16 Best Things to Do in Texas in December (2024)

As the year comes to a close and the holiday spirit fills the air, Texas transforms into a magical wonderland during the month of December.

With its diverse landscapes, rich traditions, and festive celebrations, the Lone Star State offers an abundance of activities and experiences that will make your December truly enchanting.

Whether you’re a local Texan or planning a visit from afar, there’s no shortage of things to do in Texas during this special time of year.

From charming holiday markets and dazzling light displays to festive parades and unique cultural events, this guide will take you on a curated journey, highlighting 16 captivating experiences that will make your holiday season in Texas truly memorable.

Immerse yourself in the joyous atmosphere of San Antonio’s River Walk adorned with twinkling lights, or embark on a culinary adventure at one of Houston’s winter food festivals.

Delve into the rich history and heritage of the state by visiting historic sites beautifully decorated for the season, or take part in traditional holiday festivities that celebrate Texas’ diverse cultural influences.

Weather in Texas in December


December in Texas generally marks the beginning of winter, although temperatures can still vary significantly across the state.

The northern parts of Texas, including cities like Amarillo and Lubbock, tend to have colder temperatures with average highs ranging from the 40s to the 50s Fahrenheit (4-15 degrees Celsius).

Overnight lows can drop to the 20s Fahrenheit (-6 to -2 degrees Celsius).

Moving southward, the central regions, including cities like Dallas and Austin, experience milder temperatures.

Highs can reach the 50s to 60s Fahrenheit (10-20 degrees Celsius), while lows typically range from the 30s to the 40s Fahrenheit (0-8 degrees Celsius).

Coastal areas such as Houston and Corpus Christi have relatively mild winters.

December temperatures there often reach the 60s to 70s Fahrenheit (15-25 degrees Celsius) during the day, with overnight lows in the 40s to 50s Fahrenheit (4-10 degrees Celsius).


December tends to be a relatively dry month in Texas, particularly in the western and northern regions.

However, precipitation can occur, mainly in the form of rain or occasionally snow in the northern parts.

Average rainfall amounts are generally lower compared to other seasons, with an average of 1-3 inches (25-76 mm) across the state.


December in Texas is typically characterized by cooler temperatures and lower humidity levels compared to the summer months.

While southern coastal areas may experience slightly higher humidity due to their proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, it is generally more comfortable than the sweltering summer conditions.

The northern and central regions tend to have lower humidity levels, contributing to a drier and more pleasant atmosphere during this time of year.

1. San Antonio River Walk during the holidays: fun things to do in Texas in December

Image: San Antonio River Walk. L. Allen Brewer. [CC BY 2.0] via Flickr

Experience the festive atmosphere of the San Antonio River Walk during the holiday season.

Take a leisurely stroll along the beautifully decorated riverbanks adorned with thousands of twinkling lights, garlands, and colorful ornaments.

Immerse yourself in the joyful ambiance as holiday music fills the air, and the scent of delicious food wafts from the riverside restaurants.

Indulge in traditional Tex-Mex cuisine, sip on a warm cup of hot chocolate, and admire the creative holiday displays that line the water’s edge.

Whether you take a romantic evening walk or a daytime exploration, the San Antonio River Walk offers a magical experience that captures the essence of the holiday season.

2. 12 Days of Christmas at the Dallas Arboretum

Photo credit: Dallas Arboretum Facebook page

Visit the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden to immerse yourself in the enchanting world of “The 12 Days of Christmas” holiday display.

As you enter the garden, you’ll be greeted by elaborately designed, life-size Victorian-style gazebos that depict each of the 12 days of the famous Christmas carol.

Adorned with stunning holiday decorations, including thousands of twinkling lights, colorful ornaments, and festive foliage, these gazebos create a whimsical atmosphere that delights visitors of all ages.

Take a leisurely stroll through the garden pathways, enjoying the intricate details of each gazebo and the surrounding lush landscapes.

Capture memorable photos, listen to live holiday music, and feel the magic of the season come alive as you immerse yourself in this captivating holiday experience at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden.

3. Festival of Lights at Moody Gardens

Explore the magical wonderland of Moody Gardens in Galveston during the Festival of Lights.

As you step into this enchanting holiday display, you’ll be surrounded by a dazzling array of lights, vibrant decorations, and festive cheer.

Marvel at the towering, brilliantly lit Christmas trees and beautifully adorned palm trees that line the pathways.

The festival offers much more than just lights; you can also enjoy ice sculptures, a giant ice slide, train rides, and even the opportunity to meet Santa Claus himself.

From the moment you enter the Festival of Lights, you’ll be transported to a world of holiday magic and wonder, where the sights and sounds of the season fill the air.

It’s a perfect destination for families and friends to create lasting memories and embrace the joyful spirit of the holidays.

4. “The Nutcracker” at Houston Ballet: must do things in Texas in December

Attend the Houston Ballet’s performance of “The Nutcracker” and be transported to a magical world of dancing sugar plum fairies, mischievous mice, and a young girl’s extraordinary journey.

Set to Tchaikovsky’s iconic score, this timeless ballet brings Clara’s enchanted story to life through exquisite choreography and stunning sets.

Watch in awe as talented dancers gracefully glide across the stage, mesmerizing audiences with their skill and artistry.

From the sparkling Snowflakes Waltz to the enchanting Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, “The Nutcracker” is a captivating holiday tradition that captures the hearts of both young and old.

It’s a delightful experience that will leave you filled with the joy and wonder of the holiday season.

5. Christkindl Market in Arlington

Celebrate the German heritage at the annual Christkindl Market in Arlington.

Step into a charming winter village filled with wooden stalls adorned with twinkling lights and festive decorations.

Immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and flavors of Bavaria as you explore the market’s offerings.

Browse through a wide array of unique crafts, handcrafted ornaments, and traditional German products.

Indulge in delicious German cuisine, such as bratwurst, pretzels, and strudel, and sip on warm mulled wine or a refreshing Bavarian-style beer.

Throughout the market, you’ll be entertained by live music, cultural performances, and festive activities for the whole family.

From the cheerful atmosphere to the authentic German offerings, the Christkindl Market is a delightful way to embrace the holiday season and celebrate German traditions.

6. Dickens on the Strand in Galveston

Join the festivities at Dickens on the Strand in Galveston, where the historic Strand District transforms into a Victorian-era Christmas village.

Immerse yourself in the enchanting atmosphere of Charles Dickens’ novels as costumed characters wander the streets, evoking the spirit of 19th-century London.

Explore the charming shops and stalls offering a variety of unique gifts, crafts, and holiday treats.

Enjoy live entertainment, including carolers, musicians, and street performers, who bring the streets to life with their festive performances.

Take part in traditional Victorian parlor games, witness the spectacular costume contests, and even encounter Father Christmas himself.

With its nostalgic charm, lively entertainment, and the chance to step back in time, Dickens on the Strand is a beloved holiday tradition that captures the essence of a Victorian Christmas.

7. Grapevine Parade of Lights

Attend the Grapevine Parade of Lights in Grapevine and witness the magic of a dazzling procession of beautifully decorated floats, marching bands, and cheerful participants.

As the sun sets, the streets come alive with a myriad of twinkling lights, illuminating the holiday spirit that fills the air.

Find a cozy spot along the parade route and marvel at the creativity and craftsmanship displayed on each float.

Enjoy the lively performances by marching bands, dance troupes, and community organizations, who bring energy and joy to the festivities.

The highlight of the parade is Santa Claus himself, who arrives in style, spreading holiday cheer to everyone along the way.

It’s a joyous event that brings the community together and creates cherished memories for families and friends alike.

8. Trail of Lights in Austin: what to do in Texas in December

Experience the wonder of the Trail of Lights in Zilker Park, Austin.

As you enter the park, you’ll be greeted by a mesmerizing display of twinkling lights, colorful holiday decorations, and festive music.

Follow the trail through a winter wonderland, where you’ll encounter enchanting light installations, whimsical displays, and iconic Austin landmarks adorned with thousands of sparkling lights.

From the dazzling Tunnel of Lights to the towering Zilker Tree, each step along the trail offers a new delight for the senses.

Bring the whole family and enjoy holiday-themed performances, indulge in delicious treats from food vendors, and take a spin on the Ferris wheel for a bird’s-eye view of the magical scene below.

The Trail of Lights is a beloved Austin tradition that captures the spirit of the season and creates lasting memories for visitors of all ages.

9. Fort Worth Stockyards Christmas Celebration

Visit the Fort Worth Stockyards for the Stockyards Christmas Celebration, where you can experience a Western-themed holiday extravaganza.

Witness the lighting of the iconic Christmas tree, adorned with Western-themed decorations, as it illuminates the historic stockyards. Immerse yourself in the festive atmosphere as the streets come alive with live music, holiday-themed shows, and family-friendly activities.

Capture the spirit of the Old West as you stroll along the cobblestone streets, lined with charming shops and restaurants, and perhaps catch a glimpse of cowboys riding through town.

The Stockyards Christmas Celebration offers a unique blend of Western heritage and holiday cheer, providing a memorable experience for visitors of all ages.

10. Fredericksburg during the holidays

Explore the charming town of Fredericksburg during its annual holiday celebration.

Stroll along the festively decorated Main Street, where twinkling lights, garlands, and holiday decorations create a magical ambiance.

Shop for unique gifts at the local boutiques and art galleries, which offer a wide array of handmade crafts, artwork, and holiday treats.

Indulge in delicious cuisine at the local restaurants, where you can savor seasonal delights and warm beverages.

Throughout the town, you’ll find live entertainment, carolers, and even horse-drawn carriage rides that add to the festive charm.

Fredericksburg’s holiday celebration is a delightful way to experience the town’s German heritage and embrace the joyous spirit of the season.

11. Rockport-Fulton Christmas Festival

Attend the Rockport-Fulton Christmas Festival in Rockport and experience a coastal holiday celebration like no other.

Witness the spectacular lighted boat parade as vessels adorned with colorful lights glide through the water, creating a breathtaking display.

Enjoy live holiday music, browse through arts and crafts vendors, and sample delicious seafood offerings.

The festival also features children’s activities, including visits with Santa Claus and holiday-themed workshops.

Take a stroll along the waterfront and enjoy the cool ocean breeze as you immerse yourself in the cheerful holiday atmosphere.

The Rockport-Fulton Christmas Festival offers a unique coastal twist to the holiday season, providing a memorable experience for visitors of all ages.

12. Las Posadas procession

Celebrate the rich Hispanic heritage at the Las Posadas procession in San Antonio.

Join the reenactment of Mary and Joseph’s search for shelter, as participants dressed as biblical figures make their way through the streets, accompanied by live music and joyful singing.

Witness the colorful procession, led by children carrying candles, as they travel from door to door, seeking refuge.

After the procession, gather in a festive gathering where traditional music, dance performances, and delicious Mexican cuisine await.

Admire the stunning altar display, adorned with vibrant flowers, candles, and images of loved ones.

Las Posadas is a cherished tradition that showcases the rich cultural heritage of the Hispanic community and offers a heartfelt celebration of the Christmas story.

13. Texas State Capitol

Visit the Texas State Capitol in Austin during the holiday season to witness the majestic building transformed into a winter wonderland.

Admire the grandeur of the Capitol as it shines with festive lights, showcasing its architectural beauty against the night sky.

Inside, discover the towering Christmas tree adorned with ornaments, garlands, and twinkling lights, creating a magical centerpiece.

Take a guided tour to learn about the history and significance of the Capitol, and marvel at the intricate holiday decorations that adorn its halls and chambers.

The Texas State Capitol during the holiday season is a sight to behold, combining the state’s rich history with the joyful spirit of the season.

14. Go ice skating: December things to do in Texas

Enjoy an outdoor ice skating experience at the ICE at Discovery Green in Houston.

Lace up your skates and glide across the ice while surrounded by the sparkling lights and joyful atmosphere.

Whether you’re a seasoned skater or a beginner, this outdoor rink offers a fun and festive activity for all ages.

Take breaks from skating to warm up with hot cocoa or delicious treats from the nearby vendors.

Admire the beautifully decorated park, listen to holiday music, and revel in the joyous ambiance.

The ICE at Discovery Green is a wonderful place to create cherished memories and embrace the winter spirit in the heart of Houston.

15. Enchant Christmas in Arlington

Discover the magical world of Enchant Christmas in Arlington, featuring the world’s largest Christmas light maze, an ice skating trail, and a Christmas market.

Step into a captivating wonderland of dazzling lights as you navigate through the maze, surrounded by towering light sculptures and whimsical displays.

Glide along the ice skating trail, taking in the festive ambiance and enjoying the joy of skating under the stars.

Browse through the Christmas market, where you’ll find a variety of unique gifts, crafts, and delicious holiday treats.

With live entertainment, food vendors, and photo-worthy attractions, Enchant Christmas offers an immersive experience that transports you to a realm of holiday enchantment.

16. New Year’s Eve at Reunion Tower

Celebrate New Year’s Eve in style by attending a fireworks display, such as the one at Reunion Tower in Dallas.

As the clock counts down to midnight, the night sky comes alive with a breathtaking show of fireworks illuminating the city skyline.

Find a prime viewing spot to witness the dazzling explosions of colors and lights, accompanied by music and cheers of celebration.

Whether you choose to join the festivities at Reunion Tower or other iconic locations across Texas, welcoming the New Year with a spectacular fireworks display is a memorable way to bid farewell to the old and embrace the possibilities of the future.

Enjoy the vibrant energy, the sense of anticipation, and the joyous atmosphere that fills the air as you celebrate the arrival of a new year.

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