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Holiday Happenings

What to do in December

Jenna Mazzoccoli
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Magical Winter Lights

MERRY AND BRIGHT Magical Winter Lights returns this year, but at a new venue, Houston Raceway Park. (Photo: Magical Winter Lights)

There are lots of holiday festivities to choose from in December. Here are some fun happenings around town that will put you in a merry state of mind.

Santa’s Wonderland

18898 Hwy. 6, College Station

Nov. 12-Dec. 30

Santa’s Wonderland, a seasonal amusement park in College Station, celebrates a Texas-sized Christmas. Walk through the expansive property of Santa’s Wonderland and see the Trail of Lights, meet Santa, race down the toboggan chute, enjoy live music, or take a carriage ride.

Admission: $45-50

The ICE at Discovery Green

Discovery Green, downtown Houston

Nov. 12-Jan. 30

The Ice at Discovery Green is a favorite holiday activity. The ice rink is brought in once a year and set up in Discovery Green park. This year, tickets must be purchased in advance to minimize overcrowding. 

Admission: $8-15

Galaxy Lights

Space Center Houston, Clear Lake

Nov. 12-Jan. 2, 6-10 p.m.

Galaxy Lights at Space Center Houston is an interactive and technologically advanced light display. The attraction takes you on a walking path through different parts of the Space Center, both inside and out. Allocate at least 90 minutes to walk through the entire light display and exhibit.

Admission: $20-25


Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley is open now at Main Street Theater. (Photo courtesy of Main Street Theatre)

Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley

Main Street Theater, Rice Village

Nov. 18-Dec. 19

This sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is set two years after the novel and focuses on middle-sister Mary Bennet and her romance with an unexpected Christmas guest.

Admission: $10-50

The Polar Express Train Ride

Galveston Railroad Museum

Nov. 18-Dec. 23

This immersive Christmas experience at the Galveston Railroad Museum is like the movie The Polar Express. Come dressed in pajamas for a theatrical journey with singing chefs, a dancing conductor, and, of course, Santa Claus.

Admission: $35-75


This year's A Christmas Carol is a highly inventive adaptation of the Dickens classic pared down to its essential elements. (Photo: John Carrithers)

The Alley Theatre presents A Christmas Carol

Alley Theatre’s Hubbard Theatre, 615 Texas Ave.

Nov. 19-Dec. 29

This family-friendly production retells Charles Dickens’ classic story following Ebenezer Scrooge’s journey with the three ghostly spirits who visit him on Christmas Eve. All guests are required to wear a mask for the show and must show a negative Covid test within 72 hours prior to the performance or proof of vaccination. 

Admission: $27-121

Magical Winter Lights

Houston Raceway Park, Baytown

Nov. 19-Jan. 2 

Magical Winter Lights is returning this year at a new venue, Houston Raceway Park. Visitors can expect the entrance castle, dinosaur exhibits, Santa and Mrs. Claus meet and greet, Ice Sisters meet and greet, carnival rides, food, games, and music. 

Admission: $17-80

Holiday in the Gardens 

1 Hope Blvd., Galveston

Nov. 20-Jan. 2

Holiday in the Gardens features several holiday attractions at one venue, from the Arctic Slide to 3D holiday films, train rides, and gardens decked out in 2 million lights. Get a picture with Santa or watch the Cirque Joyeux Holiday Show.

Admission: $18-40

Lightscape at Houston Botanic Garden

1 Botanic Lane

Wednesdays-Sundays Nov. 20-Jan. 2, 5:45-11 p.m.; Additional dates: Dec. 20-21

Lightscape is new to the Houston Botanic Garden this year. Walk through at night and enjoy the magical light displays along the winding paths. Availability cannot be guaranteed at the door, so buying tickets in advance is advised.

Admission: $20-27

A.D. Players presents The Christmas Shoes

George Theater, 5420 Westheimer Rd.

Nov. 24-Dec. 23

The best-selling novel The Christmas Shoes is being adapted for the stage in this world-premiere holiday play about a young boy from a loving family who crosses paths with a workaholic lawyer and gives him a much-needed wake-up call. Masks are required. Some sections are socially distanced while others are at full capacity. Purchase tickets online in advance or at the box office. 

Admission: $30-75


The whole family can enjoy an old-fashioned train ride on open air coaches while experiencing hundreds of thousands of Christmas lights and displays at Victory Camp in Alvin.

Christmas Train at Victory Camp

1407 Victory Lane, Alvin

Nov. 26-Dec. 23

Every season, Victory Camp in Alvin, a kids’ camp and retreat center, transforms into a winter wonderland with a Christmas train. The train weaves through campgrounds, and families can catch a ride to view lights, decorations, gingerbread villages, penguin snow lands, and life-size storybook illustrations.

Admission: $10-12

Houston Ballet presents The Nutcracker

Wortham Center’s Brown Theater, 501 Texas Ave.

Nov. 26-Dec. 24

Houston Ballet presents 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. Masks are required. Purchase tickets online in advance or at the box office.

Admission: $27-153

Chanukah Hop Houston

Various locations

Nov. 28-Dec. 6

More than 15 families from across the greater Houston area will decorate the outside of their homes with Chanukah-themed lights and decorations. Hop around town to view these festive decorations. Sign up to receive the map here.

Admission: Free

Holiday in the Park 

Dec. 2, 6-8:30 p.m.

Bellaire Town Square, 7008 S. Rice Ave.

Enjoy music performances by local choirs, pictures with Santa, snow slides, and food. New this year is an ice-sculpting show.

Admission: Free

Dickens on the Strand

The Strand, Galveston

Dec. 3-5

Experience the architecture, sights, and sounds of a Victorian holiday, and dress up for extra fun. Interact with time-period performers, watch live entertainment, and shop from local vendors. 

Admission: $10-15

The Holiday Lights in the Eastern Glades

A BEAUTIFUL SIGHT The Holiday Lights in the Eastern Glades are new to Memorial Park this year. (Photo: Memorial Park Conservancy)

Holiday Lights in Eastern Glades

Clay Family Eastern Glades in Memorial Park

Dec. 3-Jan. 3

Take a stroll through the Eastern Glades at Memorial Park and enjoy the lights on display every day of the holiday season after sundown. On Dec. 3, Deck the Park will kick off Holiday Lights. This event will start at 4 p.m. with holiday activities and a preview of the lights at 6 p.m. Guests are encouraged to bring picnic blankets for the screening of The Grinch at 7:30 p.m.

Admission: Free after Dec. 3; $10-15 for event Dec. 3

Houston Chamber Choir presents Candlelight Christmas

Christ Church Cathedral

Dec. 10, 7:30 p.m.; Dec 11, 3:30 and 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 26, 2 p.m. (virtual)

This holiday concert to welcome the yuletide season is offered in-person and virtually this year. Join the Houston Chamber Choir for a program of Christmas favorites both old and new. Patrons are encouraged to bring items to donate to The Beacon, a nonprofit in downtown Houston that works to end homelessness and restore hope.

Admission: $10-25

West U Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony

Dec. 6, 6 p.m.

Friends Park, 3771 Rice Blvd.

The West U Parks and Recreation Department hosts its annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. Enjoy holiday music and a short ceremony to kick off the holiday season.

Admission: Free

German Heritage Christmas Market

Downtown Tomball, 200 Market St.

Dec. 10-12

Visit downtown Tomball for this Christmas festival and market. There will be three stages of live music and an open-air market along with antiques shops in the Old Town area. The event on Saturday starts with a parade at 11 a.m., followed by the famous “tapping of the keg.” Finally, German exchange students living in Tomball will be received at the Willkommen ceremony.

Admission: Free

Handel’s Messiah

Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana St.

Dec. 10, 8 p.m.; Dec. 11, 8 p.m.; Dec. 12, 2:30 p.m.

The holiday tradition of Handel’s Messiah returns to Jones Hall. The Houston Symphony, chorus, and guest soloists perform this beloved holiday classic. Masks are required. Some sections are socially distanced while others are at full capacity. Purchase tickets online in advance or at the box office. Concert livestream video is also available.

Admission: $29-140


Santa will be in attendance to cheer on runners at the 10th Annual Rudolph Run at CityCentre! (Photo courtesy of CITYCENTRE)

10th Annual Rudolph Run

CityCentre, 800 Town and Country Blvd.

Dec. 11, 7:30 a.m.

Register for the Dasher 10k, Rudolph 5k, or Cupid 1k at CityCentre. Proceeds benefit Firefighters Helping Firefighters. Costumes are encouraged, and the best Christmas outfit will win a prize. Santa will be available for photo opps as he cheers on the runners.

Admission: $18-40

12th Annual Gingerbread Build-Off

Levy Park, 3801 Eastside St.

Dec. 11, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Architecture Center Houston will host the Gingerbread Build-Off at Levy Park. Competitors will design and build edible masterpieces. The public is invited to attend and cheer on the teams. Santa will also be at the park watching the competition and greeting visitors. 

Admission: Free; team registration is $200

Breakfast With Santa at the Aquarium

410 Bagby St., downtown Houston

Dec. 11, 12, 18, 19, 22-24

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

Admission: $40 and under

Trans-Siberian Orchestra 

Toyota Center

Dec. 12, 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra will perform at the Toyota Center during their Winter Tour celebrating the 25th anniversary of their popular album Christmas Eve and Other Stories.

Admission: $50-80

Houston Symphony presents Very Merry POPS

Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana St.

Dec. 18, 2:30 and 8 p.m.; Dec. 18, 2:30 and 7:30 p.m.

The Houston Symphony performs holiday classics like “Feliz Navidad,” “O Holy Night,” “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” and “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Masks are required. Some sections are socially distanced while others are at full capacity. Purchase tickets online in advance or at the box office. Concert livestream video is also available.

Admission: $29-154

Santa Hustle

San Luis Resort, Galveston

Dec. 19, 6:45 a.m., 7 a.m., and 7:15 a.m.

The Santa Hustle may be the only race course where there are cookies and candy next to the water stations. Join thousands of other Santa runners across the country and across Houston in the Santa Hustle Galveston Kids Dash, Half Marathon, or 5k.

Admission: $10-65

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