San Antonio's River Walk is a year-round hotspot for the city's visitors. There are plenty of shops, restaurants, and hotels lining the San Antonio River. Plus, with walking paths, bridges, and canal boats, there are many ways to experience the River Walk—which you'll especially want to experience during the Christmas season. At this time, decorations and festivities will take over the already scenic tourist paradise.
Every year on the day after Thanksgiving, the switch is thrown and over 100,000 twinkling lights form a magical canopy over San Antonio's River Walk. The lighting ceremony is the official kickoff to the Holiday Light Fest and is preceded by the Ford Holiday River Parade, one of the best holiday parades in the U.S. that is streamed all over the country. For over 20 years, the spectacular one-hour parade along San Antonio's River Walk has featured decorated, illuminated floats with celebrities, bands, and lavishly-costumed participants and over 150,000 people will gather along the River Walk to watch the spectacle live along the parade route.
After 4 p.m. on November 29, 2019, the River Walk is accessible only with a ticket to the parade. Beginning the next day, the River Walk is open without a ticket. The lights will shine brightly this season every evening from November 29, 2019, through January 13, 2020.
In December, enjoy San Antonio's Fiesta de Las Luminarias, a ceremony where over 2,000 paper lanterns will be lit along the river creating a magical effect. This centuries-old Mexican tradition symbolizes the "lighting of the way" for the holy family. You'll find the river lit up with candles on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from December 6 to 22, 2019.
At the Pearl Brewery, you can do some shopping this season on Thursday nights when the city's famous brewery puts on its Holiday Night Market. On December 5, 12, and 19, 2019, the market will feature live music and holiday treats from tamales to artisanal chocolates. Pearl Brewery is located right on the river and this event is free and open to the public.
Presented by the Hilton Hotels of San Antonio, the holiday art show is a chance to peruse the booths of over 40 local artisans and pick up some unique gifts for the holiday. The show takes place on the River Walk Extension (near the San Antonio Champers of Commerce Building) from December 13 to 15, 2019. It's only on for one weekend, but it lasts all day from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
For a special treat, consider having a holiday dinner on the San Antonio River. There are several River Walk restaurants that offer dinner on the river barges, such as Boudros, one of the top restaurants on the River Walk. The staff will take orders for entrees before you set off on a short cruise, arriving back to the restaurant to enjoy the main course and dessert. Gliding underneath the canopy of Christmas lights as you sip wine and munch on tasty food is one of the best ways to enjoy the season in San Antonio. Make your reservations far in advance!