Christmas in San Antonio: 15 Festive Things to Do this Holiday Season

Ready to swap your turkey for tamales? Get ready to experience the Texan charm of Alamo City, when you spend Christmas in San Antonio. From candle-lit lanterns aglow to exploring the Texas Hill Country and LBJ ranch, there’s just something about a Lonestar holiday season.

Follow along to discover the 15 best things to do in San Antonio for Christmas.

Whether you are craving festive foods served with Latin flair or wish to celebrate with all manner of marine life at SeaWorld, San Antonio offers up the ideal mix of city attractions and down-home hospitality.

Witness spellbinding Christmas lights everywhere, from the Zoo to the famed San Antonio River Walk, or warm up those vocal cords as you carol from inside a cavern.

Can’t wait to celebrate a San Antonio Christmas? Read on to uncover the top activities, San Antonio December events, and festivities of the Happiest Season.

Christmas Activities in San Antonio

Natural Bridge Caverns – Christmas at the Caverns

Want to celebrate Christmas underground? Kick-off sweater season in a whole new way when you hightail it to Natural Bridge Caverns. This natural wonder features half a mile of spectacular show caverns. Stroll through dozens of underground chambers as you witness one of the largest caverns in Texas. Come December; the Cavern is transformed into a wonderland of lights, live carols, and outdoor mazes.

Treat your ears to the sweet sounds of seasoned choir professionals caroling within the majestic chambers. Or, walk through the ⅓ mile of brilliantly arranged lights in Texas Hill Country. Take in a 30-foot Christmas tree, smile for photos with Santa, or try to locate the reindeer in a 5,000-square-foot AMAZEn’ maze.

Clap along to live music entertainment, or take things down a notch with cozy storytime hosted by Mrs. Claus. Lastly, don’t leave the Caverns without sipping on your fair share of yummy seasonal drinks like hot chocolate, wassail, and eggnog.

Wide shot of very large and very old rock formation inside of a cave at Natural Bridge Caverns in San Antonio, TexasTexas Hill Country and LBJ Ranch Experience

Abscond from the city for a day of cowboys and Texas countryside when you reserve your Texas Hill Country and LBJ Ranch Experience. Let the rolling hills and scenic backroads of Texas Hill Country seduce you as you travel through the great state of Texas.

Your 7-8 hour tour will feature stops at both Johnson City and the iconic LBJ Ranch. Unearth the charm of an authentic German Biergarten in Fredericksburg, or learn about musical legends who frequented Luckenbach.

Related Post: LEGOLAND San Antonio Coupon – Ultimate Guide

Lastly, embrace your inner sommelier as you are educated on the Texas wine industry, and perhaps even sample some luscious blends from the area’s many award-winning wineries.

San Antonio Missions UNESCO World Heritage Site Tour

On the lookout for the ghosts of Christmas past? Embrace the vivid history and heritage of San Antonio on a Missions UNESCO World Heritage Site Tour. In addition to being considered one of the most haunted locales in the U.S, the grounds of Mission Conce Mission Concepción, San José, San Juan, and Espada illustrate Spain’s lasting influence.

Observe the architecture, original frescos, wildlife, and more. This comprehensive guide will take you through the riveting narratives of the Battle of the Alamo at Mission San Antonio de Valero.

Ground shot looking up at an old stone church on a sunny day with trees in the background in San Antonio, TexasLEGOLAND Discovery Center San Antonio

How do you make 30,000 Square Feet of Epic LEGO Adventures even more bricktacular? Add a dash of Santa! Dive into hours of educational play, 4D Cinema, and LEGO-themed rides when you spend the day at LEGOLAND Discovery Center San Antonio.

This December, the center is overjoyed to be hosting a holly jolly Holiday Bricktacular. Mini brick layers can get their fill of seasonal activities, life-size LEGO holiday directions, and a special miniland San Antonio covered in snow. In between blasting skeletons on kingdom Quest, carve out a moment to glean top LEGO building holiday tips from the Creative Workshop.

Christmas Store San Antonio

Somewhat slacking when it comes to your Christmas shopping? Tackle everyone from Aunt Mildred to your cousin Ken when you peruse the wares at San Antonio’s premier Christmas Markets. Holiday Market in the Park is a heartwarming local event that will take place on December.

Hosted by the Monte Viejo Community Association, visitors can pick up treats ranging from homemade baked goods to artisanal crafts. Revel in the live holiday music and feast on Sweet Tooth Cookies.

More in the mood for masterpieces of painting, home decor, and more? Swing by the Tobin Center’s Holiday Art Market on November, and delight in gourmet eats, accessories, and art.

Beautiful woman shopping in the city with wrapped holiday and christmas giftsEat (or make) Tamales

Wondering why these delicious steaming pockets of masa are so integral to the Yuletide season? For centuries Mexicans have made and devoured tamales as part of their Christmas tradition. These mouth-watering morsels date back to Mesoamerica and were even eaten by the Aztecs!

Although tamale fillings can vary regionally, they are generally filled with a combination of meats, cheeses, or veggies encased in a corn-based shell wrapped in a husk and then steamed. Today, tamales are considered part of the celebration of las posadas, or the annual commemoration of Mary and Joseph’s search for shelter before Jesus’ birth.

Making tamales is a labor of love, so why not educate yourself with a tamale demonstration? La Tamalada is an annual celebration of this humble corn dish hosted by the Witte Museum. Get your hands on some masa, learn the basics, and then enjoy a box lunch. As your tamales steam, witness chef-led demonstrations of chili and salsa making. Leave your lesson with the greatest gift of all, a dozen tamales to take home!

What’s tastier than a plate of homemade tamales? How about some finger-licking good deals? Dial in the savings when you take advantage of the best San Antonio Deals.

San Antonio Christmas Events

Ford Holiday Boat Carolings

Don your Santa hat and ugly Christmas sweater because it’s time to belt out some carols, Riverside. Ford Holiday Boat Caroling is a San Antonio tradition that promises to sweep you away with its holiday spirit. Savor sights of red and green outfitted boats and trees dripping in holiday bling, all set against the sublime scenery of the River Walk.

From December 1 through the 23rd, boats are available to rent for one-hour caroling sessions. Each boat has lights, a driver, and a USB loaded with popular Christmas music and folders with music lyrics. Invite up to 15 of your closest friends and family and let loose as you croon away to Silent Night or Santa Baby.

You can also opt to enjoy the sweet melodies for free while enjoying a refreshing beverage on any of the River Walk’s many restaurant patios.

A close-up front-view shot of a woman holding her young daughter, they are both looking at bright​ Christmas lights at the Christmas markets on a cold night, the young girl is in awe.Holiday in the Park Six Flags Fiesta Texas

Ole! Inject some South of the border flair into your Yuletide celebrations when you commemorate Navidad in Six Flags. From thrilling train rides to millions of twinkling lights and live nativity scenes, there are untold treasures to uncover at Holiday in the Park.

Whisper Santa, your gift list, take a ride on the Holiday Express train or witness the lighting of a 60 ft Christmas Tree. Tiny tots will love participating in a Looney Tunes Christmas, while older elves will love joining a Christmas sing-a-long with the Tinsel Tunes.

Foodies will be in heaven as they munch their way through seasonal offerings such as maple pecan funnel cake, hot cinnamon sugar pretzels, and pork tamales.

Need a respite from all of the holiday madness? Switch gears and brush up on your history with an educational and entertaining Grand Historic City Tour.

Fiesta de las Luminarias

Lights, candles, action! Experience the beauty and time-honored custom of the luminarias when you walk the enchanting River Walk accompanied only by the glow of traditional Mexican Christmas lanterns. These Mexican lanterns, or ‘luminarias, ’ consist of candles set in sand inside a small bag.

The Fiesta de las Luminarias begins on December 2 and will run for three weekends only. Savor the serene views of the River Walk as you make your way through the banks of the river, or catch the iridescent proceedings while enjoying an al fresco cocktail on the River Walk.

San Antonio Christmas Lights

Holiday Lights on the River Walk

Is there anything more idyllic than the San Antonio Riverwalk at Christmas? Fa la la your way into a festive mood when you spend an hour or two observing the fairy tale charm of over 100,000 lights aglow. This is one of the best Christmas Lights San Antonio attractions you’ll find.

The San Antonio Riverwalk Christmas designs are a famous display of decked-out boats and dazzling cypress trees that typically commences on the last week of November and remain on till early January. Catch the annual televised ceremony on TV, or check out the multi-colored lights in person.

Night Time Scenic Views of the Riverwalk with Christmas Lights on a Rainy Day at San Antonio, Texas, USAFord Holiday River Parade And River Lighting Ceremony

Glitter, glee, and an appearance from the Grinch? It must be time for San Antonio’s most famous Christmas parade, also known as the San Antonio Christmas parade. The 41st Annual Ford Holiday River Parade triumphantly returns for a night of spectacle, river floats, and songs. This year’s parade will be held the day after Thanksgiving and highlights the theme: Tastes & Traditions Around the World.

Prime your peepers for 28 twinkling floats and Grand Marshall jokes and antics from none other than the Grinch. Stay put till the very end, as you won’t want to miss a special appearance by Santa. Buy your tickets now, or combine your parade viewing with supper with a River Walk restaurant dinner package.

Want to do a deeper dive into San Antonio’s hot spots? Learn all about the history of this Tex-Mex metropolis when you book a River Walk Cruise & Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour.

San Antonio Zoo Christmas

Lions, tigers, and giraffes, oh my! Witness some of the wildest San Antonio Christmas lights when you head to the Zoo. Get your fill of over 750 species when you spend all day exploring the diverse habitats of the San Antonio Zoo. Then stay put after nightfall to take in acres of incredible decorations with Zoo Lights.

Swear you’ve been whisked away to a jungle of LEDs when you encounter 32-foot lit trees, a lIllumiLIFE art display, and a 124-foot light tunnel. Show your Yuletide pride when you pose in front of holiday-themed photo ops or warm up with a cup of cocoa.

Cheer along to a spellbinding Lakeside Light Show, or schmooze with St. Nick at a Santa meet and greet. Zoo lights will run from November, through January 1, 2024, so there’s still plenty of time to get up close and personal with your favorite furry and feathered friends.

children pointing at rhino bush in christmas lights at san antonio zoo
photo credit: San Antonio Zoo

Christmas Tree San Antonio

Rouse yourself from your Turkey Day food coma and roll right into some mistletoe merriment. Admire boughs draped in tinsel, lights, and baubles at the 39th Annual H-E-B Tree Lighting Celebration. Swing by Travis Park on November 25 to witness the ethereal sparkle of this towering tree.

This community-wide celebration is completely free and will feature holiday activities, crafts, giveaways, and live musical entertainment. Let your little ones write letters to Santa, and then bring along a blanket and snuggle up for an outdoor screening of the classic Christmas movie, “The Polar Express,” at 7:00 p.m.

SeaWorld San Antonio Christmas

Ready to deck the halls with some waddling penguins and dashing dolphins? Word is out, and the biggest celebration in Texas is underway at SeaWorld San Antonio. From Orca encounters to the high-speed thrills of Tidal Surge, SeaWorld is overflowing with epic attractions.

Enjoy your aqua adventure in tandem with tons of holiday shows, festive foods, and light displays when you plan to attend SeaWorld’s Christmas celebration. Whip out that camera as you traverse through 12 distinct lands of light containing the largest Christmas light display in Texas.

Shop til you drop at the Christmas market or step back in time to the 1950s at Christmas Cove. Devour feasts of pineapple glazed ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, and stuffing. Or, sneak in a Santa-approved show such as O Wondrous Night or the Merry Mariachis. Start making unforgettable family memories on November.

Splish splash! Take on 250 acres of aquarium and marine mammal experiences like a pro when you check out our Insiders Guide to SeaWorld San Antonio.

Close up of Elmo dresses at a Nutcracker with a tree covered in lights behind him as part of the Christmas Celebration at SeaWorld in San Antonio, Texas, USA
photo credit: SeaWorld San Antonio via Facebook

San Antonio Hotels

Who can resist the cry of the Alamo or the chance to uncover the stirring history of a UNESCO World Heritage site? Make the most of your time in Mission City, and conquer every last San Antonio December event when you extend your stay.

Savor slow mornings strolling with coffee in hand down the River Walk, or stay just a stone’s throw from SeaWorld when you book any of our San Antonio Hotels. From family-friendly accommodations complete with outdoor pools to complimentary shuttle service to major attractions, we provide lodging for every taste and budget. Make your reservation stress free, knowing you are always guaranteed our lowest rates online.

Psst..enjoy your candy cane-filled sojourn to San Antonio even more, when you bundle your lodgings and attractions. San Antonio Vacation Packages are the perfect gift for everyone on your list.

A picture of a bed and a living room

Don’t Wait; Start Planning Your Best San Antonio Christmas Today!

They say everything is bigger in Texas, and we couldn’t agree more with a mountain of Christmas season activities to conquer.

Mission City may be best known for the Alamo and incredible Mexican food, but come winter San Antonio falls under the spell of Santa.

From breathtaking boat parades covered in red and green decorations to a brick-filled Christmas celebration at LEGOLAND, San Antonio manages to sprinkle everything with a pinch of Southwest pizzaz.

Linger over Christmas mariachi music at SeaWorld, or watch as your favorite finned mammals swim, leap, and splash along to the Nutcracker Suite.

Have You Celebrated Christmas in San Antonio?

Did we miss any of your favorite San Antonio Holiday events?

Tell us about your Christmas San Antonio experience in the comments below!

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Written by Isis Maya Nissman

A New York native, Isis-Maya spent most of her professional life working in TV production until a vacation whisked her away to Central...

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