It's the Holiday Season
Explore 8 unique holiday villages at Houston's City Lights
Downtown Houston has just undergone a transformation, and the enchantment is so real. The extravaganza that is City Lights Downtown Holiday Magic gets lit via eight themed villages — each with its own unique delights — from November 18, 2022, through January 2, 2023.
Open to the public and mostly free, the villages usher in everything from ice for skating to lights for gazing, and festive activities to make your whole family's season bright.
Whether you’re enjoying a night out with friends or an evening of fam-friendly fun, here are eight must-have, magical experiences in the City Lights villages.
See the trees
The trees are ready for their close-up at Deck The Trees Grand Holiday Window display. With 30 brilliantly decked and dazzling designs, the Grand Holiday Window display at the George R. Brown Convention Center is a sight to behold.
Even better, it benefits the Alley Theatre’s educational community and artistic initiatives. You can also catch an outdoor concert with performances on Thursdays through Sundays with carolers, strings, swing ensembles, jazz music, and more.
Check out some eye candy
Get set for a sugar rush in the Hilton Americas lobby, where the hotel’s Land of Sweets has made its wow-worthy return. This year’s iconic holiday chocolate display features a hand-sculpted, Minion-themed masterpiece that boasts more than 2,000 pounds of the cocoa stuff.
Make it a staycation with the hotel’s ’Tis the Season package, which includes luxe accommodations, a holiday treat, and two tickets to the Discovery Green ice rink.
Engage in your own ice capades
Speaking of Discovery Green, you can glide right into the holidays at the park’s bustling Holiday Ice Village. The open-air ice-skating rink has also scheduled in some fun music-themed nights with DJs and party vibes under the city lights. There’s even an opportunity to watch the pros take the ice — and Santa may make a few special appearances, too.
If you’re keeping your feet off the ice, catch a holiday movie under the stars every Thursday or check the box on your holiday shopping at Flea by Night every Saturday. The open-air market features local artisans and small business owners and a range of vintage, handmade, recycled, and repurposed goods.
Float under the lights
Texas Winter Lights is back and it’s a must for your holiday to-do list. The one-of-a-kind poolside tradition is hosted at Marriott Marquis’ Altitude Rooftop & Pool (the lazy river is heated all winter!), where you can stroll through — or float under — the lights at night.
There will be no shortage of Instagrammable photo opps with illuminated activations, including a light-up stallion, graffiti wall, adult playground, and light grove. Plus, you can choose from more than 30 festive beverages. There’s also a nightly snowfall to add to the enchantment.
Have a date with Santa
Santa Claus is coming to town — Main Street Square, to be exact — to share the wonder of the season. Get a pic with Kris Kringle every Friday and Saturday starting at 6 pm in Santa’s Village.
Then explore all the shopping goodness the square has to offer with a series of holiday markets that are held on Fridays and Saturdays, too, all set against a vibrantly lit backdrop of 40-foot water bursts and a 250-foot-long, eight-inch-deep reflecting pool.
Find somebody to smooch
You know what they say: Everything is bigger in Texas, and that includes mistletoe. This 150-inch ball of greenery is suspended from a giant 15-foot candy cane in historic Market Square Park — a.k.a. Mistletoe Square. You’ll want your kissable plus-one around, too, for snuggling up under the twinkling lights and enjoying a holiday movie — or making a gingerbread house with Phoenicia Specialty Foods.
See visions of sugar plums
The iconic Fish Plaza at the entrance of the Wortham Theater is dancing into the season with its temporary title of Sugar Plum Plaza — and it lives up to its name. Every square foot has been reimagined in an ode to the holidays with larger-than-life custom-built ornaments and cheerful tunes.
Wander through a wonderland
If you love twinkling lights, the Winter Wanderland has 100,000 of them. The LED-lit scene is the ultimate in merry and bright vibes along the recently reconstructed and beautified Bagby Street from Lamar to Preston. Signature elements include giant angel wings, constellation arches, and an 80-foot light tunnel across from The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts.
Be sure to sign up for the free City Lights Pass here. Check in to each village and you might win one of four holiday experiences — the more places you visit, the better your chances of winning.
Make your own magic and chart your holiday course at City Lights here.