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

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Houston, the largest city in Texas, offers a ton of great things to do around Christmastime.

If you’re considering coming to Houston this Christmas season, be sure to check out these 10 things to do to help make your holiday visit exciting and memorable!

1. Zoo Lights at the Houston Zoo

Start your Christmas in Houston experience in a festive way at the Houston Zoo.  The Houston Zoo brings in countless visitors each year, and particularly in December for the Zoo Lights.

Visitors get to see the famous zoo at night and stroll through the beautiful grounds surrounded by bright and cheery Christmas lights (over 2 million!) arranged in holiday animal themes. 

Part of the Zoo Lights stroll includes the popular Infinity Tunnel of Light, a 125 foot tunnel filled with lights and tinsel that will really put a twinkle in your eye.

Other holiday activities at Zoo Lights include: 

  • The 4-D Enchanted Forest (great for kids!)
  • Giant ice throne and dragon
  • Wildlife carousel rides
  • Candy the peppermint-striped zebra
  • Photos with Santa

2. Holiday Tamales for Christmas Dinner

Texas is famous for its Tex-Mex food scene, and Houston holds the distinction as one of its hot spots.

A popular custom for locals celebrating Christmas in Houston includes eating tasty tamales around the dinner table. 

For visitors who want to feel like a Texan and participate in this local tradition, there are numerous restaurants in the city taking bulk tamale orders at Christmastime. 

Consider ordering your dozen tamales at the famous Original Ninfa’s on Navigation St or double down on the Texas holiday spirit at longtime staple Goode Company BBQ with some brisket and tamales for Christmas dinner.

Fresh tamales, a Tex-Mex staple (Photo by Tai’s Captures on Unsplash)

3. Christmas Boat Lane Parade on Clear Lake

A long-running annual tradition, Houston’s Clear Lake community has hosted its Christmas Boat Lane Parade for nearly 60 years.  

A unique holiday experience, thousands will come to watch (either on land or in their own boats) over 50 sail and power boats parade by decorated in Christmas lights and other holiday garb for a festive sight. 

The Kemah Boardwalk is a great spot to view this boat parade each year.

4. Holiday Performances in Houston’s Theater District

Houston’s Theater District is known for bringing in exceptional plays and performances throughout the year, and the holiday season is no different.  

There are multiple theaters within the Theater District, so you have many entertainment options for your Christmas in Houston experience.

The Alley Theatre’s holiday classic A Christmas Carol comes highly recommended as a personal favorite.  Other theaters have included performances of The Nutcracker, Handel’s Messiah, and more.  

If you’re spending the night, I recommend the historic Lancaster Hotel, which provides a classy downtown stay in the heart of the Theater District.

The lights of Houston’s Theater District

5. Tomball German Fest Christmas Market

The Houston suburb Tomball celebrates its German heritage every December with a German festival and European-style Christmas market

Not only an excellent place to do some Christmas shopping (over 200 artisan vendors make up this open-air market), but the festival provides a lively atmosphere of German and Christmas-themed activities.

Live music, tasty German food, a biergarten, Christmas carolers, carnival rides, and a petting zoo are just a few of the things you can enjoy to get into the holiday spirit at this popular festival.  Best of all, the festival is free!

Check out our complete guide to the Tomball German Fest Christmas market for more details.

6. Ice Skating at Discovery Green

Discovery Green, located in the heart of downtown, provides a magical Christmas in Houston tradition each December.  Visitors to the park will want to check out a rarity in Texas–an outdoor ice skating rink!  

Ice Skaters in the park will enjoy the big-city ambience as they admire the Houston skyline up close with Christmas music playing all around.

Be sure to take a break from skating and grab some hot chocolate, cookies, and Belgian waffles at the snack shop!

7. Galaxy Lights at Space Center Houston

Houston has deep roots in the history of space exploration, and one of the better places to immerse yourself in rockets, spaceships, and astronauts is Space Center Houston

Over the holidays, Space Center Houston creates its own version of a winter wonderland that any astronaut at heart would appreciate, called Galaxy Lights

Galaxy Lights provides visitors with an interactive and high-tech Christmas light experience throughout Space Center Houston. 

Guests can admire a giant solar system-inspired light installation and other space-themed displays, gaze at an indoor meteor shower, and learn how astronauts spend Christmas in space. 

8. Christmas at the Kemah Boardwalk

In Houston’s Bay Area, the Kemah Boardwalk provides a ton of waterfront family friendly activities year round, including restaurants, shopping, amusement park rides, and midway games. 

During the holidays (including Christmas Day) the boardwalk comes alive with “Jingle on the Boardwalk.” Visitors can really get into the holiday spirit through these festive offerings:

  • Santa’s workshop 
  • Live music
  • Photos with Santa
  • Classic Christmas movie showings
  • Balloon artists
  • Snowball fights in real “snow”
  • Tons of Christmas photo ops

9. Old Town Spring Home for the Holidays

The Old Town Spring neighborhood in Houston should be on anyone’s list for holiday gift shopping destinations with its streets of quaint shops and restaurants. In December, “Home for the Holidays” marks every weekend here with Christmas festivities.

While shopping, be sure to catch a ride on one of the horse-drawn carriages or check out the variety of street performers and carolers.  Stay late and enjoy the Christmas lights all over the neighborhood.  

10. Christmas on Galveston Island

Visitors spending their Christmas in Houston should consider taking an hour’s drive to nearby Galveston Island for a day of fun Christmas festivities.  

Must-see destinations like Moody Gardens, the historic Pleasure Pier, and all of the attractions in the Strand District will help bring in the Christmas spirit in true Texas coast style.  

For a more in-depth list of things to do at Christmas in Galveston, be sure to check out our Christmas in Galveston guide.

Christmas festivities along the Strand District

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

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

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