Make merry at a bounty of holiday events during Winter Wonder Island in Galveston

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Hotel Galvez | Photo courtesy of Galveston CVB

Stroll through a Winter Wonder Island as Galveston transforms for the holiday season with fun, historic, joy-filled, and other festive events from through January 2019.

All across Galveston Island, the holiday season is lighting up the city with events that celebrate the winter festivities through early January of next year.

For three months, Galveston becomes Winter Wonder Island as it plays host to special lighting events, ice sculpture exhibitions, Victorian-themed festivals, and performances that delight, excite, and spread the holiday spirit.

Winter Wonder Island also provides visitors an abundance of opportunities to cross off their shopping lists with gift markets, an historic shopping district amid bright holiday lights, and a popular pop-up bar for when you need a cocktail break.

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Ice Land: Pole to Pole | Photo courtesy of Galveston CVB

Ongoing Events

From November through January 2019, Galveston features a slate of ongoing events for holiday-goers to drop by and get in the spirit of the season.

  • Holiday Splash at Schlitterbahn Galveston Waterpark | Through Sunday, December 30 – Houston’s only indoor waterpark makes waves this holiday with appearances by Surfing Santa, Bahn Borealis light show, holiday friends, meal packages, and more. Tickets start at $24.99 for children, $29.99 for adults. Open 10am to 5pm on Saturday and Sunday.
  • Miracle Pop-Up Holiday Bar at Daquiri Time Out | Through Sunday, December 30 – Launched in New York City in 2014, Miracle is the beloved Christmas-themed pop-up bar phenomenon that has grown to include over 80 worldwide locations, including a stop this year at Galveston’s Daquiri Time Out. Enjoy special cocktails like the Kris Kringle Colada and Hawaiian Milk Punch. Open daily from 4pm to 2am.
  • Lanterns, Lights, and Shopping in Galveston’s Historic Downtown District | Through Tuesday, January 1 – Glittering with lights and decor across this charming 36-block district, historic downtown Galveston is criss-crossed by strands of lights and other holiday attractions in Saengerfest Park and beyond. In addition to an interactive photo frame and giant snow globe, visitors will find a bevy of uncommon holiday gifts across the district’s many unique boutiques, shops, and galleries.
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Festival of Lights | Photo courtesy of Galveston CVB
  • Festival of Lights at Moody Gardens | Through Sunday, January 6 – Brighten up your holiday season at the Festival of Lights in Moody Gardens, which features a mile-long trail of more than one million lights and illuminated scenes with views of Galveston Bay. The family-friendly mainstay also offers an outdoor skating rink, vendors serving hot chocolate and festive food, and live entertainment. Tickets start at $5.95. Times vary.
  • Ice Land: Pole to Pole at Moody Gardens | Through Sunday, January 6 – Journey from the North to South Pole, surrounded by sculptures expertly carved from over two million pounds of ice by a skillful team of ice artists. Walk through a frozen forest of polar bears, penguins, humpback whales, snowy owls, walrus, reindeer and glide down the giant glacier slide. If you’ve worked up a thirst, satisfy it with a festive holiday drink inside an igloo at Shivers Ice Bar. Tickets start at $16.95 for children, $21.95 for adults. Times vary.
  • Holiday Performances at The Grand 1894 Opera House | Through Saturday, January 12 – The historic Opera House hosts a spectacular slate of music, plays, and performances all season long. Don’t miss your chance to catch Asleep at the Wheel’s Christmas celebration, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, a special jazz performance with Wynton Marsalis, A Charlie Brown Christmas Live on Stage, and more. Ticket prices and times vary.
  • Cirque Joyeux Noel Dinner Show at Moody Gardens | Friday, December 21 through Friday, January 4 – This astonishing circus show features a cast of international cirque and variety performers from around the world. Enjoy a plate from Chef Felipe Gonzalez while marveling at the theatrical feats of acrobats, magicians, and aerial artistry. Tickets start at $63, with matinee tickets available beginning at $33. Times vary.
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Downtown Lanterns & Lights | Photo courtesy of Galveston CVB

Circle These Dates

Clear your calendar for these events taking place on select dates throughout the holiday season.

  • Victorian Holiday Homes Tour | Friday, November 30 – Here’s your chance to tour inside five elegant Victorian-style homes in the East End Historical District. Built by skilled European immigrants at a time when Galveston was the wealthiest city in Texas, these festively decorated homes open their doors for a holiday tour. Tickets are $20. 5:30pm to 9:30pm.
  • 45th Annual Dickens on the Strand | Friday, November 30 to Sunday, December 2 – Travel back in time as Galveston’s historic Strand is transformed into Charles Dickens’ Victorian London for this annual, family-friendly event. Gear up for parades, live entertainment on six stages, strolling carolers, roving musicians, bagpipers, jugglers, and a visit from the characters of Dickens’ books. Tickets start at $13. Times vary.
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Victorian Home Tour | Photo courtesy of Galveston CVB
  • Sunday Brunch with Santa at Hotel Galvez | Sundays from December 2 through December 23 – Enjoy an early afternoon meal with Kris Kringle at the historic Hotel Galvez on Seawall Boulevard. Don’t miss the annual holiday gingerbread display or a chance to tour through the hotel’s elegant lobby to the tunes of traditional holiday favorites playing on the piano. 11am to 2pm.
  • Holiday with the Cranes | Saturday, December 8 and Sunday, December 9 – This unique weekend event takes place across the Island, providing opportunities to encounter these four-foot tall Sandhill Cranes as they arrive for their annual winter visit. Book your spot for this celebration of birding, educational learning, and outdoor adventure. Cost and locations vary. 
  • Santa Train at the Galveston Railroad Museum | Saturday, December 15 – Cheer on the arrival of Santa Claus as he rides the rail into the Galveston Railroad Museum. Meet Mr. Claus, snap a photo with him, and board the Harborside Express for a special train ride. Tickets are $12, free for children 12 and under. Tickets for the train ride are $5. 10am to 2pm.
  • Santa Hustle 5k & Half Marathon | Sunday, December 16 – Race a 5K or half marathon through Galveston while dressed up as old St. Nick—no need to purchase a costume; you’ll get a beard, hat, and performance hoodie with registration, and can upgrade to receive candy cane socks, a red tutu, arm warmers, and face tattoos for an additional fee. Enjoy cookies, candy canes, and holiday tunes all along the way, then stick around for an after-party. Tickets start at $44.75. 7am.
  • Christmas Day Brunch at Hotel Galvez | Tuesday, December 25 – On this special holiday, the popular brunch is expanded, featuring traditional entrees and special dishes created by the hotel’s executive chef. 10:30am to 4:30pm.
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Santa Hustle 5K | Photo courtesy of Galveston CVB

This story was sponsored by Galveston Convention & Visitors Bureau. Per our advertising policy, we only accept sponsored content from businesses that meet our editorial standards and truly present a valuable activity, resource, or destination for Houstonians and Houston visitors. Click here to learn about promoting your event, product or business.

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