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15+ Best Things to Do In Galveston During The Holidays

Srorefront on The Strand in Galveston

The smell of clementine peels, cinnamon sticks, and mulled wine hangs in the air. It smells like Christmas already. The holidays that are so near and dear to my heart are around the corner.  And Galveston, aka the “Winter Wonder Island” of Texas, is quite the happening tourist destination to get into the Christmas spirit. In a charming traditional kind of way. We love holiday time on the island and here’s why: 


1. Holidays at Moody Gardens

Nov. 16, 2019 – Jan. 12, 2020
Website: Holiday in the Gardens

Moody Gardens go all out for Christmas.  It's truly our favorite place to visit over the holidays. There's no shortage of things for the whole family to enjoy. Eight winter attractions: Festival of Lights, Ice Land, ice skating, holiday 3D/4D films, and more will get you excited for the holidays. In fact, when it comes to the holiday season, Moody Gardens outdoes itself every year. From spectacular light displays to the one-of-a-kind Ice Land experience, the Gardens will melt the heart even the grouchiest Grinch.


2. Festival of Lights at Moody Gardens 

Nov. 16 – Jan. 12, 2019

Twinkling mini lights seem to drip from every tree and cover every available inch of the mile-long trail. With more than one million lights and 100 animated light displays, Moody Gardens holds the title of the largest holiday lighting event on the Gulf Coast.  The displays range from animated light tunnels to dozens of whimsical sea creatures to signature Texas symbols, like a Texas star and cowboy boots. Hot cocoa, train rides, and a giant slide are also available.


3. Ice Land at Moody Gardens: Christmas Around the World

Nov. 16 – Jan. 12, 2019

It’s the North Pole of Texas on account of the impressive 28,000 square-foot tent with a teeth-chattering temperature inside. But it’s also a unique local experience with a magical world hand-carved out of the ice. They feature a new theme every year. It’s always on top of our list of things to see when visiting Galveston during the holiday.

Christmas Around The World at Moody Gardens, Galveston

2018: It was the Pole-to-Pole theme. We encountered emperor penguins, polar bears, seals, reindeers (even though they are almost mythical creatures, they are very real in the Arctic), muskoxen, arctic foxes, and walruses. But everybody's favorite was a giant Santa's sleigh. It's hard to believe, but the ice sculptures are made using only a chainsaw and ice pick.

And if your frozen fingers can manage to hold a drink, you can cap off your visit to the Poles at the Shivers Ice Bar.

At the entrance all guests are provided with a complimentary parka for ages 3 and up.

4. Noel Tree at Moody Gardens

This could be the coolest Christmas tree ever at Moody Gardens to date. 42,500 Christmas tree lights synchronized to music put on a musical light show every 30 mins. starting at 5:30 p.m. with the last show running at 10 p.m. 40' tall tree is located on the patio of the Moody Gardens hotel near the Ice Land tent and can be seen from pretty much anywhere in the main parking lot. 


5. Holiday Window Displays

While tackling some of your holiday shopping, you can also enjoy imaginative holiday window displays that pop up throughout downtown’s many souvenir shops and art galleries. A series of playful scenes and traditional ornaments adorn almost every window you will pass by.

One of my favorites is Luna Home and Gifts on 22nd Street. I always look forward to their season-inspired displays.


Address: 510 Tremont St., Galveston TX

Christmas Tree Crawl: In addition to enjoying all the festive windows, we like doing a Christmas tree crawl around downtown. While browsing the souvenir shops, you can find an endless variety of whimsical Christmas trees. I really enjoyed spotting this Tex-Mex inspired Christmas tree in the shop across from Saengerfest Park.


6. Saengerfest Park

A 30-feet-tall Christmas tree,  trees wrapped in twinkling lights, and a giant snow globe on weekends should fill you with holiday cheer.


7. Galveston Railroad Museum


8. Murdochs

No trip to Galveston is complete without visiting a beach even in the coldest season. When going to the beach we make it a point to stop by Murdochs for some souvenir shopping or to just enjoy the gulf’s views from the rocking chairs on its deck. This historic location is right on Seawall and the number of items it carries is beyond impressive. Their cute beach-inspired decor is always on point for any occasion. 


9. The Strand 

Bundle up, buy hot cocoa and wander the streets. The Strand from 20th to 25th and Postoffice streets drip with twinkling lights. Downtown Galveston is steeped in a traditional holiday charm. And not to mention, it’s Victorian adorable.


10. Laser Show

Nov 22 – Dec 22, 2019

NEW: Four-hour holiday laser shows synchronized to music will be projected on the American National Insurance Company Building from 6 to 10 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays through Dec. 22. Tune into to see the synchronized show every 30 minutes.


11. Miracle Pop-Up Bar at Daiquiri Time Out

Nov. 29 – Dec. 25, 2019
Address: 2701 Market St, Galveston, TX 77550

The Miracle is a Christmas cocktail pop-up bar that serves holiday-themed cocktails in a festive holiday setting. First opened in 2014 in New York, the bar has grown to about 90 different locations throughout the world, including Galveston and Houston.


12. Dickens on The Strand

Dec. 6 – 8, 2019

This annual holiday festival, based on 19th-century Victorian London, features a great number of events such as the Dickens Victorian Bed Races, Victorian Costume Contest, Holiday Handbell Concerts, and daily parades throughout the downtown. Visitors in Victorian costumes are admitted for half price.


13. Santa Hustle Half Marathon and 5K

Dec. 15, 2019

Thousands of runners dressed like Santa take over the streets of Galveston in December. It’s the magical race with cheerful people and festive music amid an amazing holiday setting –– you cannot help but get excited about the holidays.


14. Gingerbread House at Tremont House

Address: 2300 Ship Mechanic Row St, Galveston, TX 77550
When: Nov 15, 2019 through Jan 02, 2020

In honor of The Polar Express, The Tremont House is making a special Polar Express-inspired gingerbread house. Located in the heart of Downtown Galveston by the famous Mardi Gras Arch, The Tremont House is a perfect stop on your leisure stroll to take your holiday family photo in front of this free display. You can enjoy the public gingerbread display in the hotel's lobby through Jan. 2, 2020.


15.  East End Historic District

Drive or take a self-guided walking tour around the East End Historic District. Many Victorian homes are festively decorated for the holiday season.

For those who are interested in a guided tour through the neighborhood with the chance to take a look inside the homes, there's a special Christmas Holiday Homes Tour offered by East End Historic Association. The holiday tours includes 4 homes and the tickets can be purchased at the East End Cottage, 1501 Postoffice St for $25 each.   

Yellow Victorian Home on Ball Street in Galveston

Victorian Home in the East End Historic District in Galveston


16. Mural Tour

It’s always fun to strike a pose in front of colorful murals. Don’t miss those while enjoying the holiday activities. They are easy to spot throughout downtown: 

1. "The Kindness Project" on 22nd & Postoffice Streets
2. "Greetings from Galveston" in Saengerfest Park
3. "I love Galveston" on 24th & Harborside


17. The Galveston Holiday Lighting Celebration at Hotel Galvez

November 29, 2019
6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

This annual, free family event marks the start of the official holiday season in Galveston. The event includes an appearance of Santa Claus and Frosty the Snowman, a live performance by the Galveston Ballet featuring multiple dances from The Nutcracker, and the lighting of a 35-foot Christmas tree on the hotel’s front lawn. The countdown to the tree lighting begins at 6 p.m. sharp.

Note: Pictures with Santa start at $15 per image.  


18. Bishop’s Palace Christmas Tours

Dec. 14 –15, 21 – 22, 2019
Jan. 1, 2020 | 1-3 p.m.: New Year's Day Open House with free admission to the palace. 

The grandest and probably the best-known landmark on the island is all dressed up for the holidays. With more than 50 rooms, six Christmas trees, live greenery, and ornate impressive interiors there won’t be a shortage of photo opportunities and awe moments.

1892 Bishop’s Palace in Galveston, TX


19. The Bryan Museum: Holiday Delights

Admission: Event is free and open to the public

The museum grounds offer a glimpse of celebrating Christmas in a wild west's way. An amazing medieval-like building,  a jolly Texas Santa, and tons of family-friendly activities will make the holidays merry and bright. There's a little bit of everything for all ages from the Elf Hunt to letter writing stations to holiday crafts.

The Bryan Museum-Galveston

The Bryan Museum-Galveston

The Bryan Museum-Galveston


20. The End of the Christmas Season at Moody Mansion

Jan. 6, 2020, 5:30 – 7 p.m. |  Free and open to the public
Website: Moody Mansion Events

The 28,000 square-foot, historical Moody Mansion celebrates the end of the Christmas season with an open house – an annual celebration featuring live music, light refreshments and free admission for the public.

If I missed anything you like to do during the holidays on the island, please share it in the comments below. Happy Holidays! And have fun discovering more!


Christmas Craft

The holiday season is around the corner, and if you want to add a fun twist to your gifts, use this printable PDF – Free Funny Gift Tags For Any Occasion. It's guaranteed to make your gift exchange memorable, thoughtful, and hands down fun.


You may also enjoy: 

1. The Most Christmas Decorated Homes in Galveston's East End
2. This Christmas Miracle Pop Up Bar in Houston Is Like Visiting Santa’s North Pole Village
3. Kemah Boardwalk is a Fun-Packed Mecca for Family Getaway
4. 15+ Fun and Free Things to Do in Houston  

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