Most Amazing Christmas Lights Ever

Bayou Bend goes crazy for the holidays with seven acres of lights and an amazing party tent

Bayou Bend goes holiday crazy with "Christmas Village" extravaganza

News, Bayou Bend Spiegeltent, Dec. 2015, cropped
Bayou Bend gets in the holiday spirit with seven acres of lighted wonder and the Cristal Palace Spiegeltent from Belgium. Photo by Wilson Parish
News, Bayou Bend Spiegeltent, Dec. 2015
Created as a traveling dance hall the spiegeltent will host concerts and family activities. Photo by Wilson Parish
News, Bayou Bend Christmas Village, Dec. 2015
Garden elements are lighted in various colors.  Photo by Cameron Bertuzzi
News, Bayou Bend Spiegeltent, Dec. 2015
The spiegeltent will be the center of Bayou Bend's "Christmas Village" activities. Photo by Wilson Parish
News, Bayou Bend Spiegeltent, Dec. 2015
A deer greets arrivals as they make their way to the lighted bridge across Buffalo Bayou. Photo by Shelby Hodge
News, Bayou Bend Spiegeltent, Dec. 2015
The Cristal Palace Spiegeltent is comprised of 1,200 separate pieces including stained glass windows. Photo by Wilson Parish
News, Shelby, Nau Party, Spiegeltent, Dec. 2015, brass quintent
A brass quartet performs Christmas tunes at a private holiday party in the spiegeltent. Photo by Wilson Parish
News, Bayou Bend Christmas Village, Dec. 2015
Johnny Steele created lighting throughout the Bayou Bend gardens. Photo by Cameron Bertuzzi
News, Bayou Bend Spiegeltent, Dec. 2015
Private parties are booked in the spiegeltent for several nights this week. Photo by Wilson Parish
News, Bayou Bend Christmas Village, Dec. 2015
Beautiful lighting enhances every corner of the gardens. Photo by Cameron Bertuzzi
News, Bayou Bend Spiegeltent, Dec. 2015, cropped
News, Bayou Bend Spiegeltent, Dec. 2015
News, Bayou Bend Christmas Village, Dec. 2015
News, Bayou Bend Spiegeltent, Dec. 2015
News, Bayou Bend Spiegeltent, Dec. 2015
News, Bayou Bend Spiegeltent, Dec. 2015
News, Shelby, Nau Party, Spiegeltent, Dec. 2015, brass quintent
News, Bayou Bend Christmas Village, Dec. 2015
News, Bayou Bend Spiegeltent, Dec. 2015
News, Bayou Bend Christmas Village, Dec. 2015

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.