While there’s dozens of events and happenings around Houston every week, there’s nothing quite like our holiday activities! It’s finally cold enough to bundle up in a coat, scarf, and a pair of boots and wander around the lighting displays, shopping destinations, and activities that our city so lovingly cultivates for us. Peruse the events below and jot down a few to try in every nook and cranny of Greater Houston this holiday season…


  • Zoo Lights: Nov 17, 2018 – Jan 13, 2019
    Experience one of Houston’s most beloved holiday traditions, Zoo Lights! Savor hot chocolate while roaming over fifteen miles of earth-friendly LED lights at the second most visited zoo in the country, the Houston Zoo.
  • Santa’s Wonderland in College Station: Nov 9 – Dec 30th, 2018
    Hayrides, carriage rides, snow tubing, shopping, Santa, snow and more abound at Santa’s Wonderland out in College Station! Pack up the family and grab your friends to share holiday memories sure to last a lifetime.
  • River Oaks Christmas Lights: Nov 22 – Dec 25, 2018
    River Oaks gets into the Christmas spirit each year with their home lights displays from Thanksgiving to Christmas. Stroll down charming southern streets as you’re transfixed by massive mansions smothered in thousands of lights with holiday themed yards to match!
  • Festival of Lights at Moody Gardens: Nov 17, 2018 – Jan 6, 2019
    More than one million lights and lighted scenes weave you through Moody Gardens this holiday season! This along with their outdoor skating rink, concession stands, holiday buffets, and live entertainment makes Moody Gardens a ‘must-do’ on your holiday list.
  • 99th Annual Mayor’s Holiday Celebration & Tree Lighting: Nov 30, 2018
    Venture down to Hermann Square at City Hall from 6-8 p.m. for a can’t miss Houston holiday tradition! Gaze in wonder at the Holiday Tree aglow with thousands of LED lights, glittering ornaments, and a mesmerizing star topper. Stay for the music, Santa, fireworks and tons of family fun.
  • Woodlands Tree Lighting: Nov 23, 2018
    Get into the holiday spirit in The Woodlands with carolers, hot cider, gingerbread house decorating, photo booth fun, pictures with Santa, and the second annual lighting of their exquisite 20-foot tree!
  • Sugar Land Holiday Lights: Nov 23 – Jan 1, 2019
    2.5 million lights await you in Sugar Land this holiday season at the 5th annual Sugar Land Holiday Lights. Peruse the vendors for some last minute holiday shopping, nosh on some yummy holiday treats, and meet Santa all in one place!

Nutcracker Market at NRG


  • Nutcracker Market: Nov 8 – 11, 2018
    Talk about tradition! Since 1981, Houstonians have been shopping ‘til we dropped every November at the Nutcracker Market: a four-day shopping extravaganza at NRG Center! 11% of everything sold goes back to the Houston Ballet, so not only can you get all of your holiday shopping done in one (massive!) place, but you’re giving back to charity at the same time.
  • Simon Malls (Galleria, Katy Mills Mall, Houston Premium Outlets): All Season Long
    We’re blessed with some amazing shopping opportunities here in Houston. Simon Malls has several shopping centers all over the city that are ready to welcome you this holiday season! Whether you’re in the Galleria, out in Katy, or up in Cypress there’s a Simon mall (or outlet mall!) close by.
  • Katy Old Fashioned Christmas Festival: Dec 1, 2018
    Historic Downtown Katy throws a heck of a shindig every year with its special Christmas market. Stroll through the booths of produce, antiques, jewelry, handmade goodies and more as you nosh on food truck delights and sing along with carolers. The best part of the festival? There’s 50,000 lbs of snow trucked in. Can you say epic snow ball fight?!
  • Home for the Holidays Gift Market: Nov 16 – 18, 2018
    There always seems to be that one person on your holiday gift list that you’re struggling to buy for, isn’t there? Katy’s Home for the Holidays Gift Market is here to help! Chock full of unique and fun gifts, this Market spans two days with over 175 vendors to scope out.
  • Deck the Halls Christmas Market: Nov 29, 2018
    If you’re down south of Houston and looking for a few gifts, Kemah has a holiday market for you! Handmade and one-of-a-kind gifts abound at this Kemah Community Center event, so don’t miss out.


  • Galleria’s 30th Annual Ice Spectacular and Tree Lighting: Nov 10, 2018
    Sure, you can ice skate at the Galleria every day, but what’s not there all year is their massive Christmas tree! Head over to the Galleria for their annual tree lighting ceremony and stay to skate around the massive 55 foot decorated tree.
  • 69th Annual H-E-B Thanksgiving Day Parade: Nov 22, 2018
    Join in on the fun downtown for this 69-year-old holiday tradition which showcases Houston’s arts and cultural communities while entertaining thousands of parade-goers with colorful high- flying balloons, artistic floats, marching bands, dancers, costumed characters and more!
  • Texas Renaissance Festival: Now – Nov. 23, 2018
    Some say that Ren Faire is halfway over, but the rest of us say that it’s just getting warmed up! Gobble down a few turkey legs and a bottle of mead or two as you prance through acres upon acres of food, vendors, and entertainment. If you’re feeling particularly festive, make sure to wear a costume and camp out on the grounds right outside of the festival!
  • The Nutcracker at the Center for Dance: Nov 23 – Dec 29, 2018
    What is it about The Nutcracker ballet that keeps us coming back year after year? Is it the music? The dancing? The costumes? The drama? I daresay it’s all of these things, and the Houston Ballet executes their rendition of The Nutcracker yearly with precision and beauty. Reserve your tickets now because they sell out quickly!
  • Dickens on the Strand in Galveston: Nov 30 – Dec 2, 2018
    “Well, I say my good man, whatever are you doing avoiding Dickens on the Strand?!” Grab your favorite partner in crime and head on down to Galveston for a Victorian good time. Pop a few roasted chestnuts in your mouth while you stroll through old world London in the 1800’s, complete with costumes and entertainment!
  • 2018 Houston Heights Holiday Home Tour: Nov 30 – Dec 1, 2018
    Whereas you wander around River Oaks looking at lights, you meander through actual houses in the Heights! Purchase your tickets now and tour five grand homes in the Heights this holiday season that are decorated from stem to stern with a “When all through the House” holiday theme.

With this many lights, shopping, and activities in Houston this holiday season, there’s sure to be something on this list for everyone! For additional articles, offers, and ideas for your time in Houston, visit travel.hilton.com/houston.

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