Despite all the holiday cheer, there may not have been much snow in Texas this Christmas. Texas borrows from the traditions of many people and puts its own spin on the Christmas season.
Best Christmas Towns in Texas
Visitors can nibble on a tamale, a corn husk stuffed with Mexican spiced meat and cornmeal, as they walk alongside the celebrities. A real German Christmas might be the way to celebrate by sipping a mug of beer and enjoying a bratwurst while admiring his pyramids. Some people just want to see millions of lights, and Texas caters to that. Here are the best Christmas towns in Texas to celebrate this season.
Grapevine is the Christmas capital of Texas, located between Dallas and Fort Worth. The downtown area is covered in wreaths and dripping with light, transporting visitors as they shop and dine. The annual event includes the popular North Pole Train Ride, a vintage train ride with Santa that has become a tradition for many families. The annual Parade of Lights is another of his top events held in one of Texas’ best Christmas towns.
From the outdoor ice rink to the Christmas parade to the North Pole Railroad ride, most events are centered around Grapevine Central Station’s Peace Plaza. Guests can head to holiday-decorated resorts such as the Gaylord Texan Resort and Conference Center. The holiday event begins the week of Thanksgiving and continues until after the New Year.
This top Texas Hill Country destination offers fun sports German accents for the holidays. Quaint boutiques beckon shoppers up and down Main Street in Fredericksburg. The centrally located Marketplatz gets into the Christmas spirit, from an outdoor skating ring to a 30-foot-tall Christmas tree and an authentic German 26-foot-tall Christmas pyramid filled with rotating charming characters. It’s full.
Visitors should come hungry, as Fredericksburg offers a little bit of everything, from German brats to smoked barbecue to the best Tex-Mex. The area’s 60 wine tasting rooms offer bottles of the region’s bounty, perfect for gifts and celebrations.
The event begins the week of Thanksgiving and continues through the new year.
3. San Antonio
The iconic San Antonio River Walk, a top Texas destination, is in the Christmas spirit. From the colorful twinkling lights decorating the cypress trees to the luminaries lining the sidewalks to the scent of tamales, San Antonio offers its own unique Tex-Mex Christmas traditions.
The festivities begin with the Ford Holiday River Parade and Lighting Ceremony on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Some of San Antonio’s top attractions get into the holiday spirit with Alamo Lights, Zoo Lights at the San Antonio Zoo, and Holiday in the Park at Six Flags Fiesta Texas. The celebration begins the week of Thanksgiving and continues through the first week of January.
This Texas beach destination gets covered in ice for the holiday season at Moody Gardens’ annual Icelandic Rainforest Holiday. A world-renowned Chinese ice sculptor transforms 28,000 square feet of indoor space into a rainforest made of colored ice. Guests can marvel at colorful creatures made in the ice, including monkeys and butterflies, then slide down an ice slide. Open from mid-November until after New Year’s, located at 1 Hope Blvd. Entrance on the designated date and time is required.
Dickens on the Strand, Galveston’s signature holiday event for a Victorian-inspired getaway, celebrates its 50th anniversary the first weekend in December. Costumed participants, parades and constant entertainment transport visitors back to his 19th century London. Advance tickets are recommended. The event will be held along Mechanic Street and The Strand in downtown Galveston.
Austin loves the outdoors and outdoor light displays. One of his beloved traditions is walking the Austin Trail of Lights in Zilker Park. He has 2 million lights on over 40 displays and also includes many of your favorite cartoon characters. Afterwards, holiday revelers stand under the Zilker Tree, a tower decorated with lights.
Circuit of the Americas Peppermint Parkway is a drive-thru night light event. Visitors will experience a million lights along a one-mile route with music and dancers.
As the capital of Texas, the Capitol is decorated with a Texas-grown tree every year. Another popular place in Austin is Mozart’s Coffee Roasters. Sipping hot chocolate on the shores of Lake Austin under a canopy of Christmas lights set to music is a must.
6. College Station
This out-of-town college town is home to Santa’s Wonderland, a Texas-sized Christmas extravaganza. Starting with 4.5 million lights and real snow (we don’t see that much in central Texas), merry revelers race through the display on outdoor hayrides.
Then enjoy the breeze at one of the 12 snow tube lanes. Afterwards, revelers can head to the snow playground, where there’s enough snow for snow angels to live. If that’s not enough, Santa’s Wonderland also features outdoor ice skating and a petting zoo. Santa’s Wonderland runs from mid-November until a few days before New Year’s. There is an admission fee, and early bird discounts are available.
Dallas, also known as the Big D, offers a magical vacation experience at the Dallas Arboretum. This 66-acre property is transformed during the holiday season with his 12 Days of Christmas theme. A 50-foot-tall tree plays music and visitors walk past 600 nutcrackers on display in the garden. A Christmas market will be held.
The Arboretum Holiday Park is open daily from mid-November to the first week of January. Timed entry admission is required for this popular Dallas holiday event.
Texas has its own railroad, the Texas State Railroad, based in the East Texas town of Palestine. As the movie’s soundtrack sets the mood, passengers climb overseas for the Polar Express’ official trip.
The classic children’s book “The Polar Express” by Chris Van Allsburg is read aloud to children in their pajamas while eating cookies and listening to the story. Santa and Mrs. Claus will visit the vehicle during the 60-minute ride, and elves will also lead passengers in classic carols. The Polar Express departs from the Palestine base from November until the end of the year. Families can go to the historic Anderson County Jail to see the Grinch.
9. George Town
The Williamson County Courthouse in Georgetown, just north of Austin, will be transformed with lights and decorations. On the first weekend of December, stores around the square roll out Santa’s red carpet for the annual Georgetown Christmas Walk. From Thanksgiving weekend through the first day of January, the lights at Georgetown Square will remain on throughout the season.
10. El Paso
El Paso in West Texas hosts its annual Winterfest, which transforms downtown into a vacation destination. Tourists can enjoy the season at its outdoor skating rinks, shopping and dining, especially the holiday favorite tamales. Winterfest begins in mid-November and continues until the new year.
11. Corpus Christi
Christmas cheer is in full swing, but there is a lack of snow. corpus christi There will be Merry Days on the Bay, including a holiday market and a meet-and-greet with Santa. The illuminated boat parade is a popular event along the downtown seawall. The nearby South Texas Museum of Art has decorated trees in its Christmas Tree Forest, which is popular from mid-November through New Year’s.
This historic Texas town transforms for the holidays with the annual Wonderland of Lights Festival. The Harrison County Courthouse sparkles with millions of tiny white lights as horse-drawn carriages, ice skates and Santa’s workshop entertain people. The Wonderland of Lights opens the week of Thanksgiving and continues through the New Year.
13. Johnson City
Home to a former U.S. president, this Hill Country town is filled with lights throughout its historic center. Featuring 2 million lights, this display is so large that it can be seen from space. This free event is a favorite in the Texas Hill Country. Visitors will be lit from the week of Thanksgiving until the first week of January.