HOUSTON – Houston, the wait is almost over.
The holiday season is returning in full force and soon, you can relive your favorite festive traditions -- mind-bogglingly massive holiday markets, dizzyingly dazzling light displays, electrifying stage spectaculars, and more.
Read on for a smorgasbord of seasonal offerings and holiday happenings held around the Houston and beyond. The events are listed chronologically by start date.
❄️ The Light Park
This drive-thru lights experience with locations in Katy and Spring will open on Nov. 4 and will operate through the end of the year.
The mile-long light show consists of over one million lights and includes a 700-foot LED tunnel. The park’s light show is synced and choreographed to holiday music.
For all the particulars, head here.
🍬 Sugar Plum Market
More than 100 vendor booths will fill the Stafford Centre Performing Arts Theatre and Convention Center during this annual holiday market held Nov. 3 through Nov. 5. Admission is $15 per person. Purchase tickets here.
🛍️ Nutcracker Market
The Houston Ballet’s Nutcracker Market ushers in the twinkliest season of the year. It’s the city’s de facto invitation to cast aside jack-o-lanterns, plastic pumpkins and autumnal décor in favor of tinsel, pine trees and all-things red and green.
What began in 1981 as a humble bazaar has grown into a mind-bogglingly massive four-day shopping extravaganza featuring more than 260 vendors offering an array of oh-so-tempting goodies -- including but not limited to -- gourmet food (think jalapeno peanut brittle, pina colada-flavored rum cake and brisket tamales), home goods, kitchen wares, clothing, toys and, of course, holiday decorations galore. Each year, tens of thousands of eager shoppers, many with a mimosa in hand and clad in spirited holiday garb, pour into the NRG Center for the not-to-be-missed event.
The festive event makes its triumphant return to NRG Park Nov. 10-13. Tickets are available for purchase online ($18) and at H-E-B ($20).
🚂 Polar Express
The Galveston Railroad Museum will offer its fourth annual Polar Express train ride experience Nov. 11 through Dec. 23.
Passengers are immersed in the sights and sounds of the classic children’s novel as they are whisked away on the Polar Express to meet Santa. Once onboard, the conductor will punch your golden tickets. Then, dancing chefs will serve hot chocolate and treats as passengers read along to the classic children’s book “The Polar Express” by Chris Van Allsburg. During the one-hour experience Santa and his helpers will board the train and give each guest a gift.
Ticket prices range from $30 (Coach) to $100 (Premium), depending on the date and time of the ride. Purchase tickets online here.
⛸️ Ice skating at Discovery Green
Discovery Green’s ice rink will open on Nov. 11 and operate through the end of January. Admission is $17 per person and includes skate rental.
Planning to take a twirl around the rink? Here’s what to expect this year.
🚀 Galaxy Lights
The season of lights, holiday shopping and caroling is fast upon us and one of the city’s most lavish light displays, Galaxy Lights, is returning to Space Center Houston with lavish light displays.
The holiday exhibit, dubbed the “most technologically advanced light show in Texas,” will open to the public on Nov. 12, and run daily through Jan. 2.
Galaxy Lights consists of several of indoor and outdoor light displays composed of hundreds of thousands of lights. Some of the displays include a high-tech kinetic light show featuring hundreds of suspended LED orbs that move in choreographed sequences to holiday music, as well as an LED light tunnel, a simulated indoor meteor shower, a massive model of the solar system, and a 40-foot tall,100-foot long shooting star made from LED lights.
Space Center Houston’s Zero-G Diner will offer hot cocoa and other holiday treats for purchase.
Admission is $15.95 for members, $19.95 for non-members and free for children ages three and younger. All tickets include admission to Space Center Houston. Purchase tickets here.
🎩 “A Christmas Carol”
The Ghost of Christmas Past will again haunt the Alley Theatre. “A Christmas Carol” will run from Nov. 18, through Dec. 30. This year, the acclaimed theater company will offer a new theatrical spin on the popular Victorian-era tale.
The new adaptation by artistic director Rob Melrose “captures Dickens’ witty wording and evocative style to surprise audiences with new scenes of the familiar story they might not know.”
Tickets to “A Christmas Carol” are now on sale and start at $26. Purchase them online at alleytheatre.org or over the phone at (713) 220-5700.
🎭 “The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley”
Regency romance returns to Rice Village with one of literature’s most beloved couples, Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy. In Main Street Theater’s annual holiday production “The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley,” a most unwelcome visitor makes an appearance at Pemberley, Mr. Darcy’s nemesis and Lydia’s incorrigible husband, Mr. Wickham.
The production runs Nov. 19, through Dec. 18. Purchase tickets here.
This holiday lights event will return to the Houston Botanic Garden on Nov. 18, and run on select evenings through Jan 1. On this illuminated trail, you’ll see stunning immersive installations including a light tunnel, a breathtaking field of bluebonnets, and a glowing forest of spiraling trees.
Admission is $28 for adults and $18 for children. Purchase tickets here.
🐘 Zoo Lights
At this annual holiday lights event, stroll through a 100-foot-long light tunnel, walk under a canopy of glowing flowers and butterflies, glimpse glowing, life-size, animal lanterns, snap a picture with Santa and more. The experience will run 5:30 p.m.-10:30 p.m., Nov. 18, through Dec. 28. Purchase tickets here.
🎄 Sugar Land Holiday Lights
More than three million lights will brighten Constellation Field during Sugar Land’s annual holiday lights extravaganza, held Nov. 18, through Jan. 1. See dazzling light displays, snap a photo with Santa, enjoy carnival rides, attend holiday movie screening and more at this holiday festival.
🎅 “A Charlie Brown Christmas”
Charles M. Schulz’s award-winning story has been a longstanding tradition, warming the hearts of millions of fans since it first aired on television more than 50 years ago. Now, the live stage adaptation of the classic animated television special brings all the beloved characters to life. Follow Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus and the rest of the Peanuts characters on their journey to uncover the true meaning of Christmas at the Grand 1894 Opera House on Nov. 19.
Click here for event details.
⛄ Holiday in the Gardens at Moody Gardens
Moody Gardens will offer a slew of seasonal attractions including ice sculptures, a trail of lights, pictures with Santa, holiday films, fireside s’mores, and train rides.
For more information, click here.
🦃 Houston’s Thanksgiving Day parade
The 73rd Annual H-E-B Thanksgiving Day Parade will take place on Thursday, November 24th at 9 a.m. in downtown Houston. The parade will include a special performance by local rapper Bun B, Theatre Under the Stars and Apache Belles. Spectators can expect to see 20 balloons, 14 floats, marching bands, drill teams and more.
The 73rd Annual H-E-B Thanksgiving Day Parade is free and open to the public. A limited number of premium seats are available and can be purchased at houstonthanksgivingparade.org for $28.25 each, including service fee. Curbside space along the route for lawn chairs and blankets will be plentiful. Easy access parking is available along the parade route.
For more information, click here.
🩰 “The Nutcracker”
Grand sets. Stunning costumes. An iconic score. Nothing says Christmas in Houston quite like “The Nutcracker,” performed by the Houston Ballet Nov. 25 through Dec. 27.
Tickets are now on sale and start at $30. Purchase them online here.
🚂 The Christmas Train at Victory Camp in Alvin
The Christmas Train chugs into Alvin on Nov. 25, beginning another run of the popular holiday attraction. On this yuletide train, passengers will enjoy an eight-to 12-minute ride through a winter wonderland (a.k.a., Camp Victory) decorated with over 300,000 lights and hundreds of Christmas decorations including a gingerbread village display, penguin snow lands, and life-size storybook illustrations.
Head here for all the details.
🤠 “A Texas Carol”
The whole family is on the way to Mee-Maw Jane’s East Texas ranch for what might be her last Christmas. The only problem--when the first group arrives, Mee-Maw is already gone! Now, how to keep that fact (and her body) from the rest of the family and save Christmas? A.D. Players presents this hysterical and heart-warming story about all things Christmas and all things Texas Nov. 30 through Dec. 23.
Tickets start at $30 and are available for purchase here.
🎩 Dickens on The Strand
Brush off your bowlers and pull out your petticoats in preparation for Galveston Historical Foundation’s 49th annual Dickens on The Strand. Held Dec. 2-4, the beloved holiday festival brings 19th-century Victorian London to Historic Downtown Galveston. Enjoy parades, period-appropriate music, and a slew of entertainers portraying Her Royal Highness Queen Victoria, Prince albert, Father Christmas and Charles Dickens himself. Costumed vendors will peddle their wares (Victorian-inspired crafts, clothing, holiday decorations, gift items, etc.) from street stalls and cars. Special events include a tea party and “Salute to Sunset” party and aboard the Tall Ship Elissa, holiday handbell concerts inside the breathtaking 1859 St. Joseph’s Church, an English breakfast at Ashton Villa, a spectacular soiree at Bishop’s Palace, and a Victorian bed race.
For more information, click here.
In this comedy written by Texas playwright Isaac Gómez, meet Margot, a Tejana Scrooge who’s flippin’ burgers, flingin’ fries, and seein’ spirits while working the Christmas Eve overnight shift at Whataburger. Presented by Alley Theatre, the new holiday will run Dec. 2 through Dec. 24. Purchase tickets here.
🎼 “El Milagro Del Recuerdo”
The Houston Grand Opera-commissioned mariachi opera “El Milagro del Recuerdo” (The Miracle of Remembering) transports audiences to Michoacan, Mexico for a celebration of family and tradition. The story follows the lives of Laurentino, a bracero who returns from the United States to spend Christmastime with his family, and his wife Renata, who worries that his time away from home is changing him. The two face a life-changing decision: whether to stay with family in Mexico, or leave for the promise of a better life.
The opera will run at Cullen Theater from Dec. 8-Dec. 18. Tickets start at $30. Purchase them online here.
✈️ Stearman Santa
Aviation enthusiasts, snap some photos with the Lone Star Flight’s Museum’s Stearman Santa on Dec. 10 and Dec. 17.
For event details, click here.
🎁 Magical Winter Lights
At this attraction at the Houston Raceway in Baytown, journey through more than 100 lantern sets in several themed sections including a magical castle, a Christmas village, a tribute to Houston, a dino fun zone, a space maze, and an ocean paradise.
For all the particulars, head here.