Well, folks, it’s that time of year again. And I’m fully embracing it with a mug of hot chocolate in hand and Christmas music blasting all day long…despite the fact that it’s 85 degrees outside here in Southeast Texas. Despite the weather, there’s no other state I’d rather spend the holiday season in. Everything is bigger in Texas – especially our Christmas light displays. Here are 16 of the best, most breathtaking ones in the state. Bah humbug!
1. The River Walk (San Antonio)
Starting November 25th, the already lively River Walk explodes with vibrancy in the form of thousands of lights illuminating the trees, buildings, and riverbanks. Even the gondolas that traverse the river are lit up, and the drivers are dressed up like Santa Claus. Many Texans claim the River Walk is the most magical place they've ever been during the holiday season, and I have to say I agree.
2. Trail of Lights (Austin)
Trail of Lights is a 1.25 mile pathway lined with millions of multicolored Christmas lights. It runs from December 10-23 from 7-10PM every night. General admission is FREE until the 16th and goes up to a mere $3 for the remaining week. This is a can't-miss experience, y'all.
3. Light Spectacular Event (Johnson City)
If you've never experienced a Johnson City Christmas, you've been missing out. They do it big there - the courthouse is draped in over 100,000 lights (not including the ones inside!), and the surrounding trees are wrapped so tightly that they appear to be made of solid gold when lit up. The opening ceremony is next Friday, November 25th at 6:30 (don't miss it!) and the lights will be on every night after 5:30 PM until January 1st. The quaint downtown square will be hosting all kinds of fun events every weekend as well, so be sure to visit thiswebsitefor more information.
4. Zoo Lights (Houston)
Zoo Lights is back and better than ever this year with over 2 million lights adorning tree branches and the exhibits of all your favorite furry friends. You'll see an interactive talking zebra, an Enchanted Forest, a 33 foot tall tree, and even a 1958 Cadillac illuminated and set to music. And it's still a zoo, so you get to admire all the exotic, beautiful animals as you enjoy the lights. The attraction runs from November 18th to January 15th after 6PM, and admission fees range from $14.95 to $19.95 depending on whether you buy online or at the gate.
5. Prairie Lights (Grand Prairie)
Prairie Lights is a 2-mile long drive-through attraction with over 4 million lights. You'll see all sorts of elaborate displays that are absolutely dazzling. And it gets even better - halfway through the drive, you can get out of your car and explore Holiday Village, a realistic little Christmas town with food, a gift shop, Santa, an indoor laser show, and the stunning Holiday Magic Lighted Walk-Through Forest. After you're done there, the final half of the drive is this mesmerizing light tunnel. Prairie Lights is open from Thanksgiving night to January 1st, 6-9PM Monday-Thursday and 6-10PM on weekends and holidays. The admission fee is $25/car.
6. Santa's Wonderland (College Station)
Santa's Wonderland is Christmas Texas-style. You'll see enormous lighted displays of our state's flag, cowboy boots, and other distinctly Southern object. You can take a hayride, shop in the life-sized Christmas village with an abandoned ghost town theme, ride in a carriage pulled by a horse, watch a synchronized light show, and more. It truly is a Texas-sized Christmas experience. It runs from November 11 to January 1, 6-11 PM on Monday-Thursday, 6-midnight on Friday, 3-midnight on Saturday, and 3-11 PM on Sunday. Prices vary widely depending on the activities you want to do, so check out their websitefor details.
7. Gaylord Texan Resort (Grapevine)
Grapevine is known as the "Christmas Capital of Texas," which is no surprise considering what lengths this resort goes to during the holiday season. Not only is the entire lobby decked out in lights, decorations, and a tree that's at least 50 feet tall, but there's also an on-site ice sculpture exhibit featuring over 2 million pounds of ice shaped like popular fictional characters (and a few giant ice slides, too). The hotel will be decorated all season long, so stop in and look around if you're in the area anytime soon.
8. Festival of Lights (Moody Gardens)
One of my personal favorite light displays in Texas, Festival of Lights is an absolutely magical celebration complete with over one million lights, an outdoor ice-skating rink, and the opportunity to make your own s'mores and sip hot chocolate. Seeing the pyramids illuminated from head to toe is an absolutely captivating sight. The festival runs until January 8th from 6-10PM nightly. Admission is $10.95 (ice skating is included!).
9. Roberts Family Synchronized Light Show (Andrews)
This display is absolutely spectacular, especially considering it's the work of one man. The show has a 75 foot tall tree, numerous 11 foot trees, and thousands of lights. The show begins at dark and lasts until 10 PM on weeknights and 11 PM on weekends. Be sure to turn your radios to 100.5 FM so you can hear the holiday tunes!
10. River Oaks (Houston)
I don't think any picture could quite do justice to the beautiful elegance of the River Oaks neighborhood at Christmastime. Towering oak trees are wrapped with white lights that hang down from the branches like streamers, and the homes themselves are decorated equally as simply but still are an absolutely breathtaking sight. I suggest taking a look right after Thanksgiving, because the crowds get unbearable once December hits. At least it's completely free since all you're doing is driving around a neighborhood!
11. Santa Land (Lindale)
Santa Land was the first drive-through light display in Texas, so it's not only fun but historic as well. It's spread out over 24 acres and consists of over 2.5 million lights, ending with a 250 foot long tunnel, a gift shop, and a concession stand. It runs from 6-10:30 PM nightly this season and costs $25 per car.
12. Whistlestop Christmas (Cleburne)
This year is Whistlestop Christmas's 20 year anniversary, so it would be a shame to not go out and celebrate with them. Hulen Park is adorned with over 3.5 million lights. You might even see Santa and Mrs. Claus walking around! The festivities begin on November 21st and run through December 31st. You can't miss this magical experience.
Now I’m definitely ready to deck the halls, strike the harp, and join the chorus. Christmas is such a heartwarming, joyful time of year.
Have you been to any of these Christmas light displays? What’s your favorite one in Texas?