As the largest city in Texas, Houston offers plenty for visitors to do on a year around basis. However, during the holiday season, the Bayou City is particularly festive, offering a wide array of holiday events and attractions in addition to its year around tourist attractions and festivals.
Every year for the past six decades, the holiday season in Houston has been kicked off by the HEB Holiday Parade. Held Thanksgiving morning, the HEB Holiday Parade winds its way through downtown Houston, beginning at Minute Maid Park and ending near the George R Brown Convention Center. As is befitting Texas' largest city, the HEB Holiday Parade is the largest and longest running Thanksgiving Day parade in the Lone Star State. Thousands line the parade route and hundreds of thousands watch the live telecast. Whether watching it in person or on television, viewing the HEB Holiday Parade is a great way to start the holiday season in Texas.
Like many other Texas cities, Houston has an elaborate holiday lighting scene. In fact, Houston has numerous areas that are lit seasonally between Thanksgiving and New Year's. Among the best - and most anticipated - lightings in the Greater Houston Area each year are the Galleria Area Christmas Lights, The Woodlands Christmas Light Trail, the Sugarland Christmas Lights, River Oaks Christmas Lights and the Katy Christmas Lights.
Of course, for many the holiday seasons means shopping and it's hard to argue Houston offers some of the best shopping not only in Texas, but in the nation. The world famous Galleria Mall, along with Katy Mills Mall and the Woodlands Mall offer shoppers a wide variety of shops and restaurants to choose from. The area surrounding the Galleria Mall is also filled with numerous merchant shops not found elsewhere in the state. Those looking for a great bargain routinely head out to the outlet mall in Conroe, just north of Houston. Throughout the city itself, there are numerous other malls and shopping centers, ensuring shoppers have easy access to any type of store they need.
Houstonians and visitors to Houston looking to feel as if they are in the "winter mood" or "holiday spirit" may also choose to go ice skating. In the center of the Galleria Mall is an ice skating rink that, although open year round, draws the vast majority of its customers during the holiday season. Just a bit north, the Woodlands Ice Rink is open from mid-November through January and is one of the nation's largest seasonally operated ice rinks.
For many, Houston is synonymous with football. And, during the holiday season, plenty of pigskin will be played in the Houston area. From Thanksgiving through mid-December, high school football playoffs will be staged in stadiums in and around Houston. Then, on New Year's Eve, the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas (formerly the Texas Bowl) will be played in Reliant Stadium, offering football fans a great way to ring in the New Year.
Those not interested in attending a college football bowl game on New Year's Eve will have plenty of other options for ringing in the New Year. There will be plenty of lively New Year's parties held throughout Houston's extensive club scene. Many other visitors will opt to spend the final night of the year at one of Houston's many fine restaurants or celebrating in their hotel (many of Houston's hotels throw top-notch New Year's bashes). But, whatever your fancy, there are plenty of ways to have a fun and save New Year's Eve in Houston.
But, no matter when you happen to be in Houston, if you are there at any point between Thanksgiving and New Year's, you'll undoubtedly find plenty to see and do to make your holiday season a memorable one.