food & drink · attractions & tours · outdoor activities ·
Published October 30, 2023
Houston's Ultimate 2023 Winter Bucket List
Get ready to sleigh your way through Houston's winter wonderland. 🛷🎄
by Houston Bucket List
Winter in Houston may not equate to frigid temps and a white Christmas, but honestly, we're not complaining. A balmy December doesn't stop this city from having a magical holiday season—the winter months are jam-packed with cozy activities, from ice skating to world-class holiday performances and more.
We’ve rounded up the best winter events Houston has to offer this year, no matter your age or interest. Have your choice of walking, driving, or riding a train through stunning light shows, get festive with themed cocktails or hot chocolate, and spread the holiday cheer by giving back to your community. ‘Tis the season!
The Best Winter and Holiday Events in Houston This Year
Watch the H-E-B Thanksgiving Day Parade
Did you know Houston's H-E-B Thanksgiving Day Parade is one of the oldest and largest in the country? You can catch it again this year in the heart of downtown Houston with elaborate floats, colorful marching bands, high-flying balloons, and other uniquely Houston entries. The parade kicks off at 9 am on November 23 and will traverse over 20 city blocks.
Where: The parade starts at Lamar St. and Smith St., heads north to Walker St., and makes its way south on Milam St. before turning onto Pease St and ending on Smith.
Visit the Holly Jolly Holiday Bar at Big Casino
Whether you’ve been naughty or nice, all are welcome to gather at this over-the-top holiday pop-up bar for cocktails, entertainment, and memory-making! The halls will be decked with floor-to-ceiling tinsel, trimmings, ornaments, and more, allowing you to immerse yourself in holiday magic from every angle. Each reservation includes a holiday-themed welcome cocktail or mocktail, and additional themed bites will be available for purchase.
Where: The Big Casino: 908 Congress St, Houston, TX
See Trans-Siberian Orchestra Live
No one goes harder for the holidays than the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. See them perform their famous rock opera, “The Ghosts of Christmas Eve,” on December 10, which follows the story of a runaway teen on Christmas Eve. Following the performance, you'll get to see a rocking, blazing, and laser-lit second set containing more of TSO’s greatest hits, fan favorites, and surprises.
Where: Toyota Center: 1510 Polk Street, Houston, TX
Visit Texas Winter Lights
Back for another year, Texas Winter Lights at Marriott Marquis Houston will offer an interactive winter lights experience at the Altitude Rooftop and pool. Guests will find Instagram-worthy photo ops like a majestic light-up stallion, an adult playground, and a grove of lights, to name a few. There will also be festive cocktails, a winter-themed food menu, and, most importantly, the heated Texas-shaped lazy river, available for floating under the lights all winter long.
Where: 1777 Walker Street, Houston, TX
Watch a Holiday Movie on a Rooftop
One of the best parts of the holiday season is all the holiday movies you get to watch. Sip wine and soak up panoramic views of Houston's skyline at a showing of The Best Man Holiday at Rooftop Cinema Club on December 20. Cozy up in an Adirondack chair or loveseat and enjoy a complimentary glass of wine, plus popcorn and other concessions available for purchase.
Where: Rooftop Cinema Club Uptown: 1700 Post Oak Blvd, Houston, TX
Have a Berry Merry Christmas at Dewberry Farms
Dewberry Farm is going all-out for the holidays with a new Yuletide event. "A BERRY Merry Christmas" features two shows for one budget-friendly price. Snap photos in the walk-through Holiday Light experience, "Merry & Bright!" then hop on a wagon and sip a hot chocolate as you travel the BERRY Merry Trail of 2 million dazzling holiday lights. You can also cut your own fresh Christmas tree in the 40-acre lot and enjoy 40+ attractions, plus seasonal food and beverage specials.
Where: Dewberry Farm: FM 362 & Morrison Road Brookshire, TX
Go Ice Skating at Discovery Green
Lace up your skates and go for a spin on Houston's only outdoor ice skating rink! The ice rink at Discovery Green will open for the season on November 10 with a huge kick-off celebration featuring live DJs, dance performances, art carts, a snow zone, visits from Santa, and much more. You'll be able to visit all winter long, though — the ice rink will be open daily, including on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day!
Where: 1500 McKinney St, Houston, TX
See the Magical Winter Lights at Katy Mills
Magical Winter Lights is a spectacular, larger-than-life 50-day festival that presents a fresh multicultural take on traditional holiday light shows. It's the largest holiday lighting attraction in Texas, so plan to dedicate a good amount of time wandering through the acres of mesmerizing displays. You can also purchase tickets to the carnival rides—the view from the 87-ft high gondola Ferris wheel is breathtaking.
Where: Magical Winter Lights: 5000 Katy Mills Cir, Katy, TX
Shop the Nutcracker Market
Don't miss the ultimate holiday shopping extravaganza at the Houston Ballet Nutcracker Market! Kicking off the holiday season On November 9–12 this year, this one-stop shop features hundreds of merchants offering unique items for everyone, including home décor, gifts, food, apparel, toys, accessories, and more!
Where: NRG Center: NRG Park, 1 Fannin St, Houston, TX
Pick Out The Perfect Tree at Old Time Christmas Tree Farm
Just a few minutes north of Houston, you can transport yourself into the homey wilderness of a family-owned Christmas tree farm. But this wilderness has BBQ, funnel cake, and hot chocolate vendors on site. They’ll provide saws for you to cut your own trees — or some pre-cut trees to fall back on if chopping isn’t your thing.
Where: 7632 Spring Cypress Rd, Spring, TX
See The River Oaks Christmas Lights
Arguably offering the best Christmas Lights in Houston, a cruise through the mansions and oak trees of the River Oaks district is not to be missed this holiday season. River Oaks Country Club, Inwood Drive, Willowick, and Del Monte are some prime streets to check out. Choose your own adventure by driving through or signing up for a bus tour or carriage ride.
Where: River Oaks Blvd, Houston, TX
Take a Ride on The Christmas Train
Is it just us, or is there something inherently festive about trains during the holidays? Your whole family can enjoy an old-fashioned train ride in open-air coaches while being dazzled by hundreds of thousands of Christmas lights and displays! The ride also serves up Big Al’s handmade, deep-dish pizza, hot cocoa, and cookies, and you'll have the opportunity to walk through a lakeside trail, shop at the general store gift shop, and explore a kids' craft area.
Where: 1407 Victory Ln #8532, Alvin, TX
Pick Up a Holiday Treat Box from Fluff Bake Bar
Bold take: these are the only cookies Santa wants you to leave out for him on Christmas Eve. Houston's "Sugar Fairy" bakery is back with a holiday menu full of seasonal pies, bars, and treats. Pick up a box filled to the brim with peppermint chocolate cookies, ginger molasses whoopie pies, hot chocolate stir sticks, and more. You can also swing by for some of the cutest holiday sugar cookies we've ever seen!
Where: 1701 West 15th St. Houston, TX
Visit Tinseltown: The Christmas Speakeasy
This Christmas-themed speakeasy is bringing all the holiday cheer with Santa, elves, presents, tinsel, festive tunes, and lots of winter warmer drinks, including a fabulous Christmas cocktail menu. The halls are more than fully decked with baubles, bows, hanging trees, wreaths, and just about every festive goodie you can imagine!
Where: Chatters Cafe: 140 S Heights Blvd., Houston, TX
Volunteer or Donate to The Houston Food Bank
One of the most worthy ways to spend the holiday season is to donate food, funds, or time to our neighbors in need. At the Houston Food Bank, every $1 helps provide three meals to our neighbors in need, and they offer volunteer opportunities for all ages and group sizes. You can also participate in ABC13's Share Your Holidays Food Drive by donating food in a local Red Barrel or during the event’s live broadcast.
Where: Various locations
See Radiant Light at the Botanic Garden
Radiant Light is a new installation at the Houston Botanic Garden featuring over 50 enchanting Chinese lantern displays. Marvel at a magnificent 200-foot-long dragon, a soaring 12-foot-tall peacock, and more. Don't miss the interactive zone filled with glowing swings, playful seesaws, a digital kaleidoscope you can step into, and plenty of immersive and Instagram-worthy attractions.
Where: One Botanic Ln, Houston, TX
Catch a Performance of The Nutcracker
The Houston Ballet will perform The Nutcracker again this year starting November 25 and running through December 27. Witness the festive and extravagant sets, costumes, and music that have become synonymous with the holidays. From snowflakes to sword fights to the Christmas tree that reaches the sky, The Nutcracker is the perfect holiday outing.
Where: 501 Texas Ave, Houston, TX
Have Breakfast with Santa at The Aquarium
You've probably taken pictures with Santa at the mall, but have you ever had breakfast with him at an Aquarium? Enjoy a special holiday breakfast at the Aquarium Restaurant and get your picture taken with Santa, Mrs. Claus, and Sharkey, the Aquarium Restaurant’s mascot. Then, go explore the dozens of sealife exhibits—it makes for a great indoor activity when it's chilly outside! Reservations are required.
Where: 215 Kipp Ave Boardwalk #11, Kemah, TX
Take a Rug Tufting Workshop
If you're anything like us, you've likely been mesmerized by all the rug-tufting TikToks out there, and for good reason. The experience is really fun and satisfying, and you get to create your very own custom rug! Select your desired image, and the instructors will be there to teach and help you bring your design to life! It makes for a great unique gift idea—better yet, gift the experience itself so you and your besties can do it together!
Where: 11925 Southwest Fwy Suite 3B, Stafford, TX
Drive Through Dasher’s Light Show
Houston, get your sleigh cars ready for Dasher's spectacular light show! Formally Rudolph's light show, the original Houston Christmas light drive-thru experience is back with a mile route featuring immersive light tunnels and festive characters. Opt for the Park & Watch experience, and you’ll get even more exclusive light features, photo ops, and crafted food and cocktails, all while watching lights synced to your favorite holiday tunes.
Where: 8233 Will Clayton Pkwy, Humble, TX
Celebrate The Lunar New Year
On February 10, we enter the year of the dragon, and Houston will show out with a celebration on February 17 and 18. Don't miss lion dances, martial arts demonstrations, dance performances, thousands of red firecrackers, and more — including food vendors and treats!
Where: Viet Hoa Center: 8300 W. Sam Houston Parkway at Beechnut
LIKE WHAT YOU'VE READ?
Never miss out on a new experience!
Create a Bucket Listers account to access exclusive offers and the latest news in your city