Top 25 Things to Do for Christmas 2017 in Houston

Christmas Tree in Front of City Hall | 365 Houston

Get into the holiday spirit with our favorite 25 Christmas events and things to do for the holidays around Houston in 2017.

If you’re counting down the days until Christmas and jamming to holiday tunes, you’ll probably want to mark your calendar for a few of these events.

From Christmas light displays to shopping markets, theatrical performances, skating rinks and home tours, there’s something for everyone, for kids from 1 to 92.

Note that events, installations, and attractions are not ranked, but listed in chronological order from their start date.

Top 25 Things to Do for Christmas in Houston 2017

  1. Zoo Lights at Houston Zoo | Through Sunday, January 14, 2018 – Sip on hot chocolate as you stroll around the Houston Zoo taking in the displays made up of more than two million lights. Step inside of a life-sized snow globe, check out the train display, and enjoy music from local carolers at the Reflection Pool stage at 7pm and 8pm each evening.
  2. Winter Holiday Installations at Discovery Green | Daily through Sunday, January 21, 2018 – Although not explicitly Christmas, Discovery Green’s winter installations are a defining staple of Houston holidays. This the park once again features its beloved outdoor skating rink The ICE at Discovery Green (including its many themed skate nights). Along with other holiday lights and decorations, you’ll want to be sure to check out the charming, interactive sound and light display Hello, Trees! A Walking Serenade and then maybe strike a pose within the glowing, photo-ready Merry Christmas family postcard.
  3. Holiday Markets & Shopping Pop-Ups Around Houston | Through Saturday, December 9 – Shop local at the ever-growing list of pop-up markets and holiday shopping celebrations, many packed with treats and free holiday entertainment. Favorites include First Saturday Arts Market in The Heights, Pop Shop Houston Holiday Festival at GreenStreetHoliday Heartmade Art Market at Market Square Park, and Cheers & Beers Holiday Market at Saint Arnold Brewing Co.
  4. Holiday Light Sightseeing in Houston’s Most Decorated Neighborhoods | Through New Year’s Day, Monday, January 1, 2018 (Approximately) – Pile in the car and drive through River Oaks, the Woodland Heights, Prestonwood Forest, and Houston’s other Christmas light-heavy ‘hoods.
  5. Magical Winter Lights at Gulf Greyhound Park | Through Sunday, January 8, 2018 – Explore the seven themed areas of Sam Houston Race Park’s Magical Winter Lights, featuring larger-than-life Chinese lanterns that resemble landmarks in America, Europe, Asia, Australia and more.
  6. Festival of Lights at Moody Gardens | Through Sunday, January 7, 2018 – See the impressive one million light display at Moody Gardens complete with animation and sound-enhancement during the annual Festival of Lights. While you’re there, take a spin on the ice at the outdoor skating rink.
  7. Sugar Land Holiday Lights at Constellation Field | Through New Year’s Day, Sunday, January 1, 2018 – The home field of the Sugar Land Skeeters is spending its winter break decked out in 2.5 million lights, with red and green lights lining the seating section, light tunnels, giant light displays and more.
  8. Mistletoe on the Go at Market Square Park | Daily | FREE – Steal a kiss, or just a selfie, under the largest ball of mistletoe in Texas, stationed squarely at Market Square Park in Downtown. With a diameter of 150 inches, it’s sure to inspire some big kisses.
  9. Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley at Main Street Theater | Through Sunday, December 17 – This charming bon bon of bon mots is a “sequel” to Jane Austen’s beloved Pride and Prejudice. Rippling with wit and good cheer, it’s a festive romantic comedy centering on the middle Bennet sister, Mary, and her path to independence and love.
  10. Home for the Holidays in Old Town Spring | Through Saturday, December 23 – Stroll around Old Town Spring visiting area businesses and restaurants to get into the holiday spirit. Visit during the weekend for special activities, visits from Santa, strolling performers, live entertainment and more.
  11. Alley Theatre presents A Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story of Christmas | Through Saturday, December 30 – Watch as Ebenezer Scrooge pays a visit to the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future during at Alley Theatre’s annual production of A Christmas Carol. This year’s show will be especially meaningful as it marks the Alley Theatre Company’s first return to its home stage following Hurricane Harvey.
  12. 10th Annual Galveston Holiday Lighting Celebration at Hotel Galvez | Friday, November 24 | FREE – The celebration begins with the arrival of Santa by horse-drawn carriage and the lighting of the hotel’s tree. Enjoy live performances from the Galveston Ballet as the holiday season in Galveston officially launches.
  13. 98th Annual Mayor’s Holiday Celebration & Tree Lighting at City Hall | Friday, December 1 | FREE – Join Mayor Sylvester Turner for this annual holiday extravaganza including music, fireworks, the lighting of the tree and more family fun. Bring a new toy to donate and you’ll receive a light-up Santa hat.
  14. Holiday on 19th Street in the Heights | Friday, December 1 | FREE – Enjoy free in-store cocktails, roving carolers, and snow as the shops on historic 19th Street open their doors for a special Friday evening of shopping and holiday cheer.
  15. 44th Annual Dickens on the Strand in Galveston | Friday, December 1 to Sunday, December 3 – Travel through history as the historic Strand is transformed into Charles Dickens’ Victorian London for this annual event. Enjoy live entertainment, food and shopping from local vendors, and a visit from characters of Dickens’ books.
  16. A Very Merry Pops with Megan Hilty at Jones Hall | Friday, December 1 to Sunday, December 3 – The swanky, old school Broadway star, perhaps best known for her role on NBC’s short-lived musical TV series Smash and in Broadway’s Wicked, joins the Houston Symphony for a concert of seasonal favorites, including new arrangements from her holiday album A Merry Little Christmas.
  17. 8th Annual Katy Old-Fashioned Christmas Festival in Historic Downtown Katy | Saturday, December 2 – Katy Market Day kicks off the holiday with carolers, a holiday market, food trucks, the No Label Brewing beer garden, a snow park with 50,000 pounds of snow, Santa Claus, and more. The official tree lighting will take place at 6pm. $5 for photos with Santa.
  18. Christmas in the Park at George Ranch Historical Park | Saturday, December 2  through Saturday, December 23 – Take a festive hayride to explore what Christmas looked like from the 1830s to 1930s, listen in on story time with Santa, explore traditional Texas holiday decorations, take a hay ride, enjoy holiday refreshments, and more. The old-timey holiday event happens at George Ranch Historical Park every Saturday in December leading up to Christmas and most weekdays during the week before the holiday.
  19. 15th Annual Christmas Tree Lighting at Sugar Land Town Square | Thursday, December 7 | FREE – See the lighting of the towering 40-foot tree in Sugar Land’s Town Square during a ceremony with an appearance from Santa Claus, holiday refreshments, and live performances.
  20. 2017 Tomball German Christmas Market & Festival | Friday, December 9 to Sunday, December 11 | FREE – Shop unique gifts from more than 170 vendors, enjoy live music on 4 different stages, chow down on German fare, step into the petting zoo and more during the Tomball German Christmas Market.
  21. Lights in Heights in the Woodlands Heights | Saturday, December 9 – Bask in the Christmas spirit and take in the beautifully decorated homes of the Woodland Heights while enjoying holiday musical performers on front porches. This is one of many Houstonians’ holiday favorites, and the small neighborhood can often be overwhelmed with vehicular and foot traffic. Although the streets are public, the homes are private, so be sure to respect the properties and their owners.
  22. Houston Ballet presents The Nutcracker at Smart Financial Center (SFC) & Hobby Center | Sunday, December 10 to Saturday, December 23 at SFC and Saturday, December 30, 2017 to Saturday, January 6, 2018 at Hobby Center  The Houston Ballet’s beloved holiday offering hits the road this year, pushed out of the Wortham Theatre thanks to Hurricane Harvey. But you can still catch this enduring fairy tale about the magical Christmas Eve when Clara’s nutcracker came alive and took her on an incredible journey.
  23. Houston Symphony presents Handel’s Messiah at Sugar Land Baptist Church and Jones Hall | Thursday, December 14 to Sunday, December 17 – Enjoy works from Handel like “Ev’ry Valley Shall Be Exalted” and the “Hallelujah” chorus as performed by the Houston Symphony during this timeless production. The Thursday performance is presented at Sugar Land Baptist Church, while the remaining shows are at Jones Hall in Downtown.
  24. Santa Hustle 5k & Half Marathon in Galveston | Sunday, December 17 – Dress like old St. Nick (beard, hat, Santa t-shirt and candy cane socks included with registration) and run a 5k or half marathon through Galveston – enjoying cookies, candy canes, and holiday tunes all the way. Stick around for the after-party.
  25. PMT Pop Up: Holiday Cabaret at the Continental Club on Mid-Main | Sunday, December 17 – Members of Houston’s fringe art community perform family-friendly renditions of holiday classics, backed by the Pitch Me This Band, at this pop-up showcase from Pitch Me This Productions.

Find More Holiday Fun & Things to Do in Houston All Year Long

You can find more Christmas and holiday fun in our interactive event calendar and 365 Weekend Guides.

Be sure to subscribe to our free Weekend Guide email to receive a round-up of great things to do this weekend in Houston in your inbox every Thursday. If you don’t want to miss a thing, you can also opt in to our Daily Update emails (emailed six days a week).

Click here to sign up for free.

Previous articleAround the World in Houston: Discover Vietnam
Next articleTake to the streets at the 8th Trafigura Run for the House & help families in need
Secrets, favorites, tips and fresh ideas for enjoying daily life in and around Houston