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Things to Do in Houston, with Kids, During the Holidays 2016: Christmas Activities, Festivals, Shows, Lights & Family Fun!

Happy Holidays, Houston!

So you can plan ahead, here are the holiday festivals and shows scheduled all season long… November 1, 2016  through January 2, 2017.  As events pop up, we’ll add them to the list… and since this is being posted so early, be sure to click the links and check before you head out to each venue.

Wortham Theater Gingerbread House
If you want this list emailed to you each week, sign up for the free newsletter HERE.  If you are looking for a full list of things to do (and not just holiday events), November 1-January 2, go HERE

Do you know of other family friendly events in the Houston area?  Email me!  Jill @ BigKidSmallCity . com.


Quick Links:
Full list of things to do in Houston, with kids, November 1 – January 2
Gingerbread House Workshops in Houston
Discount Shows and Family Fun for the Holidays
See the Christmas Trains at Second Baptist
See the Trains at Houston Museum of Natural Science
Send a free personalized Santa video or Santa call to your kids


Holiday Lights:
300x300Go HERE for the best neighborhoods and destinations! (We’ll update for 2016 soon!)

Zoo Lights – November 18, 2016 – January 15, 2017 – Houston Zoo

Firmament and Enchanted Promenade – November 22, 2016-January 8, 2017 – Discovery Green

Magical Winter Lights – through January 8, 2017 – Gulf Greyhound Park


As we find discounts, we’ll post them HERE.  Also, not all shows are for little kids… Click the links and decide for yourself!

Shen Yun – December 26, 2016-January 2, 2017 – Jones Hall

A Christmas Carol – A Ghost Story of Christmas – November 19 – December 29, 2016 – Alley Theatre


Festivals/Family Fun:
Santa’s Workshop – November 11, 2016 – January 1, 2017 – 18898 Hwy 6 South, College Station, 77845 
Biggest Christmas attraction in the state of Texas!  Several ticket options are available. 

Festival of Lights – November 12, 2016  – January 8, 2017 – Moody Gardens – 1 Hope Boulevard Galveston, Texas 77554
Find more than 1 million lights,  live entertainment, ice skating, pictures with Santa and the Arctic Slide.

Ice Land Ice Sculptures – November 12 – January 8 – Moody Gardens – 1 Hope Boulevard Galveston, Texas 77554
A Caribbean Christmas… all carved out of more than 2 million pounds of ice!

Zoo Lights – November 18, 2016 – January 15, 2017 – Houston Zoo – 6200 Hermann Park Drive, Houston, Texas 77030
Tour the Zoo after dark!  The Zoo closes t 5:00pm and reopens at 6:00pm for this event.  Check their website for “value” nights and “prime” nights.  “Value” nights are less busy and cheaper! Closed December 24 & 25.

 ICE at Discovery Green – November 22, 2016 – February 5, 2017 – Discovery Green 1500 McKinney, Houston, Texas 77010  
All ages are invited to skate at Discovery Green.  There is a small toddler rink for the littlest ones to practice.

Dickinson Festival of Lights – November 26,2016 – December 30, 2016 – Dickenson – Paul Hopkins Park
See the lights and Santa!  Free Parking and shuttle service is provided on busy nights at Dickinson Plaza Shopping Center.

Noon Year’s Eve – December 31 – Memorial City Mall – 303 Memorial City Way, Houston, TX 77024
Celebrate the New Year at Memorial City Mall with a morning of family fun by the fireplace! Live music, arts and crafts, treats, and when the clock strikes noon, enjoy a lemonade toast and a special balloon drop to ring in the New Year!  11:00am-12:00pm.

Rockin’ New Year’s Noon Bash – December 31 – Children’s Museum of Houston – 1500 Binz, Houston, Texas 77004
The end-of-year bash rings in the New Year at the stroke of noon with a parade and shimmering ball drop.  9:00am-3:00pm

High Noon Countdown Squared – December 31 – The Woodlands Children’s Museum – 4775 W Panther Creek Dr, The Woodlands, TX 77381
Ring in the New Year with the annual High Noon Countdown Squared party. There’s double the fun with two separate balloon and confetti drops – one at the stroke of noon and another at 3 p.m. The festivities include horn blowing, noisemakers, New Year hats, bubble wrap dancing, creative art projects, live music with Tom’s Fun Band.   10:00am-3:00pm

Sharkey’s New Year’s Eve Celebration – December 31 – Downtown Aquarium – 410 Bagby St, Houston, TX 77002
Balloon Drop, Buffet and all day adventure pass.  11:00-2:00pm & 3:30-6:30pm

New Year’s Eve at CITYCENTRE – December 31 – CityCentre – 800 Town and Country Blvd, Houston, TX 77024
Beginning at 9:30 PM in the plaza, the excitement builds with a live performance by Bristol Fashion, capped off as the clock strikes midnight with a spectacular confetti drop.  9:30pm – 12:30am.

New Year’s Eve Family Celebration – December 31 – Kemah Boardwalk – 215 Kipp Ave, Kemah, TX 77565
Live music and fireworks at 10:00pm.

Past Dates:

Houston Ballet Nutcracker Market – November 10, 11, 12, 13, 2016 – NRG Center – N Stadium Dr, Houston, TX 77054
This is not really a kid event… but it’s a fun shopping/people watching event for moms.  Kids can come, but no strollers are allowed!

Texas Renaissance Festival – Weekends, October 8-November 22, 2016 – Todd Mission, Texas 
$26 Tickets (and deals can usually be found on coupon websites).  Kids are free on Sundays.
The world’s largest Renaissance Festival has weekend themes of Oktoberfest, 1001 Dreams, Pirate Adventure, All Hallows Eve, Roman Bacchanal, Barbarian Invasion, Highland Fling and Celtic Christmas.

Flicks on The Lawn: Elf – November 18, 2016 – GreenStreet Downtown – 1201 Fannin St, Houston, TX 77002

Lighting of the Doves – November 19, 2016 – Town Green Park at The Woodlands Waterway 2099 Lake Robbins Drive, The Woodlands, Texas 
This festival has snow, sledding, shopping, entertainment, fireworks… and Santa arriving on the water!  See the Doves light up along The Woodlands Waterway!

Via Colori Festival November 19 & 20, 2016 – Streets Surrounding City Hall – 900 Smith St, Houston, TX 77002
200 artists paint the streets surrounding City Hall!  Watch the artists work, enjoy music, activities and food!  Via Colori is a fundraiser for The Center for Hearing and Speech.

FROSTIVAL! Winter Celebration – November 22, 2016 – Discovery Green 1500 McKinney, Houston, Texas 77010  
A fun-filled night celebrating the opening of The ICE at Discovery Green as well as the debut of the winter art installations, Firmament and Enchanted Promenade! Enjoy a live musical performance by Mary Sarah of “The Voice,” live ICE battles with Reverend Butter, a dance performance by Susie Talbot and Ryan O’Donnell, skating performance by Avril Phillips, Houston Art Cars, interactive ice sculptures, tunes from DJ Caps and more!

Turkey Trot – November 24, 2016 – Galleria 4925 Westheimer Road, Houston, Texas 77056
The largest Thanksgiving Race in Houston and it takes place in the Galleria area. The event benefits children and seniors Neighborhood Centers serves every year. There’s opportunity to participate as a walker, runner and also volunteer.

HEB Thanksgiving Day Parade – November 24, 2016 – Downtown Houston – Starts at Smith at Lamar
Thanksgiving Day Parade in Downtown Houston.  Arrive early for parking!

Uptown Houston Holiday Lighting – November 24, 2016 – Post Oak Boulevard – Uptown Park
Every year on Thanksgiving evening, families gather along Post Oak Boulevard for the annual Uptown Houston Holiday Lighting with Fireworks.

Mayor’s Holiday Celebration – December 2, 2016 – City Hall – 901 Bagby Street, Houston, Texas 77002
6:00-8:00pm.  Tree lighting, music, Santa and family fun in Downtown Houston! Bring a new, unwrapped toy to the Reliant booth!

Dickens on the Strand – December 2, 3, 4, 2016 – Galveston – Strand National Historic Landmark District
Victorian holiday festival!  Six stages, strolling carolers, musicians, bagpipers, jugglers and  even more entertainers. Costumed vendors peddle their wares from street stalls and rolling carts laden with holiday food and drink, Victorian-inspired gifts.

An Old Fashioned Christmas – December 3, 2016 – Jesse H. Jones Nature Center – 20634 Kenswick Dr, Humble, TX 77338
4:00-7:00pm.  Experience traditions of earlier times as the homestead comes to life with 19th century holiday customs. Enjoy music, a holiday craft, tree lighting, wassail and cookies, and an early visit from Saint Nicholas. Reservations required beginning Wed., Nov. 16 for Harris County residents; Mon., Nov. 21 for non-Harris County residents.

YUMMY! Wonderland International Festival & Brunch 2016 – December 3, 2016 – Phoenicia Downtown – 1001 Austin St, Houston, TX 77010
Celebrate with an international holiday festival and brunch highlighting art, music, traditions and customs from around the globe. Entertain the family with holiday crafts, cookie decorating, cultural performances and live music. This year, you can take also decorate cookies and ornaments with Mrs. Claus and her elves while hearing her secrets on what keeps Santa jolly. Bring the family to enjoy a day full of food, crafts, live musical performances and shopping while snapping photos with Santa.  Reserve your free spot!

Unsilent Night – December 8, 2016 – The Water Works at Buffalo Bayou – 105 Sabine Street, Houston, TX 77007
Unsilent Night is a soundscape created when many individuals simultaneously play one of four different tracks on their smartphone, boomboxes, or mp3 players.

Tomball German Christmas Market & Festival – December 9, 10, 11, 2016 – Tomball Train Depot – 201 S Elm St, Tomball, TX, 77375
Great family festival just outside Houston.

Breakfast with Santa – December 10, 2016 – Hermann Park Train Station – 1700 Hermann Drive, Houston, Texas
Special breakfast and ride on the Holiday Train with Santa! RSVP

Holiday Party at Kinder Station – December 10, 2016 – Hermann Park Train Station – 1700 Hermann Drive, Houston, Texas
Come and enjoy free crafts and face painting.  Park members also enjoy free train rides.

Homestead Holiday – December 10, 2016 – Jesse H. Jones Nature Center – 20634 Kenswick Dr, Humble, TX 77338
1:00-3:00pm.  Enjoy homemade cookies and wassail as the homestead comes to life with old-fashioned Christmas traditions, including jolly old Saint Nicholas

Lights in the Heights – December 10, 2016 – Woodland Heights
Tour the beautiful, lit up, neighborhood!

Breakfast with Santa and Gingerbread House Decorating – December 10, 2016 – Omni Hotel Uptown –  4 Riverway, Houston, TX 77056
Santa will bring his gingerbread houses for party-goers to decorate while enjoying holiday refreshments and festive fun. And don’t forget to take a picture with Santa before you head home with your freshly decorated gingerbread house!

Gingerbread Build Off – December 10, 2016 – Hermann Square by City Hall – 900 Smith St, Houston, TX 77002
Architecture Center Houston will host the 8th Annual Gingerbread Build-Off at City Hall’s Hermann Square Saturday December 10, 2016. Over 30 competing teams will create their masterpieces using 100% edible materials.

Candlelight Tour December 10 & 11, 2016 – Sam Houston Park – 1000 Bagby St, Houston, TX 77002
This Houston holiday tradition will take you and your loved ones back in time, to an open-hearted world filled with families gathering in cozy homes to count their blessings over a warm hearth.

Home for the Holidays – November 12, 2016 – December 24 , 2016– Old Town Spring – 403 Main St, Spring, TX 77373
The local shops come alive and visitors encountered strolling performers and festive exhibits!

Polar Express Train Ride – November 18, 2016 – December 23, 2016 – 789 Park Road 70, Palestine, Texas 75801
Ride on the Polar Express!  Find the best pricing in November and early December… and book all tickets before they sell out!

Christmas Train – December 2-23, 2016 – 1407 Victory Lane, Alvin, Texas 775711
Old-fashioned train ride through our winter wonderland of lights and religious scenery. Over 300,000 lights sparkle along the 3/4 mile track.

Christmas Cruises – December 3, 9, 10 & 17, 2016 – Allen’s Landing – 1005 Commerce St, Houston, TX 77002
Join Buffalo Bayou Partnership in celebrating the holiday season with 30-minute pontoon boat rides along Buffalo Bayou served up with plenty of decorations, music and cheer! (Ages 4+)

Stories at the Trains – December 6, 13, 20 , 2016 – Second Baptist Woodway – 6400 Woodway Dr, Houston, TX 77057
Right by the giant model train display, nursery and preschool aged kids can enjoy storytime!

Critter’s Christmas – December 17, 2016 – Jesse H. Jones Nature Center – 20634 Kenswick Dr, Humble, TX 77338
10:00am.  Learn how to make decorative edible treats for the birds and other wildlife that visit your yard this time of year.

Winter World of Wonder – December 22, 2016 – Houston Fire Museum – 2403 Milam St, Houston, Texas 77006
An afternoon of family friendly activities at the Houston Fire Museum! Hot chocolate bar, tasty treats, plenty of awesome activities, and a special area to create Christmas cards for local Fire Stations.


Past Shows:

Elf, The Musical – November 13, 2016 – The Grand Galveston

Cirque Dreams HOLIDAZE – November 18-20, 2016- Jones Hall (Tickets are $48.25-$71.00 but check affiliate Goldstar for $32.25-$47.25 tickets.)

Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, The Musical – November 19, 2016 – The Grand Galveston

Elvis Christmas Memories Starring Jake Rowley – November 20, 2016 – The Grand Galveston

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol – December 2 & 3, 2016 – The Grand Galveston

Very Merry Pops – December 2-4, 2016 – Jones Hall

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat – December 2-4, 2016 – National Youth Theater

Houston Symphony: 12 Days of Christmas – December 3, 2016 – Jones Hall

It’s a Wonderful Life with Live Orchestra – December 9, 2016 – Jones Hall

Fancy Nancy: Splendiferous Christmas, The Musical – November 13-December 23, 2016 – Main Street Theater

The Adventures of Santa Clause – November 19, December 3, 10 & 17, 2016 – Express Children’s Theater

It’s a Wonderful Life – December 2-17, 2016 -Houston Grand Opera, Wortham Theater

Christmas Under the Big Top – December 16-20, 2016 – Second Baptist Woodway Campus

Handel’s Messiah – December 16-18, 2016- Jones Hall

The Christmas Revels – December 16-19, 2016 – MATCH

The Nutcracker – November 25-December 27 – Wortham Theater 

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