Thanksgiving Weekend Activities in Texas

Santa at Christmas parade

Roberto Galan / Getty Images

Across the country, Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday season, and in Texas, the time around Thanksgiving weekend is full of activities. 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.

Texans enjoy big events and holiday parades kicking off the season and, in San Antonio, the parade takes place right on the river during the Holiday Parade and Lighting Ceremony.

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Fort Worth Parade of Lights (Fort Worth)

Fort Worth Parade of Lights (Fort Worth)
Courtesy of Fort Worth Parade of Lights

The Parade of Lights is held each year in downtown Fort Worth and features over 100 illuminated entries culminating with the lighting of the Fort Worth Holiday Tree. Held the weekend prior to Thanksgiving, on Sunday, November 24 for 2019, this popular event has been a Thanksgiving season mainstay.

Visitors can look forward to volunteers dressed as Cowboy Santas who collect toys, as well as doing a little shopping and dining downtown. Get in the holiday spirit with a mug of hot chocolate, live music, and more.

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HEB Thanksgiving Day Parade (Houston)

HEB Holiday Parade

 Ed Uthman / Flickr / CC BY-2.0

Recognized as an annual Thanksgiving Day tradition for nearly 70 years, the HEB Parade signifies the official beginning of the holiday season in the downtown Houston area. The parade starts at 9 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning and is free for the community (general seating tickets can be purchased online). The parade showcases entertainers, colorful floats, huge balloons and the arrival of Santa, and is produced by the Mayor's Office of Special Events.​

03 of 06

Chuy's Children Giving to Children Parade (Austin)

Chuy's Children Giving to Children Parade

Chuy's Children Giving to Children Parade

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. Parade units will stop periodically along the route so that you can give your donations to Santa's helpers. This family-friendly event includes huge inflatable balloons, special holiday floats, and children's characters to delight the kids.

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The Sun Bowl Parade (El Paso)

The 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 which kicks off at 10 a.m., include fun unique floats, a basketball invitational, a fantastic marching band, and more.

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05 of 06

Ford Holiday River Parade and Lighting Ceremony (San Antonio)

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 boats 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.

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Nacogdoches Nine Flags Lighted Christmas Parade (Nacogdoches)

You can jump right into Christmas festivities early with the lighted Nacogdoches Parade. On December 7, 2019, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., enjoy the festive holiday lights in downtown Nacogdoches and the parade which winds through this historic area.

Look also for events in the historic downtown including music, food, and shopping.

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