The holidays are a time for family, but sometimes, the holiday season is overshadowed by awkward conversations at the dinner table. Though we can't ensure that grandma won't bring up the "kids" conversation, it’s imperative that you walk away with a few good memories, which should be pretty easy with our holiday lights list. However, in the digital age, the new rule of thumb is, "take a picture, or it didn't happen," and who doesn't love a good photo op?
They say a picture lasts longer, and if you're out on the town this season, don't forget about those Instagram-worthy destinations. Grab a hot cocoa to-go and head to Discovery Green for ice skating, or take a stroll along Main Street Square to see the twinkling lights. Either way, these attractions serve as the best holiday backdrops Houston has to offer.
Candid Camera at Green Mountain Energy Ice at Discovery Green
Now through January 6, times vary by day | 1500 McKinney St., Houston, $17 admission (plus tax), skate rental included
Skating under lights illuminating Downtown is a an unwritten Houston tradition. Green Mountain Energy Ice at Discovery Green is back this year, and if you need to shake off the first-date jitters, ice skating is an active outing that makes for a fun, silly moment. Snap candid photos of each other falling on the ice, or put on your ugly Christmas sweaters and take a sweet holiday photo for the Christmas card this year.
Catch the Perfect Lighting at Solstice
Now through February 14, 2023, times vary by day | 1500 McKinney St., Houston | Free
Solstice is the public art installation at Discovery Green, and parkgoers can get creative with their photos and lighting. The outdoor exhibition is a series of mirrored and LED arches that reflect the Earth's transformation when the sun is at its closest and furthest from the equator. You're bound to get a few good flicks with continuously changing colors and soundscapes created by frames and mirrors.
Say Cheese at the Color Factory's Winter Colorland
Now through January 31, 2023, hours vary | 3303 Kirby Dr, Houston, Tickets are $37 for adults and $28 for kids
You can always go right with an excellent outdoor selfie. However, we must remember the perfectly orchestrated pictures you can get at a selfie museum. For the holidays, the Color Factory is turning into a "Winter Colorland," with new festive photo ops that include their frosty snow-fetti, and a ski lift. Color Factory encourages everyone to bring their props and a smile to get the best photos. If you schedule your visit while the limited-time installations are open, you'll walk away with an exclusive retro mug, and pom pom wreath, plus taste the new butterscotch ice cream flavor.
Snap Some Not-So-Off Guards at Zoo Lights
Now through January 8, 5:30-10:30 p.m. | 6200 Hermann Park Dr., Houston, Tickets start at $24
Despite the name, Zoo Lights is absolutely an attraction for everyone. We've had all year to prepare, and now the time is to plan your impromptu photo shoot. Nothing says the holidays in Houston more than LED light structures that mimic life-sized animals. If that's not precisely the enchantment your going for, you can always smile for photos by the 33-foot holiday tree or the 125-foot-long Infinity Tunnel.
Steal a Kiss in Mistletoe Square
Now through January 2, evenings | 301 Milam St., Houston, Free
If you've successfully made it past the first date and are looking to move, Market Square Park is reimagined into a romantic holiday village. Dubbed Mistletoe Square, its can't-miss 150-inch sphere of mistletoe will greet you immediately. You won't want to go against tradition, so put it to good use and ensure your camera phone is handy.
Strike a Pose in Front of City Hall's Christmas Tree
Starting December 3, evenings | 901 Bagby St., Free
While you're downtown, check out the Holiday Tree at City Hall in Hermann Square. Bring your tripod to get that professional angle and high-exposure lens to snap the perfect shot of you and your date.
Take a Stroll on Bagby's Winter Wanderland
Through January 2, evenings | Bagby St., Free
If you're looking for guaranteed quality holiday pics, the Winter Wanderland on Bagby Street has light structures that make for the perfect backdrop. The square is lit with more than 100,000 LED lights, and the designs include constellation arches, massive angel wings, and a light tunnel—all of which ensure plenty of light and a very merry scenery.