Alexa, Play Jingle Bells

Holiday Events Happening Around Houston

11 family-friendly events in Houston, or just a quick sleigh ride away from town.

By Stephanie Bartels November 11, 2021

Winter Cathedral by Mandy Lights, MyChristmas Trails 2020.

If you’re reading this, it’s likely you also have your Christmas tree lit and ready. Temperatures in Houston are dropping as the sounds of Jingle Bells and Christmas carols are rising. While it’s only November and some might say it’s too early for the “holiday-whobilation” to start, there’s no denying the Houston-area has caught the holiday bug.

From Christmas tree lightings and magical light displays to Christmas markets and train rides, the city has an exciting list of family-friendly events to experience. Many events are kicking off this month, putting an end to the debate on whether it’s too early for Christmas décor-the answer is obvious.

Here’s eleven family-friendly activities in Houston.

Houston Ballet Nutcracker Market

First things first, mom needs some time to shop. You’ll find a gift for everyone at The Houston Ballet Nutcracker Market. From custom holiday shirts and jewelry to stylish home décor and gifts for the guys, the Nutcracker Market is a Houston holiday tradition. The Market is hosted at NRG Center and runs November 11-14. Tickets are available now and start at $18.

Green Mountain Energy Ice at Discovery Green

Skate in a Houston winter wonderland, complete with glittering lights and festive music at the Green Mountain Energy Ice at Discovery Green. The first skate of the season kicks off November 12 and runs until January 30, 2022. Visit the Discovery Green event page for details on special events throughout the season.

Zoo Lights at Houston Zoo

One of Houston’s most loved holiday traditions and a must do for families. Stroll through the Houston Zoo to see giant light displays while enjoying holiday music, drinks and treats. Zoo Lights opens November 15 from 5:30pm to 10:30pm and lasts until January 9, 2022.

 Alley Theater’s A Christmas Carol 

Bah, Humbug! The grumpy Scrooge is back at the Alley Theater for a revamped version of A Christmas Carol. After hosting a virtual version of the show in 2020, the Alley Theater returns in-person just in time for the beloved Houston tradition. Opening night happens November 19 with the last showing on December 29. Tickets are available through the Alley Theater Website.

Houston Botanic Garden’s Lightscape Trail

A first-of-its-kind-for-Houston experience, Houston Botanic Garden presents Lightscape Trail, a transformation of the garden with “an array of enchanting artistic installations that will elicit wonder and joy as they dazzle the senses.” From giant illuminated flowers, glowing geometric trees to constellations and a winter cathedral, Lightscape will feature an almost mile-long exhibit of festive lights and holiday cheer. The trail opens November 19 and lasts until January 2, 2022. Visit the website for information on tickets, parking and VIP experiences.

Moody Gardens Festival of Lights

Santa will parachute into the festival on opening night to illuminate the mile-long light trail, officially kicking off the holiday season at Moody Gardens. Joined by dance performances and live music, the festival of lights is a fun attraction for all. Opening night is November 20. Tickets can be found on the Moody Gardens Website.

Houston Ballet’s Nutcracker Ballet

If you already have "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" stuck in your head, The Houston Ballet is prepped and ready to take you on a magical journey to the Kingdom of Sweets with Stanton Welch’s The Nutcracker Ballet. Perfect for the whole family, the Christmastime staple opens November 26 with the last showing on December 24.

The Christmas Train

A truly unique holiday in Houston experience, The Christmas Train is an event the whole family will love. An old-fashioned train ride on open air coaches takes you through hundreds of thousands of Christmas lights and displays. Tickets are on sale now and departures start November 26.

12th Annual Gingerbread Build-Off

For gingerbread house enthusiasts, the 12th Annual Gingerbread Build-Off is happening Saturday, December 11 at Levy Park. Watch as local architecture firms, design professionals and students compete for the coveted Grand Prix de Show with impressive gingerbread designs. From 10am to 5pm, visitors can enjoy the competition, food trucks and a visit from Santa.

Dickens on The Strand

Transport the whole family to 19th-century Victorian London at Galveston Historical Foundation’s Dickens on The Strand festival. The annual event features sights and sounds of Charles Dickens’ work including, parades, performances and carolers. Shop for charming Victorian goods from costumed vendors selling holiday food and drinks, crafts, clothing and jewelry. It’s the perfect event for a fun and traditional family holiday outing. The three-day event begins December 3.

Reliant Lights Mayor’s Holiday Spectacular

Mayor Sylvester Turner and Reliant will celebrate the launch of the holiday season in Houston with the in-person return of the Reliant Lights Mayor’s Holiday Spectacular on Saturday, December 4, from 5pm to 8pm. The free event will be held at Hermann Square at City Hall and will feature live music and performances, the lighting of the towering tree, and additional activities and fun for all ages. ‘80s pop icon Taylor Dayne will headline the event along with several local Houston artists.

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