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10 Houston Christmas Events You Don't Want to Miss This Holiday Season

person taking photo of holiday lights

Houston always has something going on, and the holidays are no exception here. Depending on what you enjoy, there are Christmas activities for the whole family. From Christmas lights, to a gingerbread build off, make your Christmas in Houston extra festive this year. We put together a snapshot of the ten don't-miss Houston Christmas events to check out. Bonus: many are free!

Holiday Lights in Houston

Prestonwood Forest Holiday Lights

Drive through Prestonwood Forest subdivision in NW Houston for its Nite of Lites, a holiday tradition and competition since the 1980s. Visitors can drive through the community weekdays till 10 pm and weekends till 11 pm. Folks are encouraged to vote online for their favorite home as the People’s Choice Award. The neighborhood typically lights up the last three weeks of December, making it the perfect thing to do for Christmas!

Houston Zoo Lights

holiday zoo lights in Houston, Texas

Enjoy the Houston Zoo in a whole new light with Zoo Lights at the Houston Zoo. The zoo is transformed into a winter wonderland every night from mid-November to mid-January with animal-themed light displays and 15 miles of tree lighting, 6 pm – 10 pm each night (till 11 pm weekends). Sip hot chocolate or listen to carolers surrounded by 2 million lights. New this year: don’t miss the 33-ft. Christmas tree, which is a perfect backdrop for your pics! Tickets are $17.95 – $22.95 each (depending on the night). Discount available for Zoo members.

Dickinson Festival of Lights

What could be better than free admission, free parking and free shuttle? Dickinson Festival of Lights is an amazing walk-through event for nearly 20 years southeast of Houston. It's open weekends only in early December and then nightly the second half of the month at Paul Hopkins Park. It's worth stopping by when you're looking for free events in Houston.

Christmas Activities for Families

Christmas in the Park

Go back in time and celebrate Christmas traditions at Christmas in the Park, held at George Ranch Historical Park. Each weekend in December, families can enjoy a variety of historical holiday fun including Treehouse Story Time with Santa, art activities, hayride to explore customs and decorations from the olden days and more. This is located in Richmond and there is a fee to enjoy this Houston Christmas event.

Christmas Village at Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens

For three weeks in December, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston transforms into a winter wonderland. Families are invited to visit and enjoy caroling musicians, a faux-snowball play area, art activities, Santa, holiday treats, plus live reindeer on special nights during the season. This is located in River Oaks on 14 acres of gardens at Bayou Bend, Ima Hogg's former residence. There is a fee for this event.

Gingerbread Build-Off

Celebrate holiday creativity at the Gingerbread Build Off. This annual event at City Hall features more than 30 teams competing for the Grand Prix de Show award. When you're looking for Christmas activities for kids, the day features plenty including gingerbread construction, kids’ zone, live entertainment and more. Winners and select competitors will be featured in an exhibition downtown at Architecture Center Houston.

Annual Holiday Traditions in Houston

Outdoor Ice Skating Downtown

Santa skating outdoors with children

Image via Discovery Green

If you love the idea of ice skating in Houston outdoors, sharpen those ice skates then head to The ICE at Discovery Green, which is open from Thanksgiving through early February. Discounts are available at Cheap Skate Night on select Mondays. Discovery Green is located downtown at 1500 McKinney.

Christmas Boat Lane Parade

For more than 50 years, the City of League City and Kemah has sponsored the Christmas Boat Lane Parade on the Clear Lake channel viewed by more than 100,000 people a year. The parade features more than 100 power and sailboats decorated in holiday lights and more. The parade begins at 6 pm at South Shore Harbour Marina and the Nassau Bay Lagoon to Galveston Bay.

Handel's Messiah

Handel's Messiah performed by Christ Evangelical Presbyterian Church

Image via Christ Evangelical Presbyterian Church

Each year Christ Evangelical Presbyterian Church shares a weekend of free performances featuring Handel’s Messiah mid-December. Free tickets are typically distributed an hour before each night's performance. Located at 8300 Katy Freeway.

Tomball German Christmas Market & Festival

Get ready for a Texas German celebration on the downtown streets of Tomball. Tomball German Christmas Market & Festival is a 3-day weekend event featuring live music on 4 stages, open air market, strolling Christmas carolers, kids activity area, free hayrides, Christmas lights tour, petting zoo, 175 street vendors, and more. It’s a great bargain with free admission and free parking! This event is December 7-9.

About the author

Vicki Powers

Vicki Powers, formerly of Houston on the Cheap, is a native Texan and freelance journalist. She loves helping Houstonians learn how to live in a big city without spending big bucks.

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