The Most Festive Events Happening in Houston This Holiday Season

Brighten up your winter.

The Chalet at Rosie Cannonball
The Chalet at Rosie Cannonball | Photo by Julie Soefer Photography
The Chalet at Rosie Cannonball | Photo by Julie Soefer Photography

It’s legit the most wonderful time of the year in Houston, and that’s not just because the humidity has finally dropped to tolerable levels (though it certainly helps). This season, a wintry mix of bright and merry holiday cheer comes to H-town in the form of outdoor ice skating rinks, festive pop-up markets, classic holiday films under the stars, and boozy beverages aplenty. Get warm and cozy with a Snowball Old-Fashioned, get your holiday shopping done early, fly down a colossal ice slide that is definitely made for kids, and watch Christmas classics under the stars.

A Christmas Carol - A Ghost Story of Christmas
A Christmas Carol - A Ghost Story of Christmas | Alley Theatre

Get life lessons from Scrooge

November 15 - December 29
The Alley Theatre
The Alley Theatre brings Dickens’ classic, A Christmas Carol - A Ghost Story of Christmas, to life, retelling Ebenezer  Scrooge’s journey and the three ghostly spirits who teach him mad life lessons on Christmas Eve.
Cost: Tickets are $39 and up.

Show off your skating skills (or lack thereof) on the ice in the middle of Downtown

Through January 31
Discovery Green
The Ice at Discovery Green returns for a season full of open skating right in the heart of Downtown, now with safe social distancing guidelines and masks and advance purchases required. Glide to the backdrop of the city skyline, and try not to embarrass the crap out of yourself in front of your date.
Cost: $15 advance tickets required (skate rental included)

Relive your youth on a giant ice slide

Through January 2
Moody Gardens
You can unleash your inner kid at Moody Gardens’ “Holiday in the Gardens” extravaganza, which still features holiday attractions like the mile-long Festival of Lights, dancing Tree of Light, and a gigantic Arctic Slide.
Cost: Tickets from $9 to $30  

Ice at Discovery Green
Ice at Discovery Green | Julie Soefer | Visit Houston

Show off your skating skills (or lack thereof) on the ice in the middle of Downtown

November 15-  February 2
Discovery Green
The Ice at Discovery Green returns for a season full of open skating right in the heart of Downtown. Glide to the backdrop of the city skyline, and try not to embarrass the crap out of yourself in front of your date.
Cost: $11 admission; $4 skate rental

Relive your youth on a giant ice slide

November 16 - January 12
Moody Gardens
Unleash your inner kid at at Moody Gardens’ “Holiday in the Gardens” extravaganza, with eight holiday attractions including the mile-long Festival of Lights, Ice Land: Christmas Around the World, ice skating, and a gigantic Arctic Slide.
Cost: Tickets from $8.95 to $45.95

Zoo Lights
Zoo Lights | Joseph Haubert/Visit Houston

Stroll the Zoo by dark and see oh so many twinkling lights

Through January 10
Houston Zoo
Snag some hot cocoa and stroll through the beautiful grounds of the Houston Zoo, which becomes even beautiful-er when its ancient oaks and pathways are illuminated with earth-friendly LED lighting. Special attractions include the 125-foot-long Infinity Tunnel of Light, 4-D Enchanted Forest, and “snow” in its Winter Wonderland. See it all from 5:30 pm - 10:30 pm nightly.
Cost: Tickets are $12.95 and up (buy early to save)

See Constellation Field illuminated with over three million lights

Through January 3
Constellation Field
The annual Sugar Land Holiday Lights sparkles and shines with over three million lights and themed displays at Constellation Field. You can also expect a variety of vendors, food and drink, a visit from Santa, and everybody to be wearing their required masks. Hours are 6-9pm (10pm Friday - Saturday).
Cost: Tickets start at $15

Get your holiday shopping done at the virtual Flea by Night

Through December 19
Discovery Green’s night time flea market has gone virtual this year, so consider supporting local artisans and businesses and treasure hunting for unique holiday gifts online.
Cost: Free

Sip with Santa cocktail
Sip with Santa | Photo by Melissa Hom

Sip with Santa at a holiday bar pop-up

Through December 31
Johnny’s Gold Brick
Johnny’s Gold Brick has transformed into Miracle at Johnny’s for the holidays, sporting an epic menu of festive cocktails and all kinds of nostalgic décor, from bulb lights and garlands to this cool elf on a ladder that you are definitely Amazon Priming from your seat at the bar. This year you’ll need to secure a reserved time slot to enjoy the holiday cheer.
Cost: A la carte

Search a Christmas Forest for the perfect tree

Through December 27
Dewberry Farm
The 40 back acres of Dewberry Farm have transformed into a Christmas Forest this holiday season; one where you can find and cut down your very own Christmas tree. Find your perfect match, then stick around for the magical trail of lights (which you can drive-thru in your own vehicle Wednesday - Thursday and see from Dewberry’s wagon Friday - Sunday). 
Cost: Trees run from $30 - $220+; drive-thru lights are $25 - $30 per car

See the Sugar Plum Fairy come alive on stage from home

December 15 - January 8
Watching the Houston Ballet’s opulent production of "The Nutcracker" has become a Houston holiday tradition, one that you can continue from the comfort of home this year. Snag tickets to the virtual broadcast and you can revel in an abridged performance of the magical show, plus new works set to classic holiday carols.
Cost: Tickets are $35

Holiday Tree
Holiday Tree | Joseph Haubert/Visit Houston

Watch the tree lighting Downtown

December 5
Hermann Square
The Mayor’s annual holiday tree lighting celebration is going virtual in its 101st year. Watch the live steam on ABC 13 Digital Platforms from 6:30 - 8 pm on December 5; or catch the rebroadcast on December 18 from 7 - 8 pm on ABC 13.
Cost: Free 

Shop ‘til you drop (a lot of money) in the Heights

December 4
19th Street
The shops along 19th Street join together for this annual holiday celebration, complete with roaming Christmas carollers, in-store festivities, holiday-inspired booze, and REAL SNOW! Hit it and mask up from 6 - 10 pm.
Cost: Free

Hear some Very Merry Pops

December 11 - 13, 18 - 20
Virtual/Jones Hall
The Houston Symphony and Chorus present a sparkling concert filled with the merry sounds of the season, including a musical and narrative telling of the Christmas story, Glad Tidings, packed with classic carols like “Silent Night” and “Joy to the World.” The concert will be available for limited in-person tickets or via live-stream on December 12 and 18.
Cost: Livestream tickets are $20, in-person performances start at $30

Jingled Up cocktail
Courtesy of Jingled Up

Get Jingled Up at a holiday-themed pop-up bar

Through December 31
The Jingled Up pop-up bar is going down all day and night at the old BirdDog Saint, sporting cookie decorating, Sunday brunch, and socially distanced photos with Santa by day and  karaoke and trivia, ugly Christmas sweater contests, and "Naughty List" cocktails by (day or) night.
Cost: Tickets start at $15

Get into the holiday spirit at a drive-thru light park

Daily through December 31
Hurricane Harbor Splashtown
Spring’s Hurricane Harbor Splashtown is going full holiday with a Very Merry Light Park, featuring a wintry mix of animated Christmas lights by the million that you can enjoy via the comfort of your car. 
Cost: Tickets are $35 per vehicle and hours run 5:30 - 10 pm

Have a poolside holiday lights experience 

Through January 3
Marriott Marquis Houston
As if its iconic Texas-shaped lazy river wasn’t cool enough, the Marriott Marquis Houston has now launched a new walk-through or float-under light experience. The Texas Winter Lights Event will go down every night from 5 to 10 pm, lighting up its poolside with a mile of sparkling lights to be dazzled by while you enjoy cool things like firepit s’mores and poolside holiday movies (Thursdays).
Cost: GA tickets are available Monday through Thursday starting at $5 for ages 2 - 6 and $15 for ages 7 and up; weekend entrance is available for registered hotel guests and included in room reservation

Deck the Trees along the Avenida promenade

Through January 3
George R. Brown Convention Center
The Alley’s annual holiday tree display is back at the George R. Brown Convention Center. Stroll along the Avenida de las Americas promenade and you can catch the 30 totally decked trees from the windoscape.
Cost: Free

Dream of a White Christmas at the Cockrell Butterfly Center

Through January 3
Houston Museum of Natural Science
During the holiday season, HMNS’s rainforest conservatory transforms into a tropical winter wonderland, with festive lights, gorgeous white flowers, and graceful rice paper butterflies.
Cost: Tickets are $12/adult and $10/child

See out of-this-world light setup at the Space Center

Through January 3
Space Center Houston
The Space Center’s indoor and open-air Galaxy Lights are open from 6 - 10 pm (it’ll take roughly 90 minutes to see it all). The high-tech lights experience features cool stuff like 200-foot LED light tunnel, indoor meteor shower, and a kinetic light show where dozens of suspended lights move in a choreographed musical sequence.
Cost: Tickets are $19.95

The Chalet at Rosie Cannonball
The Chalet at Rosie Cannonball | Photo by Julie Soefer Photography

Sip wintry cocktails at an après ski-inspired chalet

The Chalet at Rosie Cannonball
For the winter season, the Rosie Cannonball team is bringing the après ski experience to H-town with its sidewalk chalet, complete with fire pits, shareable eats, with Alpine spirits (both warm and cold, because this is still Houston). The pop-up is open on a walk-in only basis, but accepts socially distanced large party reservations of up to 12 people or full buyouts of the space
Cost: A la carte

Drink beer and wear an ugly Xmas sweater

December 5
Shady Acres
The Karbach Ugly Sweater Crawl is going down at Shady Acres finest outdoor bars (where you can keep your social distance), including Cedar Creek, Preslee’s, McIntyre’s, Wicklow Heights, and more from 5 pm - midnight. Make sure to stop by Cedar for the ugly sweater contest at 8:30 pm.
Cost: Free

Watch the ultimate Xmas movie at an old-school air terminal

December 12
The 1940 Air Terminal 
Head to the 1940 Air Terminal for a drive-in movie experience featuring the ultimate Christmas film, Die Hard, beginning at 8:30 pm.
Cost: $25 per vehicle, with refreshments available for purchase

Feel nostalgic with a Muppets holiday movie in the park

December 16
Market Square Park
Downtown’s historic Market Square Park will play a free outdoor screening of The Muppet Christmas Carol starting at 7 pm. Don’t forget your blankets and snacks (Niko Niko’s has you covered with beer and wine for sale, plus some awesome Greek food).
Cost: Free

See a holiday classic at the drive-in

Through December 20
Moonstruck Drive-In
A Christmas Story, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, and Elf are just some of the classic holiday movies playing at the East End’s Moonstruck Drive-In. See the full schedule online.
Cost: Tickets run $30 per car

One Fifth Houston meal
One Fifth Houston | Photo by Jacklyn Warren for StarChefs

Have a Galatoire’s-inspired Xmas Eve brunch

December 24
One Fifth Houston
For the holiday season, the evolving restaurant concept One Fifth Houston is turning into One Fifth Southern Comfort, offering festive food and drink that are reminiscent of holidays in the South—from crab-stuffed jalapeños and milk punch to boudin plates and crawfish pasta. It’s also bringing back One Fifth Gulf Coast’s popular Galatoire’s-inspired brunch on Christmas Eve, this time, a socially-distanced version. 
Cost: TBA

Cure your hangover with Mexican food at a New Year’s Day Brunch

December 1
You’ll want to score a Brunch de Año Nuevo rezzy at one of Hugo Ortega’s trio of Mexican restaurants, Hugo’s, Caracol, or Xochi, so you can start 2021 on a high note. We’re talking oysters and ceviches, chilaquiles and enchiladas, dulce de leche stuffed churros, and fun stuff like live music and sangria by the pitcher.

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Brooke Viggiano is a Houston-based writer who is likely busting out her faux Christmas and Hanukkah trees as we speak. Get festive AF with her on IG @brookiefafa or on Twitter @brookeviggiano.