The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston jumps wholeheartedly into the holiday spirit this week with launch of the inaugural "Christmas Village at Bayou Bend." The holiday spectacle includes illuminating seven acres of the gardens in dazzling lights, special activities inside the historic home, a fantastic party tent from Belgium and visits from Santa and his reindeer.
The focal point of the holiday fun is the Cristal Palace Spiegeltent in the Diana Garden, where Santa and Mrs. Claus will be available for photos amid a festive environment that includes holiday music and merry food and drink. Originating in Belgium, the spiegeltent (created as a traveling dance hall) brings old world charm to the experience. It features hardwood flooring, mahogany structures, stained glass windows and faceted mirrors, totaling 1,200 separate pieces.
Guests can also stroll through the gardens emblazoned with hundreds of thousands of lights and find plenty of action and holiday decor inside Ima Hogg's house museum. The Alley Theatre's Todd Waite served as creative director for the Bayou Bend interiors.
While private parties and concerts fill the calendar in the coming days, the Christmas Village opens on Thursday, December 17, and continues through December 30, with the exception of Christmas Eve and Christmas night. Hours are 6 to 9:30 pm. Admission is $15 for ages 13 and older; $10 for ages 5 to 12; and free for those 4 and under.
MFAH director Gary Tinterow acknowledges that the glittering experience of extraordinary lighting, music and performances was inspired by Zoo Lights, Houston Zoo's wildly successful holiday spectacular. He tells CultureMap that he hopes to expand the experience in future years with pop-up shops and more activities.
Da Camera at Bayou Bend
Before doors open on the Christmas Village, Da Camera Houston will present four nights of cabaret-style performances in the spiegeltent, taking advantage of the intimate stage to present themed musical evenings ranging from gypsy jazz to Weimar Berlin.
Performances are scheduled at 7 and at 9 pm, Thursday through Saturday, December 10-12, and again on Tuesday, December 15 at 7:30. Tickets are $50 for the performance and light refreshments, cash bar.
Free for families
On Sunday, December 20, the doors to Bayou Bend open for free from 1 to 5 pm for The Bayou Bend Family Day: Festive Traditions. Activities include musical performances, demonstrations, arts and crafts, a snowball toss, face painting and a Christmas-themed puppet show.
The fun takes place across the grounds and in the spiegeltent. Inside the historic home, volunteers from Houston Junior Woman's Club will guide visitors through rooms specially staged by the Alley Theatre's Todd Waite aka Crumpet, the disgruntled elf.