Christmas in Galveston, TX: 10 Things to Do in Galveston at Christmas

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Galveston is a popular and historic island city full of activities for everyone year round along the Texas coast.  If you’re considering spending your Christmas in Galveston, there are plenty of things to do to make your holiday festive and fun.  

Check out these 10 things to do in Galveston at Christmas for a unique and memorable island holiday!

Looking for more Texas travel inspiration?

Check out these guides on the best places to visit in…

1. Holiday in the Gardens

If you’re looking for a unique weekend getaway full of Christmas festivities, consider Moody Gardens.  Year round, the educational entertainment park offers rainforest, aquarium, and science-oriented experiences in its life size glass pyramids. 

Come December, Moody Gardens really gets into the Christmas spirit with Holiday in the Gardens, offering numerous holiday events and activities for the whole family.

One of Moody Gardens’ most popular attractions is the Festival of Lights.  Guests experience a mile long trail of over 2 million Christmas lights dancing to holiday music while enjoying a pleasant stroll in the beautiful garden grounds.  

I really enjoyed taking in the lights and beautiful views of Galveston bay over a warm cup of hot chocolate when I visited!

Other holiday events and activities include: 

  • Classic Christmas movies shown in 3D and 4D
  • Train rides
  • Evening cruises on the Colonel Paddlewheel Boat
  • Cirque Joyeux Holiday circus shows
  • Ice skating and ice slides
  • Pictures with Santa

Looking for a place to stay? Moody Gardens has its own hotel within the park to make your Christmas in Galveston experience easy and convenient.

2. Dickens on the Strand

For over 40 years in December, the historic downtown Strand neighborhood has hosted the community Christmas festival Dickens on the Strand. This festival allows visitors to step back in time and soak up Dickensian holiday festivities for a memorable Christmas in Galveston experience. 

Pedestrian-friendly Dickens on the Strand spans several blocks of shops, restaurants, and historic buildings. The streets also are lined with food stands (think kettle corn, scotch eggs, turkey legs, and candied pecans), artisan vendors for gift shopping, and entertaining street performers.  

As you wander through the Strand, expect to see numerous patrons dressed in Victorian-era costumes, as well as characters from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

The festival caps off each year with a large community parade full of holiday cheer for the whole family.  Special parade guests in previous years have included descendants of Charles Dickens as well as the “Queen of England.” 

Lively and entertaining, Dickens on the Strand won’t disappoint as a festive kickoff to the holiday season.

A full crowd at Dickens on the Strand

3. Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier

Along the Seawall district of Galveston’s beaches sits the whimsical and eye-catching Pleasure Pier.  Staying open on Christmas Day, the beloved Pleasure Pier offers amusement park rides, midway games, shops, and restaurants stretching out into the Gulf of Mexico.  

In addition, guests can participate in holiday-themed activities, including photos with Santa and outdoor movies of your favorite holiday films. 

Be sure to stay into the evening to catch the ocean sunset from the ferris wheel or the Gulf Glider!

4. Christmas at the Moody Mansion

Galveston is a city rich in history, and one of the best ways to connect with the city’s past is to visit the historic Moody Mansion. This lavish historic home invites guests to step back in time to the tycoon heyday of the early 1900s. 

Each holiday season, the Moody Mansion becomes a Christmas wonderland adorned with vintage Christmas trees and decorations.  Guests can tour the numerous stately rooms of the home and learn about Galveston’s history through the eyes of the prominent Moody family.  

Annually on January 6th, the Moody Mansion hosts its 12th Night of Christmas, celebrating the end of the Christmas season with free admission, Christmas treats, and music. 

5. Old-fashioned Christmas Treats at LaKing’s Confectionery

Looking for some holiday treats or stocking stuffer ideas? Located in the heart of the Strand district, LaKing’s Confectionery is an old-fashioned candy shop and ice cream parlour. 

Featuring a 1920s soda fountain staffed with real soda jerks, this lively and spacious candy factory is a great spot for people watching and taking a break from your Christmas visit to Galveston. 

Their homemade chocolates and taffy will brighten anyone’s holiday season!

Inside LaKing’s Confectionery

6. Holiday Performances at the Grand 1894 Opera House

The Grand 1894 Opera House is a historic theatre in downtown Galveston dubbed as “The Official Opera House of the State of Texas.” If you’re looking for a night on the town for your Christmas in Galveston experience, The Grand is a great spot for a date night or celebration.  

Each holiday season, the theatre hosts Christmas performances, with A Christmas Carol being its long-running standard.  It’s a fun and festive show! 

When you’re there, you can’t help but admire the beautifully ornate setting the theatre provides while enjoying the show.

The stage curtain inside The Grand 1894 Opera House

7. Quirky Christmas Shopping at Hendley Market

A longtime staple in Galveston’s Strand district is Hendley Market.  Full of eclectic oddities and curiosities, Hendley Market will delight shoppers seeking unique and quirky Christmas gifts.  

It’s memorable just to walk around and peruse their variety of goods handcrafted by both local and international artisans.  Be sure to check out their curiously large collection of nativity scenes from around the world as well. 

Busy shoppers at Hendley Market

8. Christmas at the Tremont House & Rooftop Bar

Visitors spending Christmas in Galveston should consider staying at the luxurious Tremont House Hotel.  If staying elsewhere, the Tremont House is still an inviting place to enjoy dinner, drinks, or rest. 

The hotel lobby provides a festive atmosphere with Christmas decorations, live music, Christmas carolers, and an ornate bar and cafe to unwind for the day.  

Be sure to look for the intricate gingerbread house on display. It’s a must for your Christmas in Galveston selfie or family photo.

Looking for something more romantic? Visitors can cap off their Christmas in Galveston experience with a festive evening at the Tremont House Rooftop Bar, which provides an excellent view of downtown and the harbor.  I recommend getting reservations beforehand.

The festive Tremont House Hotel

9. The Polar Express Train Ride at the Galveston Railroad Museum

Each year the Galveston Railroad Museum hosts The Polar Express Train Ride for the holidays.  This immersive experience allows guests to feel like they’re a part of the classic Christmas movie. 

Participants ride on an actual historic train and interact with actors portraying characters in the film.  Guests are encouraged to wear their pajamas and enjoy cookies and hot chocolate served by singing chefs.  

This is a great Christmas activity in Galveston for kids!

10. Holiday with the Cranes

If you’re looking for a different kind of holiday experience, consider Holiday with the Cranes. The Galveston area is one of the premier places for birdwatching in North America. Each December, the city celebrates the annual return of the beloved Sandhill Cranes for the winter.  

Visitors can participate in interpretive birding talks and other festive nature activities in pursuit of catching a glimpse of these famous birds. Bring some binoculars! 

Did we miss any of your favorite things to do in Galveston at Christmas?

Let us know in the comments so we can add more to the list!

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