Make your holiday season merry and bright, despite countless challenges, with our top 25+ Christmas events, attractions, and things to do for Christmas around Houston in 2020.
If you’re counting down the days until Christmas and are deep into your holiday playlists, you’ll probably want to mark your calendar for a few of these events—both live and virtual—and seasonal attractions in our picks for the top things to do for Christmas in Houston 2020.
With Christmas light displays to shopping markets, concerts and theatrical performances, socially distanced outdoor gatherings, skating rinks, and more, there’s something for everyone “for kids from 1 to 92”.
Of course, it’s also important for you to consider any health precautions before heading out. Our picks below may have certain requirements or restrictions at this moment and these things can change quickly, so be sure to contact your destination ahead of time to verify and with any questions or concerns. For those who aren’t venturing out, we’re also pleased to include a number of virtual holiday events this year to help keep your holidays bright and connected.
Note: Selections are not ranked, but are broken into two chronological lists—one featuring scheduled dated events and a second showcasing season-long attractions and activities. Events are listed in chronological order by start date and seasonal attractions by closing date.
Events & Things to Do for Christmas in Houston 2020
This holiday season, Houston is still hosting a number of festive events taking place on specific dates and weekends, along with virtual debuts that either livestream at specific times or drop and remain available for a set time. Scroll down below the photo to view season-long activities, attractions, and installations happening almost daily throughout the holiday season.
- Houston Symphony presents A Baroque Christmas at Jones Hall | Friday, December 4 through Sunday, December 6, 2020 Virtual Available | – By merging its famous annual performance Handel’s Messiah with music from Corelli’s Christmas Concerto and other classical holiday classics in a limited capacity performance, the Houston Symphony keeps its December tradition kicking. Livestream avalable only on Saturday, December 5, 2020. $25; $20 livestream. Showtimes vary.
- 12 Days of Christmas at Sugar Land Town Square | Friday, December 4 through Sunday, December 6, 2020 | No Cover – Kick of the season with 12 days of family fun packed into a weekend featuring ice carving and skating demonstration, plus snow flurries on Friday; a Sugar Land Superstar-led concert of Christmas songs on Saturday; and an outdoor Sunday brunch from the restaurants of your choice. Times vary.
- Alley Theatre presents A New Adaptation: A Christmas Carol Virtual Production | Friday, December 4 through Sunday, December 27, 2020 | Virtual | FREE – Tune in to see a 2020 take on Dickens’ classic, as a troupe of talented performer figure out how to stage a socially distanced version of the show from home, with holiday inspiration taking the show to surprising heights. Viewable 24 hours a day during the limited run with registration.
- 11th Annual Katy Old Fashion Christmas in Historic Downtown Katy | Saturday, December 5, 2020 | No Cover – Browse a holiday market with 80+ vendors offering produce, arts and crafts, antiques, clothing, accessories, jewelry, gifts, and handmade goodies at the popular Katy Old-Fashioned Christmas Festival. While you shop, expect food trucks, a beer garden, and more to distract from the task at hand. 10am to 5pm.
- 101st Annual Mayor’s Holiday Spectacular on ABC-13 | Saturday, December 5 & Friday December 18, 2020 | Virtual | FREE – While the big, live holiday concert and fireworks blowout at City Hall has to stay dark this year, you can still tune in to see a livestream broadcast variety show online, followed by a streamlined televised broadcast on the 18th on ABC-13 KTRK. The show will feature appearances and performances from Robert Glasper, Laci Kaye Booth, DCappella, Ledisi, Santa Claus, Houston Ballet, Dance of Asian America, International Voices, and more. Times vary.
- SPA presents Manual Cinema’s Christmas Carol on Marquee TV | Weekly from Saturday, December 5 Through Saturday, December 19, 2020 | Virtual – Another novel take on the holiday perennial, Society for the Performing Arts (SPA) bring a livestream of a unique paper puppet show, re-imagining the Scrooge story in stunning visual ways, streamed live from Manuel Cinema’s Chicago studio for each performance. $20. 7pm each night.
- 3rd Annual Carols on the Green with the Houston Grand Opera: Virtual Edition | Tuesday, December 8, 2020 & After | Virtual | FREE – The new holiday tradition moves online for 2020, featuring a performance of holiday favorites by Houston Grand Opera, with special guests Cecilia Duarte and Jesus Pacheco. The program will be viewable online after it debuts. 6:30pm.
- Candlelight Holiday Market at Sam Houston Park | Friday, December 11 through Sunday, December 13, 2020 – Spread out under the big Texas sky and enjoy sipping, strolling, and shopping outdoors at the beloved market tradition. Expect to uncover holiday decor, jewelry, home goods, apparel, and more in your shopping, while taking in holiday flair, live entertainment, drinks, and more. Tickets start at $10. Times vary by day.
- Houston Symphony presents A Very Merry Pops at Jones Hall | Friday, December 11 to Sunday, December 20, 2020 – Get in the Christmas spirit with a rousing concert of holiday favorites (“Feliz Navidad”, “O Holy Night”, “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”, and “A Charlie Brown Christmas” to start, anyone?) performed live by the Houston Symphony. $25; $20 for livestream performances on Saturday nights during the run.
- Christmas at the Park at George Ranch Historical Park | Saturday, December 12, 2020 – Reimagined as a single-day event for 2020, George Ranch invites Houstonians to travel back in time to Texas Christmases past to explore the historic decor and customs practiced between 1830 and 1930. Laugh at daytime campfire celebrations, sip traditional Mexican cocoa, listen to the singing cowboy, make a Victorian ornament, and more. $15; $10 for ages 4 to 12; $12 for ages 65 and up. 11am to 3pm.
- 59th Annual Christmas Boat Lane Parade on Clear Lake | Saturday, December 12, 2020 | FREE to View – Spy 60+ sailboats and power boats, all decked out with Christmas lights and decorations, as they proceed leisurely from South Shore Harbour Marina and past the Kemah Boardwalk out into Galveston Bay (and back) on a two-hour tour. 6pm to 8pm. Expect the first arrival and passage by Kemah Boardwalk around 6:45pm.
- Houston Ballet’s Nutcracker Sweets Virtual Film | Tuesday, December 15 through Friday, January 8, 2021 | Virtual – The H-Town holiday tradition continues with a digital film celebrating all things Nutcracker, including an abridged version of Stanton Welch’s The Nutcracker from the ballet archives and fun new works set to popular Christmas carols. Premiering at 7pm on Tuesday, December 15, the program can then be purchased and viewed anytime through the end of its run. $35
- Holiday Markets & Shopping Pop-Ups Around Houston | Select Dates Through Sunday, December 20, 2020 – Shop local this holiday season with our ever-growing list of local pop-up markets and shopping events, which often feature free holiday entertainment and splurge-worthy treats. Favorites include Houston Ballet’s Virtual Nutcracker Market, Flea at Silver Street: Black Friday Holiday Flea, Holiday on 19th Street, Heights Mercantile Holiday Market, First Saturday Arts Market in The Heights, Holiday in the Park at Market Square Park, Christmas in the Park at Town Center Park in Kingwood, the Karbach Holiday Fest & Art Market, and many more. Prices, times and locations vary.
- Outdoor & Drive-In Holiday Movie Screenings Around Houston | Select Dates Through Sunday, December 20, 2020 | Some FREE – Settle in on the lawn or pull up in the car to catch one or more of a true bevy of Christmas films around H-Town including How the Grinch Stole Christmas starring Jim Carrey and the animated 2018 take The Grinch; along with that story’s inverse, holiday-bending companion The Nightmare Before Christmas; National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (and a very unique livestream of an online Evening with Chevy Chase & Beverly D’Angelo discussing the film and the Vacation series); Elf starring Will Ferrell; and more. Prices, times, and locations vary.
- Holiday Concerts, Theater Shows & Virtual Performances Around Houston | Select Dates Through New Year’s Eve, Saturday, December 3, 2020 – Bask in the warm holiday cheer with both live and virtual holidays shows and performances around Greater Houston, including some of our favorites, including concerts like the Candlelight Open Air Concert: Holiday Special series and A Very Murphy Christmas with Trish & Darin; plus a live virtual stage readings of both Christmas at Pemberley sequels to Pride & Prejudice, and a live stage production of The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical in Galveston. Prices, times, locations, and platforms vary.
Holiday Attractions, Activities & Things to Do for Christmas 2020 in Houston
Throughout this holiday season, Houstonians will flock to socially distanced light displays and other attractions and exhibits to fill their Christmas calendars. These attractions and activities run almost daily throughout the holiday season from mid November to early January, in most cases.
They are listed in chronological order of their final date of operation.
- Home for the Holidays in Old Town Spring | Through Sunday, December 20 | No Cover – Pop into local businesses and restaurants around Old Town Spring every weekend leading up to Christmas for festive exhibits, holiday decor, visits to Santa’s house, unique gift ideas, and some Saturday live entertainment. The decor, shopping, and a general festive spirit can be enjoyed on the weekdays, as well. Hours vary.
- Hou-Ville at Bayou Place | Tuesday, December 1 through Wednesday, December 23, 2020 – Explore an immersive, Instagram-able experience that’s inspired in equal parts by Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Houston icons and landmarks, and the holidays themselves. Advance online reservations required. Tickets start at $30; $15 for ages 3 to 12; free for ages 2and under.
- Holiday in the Gardens at Moody Gardens | Through Saturday, January 2, 2021 – Brighten up your holiday season at the Holiday in the Gardens including Festival of Lights, a mile-long trail of more than one million lights and illuminated scenes with views of Galveston Bay. For 2020, visitors can also embark on the Arctic Slide, take a holiday train ride, catch a 4-D theater presentation of the classic Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer television special, enjoy robust holiday meals, and more. Tickets start at $14. 6pm to 10pm.
- Space Age Christmas Trees: World’s Biggest Mega-Show at the 1940 Air Terminal Museum | Through Sunday, January 3, 2021 – Boasting more than 100 vintage aluminum Christmas trees, 1940 Air Terminal Museum presents a special plus-sized 2020 offering of its annual display. This is likely the first time that trees from all of the major manufacturers have been seen together in one space. Also new this year is the interactive Mid-Century Modern Holiday Pad. $10; $4 for age 12 and under; free for ages 2 and under. Tickets include admission to the rest of the museum. Times vary.
- Sugar Land Holiday Lights at Constellation Field | Through Sunday, January 3, 2021 – Head to the Sugar Land Skeeters’ home field for a stunning display of 2.5 million lights, with red and green lights lining the seating section, light tunnels, giant light displays, and more. Tickets are $16; $14 ages 12 and under, and for ages 65 and up. Most November and January nights are discounted slightly. Times vary.
- Galaxy Lights at Space Center Houston | Through Sunday, January 3, 2021 – The most interactive and technologically advanced light display in Texas returns to the Space Center Houston campus, with outdoor wonders, space-themed light installations, and a look at some real interstellar history that should captivate all ages. 6pm to 10pm.
- City Lights at Avenida Houston | Through Sunday, January 3, 2021 | Some FREE – Take in the lighted sights along the plaza, scope out 28 elaborately decorated Christmas tree in Alley Theater’s Deck the Trees (appearing at the GRB this year only), and explore Discovery Green’s the sights and sounds for free (and The Ice at Discovery Green for a fee, see below). There’s also the option to spring $15 to experience Texas Winter Lights stretched across the rooftop Texas-shaped lazy river at Marriott Marquis Houston and take in its holiday treats and entertainment for an evening. 5pm to 10pm.
- Holiday Light Sightseeing in Houston’s Most Decorated Neighborhoods | Through Sunday, January 3, 2021 (Approximately) – Pile in the car and cruise through River Oaks, Woodland Heights, Prestonwood Forest, Downtown, and Houston’s other ‘hoods known for extravagant, clever, and heartwarming holiday light displays. Dates will vary but most lights start coming down or going dark after New Year’s Eve weekend.
- Zoo Lights at Houston Zoo | Through Sunday, January 10, 2021 – Stroll through the Houston Zoo with hot chocolate in hand while admiring glimmering displays made up of more than two million Christmas lights at this annual must-see holiday destination. Tickets range from $12.95 to $25.65; free for ages 1 and under. Tickets must be purchased online in advance. 5:30pm to 10:30pm daily; last entry 9:30pm.
- The Ice at Discovery Green | Through Sunday, January 31, 2021 – Though it’s more wintery than Christmasy, Discovery Green’s beloved outdoor skating rink, The Ice at Discovery Green, returns as a defining staple of Houston’s holiday season. Check out the calendar for themed skate nights on select dates (including discounted $8 skating on select Monday evenings). Skating lasts throughout January. Advance online tickets required. $15. Times vary.
Social Distancing & COVID-19
Businesses in Houston have opened under modified protocols, following guidelines administered by local health officials, the State of Texas and CDC. At this time, guidance from experts urges people to continue wearing face masks when in public spaces, practice social distancing of at least six feet, limit your touching of surfaces and frequently use hand sanitizer or soap and water to keep your hands clean.
Before heading out, take time to familiarize with your destination’s requirements or restrictions at this moment, and be sure to contact them ahead of time with any questions or concerns.
Find More Things to Do in Houston All Year Long
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