Downtown’s Family-Friendly Holiday Guide

Whether you’re looking for a Saturday afternoon ice skating soiree with the little ones, or something for your extended family to do while in town – we’ve got you covered. Below is a list of our favorite events to experience with your family in town!

MISTLETOE ON THE GO!

Pucker up—Texas’ biggest mistletoe ball is coming back to downtown this holiday season. Mistletoe on the Go!, a 150-inch ball of kiss-inducing greenery hanging from a 15-foot giant candy cane, will be located at Market Square Park starting November 16 through New Year’s day. Passersby are invited to stand under the massive ball and kiss—just because!   Share your smooches using #XOmistletoe.

WINTER WANDERLAND ON BAGBY STREET

Discover the magic of the season by embarking on a festive adventure under the stars and lights. You won’t want to miss Houston’s newest holiday destination, a series of unique illuminated attractions along Bagby Street from Lamar to Franklin—over 100,000 twinkling LED lights! Signature elements include giant angel wings on the side of the Central Library, constellation arches at Sam Houston Park, an 80-foot light tunnel across from Hobby Center and more! 

HOLIDAY ART MARKETS

WINTER FLEA BY NIGHT

Nov 20, 27, Dec 11, 18 Presented by Green Mountain Energy, this popular flea market expands to a weekly event for the winter! The destination market features an array of artful kitsch, vintage items, recycled and repurposed objects and collectibles with live music, food trucks and more! 6 pm-10 pm.  Free. Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney. discoverygreen.com

HAVE A NICE DAY MARKET

Dec 5 Dine and shop for your holiday gift list at Houston’s newest market celebrating the city’s culture and diversity. Have a Nice Day is boasting a lineup of the hottest food pop ups, bakers and makers. Discover your new favorites and join us at GreenStreet for a day of music, shopping, and of course plenty of eating. 

SIGNATURE EVENTS

72ND ANNUAL H-E-B THANKSGIVING DAY PARADE

Nov 25 The Houston Thanksgiving Day Parade is a 72-year-old holiday tradition showcasing the Houston community and entertaining thousands of parade-goers lining the streets on Thanksgiving morning. Decorative floats, talented marching bands, high-flying balloons, and other uniquely artistic entries will take over Downtown for this special day of celebration. The parade route begins at Lamar and Smith. Free. 10 am. houstonthanksgivingparade.org

RELIANT LIGHTS MAYOR’S HOLIDAY SPECTACULAR

Dec 4 This spectacular event is a holiday tradition of music, Santa, fireworks and family fun, leaving behind a towering holiday tree, glowing with lights, shimmering ornaments and a stunning star topper to light up the streets of Downtown Houston this holiday season. Free. 6 pm. City Hall, 901 Bagby. houstontx.gov

HOLIDAY FUN

MUSICAL TREATS FROM THE NUTCRACKER - FOR KIDS! 

Dec 4 The Symphony’s popular Holiday Family Concert returns! Delight in the magic of the holiday season and treat your family to a morning of musical fun they’ll remember for years to come as Music Director Andrés Orozco-Estrada leads treasured selections from The Nutcracker, plus other holiday favorites. Presented in a casual, family-friendly setting, this 50-minute concert will have your little ones picturing sugar plums and sparkling snowflakes, and comes complete with fun interactive activities and a visit from Santa himself!

FAMILY WINTER FESTIVAL 

Dec 18 Let it snow! Join the Houston Public Library for winter-themed crafts and activities, caroling, live reindeer photo op, and the man in the red suit!  An interactive screening of the holiday classic Elf (PG) starts at 3 PM; the first 50 movie watchers will receive a bag of props for the film.

BUFFALO BAYOU CHRISTMAS CRUISES

Dec 4, 5, 11 & 12 Join Buffalo Bayou Partnership in celebrating the holiday season with 45-minute pontoon boat rides along Buffalo Bayou! Enjoy festive boat lighting with Santa and Mrs. Claus and hot chocolate to keep your spirits warm. $15. Various times. 1001 Commerce. buffalobayou.org

YUMMY! KID'S GINGERBREAD COOKIE DECORATING CLASS 

Dec 4, 11 & 18 A festive event where kids can decorate gingerbread houses, enjoy holiday activities and a tasty seasonal brunch menu. There will be plenty of hot cocoa, holiday music and fun International holiday stories for all! Space is limited and registration is required. Phoenicia Specialty Foods Downtown. 1001 Austin. phoeniciafoods.com

BREAKFAST WITH SANTA AT HILTON AMERICAS 

Dec 5, 5, 11, 12, 18 & 19 Enjoy a tasty breakfast with the big man himself! On weekends throughout December, bring your family to 1600 Bar + Grille to enjoy a delicious and personally give Santa your Christmas list! Enjoy cooking decorating, holiday décor around the hotel, including a life-size chocolate replica of The Nutcracker, and tons of holiday cheer!

BREAKFAST WITH SANTA AT DOWNTOWN AQUARIUM

Dec 11, 18, 19, 22, 23 & 24 Families are invited to the Downtown Aquarium for a ho-ho-holiday Breakfast with Santa. The buffet-style breakfast will feature an assortment of food, fun with Sharkey and an active Santa Claus swimming around in the tank with all the different marine life, taking photos with the guests. Downtown Aquarium, 410 Bagby. downtownaquarium.com

VERY MERRY POPS 

Dec 18 & 19 Gather with loved ones in a warm and cozy winter wonderland for a sleigh-full of holly, jolly musical cheer! Broadway’s Rodney Ingram (The Phantom of the Opera) joins the Symphony and Chorus for heartwarming favorites and treasured carols. Complete with sparkling decorations and a visit from Santa, there’s no better way to get into the holiday spirit!

GREEN MOUNTAIN ENERGY ICE

Through Jan 30 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. Admission $15. For schedule of weekly events, holiday hours and more information, visit discoverygreen.com/ice

SCREEN ON THE GREEN PRESENTED BY BANK OF AMERICA

Watch a great throwback movie from the hill or catch a peek from The ICE! See website for full movie list and details. 7 pm.            

Dec 2 A Christmas Carol (G) 1938, 68 min. 

Dec 9 A Christmas Story (PG) 1984, 94 min. 

Dec 16 Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas (PG) 2000, 105 min. 

Dec 23 ELF (PG) 2003, 97 min. 

Dec 30 Captain America: The Winter Soldier (PG-13) 2014, 136 min.           

Back ToTop