Holly, Jolly Houston

Deck Your Christmas Calendar With These Events

Get your dose of holiday culture.

By Morgan Kinney October 28, 2019 Published in the November 2019 issue of Houstonia Magazine

Houston Ballet Nutcracker Market | Nov. 14-17 | NRG Center

Strap on your walking shoes, grab a mimosa, and join the 100,000-plus shoppers navigating the roughly nine football fields of smoked meats, sterling silver jewelry, hand-poured candles, personalized dog and cat collars, and pretty much everything else at this annual blowout; the record-setting 2018 edition raised $5.5 million for the Houston Ballet Foundation. Tickets from $18.

A Christmas Carol | Nov. 15-Dec. 29 | Alley Theatre

Full of jangling chains and yuletide visitations from ghostly spirits, this beloved Dickens classic returns to enchant yet another generation of Alley theatergoers. Act fast—tickets are always in high demand. Tickets from $28.

Discovery Green ICE Rink | Nov. 15-Feb. 2 | Discovery Green

The Galleria’s rink is nice and all, but nothing beats the skyscraper vistas of the open-air ice that rises from the heart of Discovery Green each winter. Tickets $11 ($4 skate rental). 

The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley | Nov. 23-Dec. 22 | Main Street Theater

This Pride and Prejudice spin-off finds a familiar cast celebrating the holidays at Mr. Darcy’s country estate just as his nemesis, Mr. Wickham, arrives unexpectedly. What unfolds is an Upstairs, Downstairs–style drama in which the housekeeper and servants comically attempt to keep the intruder at bay. Tickets from $39.

The NutcrackerNov. 29-Dec. 29 | Wortham Center

In 2016 Houston Ballet Artistic Director Stanton Welch debuted his supersized reimagination of the classic two-act ballet—one that, among other innovations, includes 450 square feet of synthetic rat hair and specialized snow tumblers. It’s a beautiful, spirited rendition of an enduring holiday tale. Tickets from $27.

Image: Visit Houston

Reliant Lights Mayor's Holiday Spectacular | Nov. 30 | City Hall

Flanked by singers, dancers, drumlines, fireworks, and Santa himself, Mayor Sylvester Turner will flip the switch at this 100th annual event. Free. 

Bad Santa at Market Square Park | Dec. 4 | Market Square Park

An underrated holiday flick if there ever was one, this Billy Bob Thornton comedy follows a cranky Santa conman and his Little Helper as they attempt to pull off a series of Christmas Eve department-store heists. Free. 

El Milagro del RecuerdoDec. 5-22 | Wortham Center

While the financial impact of Hurricane Harvey precluded a holiday production from Houston Grand Opera last year, the company is back with a prequel to its 2010 mariachi opera Cruzar la Cara de la Luna. This world premiere finds the original’s family back home in Michoacán, Mexico, at Christmastime, on the verge of making the life-changing decision to come to America. Tickets from $30. 

Dickens on the Strand | Dec. 6-8 | The Strand

Audiences with Queen Victoria, breakfast with Charles Dickens, throngs of Steampunk aficionados—for one weekend, Galveston’s historic Strand District disguises itself as a Victorian London holiday festival. Period costuming will get you half off on admission and endless amounts of street cred. Tickets $15.

Christmas Village at Bayou Bend | Dec. 12-30 | Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens

Make yourself at home at the former estate of First Lady of Texas Ima Hogg, where the extensive grounds are decked out with piles of lights, carolers, a 90-foot sled run, throwable cotton snowballs, and three-dimensional video projections. Inside, local actors guide you on a holiday-themed tour of the house museum’s stunning furnishings. Tickets $15.

Tomball German Christmas Market | Dec. 13-15 | Old Town Tomball

It seems only natural that a town settled by German farmers would put on the best Christkindlmarkt in the area. Expect flagons of beer, a petting zoo, more than 200 antique and craft vendors, and the latest dirndl fashions. Free.

Handel’s MessiahDec. 20-22 | Jones Hall

Originally composed for Easter services, Handel’s 1741 celebration of the “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” has become a holiday tradition such that some Houston Symphony Chorus members have performed the oratorio each season for decades. Tickets from $24.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra | Dec. 22 | Toyota Center

Described by the Washington Post as “Pink Floyd meets Yes and the Who at Radio City Music Hall,” the holiday arena rockers dust off the synths and return for a revamped experience, playing songs from their 1996 debut album, Christmas Eve and Other StoriesTickets from $49.50.

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