This holiday season, the Houston Downtown Management District (Downtown District) invites Houstonians and visitors to celebrate the winter holidays with shopping, sightseeing and special events in Downtown Houston. With free classic holiday film screenings, performing arts, outdoor ice-skating and virtual programming, Downtown Houston offers a variety of activities that are sure to get you in the spirit of the season.
“It’s been a long year. But the holidays are here and it’s time for Houstonians to Unwrap Downtown and celebrate a little more merrily than you ever have before,” said Angie Bertinot, Downtown District Director of Marketing and Communications. “Explore the holiday lights on Main Street, snuggle up with your special-someone under Texas’s biggest mistletoe ball, take a twirl on The Ice at Discovery Green and eat, drink and cheers to your hearts content. There’s no place like Downtown for the holidays.”
DOWNTOWN HOUSTON HOLIDAY EVENT CALENDAR
View printable guide
Marriott Marquis Presents Texas Winter Lights
November 20–January 3, 2021
The Marriott Marquis Houston brings a new poolside tradition with their Inaugural Texas Winter Lights Event, an interactive walk-through or float under light experience available on the 60,000 square-foot Parkview Terrace. Every night, from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. the hotel’s iconic Texas-shaped lazy river will be surrounded by one-mile of sparkling lights, providing an interactive light experience 110-feet above street level, complete with stunning views of downtown Houston skyline, overlooking Discovery Green Park. General Admission tickets are available for the public Monday through Thursday for $15. Marriott Marquis Houston. www.marriottmarquishouston.com
Holiday Decor on Main Street
November 18–January 3
Stroll along Main Street and take in the twinkling lights bringing the holiday spirit to Downtown Houston! From the larger-than-life “NOEL” at Main Street Square to the sparking trees and banners guiding you from one end of the street to the other, there’s no place like Downtown Houston for the holidays. www.downtownhouston.org
Holiday Tree at City Hall
December 5– January 3
Stand beneath the towering Holiday Tree at City Hall! Glowing with energy-efficient LED lights, shimmering ornaments and a stunning star topper, the tree lights up the streets of Downtown Houston year after year. Free. City Hall/Hermann Square. 901 Bagby. www.houstontx.gov
A Baroque Christmas
December 4-6, 8 p.m.
The holiday season opens with A Baroque Christmas, a Classical Series performance that welcomes back Nicholas McGegan. The program of Baroque repertoire includes great arias from Handel’s Messiah, including “Ev’ry Valley Shall Be Exalted,” “O thou, that tellest good tidings to Zion,” and “The trumpet shall sound.” This performance will be available via livestreaming on Saturday, December 5 at 8 p.m. for those wanting to enjoy the performance from home during their holiday season festivities. Houston Symphony, houstonsymphony.org
Virtual: Alley Theatre’s A Christmas Carol
In this highly inventive, digital adaptation of the Dickens classic, The Alley Theatre’s resident company of actors assemble online to perform a new production of the heartwarming Christmas story. With two actors missing and everyone performing from home, the socially distanced troupe brings this holiday classic to imaginative new heights, creating A Christmas Carol like no other. Free. www.alleytheatre.org
Virtual: Manual Cinema’s Christmas Carol
December 5, 12 & 19, 7 p.m.
In this world premiere online event, interdisciplinary performance collective Manual Cinema takes on Charles Dickens’s holiday classic with a visually inventive adaptation made to broadcast directly to your home. Tickets starting at $20. www.spahouston.org
Virtual: The Snowy Day
December 10, 7:30 p.m.
Enjoy a video presentation of the world premiere of composer Joel Thompson and librettist Andrea Davis Pinkney’s new opera. Based on the beloved children’s book by Ezra Jack Keats, The Snowy Day shares the heartwarming story of Peter, a young boy exploring New York City on a snowy day, and features the first Black American protagonist of a mainstream children’s book. Free. www.houstongrandopera.org
Very Merry Pops
December 11–13, 18–20
The Houston Symphony welcomes back former Principal POPS Conductor Michael Krajewski to Jones Hall to lead the cherished family tradition, Very Merry POPS, part of the Bank of America POPS Series. Returning Houston vocalist Chelsea Cymone also joins the Houston Symphony in this concert with beloved holiday tunes like “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” to get audiences in the festive spirit. This performance will be livestreamed on December 12 and 19 at 8 p.m. Houston Symphony, houstonsymphony.org
Market Square Park
Mistletoe On The Go!
November 17–January 1
Pucker up! Texas’s biggest mistletoe ball is coming back to Downtown this holiday season. The 150-inch ball of kiss-inducing greenery hanging from a giant 15-foot candy cane will be on view at Market Square Park. Passersby are invited to stand under the massive ball and kiss their sweetheart. Share your smooches using #XOmistletoe. Market Square Park, 301 Milam. www.marketsquarepark.com
Movies at Market Square Park: The Night Before
December 2, 7 p.m.
Get into the holiday spirit with a special screening of The Night Before. Head to Market Square Park for a movie night under the stars and watch three best friends on the hunt for the best Christmas Eve party in New York City. Free. 301 Milam. www.marketsquarepark.com
Movies at Market Square Park: The Muppet Christmas Carol
December 16, 7 p.m.
Grab your blanket or lawn chairs and make your way to Market Square Park for the Christmas classic, The Muppet Christmas Carol. Celebrate the season with the Muppets take on the classic Dickens tale of Ebenezer Scrooge with appearances from your favorites including Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy and Fozzie the Bear. Free. 301 Milam. www.marketsquarepark.com
Sleigh The Holidays At Greenstreet
Daily beginning November 14– January 3
Embrace the season with the lights at GreenStreet. Snap the perfect photo for your greeting cards, have a holly jolly cocktail on a restaurant patio or simply take in the twinkling lights and glitzy decor. Free. www.greenstreetdowntown.com
Deck The Trees
November 20–January 3
This year, The Alley Theatre’s annual Deck the Trees celebration will take place at the George R. Brown Convention Center, where the display will appear in the large window facing Avenida de las Americas. Mayor Sylvester Turner will flip the official switch to light the Christmas trees and mark the start of the holiday season. A Houston tradition for the past decade, the annual event coincides with the holiday production of A Christmas Carol and features a variety of festive trees decorated by Houston’s premier designers and sponsored by generous businesses and individuals. Free. George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenida de las Americas. www.avenidahouston.com
Breakfast with Santa
December 2, 19, 20 & 24
Families are invited to the Downtown Aquarium for Breakfast with Santa. Get your socially distanced picture taken with Santa and keep a close eye on the aquarium tank—you may see him swimming with our fish. Reservations required. Downtown Aquarium, 410 Bagby. www.downtownaquarium.com
Candlelight Holiday Market
Enjoy a fun outdoor shopping experience around the spacious Connally Plaza at The Heritage Society! The Candlelight Holiday Market will feature live music, food and beverages, unique home and holiday decor and gifts and historical reenactments. Don't forget to grab a photo with Santa and his Elves! Heritage Society, 1100 Bagby. www.heritagesociety.org
Ugly Christmas Sweater Party
December 19, 7 p.m.
Pull out your most atrocious sweater and head to The Rustic for an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party with Shane Smith & The Saints! Tickets starting at $25. The Rustic, 1836 Polk. www.therustic.com
Holiday Gingerbread Decorating Class at Phoenicia
Join Phoenicia Specialty Foods on Zoom to decorate gingerbread houses and holiday cookies and create other fun holiday crafts. Gingerbread kits are available to preorder at the Phoenicia bakery. Phoenicia Specialty Foods Downtown, 1001 Austin. www.phoeniciafoods.com/
The Ice at Discovery Green powered by Green Mountain Energy
Daily, November 13–January 31
Ice skating returns to Downtown Houston this holiday season! Lace up your skates and get ready for a memorable winter experience on the largest outdoor ice-skating rink in the Southwest, with daily skating events and other programs. Tickets from $11. Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney. Visit www.discoverygreen.com/ice for schedule of events, holiday hours and more information.
The Ice at Discovery Green Opening Night
November 13, 5–10 p.m.
Enjoy the crisp open air on the Ice at Discovery Green on opening night! An Instagram-worthy ice sculpture by Reverend Butter will be on display, so be sure to come dressed for selfies galore. www.discoverygreen.com/ice
Cheap Skate Nights
Mondays, November 16 & 30; December 7 & 14; January 4, 11 & 25
On select Mondays this winter, glide around The Ice at Discovery Green for just $8 per person. Includes tax and skate rental. www.discoverygreen.com/ice
Skating with the Stars
Tuesdays through January 26, 7–7:15 p.m.
Houston’s top figure skaters perform dazzling demonstrations on The Ice at Discovery Green. www.discoverygreen.com/ice
Music Trends Through The Decades With DJ Mohawk Steve
Wednesdays, November 18–January 27, 7–9 p.m.
Each Wednesday through January 27, enjoy The Ice at Discovery Green accompanied with music from select decades, featuring styles like swing, jazz, disco, Motown, hip-hip, and more. Visit www.discoverygreen.com/ice to view the theme schedule.
Skate with Santa!
Thursdays through December 24, 7–8 p.m.
On Thursday evenings, children of all ages are invited to skate with Santa Claus for a truly merry experience. www.discoverygreen.com/ice
Friday Nights DJs
Fridays (excluding Christmas Day), 7:30–10 p.m.; New Year’s Day, 3:30–6:30 p.m.
With DJs spinning your favorite jams, ice-skating has never been more fun. Bring your friends and family for a perfect winter night on the Ice with lively music. www.discoverygreen.com/ice
Getting Around Downtown
Explore Downtown Houston the crisp fall air. Getting around Downtown on foot is easy, and one of the best ways to experience the weather. Maps are available at www.downtownhouston.org
Ditch your car and ride a bike to all of the Downtown destinations this holiday season. Monthly and annual memberships available with 16 convenient stations located throughout Downtown Houston. www.houston.bcycle.com
There are affordable parking options—garages, surface lots and on-street parking—convenient to any destination. For help finding surface lots, garage parking or on-street meters, visit www.downtownhoustonparking.org.
Please find additional information about holiday programming, décor and other special events below, and visit www.downtownhouston.org for a full event calendar.
ABOUT DOWNTOWN DISTRICT
The Downtown District was formed in 1995 for the purpose of revitalizing the urban core of the country’s fourth largest city. Over the past decade, the Downtown District has used a combination of public funds and private resources to catalyze area improvements focusing on the city blocks bordered by Interstate 10, Highway 59 and Interstate 45.
The Downtown District operates under the leadership of a 30-person board of directors who oversee the implementation of the District’s strategic initiatives. Funding for the Downtown District comes from a special assessment on all downtown property owners.
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