Holiday Highlights: Christmas Destinations Across Texas

With the holiday season well underway, here are a few top attractions across Texas for those looking for the quintessential Christmas experience.
December 19, 2022
Those searching for ideas to have the ultimate “Texas Christmas” experience are in luck. The Lone Star State takes holiday celebrations seriously, and sorting through all the options can be a daunting task. 

This year, The Texan has assembled a compilation of destinations across the state, ranging from the timeless titans of holiday festivities to local communities that have taken extraordinary steps to put their towns on top of the list of Texas Christmas towns. 

Texas Christmas Titans 

Already one of the most popular travel destinations in Texas, Fredericksburg is a Hill Country community less than two hours west of San Antonio and Austin. It has deep roots in its German heritage, and for those looking for that quintessential Hallmark movie Christmas scene, look no further. 

A couple shopping in Fredericksburg. Photo by Jason Risner.

According to the Fredericksburg Visitors Bureau, a few of the prominent features of their holiday celebrations include the town’s 30-foot Christmas tree, an authentic German Christmas pyramid, and the Night of Lights event that runs every evening from November 26 to January 6. 

The next giants are the cities of San Antonio and Austin. 

The Texan Tumbler

The Riverwalk at San Antonio is a year-round tourist attraction that goes all out during the holidays, transforming into an impressive show of magical holiday lights coupled with a vast assortment of events and attractions throughout the season. 

The lights will run from dusk to dawn until January 9, and a listing of popular events is provided by the city. 

San Antonio River Walk during Christmas (Photo by Nan Palmero).

The 58th annual Austin Trail of Lights is a luminous event going on now through December 23. Located in the 351-acre Zilker Park along Lady Bird Lake, the trail features over two million holiday lights, 70 holiday displays, and multiple romantic lighted tunnels. 

Last but not least among the titans of Texas Christmas is the City of Grapevine. 

Heralded as the “Christmas Capital of Texas,” Grapevine’s celebration of the holiday season is a spectacular experience that checks every box one would think necessary to hold the title. 

Spectacular ice sculptures, a holiday train, ice skating, and more; the list goes on and on, with something for every family in all things Christmas. 

Some of the mandatory highlights include the festivities at the Gaylord Texan Hotel and Resort, with some two million pounds of ice used to sculpt a winter wonderland complete with a Polar Express Train and ice slides. 

Nextdoor at the Great Wolf Lodge, the resort teams up with the Trinity Metro Texrail to hold the North Pole Express Train, where families can put on their Christmas pajamas and ride with Mrs. Claus aboard a 1920s vintage train coach. 

Iconic Texas Christmas Events 

In 1885, the small West Texas town of Anson began hosting what is now known as the famous Cowboy Christmas Ball

After having the opportunity to attend the ball, a former newspaper reporter-turned-rancher known as the “poet ranchman of Texas” penned a poem about the ball that led to its worldwide fame. 

Country singer Michael Martin Murphey helped boost that fame in 1985 when he set the poem to a tune that has become a popular Texas-themed Christmas song, “The Cowboy Christmas Ball.” 

The several-day event runs from December 15 to 17 with Murphey headlining the first night of the dance. 

So much about the Victorian era captures an essence of Christmas that few can experience outside the movies, but Galveston has made that period come alive with the iconic Dickens on the Strand

Held over several days during early December, the annual event now is approaching its 50th anniversary celebrating the atmosphere of Victorian-era London with re-enactors and visitors dressing in period apparel. 

The event features a variety of family-friendly programs complete with shopping and entertainment that is sure to please even the family Scrooge. 

Fun Ideas  

Numerous communities across Texas have gone above and beyond with their holiday festivities.  Some attention-catching attractions were certainly worthy to highlight this season. 

The Texas State Railroad near Palestine is home to the Polar Express Train just like the movie. 

Don Christmas pajamas and climb on board the steam engine locomotive for a 90-minute ride through the East Texas piney woods. 

The Texas Christkindl Market in Arlington features a variety of Christmas-themed vendors that have provided a unique holiday shopping experience since 2011. The market is open now through December 23. 

Lastly, Starbright Village in Odessa is an annual drive-through holiday experience featuring over 300,000 lighted displays in McKinney Park. Be sure to check out specific days now through December 23 for an opportunity to meet Santa Claus himself. 


Disclosure: Unlike almost every other media outlet, The Texan is not beholden to any special interests, does not apply for any type of state or federal funding, and relies exclusively on its readers for financial support. If you’d like to become one of the people we’re financially accountable to, click here to subscribe.

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Matt Stringer

Matt Stringer is a reporter for The Texan who writes about all things government, politics, and public policy. He graduated from Odessa College with an Associate Degree in Paralegal Studies and a Bachelor’s Degree in Management and Leadership. In his free time, you will find him in the great outdoors, usually in the Davis Mountains and Big Bend region of Southwest Texas.

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