Spending the Holidays in San Antonio

San Antonio Riverwalk Lights
Nan Palmero

San Antonio has long been one of Texas' top tourist destinations. With a myriad of attractions and top-shelf festivals staged throughout the year, it is little wonder the Alamo City draws a crowd. However, San Antonio is much more than a summer family vacation spot. In fact, one of the best times of the year to visit San Antonio is the 'holiday season.'

As is the case everywhere, San Antonio kicks off its holiday season Thanksgiving Day. There will be various activities throughout the city over Thanksgiving weekend. The San Antonio Children's Museum will be hosting Thanksgiving themed family activities all weekend long. Of course, San Antonio is well known for its world class shopping malls, so Black Friday shopping will be quite a rush as well. Restaurants throughout the city will be offering specials for Thanksgiving dinner, which gives visitors and residents alike a way to enjoy a great Thanksgiving dinner without all the hassle.

Of course, the primary draw over Thanksgiving weekend will take place the day after Thanksgiving. On Friday night, the annual Holiday River Parade and Lighting of the River will take place on the RiverWalk. The RiverWalk is "lit" at 7 p.m. on Friday. The Holiday River Parade begins shortly thereafter and lasts for an entire hour as festive floats and decorated river barges wind their way along the San Antonio River along the RiverWalk corridor. Once lit on November 25, the RiverWalk and the surrounding area around downtown San Antonio is illuminated every night through January 1. This is one of the most impressive holiday light displays in all of Texas.

The Lighting of the River also kicks off the annual Paseo Del Rio Holiday Festivities, an assortment of events that are held along the RiverWalk throughout the holiday season. Among the activities scheduled are Holiday Boat Caroling, Christmas Caroling with Santa, and the Fiesta de las Luminarias.

Not all activities available in San Antonio during holiday season will be holiday related, however. The usual spectacle of the city's many attractions such as the Hemisphere Needle, Alamo, and numerous museums and shops will still be drawing droves of people each day. Each year San Antonio plays host to one of the best college football bowl games in the nation, the Valero Alamo Bowl. This year, the Alamo Bowl is set to take place December 29 (participating teams will be announced following the conclusion of the regular college football season).

As the holiday season winds to a close, San Antonio gives it a festive send-off with its annual New Year's celebration. Carnaval de San Antonio features live music, fireworks, and more. Each New Year's Eve, more than a quarter million people flood into downtown San Antonio (the event is centered around Hemisphere Park, with other stages and venues in the immediate vicinity) to take part in this 6-hour countdown to the new year. Named as one of the top New Year's celebrations in the nation, Carnaval de San Antonio is a great way to cap a visit to the Alamo City during the holiday season.‚Äč

One thing visitors need to keep in mind if they are planning on visiting San Antonio during the holiday season is to plan early. Although San Antonio is home to an unbelievable amount of quality hotels and restaurants, everything books up fast during the holiday season. This is especially true of the hotels along the RiverWalk, which offer a convenient and scenic setting to take in all the holiday events and activities. So, if you're hoping to be in San Antonio anytime between Thanksgiving and New Year's, don't hesitate make room reservations. Once there, even though there will be plenty of "holiday events" to keep you busy, don't miss out on partaking in some of the fine dining offered by the numerous good restaurants throughout the Alamo City.

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