Every year, it seems as if Back to School kicks off a long, fast slide through autumn and the holiday season, and before we know it, we are into the new year. Starting in early fall, the calendar starts filling up and the excitement of the holiday season builds. Whether you’ll be spending the holidays with beloved family and friends or on your own, there’s something for every Houstonian to make the season merry and bright. Cue the holiday music and prepare for all the twinkling, sparkling holiday lights displays. Whether you’re into full-scale, over-the-top events or smaller, DIY neighborhood displays, we’ve got you covered. Use our guide to plan your Christmas lights Houston 2018 holiday tour now, so you’ll be sure to experience maximum holiday cheer this season!
Houston Christmas Lights Tours
When it comes to Houston Christmas lights tours, you have several options. One fun way to take the guesswork out and make it easy on yourself is to take a guided tour. There are several Houston Christmas lights tour companies, including limousine and party bus companies, that chauffeur customers to the best spots for viewing twinkling holiday displays. These guided tours are a great way to avoid dealing with driving and parking, so you can simply focus on fun.
You can also conduct your own DIY tour or hit just one or two of your favorite spots. Whatever your holiday lights style might be, don’t forget the hot cocoa and your reindeer ears! Whether you hire a tour company or do it yourself, here’s a quick local roundup of the best Houston Christmas lights displays:
- Christmas Boat Parade — December 8, 2018, 6 pm. This year marks Clear Lake’s 57th annual Christmas Boat Parade! This unique event features over 100 festively decorated boats parading around Clear Lake, through Clear Lake Channel and out to Galveston Bay. Spots for public viewing include the Kemah Boardwalk, both sides of Kemah/Seabrook Channel, the South Shore Harbor Marina and from the shores of Clear Lake and the Nassau Bay Lagoon.
- Dickinson Festival of Lights — November 24–December 23, 2018. This Southeast Houston–area city hosts an annual event in Paul Hopkins Park that offers free admission, as well as free parking and shuttle buses. Along with the beautiful lights display, attendees can also enjoy concession stands, a decorate-your-own-cookie factory and pictures with Santa ($5, or free with your own camera).
- Magical Winter Lights — November 16, 2018–January 6, 2019. Looking for something a little different this holiday season? If so, this 20-acre lantern festival in Gulf Greyhound Park (in La Marque toward southeast Houston) is for you, as it presents a fresh multicultural take on traditional holiday light shows. Attendees tour more than 100 individual lantern sets in eight unique themed sections. Tickets go on sale soon.
- Mayor’s Holiday Celebration — November 30, 2018, 6–8 pm. This year marks the 99th annual event at City Hall in Hermann Square! Come experience the lighting of the Holiday Tree in downtown Houston and enjoy music, fireworks and family fun. Santa will also make a visit! Free admission and open to the public. Don’t forget to bring a new, unwrapped gift to the Reliant booth to help make the holidays brighter for a child in need this season; you’ll receive a light-up Santa hat in exchange for your gift donation.
- Moody Gardens Festival of Lights — November 17, 2018–January 6, 2019. An annual tradition for many Houston-area families, this holiday lights display, located in Galveston, features over a million lights and eight separate attractions in one holiday venue. Along with the ever-popular Festival of Lights, attendees can enjoy the Houston area’s only outdoor ice-skating at Ice Land as well as 3-D holiday movie favorites, train rides, an Arctic slide, great food, live entertainment and, of course, photos with Santa. Entertainment like this does come at a price; check out the schedule and ticket prices to plan your visit.
- Sugar Land Holiday Lights — November 23, 2018–January 1, 2019. Located in Constellation Field in this Southwest Houston-area city, over 2.5 million lights make this a magical way to celebrate the season. Enjoy movie nights, pictures with Santa and a variety of vendors offering holiday shopping along with food, drinks and other concessions. This display is even open on Christmas and New Year’s Day; tickets are available online.
- TXU Energy Presents Zoo Lights — November 17, 2018–January 13, 2019. This longtime local favorite is erected each year at the Houston Zoo, located in the heart of Houston within Hermann Park. Tickets can be purchased online. Zoo members get a significant discount, while non-members can pay reduced prices on Value Nights; educators, first-responders, military personnel, and college students can also all pay reduced ticket prices on certain days of the week. Check the tickets page for details.
December In Houston: Perfect For Viewing Neighborhood Lights
If the bigger, splashier (and more costly) Houston Christmas lights displays aren’t really your style, why not keep it smaller-scale and super local? Many Houston-area neighborhoods are known for their excellent DIY lights displays. Note that many of these are pedestrian events, with main roads being blocked off to reduce traffic; even when drive-through tours are permitted, it can be more fun and less hassle to park off-site and walk if walking is an option.
Here are just a few of the best Houston neighborhood Christmas lights displays:
- Lights in the Heights — This Woodland Heights neighborhood event (free, but with options for ticketed events as well) lights up on December 8, 2018. Enjoy Christmas carols and seasonal jazz numbers as you stroll through the displays offered in this holiday favorite.
- Prestonwood Forest Nite of Lights — The Northwest Houston neighborhood of Prestonwood Forest will have its 41st annual Nite of Lights this year, beginning the second weekend in December and running until just before New Year’s. This is a fun one, with homeowners participating in a friendly competition for the best-decorated homes and yards, and visitors casting their votes for the special “People’s Choice” category.
- River Oaks Christmas Lights — The spectacular, historic downtown neighborhood of River Oaks offers this free annual event with incredible lights displays. Santa greets visitors, and snow machines add a touch of real holiday magic. Festivities begin the Friday after Thanksgiving and extend through Christmas; if you’d like a photo with Santa, plan to visit on Fridays and Saturdays in December, starting December 7, 2018. River Oaks permits driving tours; enter the neighborhood from either Shepherd or Westheimer.
- Schultz Holiday Lights — This neighborhood favorite typically runs nightly (weather permitting) from the weekend after Thanksgiving through the Christmas holiday, in the Northwest Houston city of Spring. The Schultz family incorporates Christmas songs and carols with their exciting animated lights display.
Houston Christmas Events
Along with the many great options for Houston Christmas lights displays, Houstonians can also take part in several different Christmas and holiday events. As is the case every year, 2018 has too many offerings to list all of them in one spot; here are just a few highlights:
- Disney on Ice: Frozen — November 7–11, 2018. Sure to please the littles in your life, this year’s event follows Anna and Elsa’s adventure as they strive to bring back summer. Buy tickets online.
- The Lights Fest — October 13, 2018. This year’s lights fest takes place before Halloween, but it’s still a great and unique way to kick off the holiday season. Thousands of people gather to ignite personal sky lanterns and release them in one incredible display that fills the sky along with the hearts of all attendees. Tickets are available online.
- The Nutcracker with the Houston Ballet — November 23–December 29, 2018. The holiday joy of this timeless classic speaks for itself. At the Wortham Theater in downtown Houston; buy tickets online or call the Houston Ballet Box Office at (713) 227-2787.
Christmas Activities In Houston 2018
Looking for Christmas activities in Houston, including ideas for fun things to do taking place this holiday season in the greater Houston area? Look no further than these fun and exciting options:
- Campfire Christmas — December 8 and 15, 2018. At George Ranch Historical Park, this event features a classic holiday meal, dancing to music by Pat Gavin and the Buckaroo Band and a “time-traveling tram” to journey through several vignettes of Christmas Past. Buy tickets online or call (281) 343-0218 ext. 220 to reserve your spot.
- Christmas in the Park — Saturdays in December, beginning December 1, 2018. This annual favorite, also at George Ranch Historical Park, allows visitors to experience Christmas past in all its historical glory. Free with your paid admission fee.
- The Christmas Train — Starting November 30, 2018. This unique holiday experience at Victory Camp in Alvin (about 25 miles south of Houston), takes visitors on an old-fashioned train ride through Christmas scenery featuring over 300,000 lights. Tickets are $8 (kids two and under ride free); buy tickets online.
- Gingerbread Build-Off — December 8, 2018, 10 am–4:30 pm. This year is the 10th annual Gingerbread Build-Off at City Hall’s Hermann Square downtown. Thousands of spectators attend this free event to cheer on competing teams that build masterpieces from 100% edible materials.
Light Up Your Home This Season To Maximize Holiday Cheer
Wishing you could join your neighbors in the spirit of the season, but balking at the thought of all the work it takes to put up your Christmas lights display? Just call on ABC Home & Commercial Services. We can handle all your Christmas lights installation needs this holiday season! Whether you have a particular look in mind or you aren’t exactly feeling creative, our holiday lighting experts will work with you and your budget to plan a safe, memorable, magical lights display and transform your yard into a spectacular winter wonderland.