Christmas tree at sunset jsw3qr

A giant Christmas tree is just one of the festive sights waiting at Winterfest.

Everyone knows it doesn’t snow here, so how do we Houstonians get into the Christmas spirit? If you have little ones and you can’t spike the eggnog, how about going out to see some Christmas lights? There are plenty of established Christmas light-viewing spots in the city—including our favorite in Shepherd Park Plaza—but one of the newest is Winterfest at Typhoon Texas in Katy.

There’s nothing like experiencing Christmas through the eyes of a child, so I gathered kids from every age group and off we went. We were greeted at the gates by some of the most famous holiday characters: a giant gingerbread man, Frosty the Snowman and The Grinch himself. Once inside it was a tough decision on where to go first.

Petting zoo jexsdp

Away in a manger (a.k.a. petting zoo) at Typhoon Texas

Our group’s preschooler wanted to see the animals, so off we went to the petting zoo. Brace yourself for cuteness overload as your kids get to play with some of the cutest kids with four legs—that’s baby goats, of course. And if that’s not enough there are also miniature pigs, a calf and miniature donkeys. If you really want to thrill the kids, take them over to the pony rides. Beware, however; there is a weight limit of 80 pounds and under (sorry, middle schoolers).

Our next stop was at the 4D movie The Miracle Of Christmas, which replays every 30 minutes. We sat in stands overlooking the wave pool and were delighted as images of terrifically real-looking dolphins, polar bears and jolly old Saint Nick joined in on the fun. Pro-tip: Try to sit in the middle section and you just might get a “flaky” surprise at the end of the show.

Ice rink dfthyu

Even the ice rink gets a red-and-green Christmas theme at Typhoon Texas.

After the movie, the older kids couldn’t wait to go ice skating. Our group consisted of experienced skaters and beginners alike, and the rink caters to both. The middle of the rink wasn’t crowed at all—because all the traffic was along the wall as the beginners, young and old, clung to the rail for dear life. I was doing pretty well until I reached down to get some shaved ice off the rink to make a snowball to throw at my husband. That’s when I found out just how cold and hard a slab of ice can be. Yep, karma got me! Another pro-tip: Bring cash, as skate rentals are $5 per person.

After all that skating we decided to “take a load off” and load ourselves onto the train ride. It’s very similar to the small train at Katy Mills Mall, and most fun for the little ones. It was a nice, relaxing ride around the north side of the park to see some of the light displays. By the time the ride ended we were all getting tired, so we decided to end the night with a trip to the “North Pole” and Santa’s Workshop.

Signs with lights pgnsdg

Which way will you go next?

Thankfully unlike some of the lines at the mall, this Santa’s line wasn’t terribly long. We bought some popcorn in an attempt to nourish the kids so they wouldn’t be too tired and grumpy for Santa. After all, nobody wants to be on his “naughty” list. And much to our delight—unlike some visits with Santa—here you can opt for a picture from their professional photographer or take one of your own. Merry Christmas to my pocket book!

Winterfest is open every Thursday through Sunday until December 31. For times and prices visit TyphoonTexas.com

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