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Holiday Happenings

Ways to celebrate the season

Jordan Magaziner Steinfeld
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'Tis the season for joyful gatherings with family and friends. And there are lots of opportunities for festive fun around town. Here are some ways to celebrate the season around Houston this month.   

City of Bellaire’s Holiday in the Park

Bellaire Town Square, 7008 S. Rice Ave.

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

Free

The City of Bellaire will welcome Santa and ring in the season with the official tree lighting, holiday music from local schools and Bellaire High School’s Mighty Cardinal Band, pony rides, a petting zoo, and holiday crafts. Snowfall is predicted in the park, including two snow slides. Food will be available for purchase.

Santa Clause

Bring the whole family for Family Movie Night featuring The Santa Clause, Dec. 2, 7:30 p.m. at Levy Park. 

Family Movie Night: The Santa Clause

Levy Park, 3810 Eastside St.

Fri., Dec. 2, 7:30 p.m. 

Free

Enjoy a holiday classic at Family Movie Night featuring The Santa Clause (PG). The free screening at Levy Park is presented by Texas Children’s Hospital. Outside furniture is not permitted; blankets and park chairs can be used.

9th Annual Southside Place Winter Wonderland Carnival

Fire Truck Park, 3743 Garnet St.

Sat., Dec. 3, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Free

The annual Southside Place carnival includes fun, festive actives for the whole family, including carnival games, climbing wall and mechanical bull, inflatables, arts and crafts, a selfie machine/photo booth, face painting, balloon art, shopping bazaar, a silent auction, food and drink, snow, and pictures with Santa.

5th Annual Levy Park Holiday Festival

Levy Park, 3801 Eastside St.

Dec. 3-4, 12-5 p.m.

Free

The two-day festival features a holiday market, a craft station, live music performances throughout the park, a performance by River Oaks Dance, a free photo booth with Santa Claus, and food and drink concessions.

Reliant Lights Mayor’s Holiday Spectacular

Hermann Square at City Hall, 900 Bagby St.

Dec. 3, 6-8 p.m.

Free

The annual Mayor’s Holiday Spectacular includes music, Santa, fireworks, and family fun. A towering holiday tree will light up the streets of downtown Houston this holiday season.

Houston Grand Opera’s Carols on the Green Sing-Along

Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney St.

Sat., Dec. 3, 7 p.m.

Free

Led by soloists from the company’s original mariachi opera, El Milagro del Recuerdo/The Miracle of Remembering (running at the Wortham Theater Center Dec. 8-18), the family-friendly evening features holiday songs in English and Spanish. Joining in the celebration are members of the HGO Chorus, the HGO Studio, the HGO Bauer Family High School Voice Studio, local children’s ensemble Segundo Barrio, and Trio Chapultepec.

West U Christmas Tree Lighting

West U Community Building, 6104 Auden St.

Mon., Dec. 5, 5:30-7:30 p.m.

The West U Parks and Recreation Department will kick off the holiday season with a Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, which will feature dance performances, holiday music, vendors, holiday games, selfie stations, face painting, ice sculpting, and more. The Mayor and Council will announce the 2022 Coloring Contest Winners, who will have the honor of flipping the switch to light up the Christmas tree. After, enjoy a Laser Light show.

CHRISTMAS VILLAGE

CHRISTMAS VILLAGE After a two-year hiatus, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, brings back the beloved Christmas Village tradition at Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens, including a trail of lights, carolers, a hand-crafted model train, and holiday-themed tours of the first floor of Ima Hogg’s historic mansion. (Courtesy of The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston)

Bayou Bend’s Christmas Village

Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens, 6003 Memorial Dr.

Dec. 9-30; closed Dec. 24-25; Sundays-Thursdays, 5:30-9 p.m. (except Thurs., Dec. 22); Fridays-Saturdays (and Thurs., Dec. 22), 5:30-10 p.m.

After a two-year hiatus, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, brings back the Christmas Village tradition at Bayou Bend, featuring a beautiful trail of lights, carolers, a hand-crafted model train, animated projections, and festive activities, including a cotton snowball toss, reindeer games, and sledding on a grassy slope. Photo opportunities with Santa (through Dec. 23). Holiday-themed tours of the first floor of Ima Hogg’s historic mansion feature live actors, theatrical effects, and Christmas decorations.

13th Annual Gingerbread Build-Off

Levy Park, 3801 Eastside St.

Sat., Dec. 10, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Free to attend

Architecture Center Houston hosts the annual Gingerbread Build-Off in which teams will compete to create masterpieces using 100 percent edible materials. More than 4,000 spectators are expected to attend and cheer on the teams, play in the kids’ construction zone, participate in a scavenger hunt, and see Santa.

Lightscape

LIGHT UP THE SEASON Lightscape, presented by Reliant, returns to the Houston Botanic Garden for its second year. The internationally acclaimed lights and music event includes an outdoor illuminated trail along a winding path. The new “Bluebonnets” installation, exclusive to Texas, features a field of 2,000 flowers with LED pixel lighting. (Photo: Sony Music)

Lightscape

Houston Botanic Garden, One Botanic Lane

Through Jan. 1 (entry from 5:30-8:30 p.m.; trail closes at 10 p.m.); closed on select nights

Timed tickets, at 15-minute intervals: $28/adult; $18/child. Flex passes available.

Lightscape, presented by Reliant, lights up the Houston Botanic Garden for its second year. The internationally acclaimed lights and music event features an outdoor illuminated trail including dazzling new immersive installations set to seasonal tunes along a winding path through the Garden. Visitors can also enjoy festive food and drinks, along with fire pits for roasting s’mores.

Sugar Land Holiday Lights

Sugar Land Holiday Lights presented by Houston Methodist offers a holiday experience including more than three million lights, 10 themed areas, holiday shopping, food, movie nights, Santa Claus, a carnival, and more. (Photo: Sugar Land Space Cowboys) 

Sugar Land Holiday Lights

Constellation Field, 1 Stadium Dr., Sugar Land

Through Jan. 1 (Sun.-Thurs.: 6-9 p.m.; Friday-Sat.: 6-10 p.m.)

Tickets vary by event date; kids 3 and under don’t require a ticket

The 9th annual Sugar Land Holiday Lights presented by Houston Methodist offers a holiday experience including more than three million lights, 10 themed areas, holiday shopping, food, movie nights, Santa Claus, a carnival, and more.

City Lights Downtown Holiday Magic

Downtown Houston

Through Jan. 2.

Houston First and Central Houston, Inc. teamed up to turn downtown into a festive holiday destination, spanning eight themed villages across downtown, including holiday markets, a hot chocolate bar, roaming carolers, movie nights, sweet treats, and more. Experiences include: Deck the Trees and Live Music at the Plaza at Avenida; Texas Winter Lights at the Marriott Marquis; Holiday Ice Village at Discovery Green; Land of Sweets at Hilton Americas; Sugar Plum Plaza at the Wortham Theater; Mistletoe Square at Market Square Park; Santa’s Village at Main Street Square; and Winter Wanderland on Bagby Street.

Cistern Illuminated

Buffalo Bayou Cistern, 105 Sabine Street

Through Jan. 8, 2023; Wednesdays-Sundays, every other hour from 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Fridays, every other hour from 11 a.m.-7 p.m.

$10/person (ages 9+ only); $2 discount for military, college students, seniors (65+)

Buffalo Bayou Partnership is offering a new way to experience the Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern. Cistern Illuminated, designed by local artist and engineer Kelly O’Brien of Fenris, the exhibition features undulating lights that provide a unique perspective on this cavernous underground space. The custom temporary lighting will amplify the reservoir’s 221 columns, adding a new dimension to the reflection in the water below. On select dates, there will also be special performances by the Schola Cantorum of the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart.

ZOO LIGHTS

ZOO LIGHTS At night, most of the animals at the Zoo are snoozing; the main attraction is the dazzling lights. New features this year include life-sized animal lanterns along the Zoo Lights path, an illuminated, interactive dance floor, and a snowy scene featuring ski lifts. (Courtesy of the Houston Zoo)

Houston Zoo Lights

Houston Zoo, 6200 Hermann Park Dr.

Through Jan. 8 (5:30-10:30 p.m.); closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

Admission: starting at $22/adult (for non-members); kids under 2 are free price varies depending on date/time

The Houston Zoo will be transformed into an illuminated winter wonderland at the annual Zoo Lights presented by TXU Energy. New this year: Enjoy a “snowy” scene featuring ski lifts; life-sized animal lanterns along the Zoo Lights path; an illuminated, interactive dance floor; a new, colorful holiday light tunnel.

The Ice at Discovery Green

Glide around The Ice at Discovery Green this holiday season. (Photo: Katya Horner)

The Ice at Discovery Green

Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney

Through Jan. 31

Tickets: $17, includes skate rental; discounted tickets on select nights

Glide around Green Mountain Energy ICE this holiday season. There will be themed events each evening including College Nights, Skate with Santa, DJ Nights, Skate with Storybook Stars, and more.

 

Worth the Drive

 

The Polar Express Train Ride

Galveston Railroad Museum, 2602 Santa Fe Pl., Galveston

Through Dec. 23; see the website for dates/times

$30 (coach)-$100 (premium); tickets depend on date/time

Set to the sounds of the motion picture soundtrack, passengers will relive the magic of the classic story for a one-hour adventure to meet Santa. Once on board, the conductor will punch passengers’ golden tickets before hot chocolate and a delicious cookie are served by dancing chefs. Passengers read along with the classic children’s book, The Polar Express, by Chris Van Allsburg. Families are encouraged to wear their pajamas, like in the film.

Santa’s Wonderland

18898 Hwy 6, College Station

Through Dec. 30

General admission: $52.95/adult; $47.90/child

This season marks 25 years of the popular Santa’s Wonderland experience in College Station, which includes the opportunity to meet Santa at Santa’s Station, go on hayrides, carriage rides, take a spin around the ice skating rink, play in snow at the Snow Playground, walk through the Trail of Lights, enjoy the Texas Christmas Train, pet cuddly animals at Santa’s Barnyard, and more.

Space Center Houston’s Galaxy Lights    

Space Center Houston, 1601 NASA Parkway

Through Jan. 1 (6-10 p.m.); closed Nov. 24, Dec. 8, 24-25

General admission: $19.95-27.95; varies depending on date/time

Galaxy Lights, powered by Reliant, provides an out-of-this-world holiday-light adventures. Highlights include two high-tech kinetic light shows; the film “Holidays in Space” that includes footage of astronauts celebrating the holidays; a winter wonderland experience; an interactive show to explore the science behind light; and stroll through a 200-foot LED light tunnel made of more than 250,000 lights synchronized to festive holiday music.

Holidays in the Gardens

Moody Gardens, 1 Hope Blvd., Galveston

Through Jan. 7

Tickets vary (from $21-75)

Moody Gardens offers multiple festive, family-friendly attractions throughout the season, including Ice Land, Festival of Lights, an ice-skating rink, 3D holiday films, Rudolph 4D, the arctic slide, train rides, the Cirque Joyeux Holiday show, pictures with Santa, and more.

Editor’s note: See our online event calendar for more upcoming events.

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