The RIGHT Places: Christmas in the Lone Star State

No snow boots or parkas are required to enjoy festivities around the Lone State during the holiday season — just some holiday spirit and an appetite for celebrating! Texas prides itself on being rich with tradition, and this winter is the perfect time to experience the variety of activities and events that have become holiday traditions throughout the state.  

“Texas is the perfect holiday getaway destination, offering an array of distinctive events and activities, including tree lighting festivals, historic home tours, concerts, parades and so much more,” says Julie Chase, Director of Tourism for the Texas Office of the Governor, Economic Development & Tourism.

Texas brings together the old and the new with many holiday events around the state, including: 

Holiday Lighting Festivals & Market Days

Hundreds of lighting ceremonies across the Lone Star State illuminate the skies during the holidays. 

Holiday at the Arboretum: November 28-January 4, Dallas

A fantasy world filled with more marionettes, ornaments and figurative art than even the most seasoned collector can imagine awaits guests at The Dallas Arboretum this holiday season. Guests of The Dallas Arboretum will be transported back to the pages of beloved fairy tales with the help of various decorative vignettes, telling beloved stories and nursery rhymes including ‘Rumplestiltskin’, ‘Rapunzel’, ‘Puss in Boots’, ‘Hansel and Gretel’, ‘The Old Woman in the Shoe’ and many more.

— Christmas in the Square:  November 28-January 2, Frisco

In Frisco, just north of Dallas, more than 350,000 people are expected to experience the largest choreographed holiday light show in the state of Texas. Christmas in the Square also offers various family-friendly activities including outdoor movies, carriage rides, snow machines, Santa’s Workshop, a model railroad display, and a snow slide.

Schlitterbahn’s Hill Country Christmas Event: November 25-January 4, New Braunfels

Schlitterbahn New Braunfels, summer home to the world’s best water park, transforms the original Schlitterbahn into a dazzling evening spectacular blanketed with more than 1 million lights, light sculptures, sledding on “faux snow,” ice skating, a 60-foot Nativity scene, a reindeer barn, festive food and unique shopping, making this a new must-see holiday family tradition.

— Alamo Plaza Christmas Tree: November 28-January 1, San Antonio

Every year one of America’s favorite Christmas trees is lit on the day after Thanksgiving in historic Alamo Plaza. Many a family visits this iconic site during the holidays for very Texas Christmas pictures.  The Ford Holiday River Parade kicks off the ceremony with illuminated floats and music on November 28.

— San Antonio Riverwalk: December 5-21, San Antonio

More than 6,000 luminarias will line the famous San Antonio Riverwalk.

— EmilyAnn Theater Trail of Lights: November 29-January 1, Wimberley

Spend an evening in Wimberley celebrating the 10th year of The EmilyAnn Theatre’s Trail of Lights, where you will find an enchanted pathway winding up a six-acre hill leading to a lighted Christmas tree and a 360 degree view of the Wimberley Valley.

What Would the Holidays Be Without a Train Ride?

The North Pole Express Train Ride: November 28-30; December 5-7, 12-14, 19-21, Grapevine

“The Christmas Capital of Texas,” northwest of Dallas, offers children rides on the North Pole Express through a city blanketed with millions of lights and decorations.

The Polar Express Train Ride: November 28-29; December 2-6, 9-13, 15-20, Lubbock

The Polar Express comes to life when trains depart the Lubbock depot for a memorable journey full of Christmas carols and hot chocolate. Listen to a reading of The Polar Express, meet Santa and his elves at the North Pole and receive a special Christmas bell.

For a complete list of everything there is to see and do while on a winter getaway to the Lone Star State, visit

About Tourism in Texas

Tourism is one of the largest industries in Texas, employing 534,000 Texans. In 2007, travelers spent almost $57 billion in Texas. Travel expenditures generated $2.8 billion in state taxes and $994 million in local taxes. For more information on Texas travel events and vacation destinations, visit or, for a free Texas State Travel Guide, call 1-800-8888-TEX.