiah, including the powerful "Hallelujah" Chorus.

Beers & Cheers
Sat., Dec. 21, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., Sun., Dec. 22, 11-4 p.m.
Saint Arnold Brewing Co.
2000 Lyons Ave.
Shop holiday gifts and crafts from local artists and vendors while enjoying a Saint Arnold brew. Listen to music and get your photo taken with Santa. Family-friendly event. 

Bellaire Chanukah Festival 
Sun., Dec. 22, 4 p.m.
Bellaire Town Square
7001 5th St.
Admission: Adult: $10; Child: $8
Celebrate Chanukah with this festival hosted by The Shul of Bellaire. This year, the theme is Frozen Chanukah and highlights will include lighting a giant ice menorah, snow activities, rock climbing, inflatables, snowy sufganiot (jelly doughnuts) and chocolate gelt s’mores, a dinner buffet, face painting and fire juggling.

Menorah Lighting at Houston City Hall
Sun., Dec. 22, 7:30 p.m.
City Hall
900 Bagby, Houston, TX 77002
Admission: Free
Celebrate Chanukah with a menorah lighting at City Hall. The event will include addresses by dignitaries and elected officials, music, dreidels, sufganiot (jelly doughnuts), Chanukah gelt and gifts for children.

Alley Theatre Presents A Christmas Carol - a Ghost Story of Christmas 
Through Sun., Dec. 29
Alley Theatre
615 Texas Ave.
Admission: Prices vary

Family-friendly production retells Charles Dickens' classic story following Ebenezer Scrooge's journey with the three ghostly spirits who visit him on Christmas Eve. 

Houston Ballet Presents The Nutcracker
Wortham Center
501 Texas St.
Performances through Dec. 29; check website for times
Admission: $30+
Houston Ballet presents Stanton Welch’s opulent, annual production of The Nutcracker. In this traditional holiday tale, Clara and Drosselmeyer travel together to the Land of the Sweets where the Sugar Plum Fairy is reunited with her Nutcracker prince and discovers a world of magic.

Magical Winter Lights
Gulf Greyhound Park
1000 FM 2004, La Marque
Through Jan. 5, 2020, Sun-Thurs., 5-10 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 5-11 p.m.; Extended hours: Nov. 28, Dec. 22-Jan. 1: 5-11 p.m.
Admission: Adult (13+): $22-25; Senior (65+)/Child (4-12): $13-15; Family four-pack: $76-80
More than 6 million lights, interactive displays, themed lantern sections. Dinosaur exhibit, Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus, the Ice Sisters, arts and crafts created by Chinese artisans, carnival rides and games, food, nightly Chinese acrobatic shows.

Zoo Lights 
Houston Zoo
6200 Hermann Park Dr.
Through Jan. 12, 2020, 5:30-10:30 p.m., last entry at 9:30 p.m.
Admission: Varies; $16.75+
Stroll through the Houston Zoo and admire the trees and paths lit up with holiday lights. A 100-foot-long Infinity Tunnel of Light, 4-D Enchanted Forest, giant Ice Dragon, snow in Winter Wonderland, photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Holiday in the Gardens 
Through Jan. 12
Moody Gardens
One Hope Blvd., Galveston
Admission: Varies based on exhibit and date
Moody Gardens hosts multiple events. Ice Land: Christmas Around the World – towering sculptures of famous international landmarks made from 2 million pounds of ice. Festival of Lights – a mile-long trail with more than 2 million Christmas lights. Noel: the Dancing Tree of Light. Enjoy an outdoor skating rink, hot chocolate and festive food, live entertainment.

Discovery Green
1500 McKinney
Through Feb. 2, 2020
Hours: Mondays-Thursdays, 5-10 p.m.; Fridays: 5-11 p.m.; Saturdays and School Holidays, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sundays, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve: 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; Christmas and New Year's Day: 1-7 p.m.
Admission: General public: $11 admission, $4 skate rental; Online tickets: $15 including skate rental; $20 for Fast Pass Options; Cheap Skate Nights (Mondays): $15 for 2 or $8 for 1, including skate rental (check website for more details and exclusions)

Ice skating in the park. Special events include Theme Night Tuesdays (Dec. 3: Harry Potter, Dec. 10: Princesses, Dec. 17: Ugly Sweaters); Funfetti Fridays, Skate with Santa and Storybook Stars, Skating with the Stars.

More Events See our events calendar for more upcoming events and find ideas for how to ring in 2020 here.

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