Disclaimer: Due to COVID-19 concerns, many events might be canceled, postponed, or changed into limited versions, sometimes at very short notice. Please check with event organizers directly for the latest updates (view the "External Resources" section below).
Beautiful holiday displays in different areas of Houston is a favourite holiday tradition for locals. Houston usually sees warmer weather in November and December, so the city is ideal for long evening walks through the magically lit-up streets with the family.
Uptown Holiday Lighting (virtual countdown; lights on November 26, 2020–January 4, 2021)
The annual Uptown Houston Holiday Lighting ceremony traditionally takes place on Thanksgiving evening. It features 80 lit up trees on recently renovated Post Oak Boulevard. This free family event offers festive performances, uniquely designed art cars, and holiday concessions. The evening culminates with a traditional countdown while Santa conducts the holiday trees' festive lighting, followed by a fireworks extravaganza and dazzling light show. In 2020, Uptown Houston kicks off the Christmas season with a virtual countdown video on Thanksgiving evening, November 26. It will feature Uptown holiday memories on Uptown Houston's social media pages. Also, throughout the holiday season, more than holiday trees will line Post Oak Boulevard all the way from the West Loop to Richmond Avenue. An integrated lighting technology will create a colorful light show along 2 mi (3 km) of Post Oak Boulevard, 24 hours a day. The lights will stay on through January 4, 2021.
Houston Zoo Lights (November 14, 2020–January 10, 2021)
Zoo Lights at the Houston Zoo are perfect for walks with children as there are many animal-themed displays, transforming the zoo into a winter wonderland. You can sip hot chocolate while strolling by the light and sound installations across the Zoo. Get a selfie on an ice throne and take a socially distanced photo with Santa. Infinity Tunnel of Lights, 4-D Enchanted Forest with dragons, and "snow" experience—what could be a better holiday experience for families?
River Oaks Christmas Lights (November 27–December 25, 2020)
The cozy downtown neighborhood of River Oaks hosts a free annual event with magical lights displays and the "Santa House" at Del Monte Drive. Santa greets visitors on weekends starting from the first day after Thanksgiving through late December. River Oaks neighborhood permits driving tours; some of the best spots to enter River Oaks are either Shepherd Drive or Westheimer Road.
Magical Winter Lights (canceled for 2020–2021 season)
The Magical Winter Lights lantern festival in the town of La Marque, TX, is the largest holiday display in the area. It is also the largest festival of its kind in the United States, according to the Magical Winter Lights website. Visitors can tour more than 100 individual lantern sets in eight themed sections of the park which include a Christmas village, Houston skyline, the mystery of the East, and a Dino fun zone. A vast 20-ac (8-ha) space also features carnival games and a holiday market.
Dickinson Festival of Lights (canceled in 2020)
Dickinson Festival of Lights takes over Paul Hopkins Park in the Southeast Houston–area. Countless lights, concession stands, pictures with Santa, and a decorate-your-own-cookie factory. This mesmerizing walk-thru event offers free admission, shuttle service, and parking.
Holiday in the Moody Gardens in Galveston (November 21, 2020–January 2, 2021)
The Holidays at the Moody Gardens features dozens of holiday activities, like ice skating and holiday 3D films. One of the biggest holiday festivals in the region, Festival of Lights features more than one million lights combined in 100 animated light displays synchronized with music and other sounds. Moody Gardens also has an outdoor ice skating rink, ice sculptures of animals, The Arctic Slide, train rides, great food, and Santa's residence.
Woodlands Christmas lights (November 20–December 31, 2020)
The Woodlands town center offers a colorful light display in the urban setting. The vibrant scenes and installations concentrate near the Town Center ice rink. The trees along the Woodlands Waterway are worth the admiration while they are glowing with hundreds of lights.