Discover the best small towns and big cities to celebrate Christmas in Texas.
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Growing up a New Yorker, I was accustomed to snow white Christmases, holiday trips into Manhattan to see the iconic Rockefeller Center tree, and ice skating at Central Park.
Admittedly, I was apprehensive about celebrating Christmas in Texas, where the temperatures rarely sink low enough for even a centimeter of snow.
But, the old adage is true – everything is bigger in Texas. And Christmas in Texas is truly one of a kind.
Did you know you can find German inspired Christmas markets, drive-though holiday light shows, and hometown holiday events? Which major citys are adorned with millions of lights, indoor ice skating, and actual snow? And what is the “Christmas Capital of Texas” really about? I’ll give you a hint – it’s magical.
We’re sharing the most magical cities to celebrate a Lone Star style Christmas in Texas.
9 Amazing Places to Spend Christmas in Texas
Known as the Christmas Capital of Texas, Grapevine is the most popular holiday destination in the Lone Star State. Featuring 1,400 events over the course of 40 days, Grapevine truly lives up to its holiday reputation.
Create snowy family memories at the iconic Gaylord Texan resort. Enjoy snow tubing, ice skating, and marveling at the hotel’s exquisite holiday decor.
In downtown Grapevine, witness the city transform under a blanket of a million twinkling holiday lights and oversized decorations.
Grab a Grapevine Christmas Passport and step back in time to visit historic shops and create handmade projects. Head to the Historic Palace Theatre for live holiday performances and movies. You won’t want to miss shopping Historic Main Street. And be sure to stop for a glass of wine at the city’s many wineries.
If visiting with children, don’t miss the Grapevine Vintage Railroad’s North Pole Express. Christmas in Texas isn’t complete without a magical trip to the North Pole!
Whether visiting with family or friends, Grapevine is an absolutely magical way to celebrate Christmas in Texas.
Where to Stay in Grapevine During Christmas
- Gaylord Texan
- Great Wolf Lodge
- Hyatt Place Dallas/Grapevine
- Courtyard Marriott Dallas DFW Airport
- Compare Grapevine AirBNBs
With locals and visitors flocking to nearby Grapevine for a one of a kind Christmas in Texas, it’s no surprise that the city of Dallas pulls out all the stops for the holidays, as well.
A top holiday attraction, the Dallas Arboretum puts on their Twelve Days of Christmas. Walk through the gardens and admire twelve gazebos, ornately adorned with each verse of the classic Christmas carol. Head into the Arboretum’s German inspired Christmas market to meet Santa, sample some local fare, and enjoy live performances.
Stop at the Galleria Mall to see the World’s Tallest Indoor Christmas Tree. At the center of a pop up ice skating rink sits the iconic tree, decorated with half a million lights. Holiday performances pop up daily, especially in weekends, as well.
Families will absolutely adore the Dallas Zoo Lights. For 2020, drive through the famed Dallas Zoo for a cozy Christmas experience – you don’t even have to leave the car!
Lastly, the nearby suburbs, including Frisco, McKinney, and Grand Prairie often put on their own parades, drive through light shows, and community hometown celebrations.
Where to Stay in Dallas During Christmas
A great family-friendly Christmas destination is the charming town of Fort Worth in North Central Texas. The city is known for its cowboy history, cattle trade, and famous museums like the Kimbell Art Museum. The holiday season is the perfect time to visit – you’ll find everything from festive face painting, outdoor skating, Christmas caroling, and more.
One of the best ways to celebrate Christmas in Texas is at the Fort Worth Stockyards. Though they normally host rodeos, the Stockyards are transformed into a Christmas fun-zone every year. The event runs from Friday-Sunday from late November through Christmas Eve. Entrance is free, with tons of activities such as live music, pictures with Santa, stories with Mrs. Claus, caroling, face painting, even cowboy poetry!
In the weeks leading up to Christmas, you’ll find several holiday craft markets around the city. For instance, The Clearfork Holiday market showcases over 30 local artisans, as well as activities for children.
Another great event is the Gingerbread Decorating Extravaganza hosted to raise funds for the Cook Children’s Medical Center. Be sure to reserve your space early as spots fill up quickly. For some classic outdoor holiday fun, head to Panther Island Ice Rink. Open seven days a week from mid November through mid-January, this is the perfect activity for friends, couples and families alike.
From Natasha of Great Ocean Road Collective
Where to Stay in Fort Worth During Christmas
Known as one of the best places to celebrate Christmas in Texas, December in San Antonio brings a delightful array of holiday lights, Christmas cheer, and–of course–tamales.
Visiting San Antonio’s Riverwalk is one of the best things to do in Texas at any time of year, but it’s even more special during the Christmas season: over 100,000 lights decorate the iconic part of the city, and it is absolutely magical to see.
Be sure to stroll over to the nearby 18th-century San Fernando Cathedral and Historic Market Square to check out their beautiful decor as well!
The Light the Way Festival, put on by the University of the Incarnate Word, and Santa’s Railroad, put on by the San Antonio Transportation Museum, are also musts, especially if you’re visiting with kids.
Nearby Natural Bridge Caverns also puts on a fabulous holiday event, Christmas at the Caverns, which includes everything from ice-skating to opportunities to go caroling in the caverns.
Unlike much of the USA, where a holiday visit means that the weather is so cold that being outside can be a chore, in San Antonio, December means that the weather has finally cooled off enough to be pleasant.
That makes a Christmas trip the perfect opportunity to hike or bike the long Mission Trail, which connects each of the 5 Spanish missions that make up Texas’ only UNESCO World Heritage Site (each mission is about 2.5 miles from the next). As a bonus, their Christmas decor also tends to be beautiful!
From Kate of Lone Star Travel Guide
Where to Stay in San Antonio During Christmas
For a small-town escape over the holidays, celebrate the holiday season in historic Brenham. It is a short drive from both Austin and Houston making it the perfect day trip.
The major things to do in Brenham include visiting the historic downtown filled with boutiques, bars, and antique shops, the Blue Bell Ice Cream factory, and of course, the birthplace of Texas at Washington-on-the-Brazos.
Over the holidays, the impeccably restored downtown is decorated to the nines in Christmas décor.
The Christmas Stroll takes place during the first weekend of December. The official tree lighting takes place along with a major parade through historic downtown. You can take pictures with Santa, shop for Christmas gifts in the boutiques, see carolers singing throughout town.
Another major holiday event is Christmas at the Mansion, which takes place in early November each year at the Giddings Stone Mansion. The Heritage Society will give tours of Brenham’s most historic homes that are decorated for the holidays. Enjoy tea time in an elegant mansion while being served by the Heritage Belles dressed in period costume. Get an early start on your gift shopping at the market in the mansion selling beautiful items for the holidays.
Whether you take the whole family to the Christmas Stroll or opt for a girl’s day out at the mansion, Christmas in Brenham will be a memorable event. Don’t forget to eat as much Blue Bell as you can before you leave town!
From Erin of Sol Salute
Where to Stay in Brenham During Christmas
Christmas festivities in Granbury started the day after Thanksgiving with The Nights of Lights Christmas Parade; a longtime holiday tradition where lighted floats and walking groups wind their way through Granbury’s Downtown Historic District. The community and visitors are cheering along the street, and Santa’s arrival marks the beginning of the Christmas season and of course, the city’s Christmas lights.
Christmas fun continues with all kinds of events in December. There’s a Granbury Candlelight Tour of Homes, where you can enjoy the Christmas lights, carols, treats, and carriage rides. A few home owners open their historic houses to the public for a fee. Then, there’s “Away In A Manger,” a display of over 1,000 Nativity sets from all over the world.
Last but not least, is the Granbury Living Christmas Cards, an outdoor, interactive family event. Imagine scenes from Christmas cards come alive on stages around the square, from the Christmas Story to Christmas in Granbury, and more. With cookies and hot chocolate in hand when you enjoy the show, it’s surely a night to remember! However, it’s a biennial event that happens every even year.
Of course, the town square is glittering with Christmas decorations and lights, with the Christmas Tree standing tall at the corner of the courthouse. Shopping and eating around the square is even merrier. After all, USA Today’s voted Granbury as the Best Historic Small Town in America and it’s considered one of the best day trips from Fort Worth or Dallas.
From Umiko of Two World’s Treasures
Where to Stay in Granbury During Christmas
German traditions, Texas wine, and the holiday spirit on every corner, Christmas in Fredericksburg is a magical and unique celebration.
Packed with historical sites, Fredericksburg is a pleasant German town in the heart of both the Texas Hill and Wine Countries, and it has no shortage of beautiful places and festive things to do.
Begin your self-guided Christmas itinerary at the main square, Marktplatz, where you can take in the 26-foot-tall German Christmas Pyramid. It’s a traditional German pyramid that you will only see in the best Christmas markets in Germany! Right next to it, the 30-foot Christmas Tree sparkles in the evenings, making it an exceptional photo op for your holiday shots.
Craving for some wine? Then you will want to head over to one of the award-winning wineries in town as some venues offer festive wine tasting tours that are hard to say no to.
While the wine tours might have already gotten you warm, gliding on at the ice skating rink at Marktplatz is a festive thing to do during Christmas that you can’t miss—can you?
To top it all off, attend the traditional holiday festival at the former president Lyndon B. Johnson’s estate, including a tree lighting show, live nativity, and much more!
Put simply, Fredericksburg is hands-down one of the best places to enjoy Christmas in Texas.
From by Bruna of Maps ‘N Bags
Where to Stay in Fredericksburg During Christmas
Small town Christmas celebrations make for such wholesome family entertainment, and few do it better than the tiny town of Gruene, TX. It’s located on the outskirts of New Braunfels, which is approximately 35-minutes from San Antonio and an hour from Austin.
The city hosts a popular annual town lighting ceremony. It’s where the Texas version of Santa, aka: “Cowboy Kringle,” rides into town on his horse and gives the signal to light up main street (and the famous Gruene water tower) in Christmas lights. He wears a traditional red Santa suit, but adds a Texas twist by donning leather chaps, boots, and a cowboy hat. Cowboy Kringle is available to pose for photos with the kids, but note that photos are by appointment only this year.
If you have some Christmas shopping to do, be sure to stop by Old Gruene Market Days. That’s where you’ll find a plethora of charming local art, gifts, and holiday décor. The Grapevine is a nice place to pick up a bottle of Texas wine, and The Great Texas Pecan Candy Co. sells delicious flavored nuts that make the perfect stocking stuffer.
If you work up an appetite from shopping, head to The Gristmill for a hearty meal (the burgers are incredible). Finally, wrap up your evening by enjoying live music at Gruene Hall, which is the oldest continually operating dance hall in Texas.
Need a place to stay? Gruene Mansion Inn is centrally located and within walking distance to everything mentioned above.
From Erin of Sand, Sun, & Messy Buns
Where to Stay in Gruene During Christmas
Where can you go in Texas to find a German inspired Christkindl market, the largest Christmas store, and sled down a snow covered hill? Arlington, Texas has all of that and more for the holidays, making it one of the best places to celebrate Christmas in Texas.
The almost 70 year relationship between Arlington and its sister city Bad Konigshofen inspired the opening of the European inspired market. The annual Texas Christkindl Market features handcrafted gifts and collectibles, authentic German treats, visits from St. Nick, live performances, and even the Christkindl Angel who opens the market.
Once you’ve indulged in some German treats maybe you’ll be ready for holiday thrills at Holiday in the Park at Six Flags Over Texas. Festive shows, an extravagantly decorated Christmas tree, visits from Santa Claus, seasonal treats, and a real snow-covered hill are just some of the holiday attractions that await you. Plus you can still ride some of the thrilling roller coasters that are open year round.
After all that time outside you might be ready to head inside to shop at Decorator’s Warehouse, the largest Christmas decor store in Texas. Inside you’ll feel like you’re strolling through a winter wonderland. This is your one-stop-shop featuring the largest selection of Christmas trees in Texas plus dozens of Christmas decor styles to choose from, with ornaments, stockings, wreaths, garland, ribbon, and everything else you need to decorate for the holidays.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year in Arlington with dazzling light displays, holiday dining, shopping galore, and plenty more options to get you in the holiday spirit.
From Julie of Julie Measures
Where to Stay in Arlington During Christmas
Where will you celebrate Christmas in Texas?
Where will you be enjoying the holidays in Texas this year? Did we miss any major destinations for a Texas sized Christmas? Let us know what you’d add to the list in the comments.
Living north of the DFW area, we typically don’t miss the Dallas and Grapevine festivities. Hearing how and where other Lone Star bloggers celebrate Christmas in Texas has us wanting to travel more this holiday season, though!
Which city would make your list to celebrate Christmas in Texas?