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12 Festive Ways to Celebrate Christmas in Houston

Christmas in Houston is a magical period filled with holiday lights, displays, s’mores, hot cocoas, and Santa visits, of course!

From marveling at holiday lights to sipping hot beverages, there are many things to do in Houston during Christmas. However, this Texas city doesn’t have a white Christmas as the temperatures stay in the 40s and 60s.

Which is also why Houston should be on everyone’s USA bucket list!

Still, you can enjoy incredible holiday festivals and everything else larger-than-life because as a good ‘ol Texan town, Houston, the Space City, is here to make an impression.

12 Festive Ways to Celebrate Christmas in Houston

These are the best Christmas events in Houston. Enjoy!

Traveling around the Lone Star State? Check out these other places to celebrate Christmas in Texas!

1. Lace-up your skates at the Discovery Green Ice Rink

Ice rink at Discovery Green in Houston
Ice rink at Discovery Green – Photo courtesy of Visit Houston (Julie Soefer)

Glide beneath the glittering lights of Downtown Houston and create memorable moments with your family or friends!

While winter in Houston is mild compared to most winter vacation spots in the US, the ice rink in town is perfect for getting in the holiday spirit.

Running on renewable energy, the rink at Discovery Green is open every day of the week, including Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.

Tickets must be purchased online for safety reasons. Admission on Mondays is cheaper, $8, while on the other days, the entrance is $15 per person, skate rentals included.

2. Rudolph’s light show

Rudolph's Christmas Lights in Houston
Christmas in Houston is a fantastic season!

If you want to celebrate Christmas in Houston with the little ones, you will want to drive-through Rudolph’s Lightshow.

It’s a magical experience with light tunnels, larger-than-life Christmas trees, snowmen, and many other displays featuring over 1 million lights!

The lights are synced to music that will be played over the radio, which takes the experience to the next level.

The event opens on November 1, 2020, and runs until January 3, 2021. Prices start at $30 per vehicle, online price, and $40 per car at the door.

Of all the things to do in Houston for Christmas, this one is pretty unmissable.

3. Marvel at the spectacular holiday lights

Christmas lights in Houston

Magical Winter Lights is one of the most popular Christmas activities in Houston.

This 20-acre, 52-day, larger-than-life lantern festival has themed lantern sections, nightly acrobatic performances, carnival rides and games, an interactive dino area, and lots of holiday fun for the whole family.

In case you didn’t know, this is the largest lantern festival of its kind in the United States, boasting over 100 individual lantern sets in eight unique themed sections.

Unfortunately, the Magical Winter Lights has been postponed until the 2021 holiday season. Still, we will update this page with more info next year.

4. Watch the Nutcracker Sweets at Houston Ballet’s website

Houston Ballet's The Nutcracker
Houston Ballet’s The Nutcracker – Photo courtesy of Visit Houston

Calling all culture lovers! The Christmas season marks the return of a beloved audience favorite at the Houston Ballet, but this time, the spectacle is virtual.

Travel to a winter wonderland set to your favorite carols and an abridged version of Stanton Welch’s The Nutcracker, keep the tradition alive, and celebrate the holidays with Houston Ballet!

It’s an excellent family-friendly activity but makes for a magical and comfy date night under the blankets as well.

Houston Ballet has been around since 1973 and is involved with several community dance programs, including Dance for Parkinson’s, Adapted Dance for children with Down Syndrome, Autism-friendly performances, and off-site adapted dance classes (hospitals, schools, etc.), so you’ll also be supporting local causes.

The Nutcracker Sweets ballet is shown digitally from December 15-January 8, and tickets cost $35.

5. Take a Christmas train ride

Santa Express during Christmas

No Christmas in Houston would be complete without a train ride at the Christmas Train.

With 279 trees wrapped in lights, over 500 lbs popcorn popped, and some mouthwatering deep-dish pizza, this activity at Victory Camp in Alvin is one of the local’s favorite Christmas events in the Houston area.

Your whole family can enjoy an old-fashioned train ride on open-air coaches while experiencing, wait for it, over 300,000 Christmas lights and displays.

It is a unique holiday experience, unlike anything else in Houston!

The event will run on November 27-28, December 4-5, 10-12, and 14-23 from 6-9 PM, but on extended hours until 10 PM on December 4-5, 11-12, and 18-23.

Tickets online are just $10 for adults, and for rides after 8 PM, it’s $8. Kids 2 and under get in free!

Mind you, tickets at the door are a bit more expensive, $12.

6. Take holiday photos at the Christmas tree at the City Hall

City Hall Christmas Tree in Houston
The Christmas tree at City Hall is lit during the annual Mayor’s Official Tree Lighting Ceremony. – Photo courtesy of Visit Houston

This iconic Christmas tree is lit on December 5 to signal all Houstonians that the holiday season has officially arrived!

Stand beneath the towering Holiday Tree at Houston City Hall and take your Christmas photos with friends.

Glowing with energy-efficient LED lights, shimmering ornaments, and a stunning star topper, the tree is the centerpiece of a Christmas holiday in Houston. Namely, it lights up the streets of Downtown Houston year after year.

While the tree will be shining bright all the way through December 31, the 2020 Reliant Lights Mayor’s Holiday Spectacular 101st year event has been reimagined as a virtual holiday celebration, and it will take place on December 6, from 6.30-8 PM.

7. Catch a gingerbread house competition

Making gingerbread

Join the sweetest holiday even in Houston in a traditional competition that will leave you hungry for gingerbread!

If you have little ones along on your trip to Houston, a stop at Architecture Center Houston should definitely be on the itinerary.

Watching their annual gingerbread competition is an incredible thing to do in Houston during Christmas as skilled architecture firms and students show their talent in delicious artworks.

Besides the competition, children can have the time of their lives at the kids’ construction zone and say hi to Santa, of course! Admission is free for the public.

Unfortunately, the 2020 Gingerbread Build-Off has been postponed to the 2021 holiday season. We will update this page once more info is available.

8. Watch a gingerbread village glow at CityPlace’s waterfront Plaza

Christmas tree in Houston, Texas

Bringing extra shimmer to CityPlace’s waterfront plaza, a 35-foot Christmas tree rises from the main pond, creating a dazzling beacon for Houstonians and tourists alike.

And as an equally dynamic complement to the floating centerpiece, a local creative entrepreneur and a team of artisans from New Orleans created the inaugural gingerbread village display on the lake system’s eastern banks.

A super-sized, fantasy version of the holiday classic, the installation is anticipated to expand each year, making your Christmas in Houston more special.

From the plaza, guests will wind around a path dotted with oversized candy canes, popsicles, and gumdrops and cross under an entrance guarded by two gingerbread men before arriving at a raised clearing featuring cookie trees, a 16-foot high house, and a 12-foot windmill.

Both the tree and CityPlace gingerbread village will be on display from November 29 through January 9, 2021, with free hot chocolate served on the Plaza every Thursday and Sunday from 4 until 7 PM.

Bonus Christmassy things to do: Tomball German Christmas Market is a traditional open-air market to enjoy the best of the holiday season. It’s packed with local vendors, food and drink vendors, live entertainment, and more in the holiday season 2021.

9. Take the Starry Night Express to another galaxy

Silhouette of a girl while watching stars through the telescope.

If you’re looking for truly unique things to do in Houston for Christmas, look no further. The Houston Museum of Natural Science will hold a live stargazing show for all ages.

Finding planets, the moon, constellations, meteor showers, and the Milky Way band are some of the things you will see departing from the Space City.

You will visit the George Observatory to experience the darkest skies on Earth. Then the show will drop into a star party led by Patrick Stewart.

From this country setting, the show takes audiences through the solar system and into the Universe.

This show delivers the night sky and interprets its wonders all in one spectacular experience.

The live show will run daily from November 18-January 3, 2021, and tickets cost between $4-$9.

10. Go holiday lights hunting on the Main Street

Christmas lights and displays

 Stroll along the Main Street and take in the twinkling lights bringing the holiday spirit to Downtown Houston!

As a good ol’ Texas event, Christmas in Houston has larger-than-life displays, sparking trees, and banners guiding your hunt from one end to the other of the street.

The holiday displays will shine brightly from November 18-December 31, and the attraction is obviously free for the entire family.

11. Get some Instagrammable moments with Santa

Photo with Santa

At the Santa Experience, Houstonians and tourists alike can have their holiday family portraits taken in a safe and healthy environment.

Besides this face-to-face experience at the Mall, there will also be Zoom video calls offering a virtual interaction with Santa to ensure a real Houston Christmas for everyone.

The Memorial City Hall has completely reimagined their Santa Set with new layouts and technologies to avoid crowding while offering magical moments for the entire family. Packages starting at $29.99.

12. Get an out-of-this-world experience at the Space Center Houston

Galaxy Lights at Space Center Houston
Galaxy Lights gives visitors the unique opportunity to celebrate the holiday season while exploring Space Center Houston – Photo courtesy of Space Center Houston

Christmas at the Space City couldn’t pass by without a visit to the Space Center Houston.

You can embark on a one-of-a-kind festive adventure and continue the Space City tradition this holiday season during Galaxy Lights, an immersive holiday lights tradition bringing to Houstonians and tourists the most interactive and technologically advanced light display in Texas.

This holiday festival has LED lights and interactive displays lighting up some of the world’s rarest space artifacts.

Here you can explore the solar system through massive models of each planet, snap a selfie in the Earth photo station, and of course, marvel at a 20-foot twinkling tree.

These are just some of the things you can experience at Galaxy Lights, which will be a blast for space enthusiasts of all ages.

There are s’mores and hot cocoa available for purchase for those who want something to munch on as they ooh and ahh.

The shows happen nightly from November 14 through January 3, 2021, and ticket prices start at $19.95 for the public, $15.95 for members, and ages three and younger get free admission.

Want to experience Christmas in other Texas towns too? Then you might want to check out the holiday events in Fredericksburg in the heart of the Texas Hill Country. Likewise, both the Christmas in San Antonio and Austin are absolutely worth experiencing.

Christmas in Houston

There are many things to do in Houston to celebrate the holidays, from festivals to holiday shows and special museum events.

For that reason, we hope this list of Christmas things to do in Houston will be useful to you and your family and that you have a lovely holiday in the Lone Star State.

Happy holidays!

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