Outdoor Fun

9 of the Best Christmas Towns across Texas

Best Christmas Towns in Texas
Nash Farm in Grapevine, Texas, dressed in holiday finery. credit: Catherine Parker

Cue the cocoa, snag a cookie and don your best Christmas sweater for the holiday season. The holiday season is also the perfect time to get out and explore with your friends and family to see some holiday lights. With some displays bringing together over a million lights, holiday lights brighten up more than the trees from which they dangle, and Christmas light displays brighten the spirits of those who attend. For one of the best Christmas towns in Texas, find town squares dipping in tinsel and tiny lights or holiday displays with ice sculptures and real snow. Read on for more holiday destinations in Texas.

9 Best Christmas Towns in Texas

San Antonio
College Station

Polar Express


Located in North Texas close to the DFW airport, this is the official Christmas Capital of Texas. It is a favorite since it is covered end-to-end with  Holiday finery. This is one of the best Christmas towns in Texas. 

The historic downtown area provides a walkable streetscape with shopping,  dining and tasting rooms. For shopping options, don’t miss the Christmas Store for ornaments.

Ice Rink

Along Main Street, kids of all ages can enjoy a ring around the outdoor ice rink on Grapevine’s Main Street. With a 4,500-square-foot ice rink, ice skaters have plenty of room to glide across the ice.

Located at 815 S. Main St. in Peace Plaza. Open from mid-November to after New Year’s. Assorted hours and advance tickets are recommended. General admission is $20 per person, and skate rental is included.

Parade of Lights 

With 100 lighted floats and marching bands, this night parade moves down Main Street and attracts big crowds from across North Texas. The 2023 Parade of Lights is Thursday, December 7, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

North Pole Express

The North Pole Express departs from the historic depot several times a day with Santa and Mrs. Claus on each car, along with freshly baked cookies for all the passengers, naughty or nice. The annual event is a popular excursion for North Texas families. There are plenty of photo opportunities and even an area that snows.

Located at 701 S. Main St. Reserve Polar Express tickets in advance.

Nash Farms

Learn about how Christmas was celebrated over 100 years ago at Nash Farm. The original homestead tells the story of life in North Texas before cars and electricity. See the chickens and the sheep, and if you are lucky, one of the ladies will have a cookie to share that was baked in the wood-burning oven.

The Prairie Christmas is Saturday, December 1, and guests help decorate the house for Christmas. Then everyone enjoys cookies and cider afterward.

Located at 626 Ball St. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission varies.

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Fredericksburg Pryamid Best Christmas Towns in Texas
The Christmas Pyramid in Fredericksburg was made in Germany. credit: Catherine Parker


With its German heritage, visitors will find a traditional take on Christmas at this favorite Hill Country destination. Head to Fredericksburg’s Main Street for a small-town shopping destination; it’s packed with unique boutiques and lots of decorations. This is one of the best Christmas towns in Texas.

Christmas Nights of Lights

As the sun sets, head to the Marketplatz for its nightly lighting. The trees come alive with thousands of lights from Thanksgiving week until the New Year’s. Even the locals come out to see the lights and enjoy the outdoors.

Located at 126 W. Main St.  Free to enter.

German Christmas Pyramid

Hand-crafted in Germany, the traditional Christmas pyramid features candles and spinning figurines. It’s 30 feet tall and a must-see while in Fredericksburg.

Located at 126 W. Main St. Enter the park for free.

Eisbahn The Ice Rink

Strap on some ice skates to ring around the outdoor ice rink, Eisbahn in Marketplatz. With outdoor tables for snacks and cocoa nearby, it’s fun for even the non-skaters.

Located at 126 W. Main St. Ice skate for $15 for a come-and-go experience, including rental skates. Open from Thanksgiving week until New Year’s.

Weekend Guide to Fredericksburg
Moody Gardens Holiday scene
Festival of Lights in Moody Gardens credit: Moody Gardens


For a weekend packed with holiday cheer along with seafood and sand, Galveston is the place to go. This is one of the best Christmas towns in Texas.

Ice Land

Inside the 28,000-square-foot insulated tent, Chinese ice carvers spent a month carving 2 million pounds of colored ice into magical scenes from the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. Visitors walk through the marine life scenes in jackets provided by Moody Gardens (feel free to bring your own) since the facility is kept at 9 degrees Fahrenheit.

In addition to Ice Land Rainforest Holiday  visitors can take the Festival of Lights, a mile-long holiday-themed trail with 2 million individual lights and sound-enhanced animated displays. Families can also ice skate at a covered outdoor ice rink. Or slide down the Arctic Slide, an ice slide and take a ride on its train. 

Located at 1 Hope Blvd. Ice Land Rainforest Holiday is open daily from Thanksgiving week through New Year’s. Admission is required for a specific time and date. Admission to the aquarium, the rainforest and the 4D theater is additional.

Moody Gardens at night
Holiday lights at the Moody Gardens in Galveston. credit: Moody Gardens

Polar Express

A family tradition for many, the Polar Express departs from the Galveston Railroad Museum with a  visit from Santa along with cookies and carols on a one-hour ride. In addition to the annual Polar Express train, guests can see the locomotives and freight cars at the Galveston Railroad Museum, like a Pullman (sleeping) car, dining car and a Post Office car. 

Located at 2602 Santa Fe Plaza. Reserve Polar Express tickets in advance, and lap children are free. The Polar Express runs from early November 11 until December 23. November departures are Friday, Saturday and Sunday. December departures are Thursday through Sunday, along with the entire week before Christmas. Reservations are required, and each date offers several departure times.

Dickens on the Strand

Get transported to Victorian England with the food, the drinks and the sounds of the season. From the strolling carolers to the smell of roasting chestnuts, revelers can join in the fun with their own version of a Dickens-era costume at the 50th annual Dickens on the Strand.

The historic Strand District offers lots of room for artisan demonstrations along with holiday craft booths. Don’t miss the parade. And be sure to sample a Scotch Egg.

Located in the Historic Strand District at 2100 The Strand. Dickens on the Strand will be Friday, December 1, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. with free admission. Open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, December 2. Admission is $18 for adults, $18 for kids (7 – 12) and kids 11 and younger are free. Open from noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday, December 3.

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San Antonio River Walk at Night
The lights on the San Antonio River Walk. credit: Catherine Parker

San Antonio

The holidays might be the best time to visit the San Antonio Riverwalk when it’s dressed in lights. The Annual Ford Holiday River Parade features 28 lighted parade barges. At the same time, the lights of the River Walk are turned on.  Dangling from the 100-year-old Cypress trees, multi-colored lights twinkle as river boats float underneath and stay lit from sunset to sunrise daily.

The Ford Holiday River Parade features reserved seating along with first-come, first-serve seats. Tickets start at $15.

Popular San Antonio attractions offer holiday celebrations too. This is one of the best Christmas towns in Texas.

  • SeaWorld San Antonio Christmas Celebration
  • Six Flags Fiesta Texas Holiday in the Park
  • Zoo Lights! At the San Antonio

For a taste of the Holidays in San Antonio, sample a tamale. It’s a corn husk with masa stuffed with meat, like pork, chicken or beef, then steamed. The traditional treat is served during the holidays.  For the more Tex-Mex favorites, head to Mi Terra Cafe and Bakery. Located along Produce Row in San Antonio’s Market Square, it’s been a staple since 1941.

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College Station 

This is the home to Texas A&M University and a Texas-sized Christmas extravaganza. With 4.5 million lights and REAL snow,

 Santa’s Wonderland is a popular holiday tradition. This also makes College Station one of the best Christmas towns in Texas to visit.

Visitors load up on an open-air hayride to see all the displays and then can see some animals at its petting zoo. Another must is racing down the 12 snow tube lanes. There’s even a snow playground with plenty of snow for a snowball fit.

Located at 18898 Hwy 6, College Station. Adult admission starts at $34.94 and kids (3 – 12) are $29.95. Online discounts and early season discounts are available. Open from mid-November through Christmas week.

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Trail of Lights in Austin Texas
The Trail of Lights is a holiday tradition in Austin. credit: Catherine Parker


Several of Austin’s favorite holiday attractions are outdoors. Starting with Zilker Park and its  2 million lights covering the trees and on over 40 displays featuring beloved characters from childhood. This is a walking attraction, and visitors will find food trucks and live music.

Afterward, guests head to Zilker Tree and twirl, a tower with decorated with lights. 


Dallas offers a magical holiday escape of the garden variety at its Dallas Arboretum. This 66-acre property features a 12 days of Christmas theme with a 50-foot-tree playing music. Visitors will pass 600 nutcrackers in the garden displays and find a Christmas Market.

The Holiday at the Arboretum is open daily from mid-November until the first week of January. Timed entry admission is required to this popular Dallas holiday event. 

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Texas State Railroad is a historic railroad based in East Texas. Departing from Palestine, passengers climb abroad for an official Polar Express excursion while the soundtrack for the movie sets the mood.

Passengers follow along as the classic children’s book, The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg is read. Some families are dressed in pajamas while they listen and nibble on cookies. Santa and Mrs. Claus visit the cars during the 60-minute ride, and Elves lead passengers in classic carols as well.

The Polar Express departs the Palestine Depot from November through the end of the year. After the ride, families can head over to the historic Anderson County Jail to see the Grinch.

Johnson City lights
The holiday lights display at Johnson City. credit: Catherine Parker

Johnson City

This Texas Hill Country town was home to former U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson. For the holiday season, Johnson City turns on the lights across its historic area. With 2 million lights, this display is so big it can be seen from space. 

This free event is a Texas Hill Country favorite. Visitors will find the lights on from Thanksgiving week until the first week of January. 

Disclosure: This article was created after media press trips.

Sip on some cocoa and find some Holiday Cheer at the Best Christmas Towns across Texas decked in tinsels and laden in garland. Take a vintage train ride with Santa, make an ornament to remember and sip cocoa (or wassail) as you watch the parades float by. Each of the Best Christmas Towns in Texas offers a unique feel and activities. Best Christmas Towns in Texas | Best Holiday Decorations in Texas | Where to go in Texas during the Holidays #Christmas #Texas
credit: Catherine Parker

Catherine Parker has a passion for travel and seen all 50 U.S. States. As a former flight attendant with one of the largest airlines, there isn't a North American airport that she hasn't landed in at least once. Since clipping her professional wings after 9/11, she combines her love of the open road with visiting architectural and cultural icons. She is based out of Central Texas dividing her time between writing and restoring a pair of 100-year-old houses. She shares her life with her three kids and her husband.

1 Comment

  1. Hazel Parker

    The photography in these articles is simply stunning, especially lights in San Antonio and Johnson City. Great articles accompanied by beautiful photography make reading about these Texas destinations time well spent. Kudos to Catherine!