Communities throughout the Greater Houston area will usher in the holiday season with the lighting of trees, streets, and homes. Strolling through residential areas made famous for their elaborate lighting designs is a family tradition for many. Others enjoy an annual expedition downtown to witness the heart of the city covered in holiday decor.
The Dickinson Festival of Lights is put together by a nonprofit organization founded on a shared love for holiday displays.
The festival's signature features are steel objects wrapped in twinkling lights spread across Paul Hopkins Park. The event also includes cookie decorating, concessions, pictures with Santa, train rides, and, of course, thousands of festive lights.
You can walk through the lighting display at Paul Hopkins Park in Dickinson, Texas—about a 30-minute drive from Houston—starting the Saturday after Thanksgiving through the end of December from 6-8:30 p.m. The event is free, and shuttles are available to get you to and from the Dickinson Plaza Shopping Center parking area.
The Prestonwood Nite of Lites includes roughly 750 homes beaming with holiday lights that align with varying themes for each block. On the first night, judges tour the neighborhood to determine awards for categories like the Best House, Best Mailbox and Best Cul-de-sac, but attendees visiting the area can also cast their vote online on the event's webpage.
Nite of Lites typically goes from the first or second weekend in December to the last, from about 6-10 p.m.
The Lights in the Heights Festival is one of the most highly anticipated holiday events inside the Loop. With live music, warm beverages, carriage rides, carolers, and charming bungalows decked in lights, it's a fun-filled event for the whole family.
The event typically takes place the first or second Saturday in December from 7-11 p.m., along Byrne and Euclid in the Woodland Heights neighborhood. It can get pretty crowded, so it's best to avoid bringing large strollers or wagons.
Moody Gardens' Festival of Lights is one of the largest holiday events in the Houston area, featuring over a million lights, choral performances, pictures with Santa, and an outdoor skating rink. The lights can be seen typically from the second weekend in November through New Year's Day from 6–10 p.m. Tickets prices vary by day and can fall on the higher side, but with all there is to do, it's well worth the price.
Houston's annual holiday celebration and tree lighting has been going on for roughly a century and features the official lighting of the city's holiday tree, as well as music, Santa, and even fireworks. The event is typically held the first Friday in December from 6–8 p.m. at City Hall.
Every evening during the holiday season, the Houston Zoo turns into a spectacle of lights and sounds. The park's trees and pathways are lit with thousands of lights and lighted animal sculptures, often set to the rhythm of holiday music playing throughout the park.
The display runs from mid-November to Mid-January and is closed December 24 and 25. Ticket prices vary, depending on how much traffic is anticipated, and are separate from standard general admission tickets. If you've never experienced the Houston Zoo at night, it's a fun family or date-night activity to try at least once.
The Uptown Holiday Lighting display features roughly 500,000 lights, concerts, live stage performances, fireworks, and more. The lighting itself is traditionally held on Thanksgiving Day, with the lights sparkling on Post Oak Boulevard between San Felipe and Westheimer Road all holiday season long. Construction on Post Oak Boulevard, though, has canceled the ceremony until 2019.