Here in Texas, we do everything big. When it’s the holidays? You bet you’re going to find some of the best holiday events in the entire country. Holiday festivals in Texas are easy to find but selecting which one to attend? That’s the hard part. Put on your favorite Christmas sweater, gather up all your friends and family, and head out to find the best holiday cheer there is with our list of things to do this holiday season!
McAllen Holiday Parade
Just five hours south of Austin, in McAllen, is the holiday spectacular McAllen Holiday Parade. The one-and-a-half-mile parade takes place Saturday, December 7th at 6:00 PM from McAllen Veterans Memorial Stadium. Reserved seating along Bicentennial Boulevard is available while first come first serve seating is available on US Business 83. The McAllen Holiday Parade is the largest illuminated holiday and helium parade in all of Texas. Floats with celebrities, local high school bands, and even the Budweiser Clydesdales and Oscar Meyer Weiner Mobile have been known to grace the parade route.
The fun doesn’t stop there, though! Be sure to experience Frio! Where real snow will fall in the Rio Grande Valley at the McAllen Convention Center. Take the Penguino Plunge and slide down the ice mountain, toss snowballs at Santa’s Snowball Toss, build a snowman, decorate a gingerbread house, ice skate, and meet Santa! While you’re there, stop into Christmas in the Park and visit food and craft vendors, live entertainment on two stages, and carnival rides to thrill and delight!
Whistle Stop Christmas
Travel three hours north of Austin to join the festivities of Whistle Stop Christmas in Cleburne. Beginning November 25th and running through December 31st, millions of lights will be on display at Hulen Park. The annual Christmas Lighting Ceremony begins at 6:30 on November 25th and includes live entertainment and even a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus. Train rides around the park will be offered for the kids and food vendors will be available to warm and feed the soul.
On December 6th the Lighted Christmas Parade will begin in downtown Cleburne. Don’t miss special performances including White Christmas the Musical, Frozen Jr., the Dorothy Shaw Handbell Choir, the Candlewalk Tour of Homes, pancake breakfast with Santa, and the Brazos Chamber Orchestra Christmas Concert. For details including performance dates and times, visit www.whistlestopchristmas.com.
To really get you into the Christmas spirit, visit Santa’s Wonderland in College Station. View the millions of lights with a family-style hayride or take a more intimate carriage ride. Both hayrides and carriage rides include admission into Santa’s Town, nightly entertainment, Christmas movies, train rides, toboggan chutes, mechanical bull rides, and Frostbite’s Mountain Snowtubing and Snow Playground. Once inside, there are so many fun activities to choose from! Visit Santa in Santa’s Cottage, check to see if you’re on the Naughty or Nice List with Tinsel the Elf, listen to live music, visit the Food Village for all kinds of eats and some hot cocoa to warm you up, visit the Wonderland Winery and pick up a Texas holiday wine for your next holiday gathering, shop in the Texas Christmas Village, plus so much more! Be sure to take photos with Marshall Frostbite, the town’s 7-foot tall snowman mascot or take a picture with the giant Texas flag made of holiday lights, for the perfect Christmas card to share with friends and family.
The Christmas Capital of Texas – Grapevine
With 1400 events in a span of 40 days, including millions of holiday lights, decorations and animated characters, it’s no wonder Grapevine is called the Christmas Capital of Texas. The events kick off with the Carol of Lights in Historic Downtown Grapevine November 25th beginning at 4:00 PM. The free event includes live performances, light shows, and fireworks. Fun family activities are sure to get everyone in the Christmas spirit with a sled ride down the snow hill, photos with live reindeer, craft making, and visiting food vendors.
On December 5th in downtown, be sure to take part in the Parade of Lights. Over 100 lighted floats and marching bands will march down Main Street. Stay until the end of the parade to get a glimpse of Santa!
Don’t miss the annual Twinkle Light Boat Parade on Lake Grapevine, December 7th. All kinds of watercrafts will be adorned with lights and will parade down the lake beginning at Twin Coves Marina down to Scott’s Landing and Silver Lake. Best viewing areas are from Silver Lake and Rockledge Parks.
Of course, that’s just the beginning! There’s the North Pole Express at Great Wolf Lodge, ICE! At the Gaylord Texan Resort with ice sculptures crafted by more than 40 sculptors, and lots of other fun chilly activities. There’s also the Texas Star Dinner Theater shows and the Grapevine Christmas Passport – Elf Adventure with many fun and hands-on activities and projects to take home. While some activities require advance purchase tickets, the holiday light shows and parades are free.