Texas Big City Holiday Traditions

Posted by Whole Earth | 12.03.2019


Texas Big City Holiday Traditions


Just as families have their very own holiday traditions, so do cities. In Texas, chances are that these traditions will include extravagant numbers of Christmas lights. In a state where sparkling lights are a year-round phenomenon, when the holidays arrive, it’s no holds barred when it comes to festooning anything and everything with lights.




Austin’s love affair with Christmas lights focuses on Zilker Park where the venerable Tree of Lights stands. Created of strands of lights that run from the top of the Moonlight Tower, the Tree is 155 feet tall and has a circumference of 380 feet. It’s a rite of passage for Austinites young and old to stand under the tree, spin around until dizzy and then fall down in the grass. The Tree comes to life with much ceremony on December 1st and is lit from 6pm to midnight until January 1st. And if your appetite for Christmas lights is not yet satisfied, from December 10th through December 23rd, you can visit the Trail of Lights, also in Zilker Park. Not only will you find two million lights attractively displayed, there’s interactive art, family fun, a good assortment of Austin’s food trucks and, of course, lots of live music.


To see what the neighbors can do with lights, visit 37th Street, just off of Guadalupe. The residents give free reign to their imaginations and go all out with lights and decorations. Last year’s themes included a house-sized spider web, Pac-Man, a penguin disco and a giant T-Rex. This beloved Austin tradition had come on hard times, but we’re pleased to report it’s back!


Another Austin tradition is the Holiday Sing-Along and Downtown Stroll. This year’s event falls on Saturday, December 7th from 6 to 10 pm. The evening begins with caroling on the south steps of the Capitol. Not sure you remember all the words? Fear not, a free program with all the lyrics is available. Caroling is followed by the lighting of the Capitol Christmas tree and then strolling down Congress Avenue to enjoy live music and entertainment for all ages.  




Dallas has its own destination neighborhood for spectacular Christmas lights and decorations: Highland Park. This neighborhood combines the best work of Christmas decoration professionals and talented amateurs.  A drive through Highland Park to view the holiday lights is a longstanding tradition for many Dallas area families. Prepare to be awed!


Klyde Warren Park’s Holiday Show and Tree Lighting Celebration is on Saturday December 7th from 2 to 6 pm. The 5.2 acre park is built over the Woodall-Rodgers Freeway in downtown. Join in the family-friendly fun including real snow and visits with Mrs. Claus, Frosty and Rudolf.  The grand finale is a holiday extravaganza featuring traditional Christmas music, the arrival of Santa Claus and the tree lighting ceremony.




Here’s your chance to jump on board for one of the city’s newest holiday traditions: Carols on the Green – Celebrating the Season in Song.  On Saturday, December 14th at 7 pm join The Houston Grand Opera Chorus at Discovery Green for a concert of holiday music and sing-alongs with the assistance of the Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church Choir and the AFA Girls Chorus. Bring your blankets, lawn chairs and favorite holiday treats for this free event. Food and drink will be available for purchase including hot chocolate and mulled wine.


Get ready for a road trip to Galveston Island for their Dickens on the Strand celebration Friday, December 6th through Sunday, December 8th. You can step back in time to the Victorian London of Charles Dickens. Spot characters from Dickens’ novels on the streets and enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of a Victorian Christmas. Hundreds of costumed performers, vendors and Galvestonians add the finishing touch to this holiday time-travel event. Admission is free on Fezziwig’s Friday, December 6th from 5 – 9 pm.


San Antonio


The floats in the Riverwalk Holiday River Parade really do float. The parade route flows past the Riverwalk through downtown San Antonio. This year’s parade is Friday, November 29th with the theme of “Texas Music Christmas.” The parade’s Grand Marshall is Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top and includes music from a host of Texas talent including Flaco Jimenez, Jimmie Vaughan, Steve Earle, Rosie Flores and Tish Hinojosa.  There is a free viewing area available on a first come first serve basis.


Sunday, December 1st at 2 pm head for Mission Concepción, at the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park for the Danza Matachines. Hundreds of matachines dancers will be there from across Texas to lead a procession through Concepción Park and back to the mission. Los matachines came to the New World with the Spaniards where it combined with Mexican and Native American traditions to become one of the most colorful, rhythmic and vibrant forms of worship in the Western Hemisphere.






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