San Antonio offers plenty to do over the holidays! Whether you’re interested in amusement park thrills, seeing light installations at the zoo, Christmas shopping, or taking rides down the river, spending Christmas in San Antonio is a treat for the whole family. Need suggestions for your holiday to-do list? Read below to discover some of the best things to do this holiday season.
1) Zoo Lights
Open daily November 16th and November 22nd through December 31st, Zoo Lights returns to the San Antonio Zoo to spread cheer to people and animals alike! A family-friendly holiday tradition, the zoo morphs into a festive winter wonderland with hundreds of twinkling lights, unique animal displays, light shows, and treats! Feel awe-struck by the fifteen-foot tall illuminated giraffe while sipping hot cocoa and indulging on roasted s’mores. Further, guests can decorate cookies with Mrs. Claus and visit Santa. Even better, the Lakeside Light Show combines pixel technology with a custom Dubstep, EDM, and Hip Hip soundtrack to get visitors dancing to the beat.
Times: 12 pm – 9 pm Sunday through Friday & 10 am – 9 pm on Saturdays
2) Learn How to Make Tamales
The Cortez family, owners of Mi Tierra, annually share their passion for tradition, family, and tamales with the city through the tamale-making workshop and festivities at the Market Square. Guests can learn how to make traditional tamales through the La Gran Tamalada workshop on December 8th from 11 am to 7 pm. Further, this free event merges storytelling with lessons on making tamales to promote cultural pride. Also, at the Tamal Institute at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center (Centro de Artes), participants can further learn about the history of the tamalada and develop a passion for local cultures, cooking, and history through workshops. Note that the event at Centro de Artes takes place on December 8th from 2:30 pm to 5:30 pm.
On December 14th, visitors can head to the Witte Museum’s La Tamalada! Bring family and friends from 11 am to 2:30 pm to learn about the culinary tradition of cooking authentic tamales with hands-on instruction. In addition, guests receive light refreshments, two recipes, and a dozen handmade tamales to take home. Also, tickets for Tamalada include museum admission.
4) The Nutcracker
Follow Clara and the Nutcracker Prince as they face the Rat King in E.T.A. Hoffmann’s classic tale. Performances playing through the holidays include:
- Great Russian Nutcracker at the Majestic Theatre
- The Nutcracker at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts
- The Nutcracker at Lila Crockell Theatre
5) Theme Park Celebrations
SeaWorld, Morgan’s Wonderland, and Six Flags Fiesta Texas all host spectacular holiday events worthy of seeing. Experience thrills, enjoy seasonal snacks, and take in the lights and decor at each location.
From November 23rd through January 5th, SeaWorld transforms into a winter wonderland with Christmas shows, twinkling lights, seasonal treats, and visits with Santa and Rudolph! Further, the annual Christmas Celebration showcases the largest Christmas light display in Texas with over 9 million lights. Don’t miss out on one of the best things to do in Christmas in San Antonio.
Head to Morgan’s Wonderland for magnificent holiday lights, a petting zoo, a simulated ice rink, meet-and-greets with Santa, and complimentary seasonal treats! Further, the same fun rides are open for guests of all ages and abilities so you and yours can make the best holiday memories. Wonderland Christmas is offered on select evenings during November and December from 4 pm to 9 pm.
Holiday in the Park at Fiesta Texas
From November 23rd through January 5th, visitors to Six Flags Fiesta Texas can experience Holiday in the Park! Each year, the amusement park lights up with millions of colorful twinkling lights. Furthermore, the park showcases meet-and-greets with Santa and his helpers, magical shows like the Majesty of Christmas, animated caroling, and much more. Also, kids can even walk through Santa’s Cottage to see elves hard at work and enjoy a ride on the Holiday Express Train.
6) URBAN-15’s Holiday Laser Show
URBAN-15’s annual Holiday Laser Show features choreographed laser beams, colorful 3D animations, light effects that sync to traditional and experimental holiday music. A collaboration of acclaimed laser artist Tim Walsh and composer George Cisneros, this free popular light show at the Lila Cockrell Theater is one of the most unique things to do in Christmas in San Antonio.
7) Holiday Boat Rides
What better way to experience the River Walk during the holidays than to take a cruise down the river? Enjoy the holiday lights, hot chocolate, warm dessert, caroling, bands, and unique narration as you sail down the river with family and friends:
8) Light the Way at Incarnate Word
The University of the Incarnate Word (UIW) has hosted Light the Way for over 30 years. Presented on the Saturday before Thanksgiving to kick off the holidays, the event showcases entertainment for guests of all ages. Visitors can see student performers under the glow of hundreds of lights, take photos with Santa, receive free seasonal treats, and much more. Further, dozens of vendors at the Holiday Shoppe enable guests to jumpstart their holiday shopping as well as grab food from the Food Truck Yard. The event takes place on November 23rd from 3 pm to 9:30 pm.
9) Santa’s Railroad Wonderland
On select days in December, guests can experience Santa’s Railroad Wonderland. The entire forty-acre site is decorated to bring holiday cheer to all guests, perfect for making memories with little ones. You’ll want to bring your camera to take lots of photos as you gaze at the holiday lights and meet with Santa. Additionally, free parking and train rides are included with admission.
10) Christmas at the Caverns
Celebrate Christmas at the Caverns at Natural Bridge Caverns on select days in December. One of the most interesting things to do for Christmas in San Antonio, guests can hear carols echo through the state’s largest underground cavern. Moreover, guests can take pictures with Santa, roast s’mores, enjoy games, go through a maze, ice skate, and much more.
11) Chanukah on the River
Since 1998, Chanukah on the River has celebrated the Jewish holiday of Chanukah (Hanukkah) at the River Walk. One of the largest Jewish events in the state, the event includes the Chanukah Boat Parade with interactive entertainment, Menorah lighting, a live concert, and special guests.
12) Kwanzaa Market Festival
Join the SBC Community Center on December 14th for the 10th annual Kwanzaa Market Festival! From 11 am to 5 pm, guests can participate in group economics, build connections within the community, and learn about the history of Kwanzaa. It’s an incredible opportunity for Black entrepreneurs and businesses to connect and engage, as well as sell and purchase handmade goods. Fun and enriching for the whole family, guests can practice Ujamaa (cooperative economics) and prepare for Kwanzaa (December 26th through January 1st).
13) Christmas Shopping
Need to cross off some holiday shopping or simply want to see and experience beautiful sights? San Antonio taps into local cultures via Hecho a Mano, Kristkindlmarkt, and the Holiday Artisan Show:
Hecho A Mano at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center
Free and open to the public, Hecho A Mano’s Outdoor Market celebrates the city’s unique and colorful artisan community. Holiday shoppers and art lovers can enjoy artists’ handmade items that incorporate traditional roots as well as contemporary flare. Moreover, this inclusive art market also calls for shoppers to bring canned goods to donate to Inner City Development to keep with the spirit of the season. The market is open from 12 pm to 6 pm on December 21st at Plaza Guadalupe.
Celebrating the traditions of the Texas Hill Country’s German settlers, Kristkindlmarkt features handcrafted gifts and crafts, German clothing, holiday sweets, traditional German cuisine, and much more. Moreover, this open-air German Christmas market at Beethoven Halle und Garten also showcases music and entertainment with loads of vendors to purchase gifts for your family and friends. Note that event takes place on December 7th from 10 am to 5 pm.
Holiday Artisan Show
Located at the River Walk near the Chamber of Commerce, the Holiday Artisan Show features local artists’ wares. Free to peruse, visitors can speak with artists from December 13th through December 15th from 11 am to 11 pm. Whether you’re interested in artwork, furniture, painting, clothing, or whatever else, you’re sure to find it here.
Visit San Antonio for the Holidays
Now that you know the best events happening this Christmas in San Antonio, where will you go first? Visit Tripster San Antonio for more ideas and discounts.