Well, y’all, it’s time to trade those cowboy boots for Santa’s boots! Everything is bigger in Texas, including our Christmas celebrations. I’m here, your very own Texas Travel Expert, ready to sleigh you through a round-up of the Lone Star State’s best Christmas experiences. From the twinkliest lights and the quirkiest celebrations to the most magical ways to experience Christmas in Texas! No bull, just pure Texas holiday sparkle.
You might not get your childhood dream of a white Christmas, but don’t worry. A Texas Christmas is all about dazzling lights, friendly faces, and good old-fashioned Texas charm. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
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The San Antonio Riverwalk
As our first stop on our Texas Christmas journey, we’re heading to the heart of San Antonio. The Riverwalk transforms into a dazzling spectacle every holiday season. As the sun sets, the River Walk twinkles to life.
Over 100,000 lights drape the towering Bald Cypress trees, mirroring a starlit sky onto the winding river below. The enchanting display of lights, reflecting against the serene water, creates a mesmerizing ambiance. It’s reminiscent of a scene straight out of a Christmas fairy-tale.
Don’t miss the famed River Walk boat rides, where you can sail through this illuminated wonderland, soaking in the magic of the season. The San Antonio River Walk’s holiday lights are a must-see. It offers an unforgettable experience that truly captures the spirit of a Texas Christmas.
Can you believe that even though I was born and raised in Texas, I never visited these lights until after I moved to Dallas?
Burnet: Main Street Bethlehem
Hitch your reindeer to Burnet, the home of Main Street Bethlehem. This annual event goes beyond your typical neighborhood light show. It’s a journey back in time to the birthplace of Christmas itself.
The First Baptist Church hosts this impressive recreation of ancient Bethlehem. It is complete with a bustling marketplace, resident artisans, live animals, and, of course, the revered nativity scene.
As you wander down the lamp-lit streets, you’ll find blacksmiths and bakers, merchants and weavers, all donned in biblical-era attire and fully immersed in their roles.
It’s an interactive experience that both educates and charms visitors of all ages. You might even spot a shepherd guiding his flock or the elusive Wise Men on their pilgrimage.
In the humble town of Burnet, Texas, the story of Christmas unfolds around you, making Main Street Bethlehem a cherished tradition.
While you’re there, it’s worth venturing out to discover the surrounding attractions. Don’t miss the enchanting free trail of lights in Marble Falls and the dazzling PEC lights in Johnson City. It’s where thousands of lights twinkle and illuminate the night.
Ride the Polar Express on the Texas State Railroad
All aboard the Polar Express on the Texas State Railroad, a memorable experience that brings the magic of the holidays to life.
As you step aboard the vintage train, you instantly become a part of the classic Christmas tale. Wrapped in the cozy warmth of the train cabin, expect to be greeted by a hot cup of cocoa as you embark on your journey to the North Pole.
The mere sound of the train chugging along the tracks, coupled with the sight of the snow-capped landscapes outside, is a spectacle to behold.
Throughout the ride, passengers are treated to a live reading of Chris Van Allsburg’s Polar Express, with carols and jovial cheer filling the air.
Upon arrival at the North Pole, the most-awaited guest, Santa Claus, boards the train, distributing gifts and spreading holiday cheer.
Grapevine: The Christmas Capital of Texas
Grapevine, affectionately known as the Christmas Capital of Texas, is a winter wonderland, teeming with over 1,400 holiday events that ensure a merry and bright season.
Grapevine’s charming Main Street is transformed into a Christmas card that comes to life. It’s brimming with twinkling lights and oversized decorations. Also, the much-anticipated North Pole Express on the Grapevine Vintage Railroad.
One cannot talk about Christmas in Grapevine without mentioning the Gaylord Texan Resort. This iconic hotel goes all out for the holiday season, turning its expansive atrium into a breathtaking Christmas spectacle. It’s complete with a towering Christmas tree, festive decorations, and millions of twinkling lights.
Nestled within the Gaylord Texan Resort is the magical ICE! It’s an extraordinary and frosty winter event that draws visitors far and wide.
Here, artisan sculptors from Harbin, China, transform more than two million pounds of ice into stunning, life-sized ice sculptures, complete with thrilling ice slides. The theme changes yearly, keeping the tradition fresh and exciting.
Also, the temperatures are kept at a chilly nine degrees, ensuring a true winter experience! And if you use code CURLY, you get 50% off!
Dallas: The Silver Bells of Texas Christmas
Coming in a close second to Grapevine, Dallas is another Christmas spectacle not to be missed in Texas. The city undergoes a dramatic transformation during the festive season, creating a winter wonderland that is truly awe-inspiring.
Exquisite light displays, particularly those in the Deerfield neighborhood and at the Dallas Zoo, become the city’s radiant jewels, illuminating the dark winter nights with a kaleidoscope of colors.
Dare I say, I like it more than New York because you get the over-the-top displays without the huge crowds?
The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden’s “Holiday at the Arboretum” event is a must-see. It features a Victorian-style village with over 25 shops, each displaying traditional European Christmas market wares and decorations. Not to mention the breathtaking “12 Days of Christmas” outdoor exhibit, where gazebos are filled with charming scenes to illustrate the traditional carol.
In addition to the winter wonderlands and twinkling light displays, Dallas also boasts a variety of festive holiday bars that add to the city’s Christmas cheer, such as the Tipsy Elf, Miracle on 5th Street, and many more that you can find on our Dallas Christmas Bars and Restaurants list.
For a magical stay in Dallas during the festive season, look no further than the Adolphus Hotel. This architectural marvel combines historic charm with a contemporary twist, drawing inspiration from German beau castle designs.
The Adolphus offers a royal-like experience in the heart of Texas. Don’t miss their Hot Cocoa Lounge, a perfect pop-up experience for all ages. Enjoy deluxe hot cocoa and create unforgettable holiday memories. Indulge in the Adolphus’ traditional holiday tea, reminiscent of old-world Christmas celebrations. Savor aromatic tea blends, pastries, and finger sandwiches. Experience their apres-ski rooftop yurts for an extra touch of holiday charm!
McAllen: The South Pole of Texas
The South Pole Illuminated Festival in McAllen, Texas, is a magical event that showcases the spirit of the holiday season. With over 1.5 million twinkling lights, the festival transforms the city into a winter wonderland, captivating both locals and visitors.
At the festival, attendees can immerse themselves in a world of enchantment. They can stroll through dazzling light displays, marvel at beautifully decorated Christmas trees, and experience the joy of holiday-themed performances.
Delicious food vendors offer a variety of treats, from hot chocolate to festive snacks, to satisfy every craving.
Children can visit Santa Claus and share their holiday wishes, while adults can enjoy live entertainment and music that adds to the festive atmosphere.
The festival also hosts activities like ice skating, where people of all ages can glide across the ice and create lasting memories.
Don’t miss the fireworks that happen every Saturday night for an extra special event!
Boerne: The Hallmark Christmas Town of Texas
Boerne, Texas, often referred to as the “Hallmark Christmas Town” of the state, is a quintessential holiday destination that encapsulates the warm, festive spirit of Christmas. This charming town, with its historic buildings and twinkling lights, seems to have been plucked straight from a Hallmark movie.
As the holiday season approaches, Boerne transforms into a winter wonderland where visitors can experience a variety of yuletide activities.
The annual Dickens on Main event takes center stage with its historic Main Street adorned with festive decorations, fairy lights, and antique shop windows showcasing holiday displays. Visitors can take part in horse-drawn carriage rides, watch live theatrical performances, and even meet characters from Charles Dickens’ novels who roam the streets, adding a touch of Victorian magic to the festivities.
For those who enjoy outdoor activities, the Ice Rink at the Hill Country Mile is a must-visit.
Glide across the ice with the holiday-lit backdrop of Boerne while experiencing a distinctive Wild West twist at the Old West Christmas Light Fest. This unique event combines the allure of an old-time Western town with over three million twinkling Christmas lights. Explore the enchanting structures that transport you back in time, and enjoy interactive light displays and games that add modern fun to the historical ambiance.
Corpus Christi: Coastal Christmas with a Sparkling Twist
Corpus Christi, another jewel of Texas, adds a unique coastal twist to the holiday season. As the sun sets over the Gulf of Mexico, the city begins to shine with thousands of Christmas lights, transforming it into a dazzling holiday spectacle.
The centerpiece of Corpus Christi’s Christmas events is the annual Harbor Lights Festival, featuring the Illuminated Boat Parade. Here, the city’s marina becomes a floating canvas of light as local boat owners adorn their vessels with brilliant displays of festive decorations. The sight of the colorful flotilla, reflecting off the calm waters of the marina, is truly a sight to behold. Visitors line up along the shoreline, their faces glowing with the reflected light, as they marvel at the spectacle unfolding.
The South Texas Botanical Gardens & Nature Center is a holiday oasis, featuring themed gardens adorned with Christmas lights. Visitors can stroll through illuminated paths surrounded by exotic plants, flowers, and wildlife, adding charm to the festive season.
The Corpus Christi Ballet’s annual performance of “The Nutcracker” is a must-see, capturing the Christmas spirit with dancing toys, mischievous mice, and lovely fairies. This timeless classic provides a delightful experience for all ages.
Don’t miss the Corpus Christi Downtown Farmers’ Market, which transforms into a Christmas market in December. Enjoy unique shopping with local produce, crafts, and holiday treats, accompanied by live music and festive cheer. Support the local community during the holidays!
College Station: Santa’s Wonderland
Santa’s Wonderland in College Station is a Texas-sized Christmas extravaganza, spreading holiday cheer over a vast 69-acre park. The main attraction is undoubtedly the magnificent trail of lights, a spectacle that stretches over three miles and is adorned with millions of holiday lights and decorations. Visitors can traverse the trail riding in a cozy, horse-drawn carriage or choose to drive through in their own vehicles.
The park also offers a massive snow playground, known as “Snowland”. It’s where children and adults alike can engage in snow tubing. The “West Pole” Texas-themed area offers live music, a petting zoo, mechanical bull rides, and unique Texas eateries.
To complete the holiday experience, visitors can shop for souvenirs and unique holiday gifts at the various shops scattered throughout the park. With its blend of traditional Christmas charm and unique Texas spirit, Santa’s Wonderland in College Station offers an experience unlike any other.
The Grand Prairie Lights Show
Right in the heart of the DFW Metroplex, Grand Prairie really brings Christmas to life with its Prairie Lights show. Imagine traveling along a charming two-mile stretch of road that is awe-inspiringly lit up by over four million lights that twinkle against the night sky.
As you drive through this radiant wonderland, the vibrant colors and creative displays are just a precursor to the joy that awaits at the Holiday Village, a charming pit stop designed to enhance your yuletide adventure. Here, families can take a moment to revel in the holiday atmosphere: indulge in warm seasonal treats, share a laugh, and capture memories with a cheerful photo alongside Santa Claus himself.
Beyond snacks and snapshots, the Holiday Village introduces a world of twinkling lights. Set against the backdrop of an enchanted forest, it’s inviting you to stroll beneath its shimmering canopy. For those seeking a dash of wintry thrill, step into the unique indoor snow maze, where you can navigate a labyrinth without the chill of the outside air.
After the delightful interlude at the village, the journey continues. Return to your car, where the final leg of the drive culminates in a spectacular animated light tunnel. A grand finale that’s sure to leave both kids and adults in awe.
The glow of Grand Prairie’s lights promises a night of pure Christmas enchantment that’s bound to become a cherished memory for everyone.
Weihnachtszeit: A Fredericksburg Christmas
Escape the hustle and bustle of city life and head to the lovely town of Fredericksburg for a peaceful winter getaway. Imagine stepping into a magical winter scene where you can go ice skating near a giant 30-foot Christmas tree and the authentic German Christmas pyramid. It’s a breathtaking sight!
As you stroll along the historic Main Street, you’ll be transported into a fairy-tale world with all the festive decorations and sparkling lights. The charming boutiques and cozy shops are beautifully decorated for the holidays, and they invite you to discover unique gifts.
But Fredericksburg isn’t just a feast for the eyes; it’s a treat for your taste buds too. You can enjoy a special wine event where local wines are paired perfectly with delicious local food. This town is the perfect place to slow down and savor the holiday spirit.
Every night at 6 p.m. until January 6, a special event takes place. It starts with a 10-minute show that combines the history of Fredericksburg’s German heritage with classic holiday songs.
And then there’s an exciting countdown that lights up Marktplatz with joyous displays of lights. It’s an event that truly captures the magic of a Fredericksburg Christmas!
New Braunfels: A Drive-Thru Christmas Light Park
In the small town of New Braunfels, you’ll find holiday joy all around, just like the natural beauty that surrounds it. One of the town’s special holiday attractions is Santa’s Ranch Drive-Thru Christmas Light Park, which is a fantastic experience you won’t want to miss during your Texan Christmas adventure.
When you arrive at Santa’s Ranch, you’ll be greeted by a breathtaking display of colorful lights. This is just a preview of the wonderful sights you’ll see during your drive through the park. These lights create a dazzling show, with animated scenes and traditional holiday decorations that fill you with the warmth and joy of the season, all while you stay cozy in your car.
Santa’s Ranch is open every night throughout the holiday season, and it’s perfect for the whole family, couples, or anyone who wants to enjoy the holiday spirit without getting out of their car. It’s not just about looking at the lights; it’s an interactive experience. You can even buy hot cocoa, kettle corn, and other treats from the concession stand to make your ride even more delightful.
But the fun in New Braunfels doesn’t stop there. The town has a rich German heritage, so it combines Old World Christmas traditions with Texan hospitality. Whether you explore the historic Gruene district, visit local holiday markets, or simply enjoy the festive decorations downtown, New Braunfels offers a chance to make lasting holiday memories that will shine as brightly as the lights at Santa’s Ranch.
Christmas Things to Do and Places to Visit in Texas: Final Thoughts
As we end our Christmas adventure in Texas, it’s clear there are tons of festive activities and places to visit. Every town, from Grand Prairie’s dazzling lights to New Braunfels’ charming streets, brings its own special touch to the season.
Imagine ice skating under Houston’s skyscrapers, watching classic Christmas shows, or joining the many local events. Texas brings together both grand celebrations and cozy gatherings, creating something for everyone who loves Christmas. It’s a place where history blends with modern fun, making the holidays even more special!
Whether you live in Texas or are just visiting, you’re invited to create memories that will last forever. Texas is the perfect place to celebrate with your loved ones. And even after the last notes of “Auld Lang Syne” fade away, the Christmas spirit might linger here just a little longer, making you want to come back and experience the magic again next year.
Be sure to also check out our additional Christmas blogs, featuring in-depth lists of things to do in Texas’ major cities: