Welcome to Go Inside: Exploring Texas Culture! Brought to you by First Choice Power, this series will explore the legends and history that make up the meat and bones of the Lone Star State. Specifically, we’ll share our favorite indoor attractions to visit, which includes the great museums and quirky cultural outposts that fill the Texas landscape.
We love Christmas here in the Lone Star State, and all the magic the season brings. Though it may not snow in most parts of the state, we still throw ourselves into the simple rituals of drinking hot chocolate and sitting by the fire.
Some may believe our Santa Claus dresses like a cowboy, a giant 10-gallon hat on his head, spurs on his boots, and maybe the sack of toys slung back on the back of a horse as opposed to a sleigh with reindeer. But no matter where you live in our great state, there is sure to be a Texas tradition in your city or at least near by.
From the grandeur of city lights to the simplicity of a small town Texas tradition, here are some of our favorite places in the Lone Star State to find the magic of the season:
- Lights Spectacular, Johnson City
- Santa’s Wonderland, College Station
- Trail of Lights, Austin
- Holiday Lights on the Riverwalk, San Antonio
Lights Spectacular, Johnson City
The small town of Johnson City comes alive the Friday after Thanksgiving with its annual and well anticipated Lights Spectacular! This year marks its 28th anniversary.
The historic Blanco County Courthouse is lit with more than 100,000 white lights, as well as the grounds and surrounding trees to compliment the grandeur of the courthouse. Even the inside of the Courthouse is decorated with a traditional Christmas tree and loads of other decorations.
But the nearby Pedernales Electric Co-Op headquarters is a spectacle in its own right! A full block of ancient live oak trees is strung with more than one million white lights covering the entire canopy of each tree and its trunks.
As the hometown of our 36th president Lyndon B Johnson, lamplight tours of his boyhood home are also offered throughout the month of December.
Santa’s Wonderland, College Station
This is one of the most spectacular light displays in the entire state, where millions of lights converge to create an absolute wonderland for all ages. As they say, here you are deep in the heart of Christmas.
The Santa’s Hayride Tour, which is how you’ll see the entire main attraction and display of lights, takes visitors along a path where displays move, lights hang from every which way, and you’ll enter tunnels of lights that whisk you away to another place in time.
Entry to Santa’s Wonderland also includes live music, Christmas movies, shopping, mechanical bull rides, train rides and access to Santa’s Town. Expect to indulge in your usual cozy Texas festival food fare.
Be sure to look at the website before you plan your visit as certain dates offer discounted tickets.
Trail of Lights, Austin
From December 9th through the 23rd, Austin’s largest holiday tradition happens with the Trail of Lights, located in the gorgeous Zilker Park in the shadows of downtown. It celebrates the unique spirit and people that make Austin what it is. This year the Trail of Lights celebrates its 52nd year.
What began in 1965 as a small gathering known as the “Yule Fest,” it was initially a gift to the city of Austin from its Parks and Recreation Department. It has now grown into a full community event with over 40 displays.
With more than 400,000 visitors annually, this event showcases everything uniquely Austin. From music and food to creativity and family fun, this is a spectacular light show that takes visitors on a journey through colorfully lit scenes made of more than two million lights.
Come hungry, and choose from over 20 of the cities favorite food trucks!
Holiday Lights on the River Walk, San Antonio
Just after Thanksgiving and lasting through the new year, the River Walk in San Antonio displays a rainbow of colored lights that cascade down from the bald cypress trees that line the river.
It’s free to meander along the walk, and it’s the perfect place to settle in for a hot plate of enchiladas at any of the restaurants on the river. Or you can see the magic from one of the boat tours along the river.
Did we miss out on your favorite local Texas tradition? Let us know. Merry Christmas, Y’all!