The lights, the parties, the music … we've got you covered for the holidays. Here are some ideas if you're looking for a place to take the family, or, perhaps, just escape the family.
City of Sugar Land Tree Lighting
The 40-foot Christmas tree on Sugar Land Town Square is the focus of festivities 5-8 p.m. Dec. 6. Among the planned events: children’s crafts and games, musical entertainment, Elf Karaoke and photos with Santa. A free shuttle will offer service 4:30-8:30 p.m. from Mercer Stadium, 16403 Lexington.
Baytown Christmas Parade
With its “Nutcracker Christmas” theme, this annual parade will roll down Baytown’s Market Street and Texas Avenue beginning at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 6. The parade will include several bands, drill teams and lighted floats, as well as Santa riding in a 1947 fire engine.
City of Pasadena’s Christmas Tree Lighting
Santa and Mr. Claus will throw the switch and light up Pasadena during a celebrations 6-9 p.m. Dec. 7 at City Hall, 1211 Southmore. The free event will feature musical entertainment, hay rides and refreshments. Information: 713-475-7048
Magnolia Area Chamber of Commerce Christmas Parade
This charming small-town parade will begin at 10 a.m. Dec. 8. It runs along Nichols Small and Michael roads in Magnolia.
Sparkling lights, life-size animal sculptures, strolling carolers and the opportunity to visit the animals after dark are part of the appeal of this new holiday event at the Houston Zoo. Zoo Lights will be open 6-10 p.m. Friday through Jan. 5 (with the exception of Christmas Eve). Admission is $10 (free for ages under 2); the last ticket will be sold at 9 p.m. Information: 713-533-6500
Moody Gardens’ Festival of Lights
With its mile-long trail of lights and sound-enhanced, animated displays, the holiday festival draws more than 85,000 visitors annually. Festivities include ice skating, musical entertainment and snow tubing on real snow. Open Thursday through Sunday, Dec. 6-8 and daily Dec.13-Jan. 5. Hours are 6-10 p.m. Admission is $6.95. Some attractions, such as ice skating and snow tubing, require an additional fee. Moody Gardens is located at One Hope Boulevard in Galveston. Information: 800-582-4673
See downtown’s holiday lights by boat when you take a 30-minute pontoon boat ride along Buffalo Bayou. The tours will be offered 5 p.m.-8 p.m. Dec. 8 and Dec. 15. The cruises depart Allen’s Landing, 1001 Commerce. Paid parking ($5) available in Spaghetti Warehouse lot. Cash-only admission is $7 ($5 for ages 4-12) on a first come, first-served basis.
Christmas Boat Lane Parade
More than 100 festively decorated and brightly lit boats will cruise the Clear Lake channel from South Shore Harbor Marina and the Nassau Bay Lagoon to Galveston Bay beginning at 6 p.m. Dec. 8. More than 100,000 people are expected turn out for this 51st boat parade. Vantage points include the Kemah Boardwalk.
Rienzi Holiday Home Tour
Enjoy wine, eggnog and live music during a tour of this festively decorated house museum 5:30-7:30 p.m. Dec. 19. Admission is $20; 1406 Kirby Dr. Information: 713-639-7800
A Charlie Brown Christmas-Unscripted
ComedySportz, the city’s oldest improv troupe, offers a send-up of Charles Schultz’s holiday classic and, as always, it will need some guidance from the audience. Performances are 10:30 p.m. Fridays through Dec. 28. Ages 17 and older only. Tickets are $12. The ComedySportz Arena is located at 901 Town & Country Blvd. Information: 713-868-1444
Carriage Ride at Market Street
Horse-drawn carriage rides are available 6-9 p.m. Fridays-Sundays through Dec. 9, Dec. 14-23 and Dec. 27-30 in The Woodlands’ Market Street entertainment district. The 30-minute tours, which take a route through the district’s holiday light display, board in front of the Cinemark at Market Street, 9595 Six Pines Drive. Cost is $8 per person, $15 per couple, $50 for a party of four. Information: 936-499-4760
IKEA Houston Silver Screen at Discovery Green
Each Thursday through Jan. 24, visitors to this downtown park can enjoy a free movie under the stars. Picnics are encouraged, as are lawn chairs and blankets. Food and drink are available. All screenings start at 6:30 p.m. Upcoming films include “A Christmas Story” (Thursday), “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (Nov. 29), “ELF” (Dec. 6), “Gremlins” (Dec. 13), “Arthur Christmas” (Dec. 20) and “When Harry Met Sally” (Dec. 27).
Macy’s Mistletoe on the Go
You’re going to need a bigger ChapStick. A four-foot mistletoe hanging from a 15-foot candy cane is the latest addition to downtown holiday fun. The mistletoe will spend a week at five downtown destinations. The kiss-stops include City Hall (Nov. 26–Dec. 2), Market Square Park (Dec. 3-9), Hobby Center (Dec. 10-16), Wortham Center (Dec. 17-23) and Discovery Green (Dec. 24-Jan. 1). Houstonians are encouraged to snap a photo of their kiss and share it on the Downtown District’s Facebook page: Facebook.com/VisitDowntownHouston. For every posted photo, Macy’s will donate $1 (up to $5,000) to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Gingerbread Build Off
One of the sweetest events of the season will be 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 8 at Hermann Square, 900 Smith St., in front of City Hall. Dozens of teams of architects, design students and gingerbread enthusiasts will build cleverly decorated structures and vie for prizes, including best in show, tallest structure, most creative and fan favorite. Structures must be completed by 3 p.m. for judging. Winners will be announced at 4 p.m. Free admission for spectators.
Lasers, Lights & Magic in the Park
Fifteen-minute holiday-themed laser shows can be viewed at 6 p.m., 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday through Dec. 31 at Saengerfest Park, which is located at 22nd Street and Strand in Galveston’s historical downtown district. Free.
Old Town Spring’s Home for the Holidays
Every weekend now through Dec. 23, this popular shopping district will welcome strolling performers, horse-drawn carriage rides, a petting zoo and pony rides and other diversions for holidays shoppers. Hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturdays and noon-6 p.m. Sundays. Some activities may require a fee. Information: 800-653-8696
Holiday Teas and Gingerbread Workshops
Busy parents can get a two-hour reprieve from the holiday chaos courtesy of the Four Seasons Hotel. Every Saturday through Dec. 22 from 2-4 p.m., the hotel’s culinary team will lead a hands-on workshop in which children ages 12 and younger will decorate their own gingerbread house to take home. Parents can enjoy afternoon tea in the hotel’s Lobby Lounge. Cost is $42 per person. Workshops are limited to 20 children per workshop so reservations are required. Call 713-276-4700. Four Seasons Hotel Houston is located at 1300 Lamar.
Breakfast with Santa
The Downtown Aquarium, 410 Bagby, is hosting this kid-friendly breakfast buffet 8 a.m.-10 a.m. Dec. 8-9, Dec. 15-16 and Dec. 20-24. Sharkey and Santa Claus will be on hand for photos. Admission is $15.99 ($9.99 for ages 4-10). Reservations advised. Call 713-223-3474.
OUTDOOR ICE SKATING
The Ice at Discovery Green
Skate downtown through Jan. 27 at 1500 McKinney. Admission: $12 plus tax, includes skate rental. Information: 713-400-7336
Part of Festival of Lights, this Galveston attraction offers outdoor ice skating daily through Jan. 1. Admission: $6.95; skate rental is $5. Information: 409-683-4186.
Houston Children’s Museum
New Year’s Noon Bash is Dec. 31 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.; admission $9, includes parade with New Orleans-style brass band and a countdown with ball drop. The museum is located at 1500 Binz. Information: cmhouston.org, 713-522-1138
Sharkey’s NYE Bash will be 2-5 p.m.; $15.99 ($9.99 for ages 3-12) includes buffet, kid-friendly DJ spinning tunes, balloon drop and games. 410 Bagby. Information: 713-223-3474.
New Year’s Eve Houston
KC and the Sunshine band will help Houstonians ring in the New Year downtown from 7 p.m.-12:15 a.m. at this family-friendly event at Discovery Green. Festivities will include an illuminated parade, ice skating, an early count-down for kids and fireworks at midnight. Discovery Green is located at 1500 McKinney. Free admission, but some activities may require a fee.
New Year’s Eve Family Celebration on Kemah Boardwalk
Live entertainment and fireworks over the bay 6-10 p.m. on the boardwalk at 215 Kipp, in Kemah. Information: 877-285-3624
New Year’s Eve on the Square
Sugar Land’s celebration is split into two parties on its Town Square. Kid-friendly festivities are held 7-9 p.m. From 9:30 p.m. to 1 a.m., the party is geared for adults with live music and a Sugar Cube Drop at midnight. Free shuttle service from Mercer Stadium, 16403 Lexington. Sugar Land Town Square is located off Southwest Freeway at Highway 6. Information: 281-276-6000.
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