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As the saying goes, everything is bigger in Texas. Holiday light displays are no exception. The Southwestern U.S. may not get much snowy, holiday weather, but people there still know how to put on a great holiday lights display. Here’s where to find Christmas lights in Texas and the Southwestern United States.
Even though you might be rubbing elbows with people checking out Christmas lights wearing shorts and flip flops, Texans don’t let the lack of winter wonderland hinder them from putting on some really spectacular light displays. Big cities and small towns alike offer opportunities to celebrate the season. Most of the places on our list are open over Thanksgiving weekend and many stay open past New Year’s Eve and beyond, so you have lots of time to enjoy. We’ve also included a selection of our top picks for Christmas light displays around the Southwest U.S.
And, even though Texas might not have swimming weather all year around, we come pretty darn close, especially in the southern part of the state. If you want to venture beyond your hotel pool, check out these popular swimming holes in Texas. This might just entice you to make a return trip.
This info has been updated and verified current for the 2019 holiday season, so come on down to Texas and get your Christmas lights on, y’all. As the George Strait song goes, “There may not be snow in San Antonio, but its a Texas Christmas for me.” And maybe for you too!
Don’t see your favorite Texas locale on our list? Tell us!
Where to find Christmas Lights in Texas
If you’re in or near Texas’ capital city, you’ll want to check out the Zilker Park Trail of Lights. More than 2 million twinkling lights in colorful displays adorn the mile-long trail guest can stroll. The 2019 light display will run from December 10-23, with tickets going on sale in October.
The best way to plan your visit to Zilker Park’s Trail of Lights is to refer to their online calendar. Several of the nights offer free general admission so if you’ve got a larger family or if you’re on a strict budget, this is something you’re going to want to scope out.
2. College Station
College Station is a small town that’s less than a two hour drive from both Austin and Houston. It’s about a three hour drive from San Antonio. It might be a small college down but they do Christmas lights BIG and it is worth the drive.
College Station boasts the “largest Christmas Attraction in Texas,” Santa’s Wonderland includes horse-drawn carriage and hay rides through the lights. Santa’s Wonderland has generous hours this season, starting November 8 and running through December 30th. If you want to know more about Santa’s Wonderland, check out the post here. And if you want a dad’s perspective on things NOT to do at Santa’s Wonderland, we’ve got that, too.
Remember what I said about no snow in Texas? Santa’s Wonderland makes a liar out of me because they have real snow! Check out their calendar of events here.
3. Dallas Fort Worth and the Surrounding Area
More than 600 LED Light Displays can be seen each holiday season at Arlington’s Texas Motor Speedway’s Gift of Lights. It ends with a drive through, light-up tunnel. Gift of Lights opens November 28 and runs through January 5th.
Six Flags Over Texas (near Arlington) offers Holiday in the Park, which features Christmas lights plus many other holiday activities from November 23 through January 5.
If you’re looking for free Christmas lights in Dallas, check out the Highland Park neighborhood. These is a private neighborhood with individual homeowners doing their own decorating…although it is obvious many of them hire professionals. If you want to take your experience up a notch, you can hire a carriage to take you through the display of lights. A carriage ride through streets of beautifully decorated homes sounds pretty good to me. The only thing that would make it better is hot chocolate, and you can probably arrange that, too.
Looking for something to do in nearby Dallas? Check out these free thing to do in Dallas with kids.
Festival of Lights features a mile-long trail of more than 100 lighted holiday scenes, shows, visits from Santa and a “Snow Zone” for kids. November 16- January 12.
If you want to see Christmas lights in Houston, head to the Houston Zoo to see Zoo Lights. You’ll see 15 miles of earth-friendly LED lighting illuminating ancient oak trees and decorate the paths to light your way through the zoo…and since the weather is (usually) so mild in Texas, you CAN enjoy the zoo in the winter months. Zoo Lights runs from November 23 all the way through January 12.
7. Marble Falls
The Marble Falls Walkway of Lights has historically been one of Texas’ most popular display of Christmas lights. The Walkway of Lights is open from November 22 through January 1. The annual Light-Up Parade is 5:30 p.m. Friday, November 22. If you’d like more info, check out this website for details.
Fredericksburg is in the heart of Texas hill country. The picturesque, German-themed main street is a great place to experience Christmas time. Enjoy a spectacular holiday light display from November 29 through January 6. To learn more, read here.
9. New Braunfels
New Braunfels is a charming German town between San Antonio and Austin. This small community is home to Santa’s Ranch, a drive-through display of lights and other fun Christmas decorations. Santa’s Ranch opens November 8 and runs through January 4. I recommend going early or late in the season. Christmas week is very popular and you will wait in line for at least half an hour to enter the ranch. Once you get through the gates, you’re looking at about 30 minutes to drive through. There are very limited opportunities to get out and use the restroom, which might be a problem for families with younger kids.
10. San Antonio
The San Antonio River Walk transforms for the holidays with more than 100,000 lights. The Ford Holiday River and Lighting Ceremony kicks off the fun on November 29. Look for lighted floats with celebrities, bands and costumed participants, and enjoy Holiday Boat Caroling during evenings in December. Enjoy Christmas lights on the Riverwalk through January 13.
SeaWorld San Antonio and Six Flags Fiesta Texas also have impressive light displays, with SeaWorld’s light display actually being the largest in the state with over two million twinkling lights. Both SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration and Holiday in the Park at Six Flags kick off November 23 and runs through January 5.
11. San Saba
The dancing lights at the Mill Pond in San Saba are a must-see. This year’s dates haven’t been released yet, but you can keep an eye on their website or contact them for more info here.
Not planning to be in Texas during the holiday season? We’ve also included some information on some of our favorite Christmas lights throughout the Southwest United States. Read on!
Holiday Light Displays in Arizona
The North Pole Experience brings Santa’s Workshop to life! Start at the Little America Hotel to see the twinkling light display and catch the Polar Express train to the North Pole. November 16 – December 28.
Desert Botanical Garden celebrates its 38th year of Las Noches de las Luminarias. It features 8,000 hand-lit luminaria bags, thousands of white twinkle lights and the vibrant sounds and sights of 10 performing groups. This is available December 1 – 23 and again from December 26-31.
Take a trip on the Polar Express with the Grand Canyon Railway! Each evening passengers travel to the North Pole, a Christmas village where Santa and his reindeer welcome visitors. This year, the Polar Express runs from November 9 through January 5 so you have lots of time to check it out. For more info on the Polar Express, read this article.
Holiday Light Displays in Colorado
1. Colorado Springs
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s Electric Safari features more than 1 million lights, more than 80 animated light sculptures, Sky Rides, and visits with Santa. Electric Safari is available December 6-8, December 13-23 and December 25 – January 1.
The Denver Botanical Gardens presents a Trail of Lights for the whole family, with more than a million twinkling lights synchronized to music. Hot drinks, seasonal entertainment and hay rides available. Enjoy Trail of Lights November 29 – January 3.
Holiday Light Displays in New Mexico
The ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden hosts the holiday light show, “The River of Lights.” It features giant sculptures of plants, animals and seasonal themes created by millions of lights. The River of Lights is open November 30- December 30 (closed on December 24-25.)
2. Santa Fe
The Santa Fe Botanical Garden celebrates GLOW on weekends throughout the holiday season. Look for Santa, hot cocoa and more fun for the family. This is offered November 30 – December 3, December 6-8, December 13-15, December 20-23, and December 26-31. Their website lists a preview party on November 29th…contact them directly for more info.
Holiday Light Displays in Nevada