From mid-December through early January, there are a variety of holiday themed festivals and events held across the Lone Star State, giving visitors a number of options of how to spend the holiday season. Throughout the month of December, there are a number of holiday light trails on display. There are also several holiday parades, fireworks displays and festivals held between Christmas and New Year's.
Begun in 1987 as a way to celebrate the 75th anniversaries of The Adolphus and Children's Medical Center Dallas, the Neiman-Marcus/Adophus Children's Parade quickly became a Dallas tradition. More than 350,000 spectators witness the parade in person, while millions more watch on television. General admission to the parade is free, but reserved bleacher seating is available for $20 per seat.
Texarkana's annual Twice As Bright Festival begins the day after Thanksgiving and runs through January 2. Throughouth the month of December, other events such as a Christmas parade, lighting of the commmunity Christmas tree, and more compliment the Twice As Bright Festival.
Whistle Stop Christmas was first staged in 1996. Since that time, it has grown to include an estimated 3 million lights throughout Johnson County. The centerpiece of Whistle Stop Christmas is Hulon Park in Cleburne. The lights remain on for the entire month of December.
The goal of First Night Austin is to celebrate the arts – both visual and performing – and give residents and visitors a safe way to welcome the new year. Austin was the first Texas city to implement a First Night program and has been holding it annually since 1976. Recent years have regularly seen over 100,000 people make their way through the two dozen venues which participate in First Night Austin.
The Sundance Square Parade of Lights was first held in 1983 as a way to draw more visitors to downtown Ft Worth. Today, more than 200,000 people attend the parade over Thanksgiving Weekend to help kick off the holiday season. Visitors have the option of viewing the parade from one of the several free sections or buying reserved seats to ensure they have a good view.
The Texas Hill Country communities of Boerne, Burnet, Dripping Springs, Fredericksburg, Goldwaite, Johnson City, Llano, Marble Falls, New Braunfels, Round Mountain and Wimberley are all part of the Hill Country Regional Lighting Trail. Each of these towns offer visitors dazzling light displays among the rolling hills of Central Texas.
Jefferson's Holiday Trail of Lights is actually one leg of a larger Holiday Trail of Lights that includes Natchitoches, Shreveport-Bossier City, Louisiana and Marshall, Jefferson, and Kilgore, Texas. These cities all lie within a short drive of each other on Interstates 20 & 49. In addition to season-long light displays, each city stages a variety of parades and holiday events during the month of December.
Santa's Wonderland is a true holiday light theme park. Visitors can take their own vehicle through the park's 40 acres of holiday light displays. Or, they can choose to visit 'Santa's Town' where they can catch a hayride, dine on holiday treats, do a little holiday shopping or enjoy live entertainment around a campfire.
A drive-through holiday theme park, Santa's Ranch features a variety of holiday light displays. Santa's Ranch is open from early November through the end of December. Entry fee is $20 per car. Season passes are available for $40.
A fitting cap to the holiday season in the Alamo City, Celebrate San Antonio is one of the largest New Year's celebrations in the Lone Star State, with more than a quarter of a million people in attendance each year. Celebrate San Antonio takes place on Alamo Street between Durango and Market streets.
In the tradition of "saving the best for last," the biggest party in Dallas occurs on the year's final day. Every New Year's Eve in Dallas there is a party as big as Texas itself - Big D NYE. If you're planning to spend the holidays in Dallas, this is one party you definitely don't want to miss.