Take your pick from our rollicking roundup of events and happenings around Texas this holiday season. For 2020, we’ve sought out virtual and outdoor events, with safe social distancing in mind.
Happy Holidays, y’all!
VIRTUAL THEATRE & DANCE
MainStage Irving-Las Colinas’ “A Broadway Christmas Cabaret” | Dec 10, 7:30pm
Irving’s own Amy Stevenson and Craig Boleman are back (virtually) to perform classic holiday songs with a couple of hilarious and touching surprises along the way in “A Broadway Christmas Cabaret.” The dynamic duo will set out to save the end of 2020 with songs from Elf, Meet Me in St. Louis, White Christmas, and many more. All-star DFW theatre artists and a few more surprise guests will be tuning in to perform from afar. Coinciding with the live concert is an online auction featuring various gift baskets filled with luxurious holiday necessities and must-have gifts. Tickets here.
Houston’s Alley Theatre “A Christmas Carol” | Now through Dec 27
The Alley Theatre has decided to cancel the in-person production of “A Christmas Carol.” Instead, the Alley is provide a free gift to the city of Houston and beyond by producing a digital production of this family-friendly holiday favorite, with closed captioning in both Spanish and Vietnamese. Before you watch the performance, the online program has cast bios, sponsor backgrounds, virtual conversations, and much more including video interviews with the cast and creative team. Plus, there are online games, crafts, and education resources for families and classrooms. Register here for the viewing link.
Children’s Ballet of San Antonio Virtual Nutcracker | Dec 18-19, 25-26, times vary
Bring home the magic of The Nutcracker with a feel-good virtual performance and fundraiser for the whole family. To sweeten the tradition, Bird Bakery will be providing cookie decorating kits designed for boys and girls featuring six of their mouth-watering cookies in the shapes of ballet slippers, ballerinas and, of course, Nutcrackers. Need inspiration? The piping pros at Bird Bakery will offer a cookie decorating tutorial during intermission to guide you through the process of creating the perfect cookie. Register here.
2020 Virtual Black Fret Ball | Saturday, Dec.12, 7pm
Marking the event, the Austin-based nonprofit has awarded $160,000 in grants, with each band performing receiving $8,000. Saturday’s pre-recorded event is open to all and features performances from Studios at Fischer, Scholz Garten, 3Ten at ACL Live, Native Hostel and other iconic spots in and around Austin. Streaming on YouTube and Facebook via BlackFret.org
Old Settler’s Virtual Music Festival | Saturday, Dec 19, 7pm
Longstanding Central Texas signature music event, the Old Settler’s Music Festival returns – virtually – with WinterFest 2020, a holiday celebration and fundraiser. During a time when we could use live music more than ever, the virtual event aims to recreate the laid-back festival experience – campground fun and all – at home with a free livestream concert hosted by Shinyribs’ Kevin Russell. More details here.
City of Marble Falls Walkway of Lights | Now through Jan 2
This season, the Walkway of Lights and the Winter Ice Skating Rink are open nightly with the walkway gates opening at 6:00pm. While there is no cost to attend the Walkway of Lights, visitors are encouraged to give monetary donations to help support the event and local nonprofits. The newly paved path is ADA-compliant as well as offering ease to those with strollers. Additional events throughout the season include theme nights at the Walkway, Breakfast with Santa, S’mores in the Park, Christmas Market on Main, Downtown Sip N’ Shops and much more. More info here.
COTA Peppermint Parkway Drive-Thru | Now through Jan 3
This Austin-area holiday spectacular is a one-mile driving attraction at the spectacular F1 speedway that will immerse you in millions of holiday lights, décor pieces standing at over 30’ tall, a 6-story light show tree and much more. Stay cozy in your car while passing through holiday villages, spot strolling entertainers and experience the magic of the holidays while cruising through Candy Cane Lane, Gingerbread Alley, ATXmas, Frozenland, and more before finally landing at Club Sleigh. Tickets here.
56th Annual Austin Trail of Lights | Now through Jan 3
This year’s drive-thru event promises magic at every bend in the road of this longtime family favorite, re-imagined for 2020. The Trail now features more than 2 million lights illuminating the park, 90 lighted holiday trees and more than 70 other holiday displays and lighted tunnels. As you drive through the Trail, tune in via your car radio for holiday music, highlights and history and more. This is a pre-registered event only, so choose a ticket type based on your preferred date and time here.
Houston Botanic Garden, Celebrating National Poinsettia Day | Saturday, Dec 12
Learn more about growing and repurposing poinsettias from On the Grow garden coach Janice Brown. In addition, Brookwood – the residential facility and vocational program for adults with disabilities – will have 150 of their locally grown poinsettias on display and for sale. The Houston Bronze Ensemble will give a 30-minute hand bell performance, featuring sounds of the season, at 11 am, 12 pm and 1 pm.
There will also be a scavenger hunt around the Garden, which will help families and the young at heart identify unique plants in the Garden’s collection, including some connected to cherished holiday traditions. Local artists will also be on-hand to offer socially distanced opportunities to complete holiday-themed crafts. Hot chocolate and holiday treats available for purchase. More details here.
Carne Lenta Opening and Musical Celebration | Saturday, Dec 19, 2pm
Head to Smithville, Texas to celebrate the opening of Carne Lenta, the new butcher shop, restaurant and bar featuring Guy Forsyth on their outdoor stage and socially distant patio. More details here.
Dallas Arboretum, Holiday at the Arboretum | Nightly now through Dec 31
Experience one of the most magical traditions in the Southwest. For 2020, enjoy two large-scale exhibits: the classic 12 Days of Christmas depicting each day in the beloved carol with 25-foot tall elaborately decorated Victorian-style gazebos; and the return and expansion of The Pauline and Austin Neuhoff Christmas Village highlighting 14 old world European-style shops in a magical setting. New this year in The Christmas Village are a 23-foot-tall German-built authentic Christmas Pyramid that includes beautiful lighted motion on every level, an Edelweiss Haus for delicious food and drinks, a Chocolate Shop and a Toy Shop. No walk-up tickets. Purchase tickets in advance here.
Houston Zoo Lights | Now through Jan 10
Stroll through the beautiful Houston Zoo grounds and take in the sights and sounds of the season. Interact with Candy the Zoo Lights Zebra, get a selfie on a giant ice throne, and take a socially distanced photo with Santa as he prepares for the holidays in his workshop! Experience the 125-foot-long, Infinity Tunnel of Light, see dragons come to life in the 4-D Enchanted Forest, and see “snow” in Texas! Tickets not available at the gate; buy tickets online here.
Fort Worth’s Panther Island Ice Skating Rink | Daily through Jan 18
Fort Worth’s only outdoor ice skating rink, Panther Island Ice returns this holiday season. Located at the Coyote Drive-In, the rink offers public skating seven days a week through Jan 18, 2021, including all holidays. The rink is real ice located mostly under a large pavilion. Patrons can take advantage of the ample free parking, along with the drive-in’s other amenities such as covered seating, gas heaters, restrooms, and a full menu including beer and wine options. Buy tickets in advance here.
Socially Distanced Fun in Beaumont | Enjoy the Outdoors Sans Crowds
The Big Thicket is a national preserve, but even on the most popular trails, with 100,000+ acres, you likely won’t see another soul. State parks require advanced reservations to limit capacity, and there are plenty of options for hiking, camping, biking, fishing, and boating opportunities both on and off the grid. With the forest and beach just 30-45 minutes away, you could get lost in the woods one day and feel the ocean breeze in your hair the next. Just 90 miles east of Houston, 3.5 hours from Austin and 4 hours from Dallas or San Antonio, Beaumont is an easy weekend drive. More activities and info here.
Julie Tereshchuk, the editor-in-chief at Texas Lifestyle Magazine, is looking forward to a safe, socially-distanced holiday season.