Back Porch Table

Holiday Happenings

Things to do in 2020

Jenna Mazzoccoli
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Rudolph’s Lightshow

DRIVE-THROUGH LIGHTS At Rudolph’s Lightshow in Hockley, you can drive through acres of festive lights synced with holiday music.

The holidays may not be typical this year, but they are still happening. And a lot of events are happening too, with modifications for safety. Here are some options for you and your crew.

Rudolph’s Lightshow

19623 Bauer Road, Hockley; Nov.1-Jan. 3, 6:30-11 p.m.

Rudolph’s Lightshow is only 30 minutes outside of Houston in Hockley. Drive across acres of land with millions of lights synced with holiday music. Admission: $30-35

Houston Ballet Virtual Nutcracker Market; Nov. 11-Dec. 11

The Houston Ballet Nutcracker Market has pivoted to an online shopping event this year. You can find gifts and décor from 200-plus vendors online. A part of the merchandise sales will benefit the Houston Ballet Foundation. Admission: Free

Santa’s Wonderland

18898 Hwy. 6, College Station; Nov. 13-Dec. 30

Santa’s Wonderland, a seasonal amusement park in College Station, celebrates a Texas-sized Christmas. Walk through the Trail of Lights, meet Santa, race down the toboggan chute, enjoy live music, or take a carriage ride. This year, they are enhancing sanitation procedures and adhering to social-distancing guidelines. Admission: $27-51

Discovery Green

SKATE IN THE PARK The popular ice rink at Discovery Green downtown is happening again this year, with required face masks and reduced capacity to keep skaters safe.

The Ice at Discovery Green

Discovery Green, downtown Houston; Nov. 14-Jan. 31

The Ice at Discovery Green is a Houston favorite holiday activity. The ice rink is brought in once a year and set up in Discovery Green. This year, tickets must be purchased in advance, face masks are mandatory, and santitation is increased. Admission: $8-15

Zoo Lights 

Houston Zoo, Hermann Park; Nov. 14-Jan. 10

Zoo Lights is back this year with timed ticketing to allow for distancing. As you stroll through the zoo, thousands of lights illuminate your way. You can stop and snap a picture in the giant ice throne and take socially distanced photos as Santa prepares for the holidays in his workshop. Admission: $13-25

Galaxy Lights

Space Center Houston, Clear Lake; Nov. 14-Jan. 3, 6-10 p.m.

Galaxy Lights at the Space Center Houston may be the most advanced light show out there. The kinetic lights in the Main Plaza move in choreographed synchronicity. Guests can explore the solar system through a massive outdoor model. This year, Space Center Houston has adapted the experience to include open-air paths and safely distanced experiences. Admission: $16-20

Deck the Trees

George R. Brown Convention Center, downtown Houston; Nov. 20-Jan. 3

Deck the Trees, an installment hosted by the Alley Theatre, will happen this year with a twist. Instead of decorating the Alley foyer, the over-the-top Christmas trees will be on display in the central windows of the George R. Brown Convention Center to allow for social distancing while viewing. This season’s theme is Frozen. Admission: Free

Sugar Land Holiday Lights at Constellation Field

1 Stadium Dr., Sugar Land, Nov. 20-Jan. 3

Constellation Field is typically home of the Skeeters baseball team, but from November to January, it is lit up with over 3 million lights for the Christmas season. With precautions in place, the Sugar Land Holiday Lights are back, plus food, vendors and Santa Claus. Admission: $12-16

Holiday in the Gardens 

1 Hope Blvd., Galveston; Nov. 21-Jan. 2

Holiday in the Gardens returns with protocols to celebrate the holidays safely. From the Arctic Slide to 3D holiday films, Moody Gardens offers pyramids, activities and gardens decked out in 2 million twinkling lights. Admission: $15-30

Movie Night at Market Square Park

301 Milam St., downtown Houston; Dec. 2 and 16, 7 p.m.

Snuggle up with a blanket and cider to watch a Christmas movie on the lawn at Market Square Park. This holiday season, the Downtown District will be showing The Night Before and The Muppet Christmas. Admission: Free

Merry Christmas, Darling 

A.D. Players at the George Theater, Galleria area; Dec. 3-23; times vary.

As a part of the Artist Lounge Live concert series, Heidi Kettenring, an actress and singer, performs the holiday hits of Karen Carpenter in concert at the George Theater. The theater has put into place sanitation procedures and temperature checks. Tickets to stream the concert via Vimeo are available online, along with in-person tickets. Admission: $35-75

A Christmas Carol, The Alley Theatre

Sign up for viewing link on; Dec. 4-Dec. 27

Christmas in Houston is not complete without A Christmas Carol at the Alley Theatre. This year, the Alley has pared down the show, adapted the script, and filmed the Dickens classic from their homes to be streamed directly to yours. Admission: Free

The Nutcracker 

Bayou Theater, University of Houston – Clear Lake; Dec. 4-6, 11-13; times vary.

This year, the Bay Area Houston Ballet & Theatre will perform The Nutcracker with social-distance guidelines in place. They will be operating at reduced capacity, temperatures will be taken upon arrival, and a face covering must be worn. This youth company brings back the traditional ballet, filled with toy soldiers and dancing snowflakes. Admission: $30

Art Market at Finn Hall

712 Main St., downtown Houston; Dec. 4, 4-10 p.m.

All Access Art Show’s goal is to connect art lovers with local artists. Finn Hall, an indoor food market, will be hosting an All Access Art Market. You can admire and purchase more than 25 local artists’ work and dine in the food hall. Admission: Free

Holiday Market at Levy Park

3801 Eastside St., Greenway/Upper Kirby; Dec. 4-5, 3-8 p.m.; Dec. 6. 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

Come to the Holiday Art Market for vendors and activities outdoors in Levy Park. Admission: Free

[CANCELLED] Dickens on the Squares 

Various locations in Galveston; Dec. 5-6, 10 a.m.-6:30 p.m.

THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELLED DUE TO COVID-19. Experience the architecture, sights and sounds of a Victorian holiday, and you can dress up for extra fun. This year’s event will take place in five separate locations (Hendley Green, Old Galveston Square, Saengerfest Park, Galveston Historic Seaport and Pier 22) to allow for social distancing as you interact with Dickens entertainers and shop at the food and craft booths. Admission: $10-20

Caring Santa

303 Memorial City Way, Memorial City Mall; Dec. 6 and 13, 9-10:30 a.m.

Memorial City Mall, in collaboration with Autism Speaks, invites children with special needs and learning differences, along with their families, to enjoy a sensory-friendly, private photo session with Santa. Reservations are required, so call ahead or reserve a spot online. Admission: Free

West U Tree and Laser Lights

West U Recreation Center, 4210 Bellaire Blvd.; Dec. 7, 6:30 p.m.; Dec. 18, 6-7:30 p.m.

The holiday spirit is coming to West University this year in two separate events. Watch the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony online on Dec. 7 as it is streamed live through the City of West University Place Facebook page. Also, reserve a spot to drive in to the Dec. 18 Holiday Laser Light Show. Limited spots are available, so make reservations online at Admission: Free

Starry Night at the Arboretum, Memorial Park; Dec. 12, 7-8 p.m.

Cozy up with your loved ones, listen to stories of the constellations and learn about space. Tune in via Zoom with a package that includes Saint Arnold beer (for the adults), hot chocolate (for the kids), and a constellation craft (for the whole family). Register online and pick up your package ahead of time at the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center. Admission: $20-45

Breakfast with Santa at the Aquarium

410 Bagby St., downtown Houston; Dec. 12, 19, 20 and 24, reservations 9-10:30 a.m.

Who knew Santa loves to swim? This downtown restaurant is surrounded by an enormous aquarium, where fish (and Santa) swim. Admission: $40 and under

Chanukah of Gratitude

Bellaire Town Square, Bellaire; Dec. 13, 4:30 p.m.

Chanukah of Gratitude, hosted by the Shul of Bellaire, will honor eight frontline workers by creating a giant gratitude menorah on the Great Lawn of Bellaire Town Square. Individually wrapped Chanukah treats and to-go crafts will be passed out. Social distancing will be in place, and masks must be worn. RSVP online. Donations support the Chanukah Festival and community activities by The Shul of Bellaire. Admission: Free

Main Street at the Mic; Dec. 17, 7:30 p.m.

Main Street at the Mic, a live-streamed cabaret of holiday songs and spoken work performed by local actors at the Main Street Theater, will premiere 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 17 and will be available through the weekend on YouTube. Admission: Free

Editors note: Before you head out, be sure to check event sites to monitor any Covid- or weather-related changes.

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