Simply put, winter is a time of celebration. No matter what your culture, religion, or nationality, there’s some form of holiday this time of year. From tamales to parades to various lighting ceremonies and dazzling displays, there’s a festival for everyone in Texas. Make the most of your holiday season with these 11 winter festivals in Texas.
1. Dickens on the Strand (Galveston)
This coming weekend (December 2-4), you can travel back in time to 19th-century England and experience life through the eyes of a character in a Dickens novel. Stroll around the Strand and take in all the sights: Christmas carolers decked out in Victorian attire, horse-and-carriages, bagpipers, and more.
2. Lights Spectacular Hill Country Style (Johnson City)
Johnson City during the holiday season is a perfect example of how "everything's bigger in Texas." Every Friday night until January, the courthouse goes ablaze with over 100,000 Christmas lights. There are also photo ops with Santa, carriage rides, and plenty of vendors selling holiday wares.
3. The 12 Days of Christmas at the Arboretum (Dallas)
The Dallas Arboretum is truly a sight to see at Christmastime. Twelve 25-foot Victorian gazebos are scattered throughout the gardens, each filled with a different subject from the famous "12 Days of Christmas" song. The characters come to life with movement and music, and you're provided with holiday treats to eat and hot chocolate to sip on while you wander around and admire the scenes.
4. Texas Christkindl Market (Arlington)
This traditional German Market is one of the largest outdoor holiday markets in the U.S. Between the authentic German gifts, decorations, and
cuisine, live entertainment, and kid-friendly activities, it's a unique experience for the whole family.
5. Christmas on Main (Grapevine)
Of course the "Christmas Capitol of Texas" had to make the list. The parade featuring over 100 lighted floats is Thursday, December 1st at 7:00 p.m., but there are plenty of spectacular events taking place throughout the season if you can't make it.
6. Christmas on the Square (Burnet)
On December 10th, Burnet's town square will come alive with festive arts and crafts, a parade, and live entertainment (including this singing Santa Claus!). There's also a live nativity scene at the church down the street.
7. Tamales! (San Antonio)
Although not a Christmas celebration, Tamales! is still festive - after all, they're the winter food of choice here in Texas. Immerse yourself in the Mexican culture with music, decorations, and over 40 tamale vendors. It'll be held on December 6th this year.
8. Festival of Lights (Galveston)
I know I mention this one quite a bit, but I just can't get over how dazzling the display is. Between over a million lights, an outdoor ice rink, an Arctic slide, and hot chocolate, Festival of Lights is an ideal holiday destination for the whole family. You can join in on the fun until January 8th.
9. Children's Health Holiday Parade (Dallas)
A very Macy's-esque parade, this celebration in Dallas not only helps ring in the upcoming holiday, but benefits sick children as well. There are ginormous balloons, over-the-top floats, marching bands, and more. The parade takes place on Saturday, December 3rd at 10AM.
10. Charro Days (Brownsville)
Charro Days is an age-old ceberation of the intermingling of Mexican and American cultures. It runs from February 23rd-March 5th next year, which will mark its 80th anniversary! Among other things, the events include street dancing, a carnival, a parade, and a costume ball.
11. Mardi Gras (Galveston)
It may not be as big as it is in New Orleans, but Galveston's Mardi Gras is the largest in Texas and the third largest in the U.S. Enjoy drinks, food, parades, and the general sense of excitement that comes with the end of Lent. The celebration is from February 17th-28th 2017.
Have you been to any of these winter festivals in Texas? If your favorite festival didn’t make the list, what and where is it?