Hanukkah is one of the most jubilant Jewish holidays of the year. Jewish communities from all over the globe come together to commemorate the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after it was defiled by the Selucids in 164 B.C.E. You can celebrate at home by lighting the menorah, playing a game of dreidel, and eating special holiday foods like latkes and sufganiyot. If you're looking to get out on the town, however, Hanukkah in Houston is marked by fun events throughout December featuring everything from tasty goods and gift-giving to candle-lightings and performances.
This year Hanukkah runs from December 18 to December 26, but there are events all throughout the month. Enjoy local festivals with deep-fried jelly donuts (representing the miracle of the famous oil burning in the ancient Temple) or lighting ceremonies (where you can light the traditional menorah) with this list we’ve put together of eight special Hanukkah events for the eight days of Hanukkah.
DECEMBER 5, 4:30 P.M. | RICE, FREE
You don’t have to be a student to enjoy this pre-Hanukkah celebration on Rice University’s gorgeous, tree-lined campus. The Rice Mob—Rice’s marching band—will provide entertainment while you nom on free donuts, gelt (chocolate coins), and hot latkes. Hosted by Chabad, this celebration will have menorah kits, dreidels, and other Hanukkah giveaways for you to take home. While you’re there, wrap gifts with Chabad and the Texas Medical Center for the Children’s Hospital.
DECEMBER 10, 7:30 P.M. | WEST HOUSTON CHABAD, $10
Grab your gal pals and celebrate the Hanukkah miracle of the oil burning with West Houston Chabad. The workshop includes a history lesson on essential oils, their modern-day uses, and how to use them for their healing properties. You’ll have the opportunity to make your own oil-infused bath salts to take home and use for your next self-care session.
DECEMBER 16, 11 A.M. | THE WOODLANDS, $8
If you’ve got little ones at home, then this theater performance might be the perfect way to celebrate Hanukkah for your family. Storybook Theatre is doing a performance of I Have a Little Dreidel, a story based on the classic Hanukkah song which honors the traditions of the week of celebration. This play is the ideal way to get your kids interested in Jewish culture.
DECEMBER 16, 7–9 P.M. | PASADENA, $37 AND UP
Got an artsy side? Painting with a Twist is doing a special Hanukkah art event on December 16. Grab a bottle of kosher wine (21 and up), a cheese spread, and some friends for a night of painting. The event includes a guided art class, with painting materials provided. Choose from a selection of canvas sizes and follow the teacher’s instructions to make a beautiful menorah piece to hang proudly on your wall at home.
DECEMBER 18–22 | MULTIPLE LOCATIONS, FREE
What better way to celebrate the Festival of Lights than to actually partake in the lighting itself? If you’re looking for a place to share Hanukkah joy with the people you love, a menorah lighting is the way to go. Practically every corner of the city has its own unique celebration of the candle ceremony. Some of those areas include: Houston City Hall, The Woodlands, Meyerland, Post Oak, Katy, The Galleria, Bellaire, Pearland, and CityCentre.
DECEMBER 18, 4 P.M. | BELLAIRE, ADULT $10, KIDS $8
The Bellaire Hanukkah Festival is returning for its 12th annual Shul of Bellaire Houston event. Festivities include face painting, crafts, and inflatable bounce houses for kids. Pardes Rock Band, a premier Jewish rock band reflecting Mediterranean and Hasidic influences, will grace the festival with a performance, and if you get hungry, try some latkes, donuts, or the included dairy dinner buffet!
DECEMBER 18, 4:30-5:30 P.M. | CYPRESS, FREE
Come out to Cypress for the Hanukkah Celebration & Pop-Up Shop! This community event will have a nine-foot menorah, a dazzling fire show, and a moon bounce for the kids. Refreshments like, you guessed it, latkes and donuts will also be provided. Judaica items galore will be available at the marketplace for you to get your Hanukkah shopping done. While you’re there, make sure to enter the raffles to win a prize!
DECEMBER 19, 7 P.M. | TOYOTA CENTER, $60
The Houston Rockets will be playing the San Antonio Spurs, and all those who want to celebrate Hanukkah are invited. This event offers options to place an order for a VIP Suite, which includes a Hanukkah dinner, and a chance at shooting a post-game free throw. Drinks will be available for purchase in the suite. Tickets are limited to the first 200 people.