Across the country, Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday season, and in Texas, it's no different. In fact, from Thursday through Sunday, Thanksgiving weekend is full of activities across the Lone Star State. Texans get together to celebrate Texas-style Thanksgiving traditions like a deep-fried or beer-can turkey, sides spiced with chile peppers, and pumpkin pie spiked with bourbon.
If heading out on the town for dinner, local specialties may include candied pecans, smoked ice cream, and tortilla "dressing" — all unique treats that make for a Texas Thanksgiving meal you won't forget.
The Sundance Square Parade of Lights is held each year in downtown Fort Worth and features over 100 illuminated entries with the lighting of the Fort Worth Holiday Tree. The popular event has been a Thanksgiving weekend mainstay until being moved to the weekend prior to Thanksgiving several years ago.
Visitors can look forward to volunteers dressed as Cowboy Santas who collect toys, shopping, and dining downtown, Christmas delights like hot chocolate and more.
Recognized as an annual Thanksgiving Day tradition for nearly 70 years, the HEB Holiday Parade signifies the official beginning of the holiday season in the downtown Houston area. The parade often starts early on Thanksgiving morning and is free for the community. The parade showcases entertainers, parade-goers, and the holiday spirit, as produced by the Mayor's Office of Special Events.
This unique Christmas parade raises money for "Operation Blue Santa," which provides toys to needy children in the Austin area. The rain or shine event happens for about an hour and starts at the State Capitol and ends north of the bridge. In 2019, the event takes place on Saturday, November 30th and starts at 11 a.m.
Attendees are encouraged to bring new and unwrapped toys to donate. This family-friendly event includes huge inflatable balloons, special holiday floats, and children's characters to delight the kids.
The Hyundai Sun Bowl Parade in El Paso is a uniquely Texan Thanksgiving Day parade. It originally began in 1936 as a prelude to the Sun Bowl, held on New Year’s Day. The parade date was changed in 1978 and it has remained a Thanksgiving Day tradition since, drawing over 250,000 visitors to the Sun City. Activities at the parade include fun unique floats, a basketball invitational, a fantastic marching band, and more.
Over 150,000 spectators gather on the day after Thanksgiving to witness the Holiday River Parade and Lighting Ceremony in San Antonio. The parade hours are 6 p.m. until 9 p.m.
In addition to seeing lighted riverboats make their way through the hour-long course, spectators will see more than 122,000 twinkling lights illuminate the Riverwalk once the mayor “pulls the switch.” Attendees can look forward to costumed float riders, live Christmas music, and free viewing areas.
Those looking to break away from the Thanksgiving spirit can jump right into the Christmas festivities early with the Nacogdoches Festival. At the beginning of November and throughout the month, there are events like the Polar Express Showing, Holiday in the Pines, and Wassail Fest in the historic downtown for an evening of music, food, and shopping.
There are also additional fall activities for families to engage in throughout November. These events include Vintage Market Days, Beginning Foil Stained Glass Classes, Deep East Texas Fall Foliage Trail Map, and Thanksgiving Dinner at Pine Creek Country Inn.