When schools across the city close at the end of the month for winter break, the much-anticipated holiday break begins, with most students on vacay until the first week of January 2023.
With that in mind, Houston boasts a wealth of holiday activities and offerings, designed to make the break a fun-filled one for kids of all ages. Here are some of our picks for a happy holiday season in Houston and beyond.
Immersive fun and holiday activities
At Bayou Bend, the Christmas Village blends music, faux snow sledding, and more fun in a charming setting. Photos with Santa are available through December 23. The Village is open through December 30.
On Christmas Eve, head to the Children's Museum Houston for a visit with Santa beginning at 10 a.m. as part of Sleigh All Day. There's real snow to play in from December 17 through 28, along with toy making, crafts and more. The museum's Rockin' New Year's Noon Bash on December 31 offers plenty of fun to ring in 2023. The Woodlands Children's Museum has a High Noon Countdown with family-friendly activities on New Year's Eve as well.
Celebrate the Winter Solstice at Discovery Green Park with an immersive sound bath and labyrinth walk on December 21.
In a first and only in North America,Harry Potter Yule Ballat Paraiso Maravilla presents an immersive tribute to the memorable ball in the books and movie. Costumed hosts coach guess though dances, fashion shows, romps, and more. Sip on butterbeer, nosh on Potter-themed bites, and rest in a courtyard with a Potter-themed ice sculpture. The ball is located at Galleria-area venue Paraiso Maravilla (5714 Fairdale Ln.), which is now open through January 20, 2023. Tickets are available here, with parking outside around $5. Check out our sneak peek here.
The Lone Star Flight Museumis taking bookings for flights in classic aircraft through December 22. Schedule a flight in a North American B-25 Mitchell, Boeing PT-17 Stearman, Fairchild PT-19 Cornell North American T-6 Texan, or the Cessna T-41 Mescalero for an epic, 35 to 45 minute experience. Pricing starts at $300.
Color Factory (3303 Kirby Dr.) presents Winter Colorland, a snowy, seasonal treat full of and Insta-worthy photo opportunities, including the favorite ski lift in a confetti snowstorm. From the entrance to each room and display, visitors can take in a pom pom wreath craft, adorable gifts, and fun around every corner. The dazzling, indoor Instagram paradise runs now through January 31, 2023.
The Santa Experience at Memorial City Mall allows families to bring the kiddos for photos with Santa through December 24. Families will find Santa at St. Nick's Park in Dillard's Court. Children with special needs can meet Santa before the mall opens, when lights and music will be turned down low to offer a sensory-friendly environment. And on Mondays through December 19, pets are welcome to join the photo fun.
Sugar Land Town Square plays host to the Department of Wonder, an immersive, mixed-reality quest, where guests receive a lantern, and must solve clues and puzzles to brig light to darkness. The 10,000-square-foot space blends theater and technology for a unique journey that rewards curiosity. The experience runs through January 14.
Wander the winding paths of the Houston Botanic Garden throughLightscape, a dazzling display of illuminations set to holiday tunes. Timed entry begins daily at 5:30 pm, through January 1, 2023.
The family favorite Zoo Lights lets guests take in the Houston Zoo in a whole new way. The display runs through January 8, 2023. The saying that everything's bigger in Texas certainly applies to Magical Winter Lightsat Houston Raceway in Baytown, which offers a castle-themed entrance, lights, lantern display, and a circus for an extra fee. The magic sticks around through January 7, 2023.
Downtown transforms into Holiday Central with City Lights Downtown Holiday Magic, where visitors can find eight winter wonderlands ranging from light shows, the largest mistletoe mass in Texas, and more. Most activities are free. Check out our full roundup here.
Can't get enough holiday lights? Check out our full list.
The Alley Theatre's What-A-Christmasfinds a drive-through worker on Christmas Eve learning a bit more about the spirit of the holiday. A Christmas Carol, a holiday favorite, shows how a cantankerous miser can change his ways. Both run through December 30.
Discovery Green has a free screening ofBlack Panther, the Marvel movie about the technologically advanced African kingdom of Wakanda, on December 22.
The Ensemble Theatre's A Motown Christmasrunning through December 24, brings soulful hits to the holiday season.
Houston Ballet offers The Nutcracker, that beloved story of a little girl and a toy that comes to life, through December 27 at the Wortham Theater Center.
The Houston Museum of Natural Science presents Let it Snow in the Burke Baker Planetarium. The immersive experience blends a selection of holiday songs with animation. $9 adults; $8 children. Through January 3.
Music fans can take in the Trans-Siberian Orchestrawhen it brings their special blend of holiday magic to the Toyota Center on December 29.
There's still time to catch TUTS' family-friendly Mary Poppins, the Disney-Cameron Mackintosh musical about that practically perfect nanny and how she transforms the Banks household. Performances run through December 24.
The Best of Houston camp at the Evelyn R. Rubenstein Jewish Community Center is for sixth to eighth graders, and offers
daily field trips to locations all over the city. Teens can enjoy special teen-only afternoon events at the J.
At Main Street Theater, children ages six to 12 can attend a winter break camp where they'll create an original play, along with producing costumes and props.
Space Center Houston offers a variety of camps for children starting at four. The week-long sessions offer several experiences for kids of different ages, all focusing on the adventure and science of space travel.
Photo by Emily Jaschke
Houston hosts the only Harry Potter Yule Ball in North America.