Texas Travel

5 Texas Christmas Must-Sees

By James Mayfield 12.4.13

Everything is bigger in Texas. During the holiday season, there are grandiose examples of this saying in places all across the Lone Star State. Cities such as Dallas, San Antonio, Austin, Fort Worth, and Houston get their metros in a festive mood for the holidays by putting up giant trees, having parades, or hosting lighting festivals. But venture outside the big cities and you’ll find a host of Texas Christmas celebrations you must see.

  • Grapevine. All year long, historic downtown Grapevine attracts visitors strolling the shop-lined Main Street and sipping vintages from local wineries. But during the holidays, Grapevine lives up to its spirited nickname as the Christmas Capital of Texas. North Pole Express train rides, live shows by the Texas Tenors, and wine train outings make Grapevine a must-see spot. Stay at the Gaylord Texan (featuring a Nutcracker-themed ICE!) or Great Wolf Lodge while you’re in town and get even more wrapped up in the season.
  • Galveston Island. Sunbathers flock to this destination during the summer, but come winter Galveston Island turns into a sandy snow globe of Christmas fun. A nod to holidays past happens when Charles Dickens characters stroll the historic Strand and carolers sing songs transforming the modern world into Victorian London. This year marks the 40th anniversary.
  •  Arlington (Interlochen). With AT&T Stadium (home to the Cowboys), and the Ballpark in Arlington (home to the Rangers), Arlington has visitors from far and wide. But it’s during the holiday season that a neighborhood known as Interlochen brings in carloads of families and friends oohing and aahing as they pass by 200 amazing homes, each with its own unique lighting display. This event nails the trifecta: fun, festive, and free.
  •  Denton. Denton features one of the country’s architectural treasures: a traditional town square. When Christmas comes, the whole square, including the circa-1896 courthouse, celebrates with live bands, appearances by the jolly big man in the red suit, a parade, wassail contest, and a lighting event that illuminates the area with 16,000-plus holiday bulbs.
  •  Marfa. If you’re feeling adventurous and lights are your thing, then there’s no better place to take in the “natural” night sky than Marfa in far West Texas. Known as the site where the 1956 movie Giant starring James Dean and Elizabeth Taylor, was filmed, Marfa today is a quaint little artist community that decks out naturally thanks to the main attraction, the mysterious Marfa lights.
  • San Antonio. The River Walk is the place to be for the holidays in San Antonio. The lights are fantastic, but the annual parade of floats that cruise by are the real centerpiece. For a unique experience, you can also go boat caroling along the river.