Best bets for your Houston holiday weekend: Thanksgiving Parade, a Christmas train and more

The Christmas Train (The Christmas Train)

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Hooray! You’re home for Thanksgiving. You’ve had your turkey dinner, watched the big ball game, and put up your tree.

Now what? It’s time to get out of the house and have a proper Houston holiday adventure. Read on for a few activities sure to entertain the whole family, whether young kiddos, visiting relatives or their exhausted hosts.

8 best bets for your Houston holiday weekend:

  • Houston’s Thanksgiving Day parade: The 73rd Annual H-E-B Thanksgiving Day Parade will take place on Thursday 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 parade is free and open to the public. Curbside space along the route for lawn chairs and blankets will be plentiful. Easy access parking is available along the parade route.
  • “The Nutcracker”: Grand sets. Stunning costumes. An iconic score. Nothing says the holidays in Houston quite like “The Nutcracker,” performed by the Houston Ballet Friday through Dec. 27. Tickets are now on sale and start at $30. Purchase them here.
Houston Ballet's The Nutcracker 2021 (Lawrence Elizabeth Knox 2021, Houston Ballet)
  • Houston Symphony presents Disney’s “Fantasia”: Stunning animation will fill the giant screen at Jones Hall while the Symphony brings the soundtrack to life, including favorites like Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, “Pomp and Circumstance,” Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite, and, of course, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.” The production will run at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. on Sunday.
  • The Christmas Train at Victory Camp in Alvin: The Christmas Train chugs into Alvin on Friday, 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.
The Christmas Train (The Christmas Train)
  • “A Christmas Carol”: The Ghost of Christmas Past will again haunt the Alley Theatre. “A Christmas Carol” will run Friday 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,” according to the Alley Theatre news release. Tickets start at $26.
  • KPRC 2′s Holiday Lights Spectacular: KPRC 2′s Holiday Lights Spectacular will air live on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. The hour-long special will feature a peek at some of the area’s best holiday attractions for family fun around the Houston area. KPRC 2 anchors Keith Garvin and Daniella Guzman will host the show live from Moody Gardens’ Festival of Lights in Galveston as Chief Meteorologist Frank Billingsley and Sports Director Randy McIlvoy join them from Moody Gardens’ Ice Land, which is back for the first time since the pandemic with a “Caribbean Christmas” theme.
KPRC 2′s Holiday Lights Spectacular (KPRC 2)
  • “Cistern Illuminated”: This new seasonal light installation in the Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern consists of undulating lights that provide a unique perspective on the iconic architecture of the Cistern. Tours of “Cistern Illuminated” are punctuated by special performances by the Schola Cantorum of the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart. These periodic events feature ethereal songs from the seventh century to the present day. Concerts include works by Hildegard van Bingen, Guillaume Dufay, Elizabeth Poston, Arvo Pärt, Ola Gjeilo, Crista Miller, and others in this unique acoustic space.
  • “Trains Over Texas”: On view through the holidays, “Trains Over Texas,” the Houston Museum of Natural Science’s annual spectacle in miniature, features a detailed, tennis-court-size approximation of the Lone Star State packed with replicas of some of Texas’ most iconic landmarks, including Enchanted Rock and Pedernales Falls. The exhibit is the largest indoor O-scale model railroad in Texas. From Big Bend all the way to downtown Houston’s “Be Someone” sign, model trains chug through the display, passing through oil country salt domes, prairies and the wetlands of the Texas coast. Along with an overview of the state’s rail history, the exhibit offers visitors a one-of-a-kind look at Texas’ geology. Admission to the exhibit is included in the price of general admission. My lovely colleague Amanda Cochran visited the exhibit with her adorable boys over the weekend and loved it. Read about her experience here.
Trains over Texas (HMNS)

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This is the Things to Do newsletter, a preview of local events assembled by the KPRC 2 Digital Team and delivered to your inbox each week. To subscribe, visit