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Your Guide to Holiday Lights in Houston

the houston skyline during the holidays

Looking forward to enjoying some festive holiday lights in Houston with your loved ones this holiday season? In a city this big, there are enough variations on holiday lights displays to suit anyone’s preferences. Do you love huge, glittering winter wonderlands? Maybe you prefer smaller, more intimate neighborhood displays, or cheery holiday parades. Whatever your favorite holiday activity might be, there’s something out there that’s perfect for you this season.

It’s smart to start planning as early as possible for the holidays. Parking and traffic are always an issue in the Houston area. Ticket sales are already in progress for ticketed events, and they usually sell out fast. Free events are extremely popular too. Fortunately, a little advance planning can help you have a great time with as little hassle as possible.

To see holiday lights in Houston this year, first check out these beloved Bayou City traditions:

  • Lightscape at Houston Botanic Garden: Featuring hundreds of thousands of holiday lights in installations created by local and international artists, Lightscape offers a one-of-a-kind holiday experience. Visitors can enjoy a dazzlingly illuminated mile-long path winding through the Houston Botanic Garden. The path will be accessible for strollers and wheelchairs. Food and drink can be purchased on site. Lightscape is open from November 18 all the way through January 2. Tickets and parking passes are sold separately; VIP tickets grant on-site parking, early entry and other perks.
  • Holiday Gardens Festival of Lights: The holidays always shine brightly when Moody Gardens transforms into Holiday Gardens! The Festival of Lights features over two million sparkling lights displayed along a one-mile trail. Hot chocolate and fireside s’mores are available for purchase, and parking is free. Best of all, the Festival of Lights is even open on Christmas day! There are also evening cruises available on the Colonel Paddlewheeler boat. Enjoy a whole new perspective of the lights as they sparkle off Galveston Bay!
  • Galaxy Lights: Billed as “the most interactive and technologically advanced light display in Texas,” this one’s for future astronauts and science lovers! Visitors to Space Center Houston will enjoy kinetic light shows and special screenings of the film Holidays in Space. This popular Space City tradition lights up from November 13 through January 2. Space Center members receive special ticket pricing, while kids three and under get in free.
  • Magical Winter Lights: This spectacular festival in La Marque is the largest lantern festival of its kind in the country! It’s a multicultural take on traditional holiday lights shows. Visitors can enjoy festive themed sections such as Mythical Forest, Mystery of the East and Santa’s Christmas Village. There are also acrobatic performances, carnival rides and an interactive dino fun zone!

Huge, glittering holiday lights events are great, but there’s a lot to be said for more intimate neighborhood displays. Some of us love touring the neighborhood in our Christmas jammies to ooh and ahh at the lights—and there are plenty of great options for neighborhood Christmas lights in Houston.

Neighborhood Lights in Houston

Several Houston-area neighborhoods are famous for their homemade lights displays that spread joy for everyone (for free!). Each holiday season, some of the best Christmas lights displays can be found in the elegant, historic neighborhood of River Oaks. Woodland Heights and the Heights are so well known for their festive displays that they even have their own name—Lights in the Heights.

Prestonwood Forest, on Houston’s northwest side, is famed for its Annual Nite of Lights—a holiday tradition for the past 40 years and counting. Candlelight Park is another great Houston neighborhood for taking in Christmas lights. Nearby Shepherd Park also has fun Christmas decor on display each year.

Most Houston Christmas lights go up shortly after Thanksgiving and stay illuminated until the New Year. Some neighborhood lights displays are only up for a few weeks in December. Weeknights are typically less crowded than weekends, but it varies day to day.

Want to inspire some holiday cheer of your own? For some people, the work and expense of hanging their lights can bring out their inner Scrooge. But there’s a better way! Hiring a professional holiday lighting company to hang your holiday lights is hassle-free. Your holiday lighting pro will bring your vision to life and then take it down when the holidays are over. This leaves you free to enjoy the season’s festivities with your loved ones.

the houston holiday parade

Kick Off the Holidays with the Houston Holiday Parade

What better way to officially kick off the holidays than with the Houston holiday parade on Thanksgiving morning? This year marks the 72nd annual H-E-B Thanksgiving Day Parade in the heart of Houston. Elaborate floats, balloons and marching bands proceed along a 20-block route through downtown. The fun starts at 9 AM for this longstanding, beloved tradition for Houstonites.

And that’s just the beginning of the fun holiday events in Houston! There are so many other events to enjoy, including lots of different holiday performances for those who love taking in a live show. Here are some highlights:

  • Holiday Gardens at Moody Gardens: The Festival of Lights is just one of eight holiday attractions at Moody Gardens. There are also train rides, evening cruises aboard the Colonel Paddlewheel Boat, 3-D holiday films projected onto the largest screen in Texas, a Cirque Joyeux Holiday Show at the Convention Center, and so much more!
  • The Nutcracker with the Houston Ballet: This beloved holiday tradition runs from November 26 through Christmas Eve.
  • A Christmas Carol at the Alley Theater: Running from November 19 through December 29, this “inventive adaptation of the Dickens classic” brings a magical world of holiday make-belief to life.
  • Trans-Siberian Orchestra: The multi-platinum rock group celebrates the 25th anniversary of its “Christmas Eve and Other Stories” album this year! They’re back at the Toyota Center with just two shows, both on December 12.
  • The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Musical: Perfect for families with young children, this touring holiday musical comes to Sugar Land on December 9. While you’re there, you can visit the Sugar Land Holiday Lights as well. Over three million twinkling holiday lights dazzle throughout eight different themed areas!

Hanging your holiday lights can be a time-consuming hassle. It may not even be safe for some, since it requires spending time on tall ladders. This year, consider hiring a professional holiday lighting company to transform your home and yard into your very own winter wonderland. You’ll inspire holiday cheer in the hearts of your family, friends and neighbors!

a holiday market in houston

Gift Shopping Made Easy at Holiday Markets: Houston, TX

There are several great holiday markets in Houston, TX, that are perfect for all your holiday gift shopping needs. Best of all, holiday markets are a wonderful way to get in the holiday spirit. There’s just something about cheerful Christmas music, twinkling holiday lights, colorful wreaths and poinsettias—and tons of options for gifts for all your loved ones!

  • The Nutcracker Market at NRG Center is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year after having to take a break in 2020. With hundreds of merchants offering items for everyone on your list, it’s all going down November 11–14. Special events include the Saks Fifth Avenue Fashion Show and Luncheon on the 11th and the Macy’s Fashion Show and Luncheon on the 12th. A portion of your ticket purchase goes to benefit the Houston Ballet!
  • Junior League of the Woodlands hosts its annual holiday market on November 19–21 this year, with a preview party on Thursday the 18th. Visitors to this shopping extravaganza event can take photos with Santa as part of this unique shopping experience!
  • Katy, Texas, is the home of several festive holiday markets. Home for the Holidays Gift Market is the largest, with more than 150 merchants offering unique, one-of-a-kind gifts from November 19 through the 21st.
  • Another Home for the Holidays Gift Market is happening in Humble on December 3–4 at the Humble Civic Center.
  • On Sunday, December 12, the Hilton Houston Plaza Medical Center hosts its Holiday Market Expo on the Hilton rooftop. This holiday market event is dedicated to small business owners and entrepreneurs, and general admission is free. Take in panoramic views of the Houston skyline while you check off those last boxes on your gift list!

One of the best parts of the holiday season? Seeing your loved ones’ faces light up as they open the thoughtful gifts you got just for them. The anticipation of that moment is what makes Houston holiday markets so much fun to attend! Sipping hot cocoa or a mimosa while browsing through stall after stall of gift ideas you might never have thought of on your own… Holiday markets are just plain fun!

The only thing better than that? Returning with a trunk packed full of gifts for your loved ones to a home that’s lit up with festive holiday lights.

ABC Can Get Your Home Ready for the Holidays

We know that hanging your lights at the holidays is a daunting task. That’s why ABC Home & Commercial Services’ holiday lighting professionals are ready to bring your winter wonderland vision to life in your very own yard. We’ll wrap your trees, illuminate your eaves, and deck your home with merry, twinkling lights! Best of all, once the holidays are over, we’ll come take them down again—no muss, no fuss.

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