7 things to do in Texas during winter break

Jenna Careri / December 7th, 2016

[LightField Studios]/Shutterstock

 

Step into any shopping mall or drive through a decorated neighborhood and evidence of the season is clear: The “most wonderful time of the year” is in full swing. Before you know it, schools will be closed for winter break and many homes will be jam-packed with sugared-up youngsters and out-of-town relatives.

To help keep your guests or kids from getting cabin fever, show them some of what Texas has to offer during the holiday season. Whether you live in Houston, Dallas or somewhere in between, here are a few festive must-sees.

CHRISTMAS MOVIES AT THE PALACE THEATRE IN GRAPEVINE

Where better to go for a festive holiday celebration than the self-proclaimed Christmas Capitol of Texas? In Grapevine, a small city nestled just outside of Dallas, residents take observing Christmas very seriously. The suburban town hosts more than 1,400 events over the holiday season – including viewings of beloved old-school Christmas films at the Palace Theatre, such as “White Christmas,” “It’s A Wonderful Life” and “A Christmas Story.” Tickets are only $6, and most holiday features run until December 23.

TEXAS CHRISTKINDL MARKET IN ARLINGTON

Inspired by traditional German holiday markets, the Christkindl Market is one of the largest of its kind in the Southwest. Warm up with a cup of hot cocoa from the cocoa bar or sample authentic German confections before perusing the vendors’ handmade novelties. To keep the little ones entertained, pay a visit to Saint Nicholas at Santa’s Haus or head over to the Arctic Blast Tubing Run for a thrilling ride on the 200-foot-long track, built to mimic a tube ride on a snowy mountain. The market is open through December 23.

MOODY GARDENS ICE LAND IN GALVESTON

If you’ve ever wondered what roughly 2 million pounds of ice looks like – yes, you heard right – head over to Moody Gardens for its annual ICE LAND display. Each year, internationally acclaimed carvers slave away to craft breathtaking ice sculptures for an immersive, winter wonderland experience. This year, the Caribbean Christmas theme is all about bright colors, tropical fish and island vibes – a stark contrast with the frigid 9-degree-Farenheit environment where the sculptures are housed. Catch the display before it melts January 8.

ZOO LIGHTS AT THE HOUSTON ZOO IN HOUSTON

Experience the Houston Zoo like you’ve never seen it before – covered in more than 2 million eco-friendly Christmas lights. When the sun goes down and the animals settle in for their long winter naps, the magic comes alive. Stroll through the zoo and take in the festive sight of the lights and sound of holiday carols, all while sipping hot cocoa to warm up. And if you have any broken, burned-out or unused strands of Christmas lights, bring them to the event to be recycled so they don’t end up in the landfill. The display will stay up until January 15.

PANTHER ISLAND ICE IN FORT WORTH

If  you’re eager to show off your waltz jump or double axel to friends and family, this is your chance. Or, if just attempting to stay firmly planted on two skates while gripping the guardrail is more your speed, the rink is the perfect place for that, too. Bundle up the kids and in-town relatives and head to the Panther Island Ice rink – Fort Worth’s only outdoor ice skating rink. It’s open through January 16, so you have plenty of time to take the family out to work off those holiday cookies.

A SEASON OF MERRIMENT AND MELODYAT THE GEORGE W. BUSH PRESIDENTIAL CENTER IN DALLAS

Pull out your best Christmas attire, gather your loved ones and head to the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum for an elegant tour of the annual holiday exhibit. This year, the theme – A Season of Merriment and Melody – re-creates the 2004 White House holiday theme inspired by former first lady Laura Bush. First, stroll through the Blue Room and view an 18-foot Christmas tree adorned with more than 350 hand-painted ornaments depicting beloved holiday carols. Next, give the kids a lesson in American history as you tour the Oval Office display. Finally, if you’re there on the right day, enjoy a music performance from various artists, including the African Children’s Choir. The exhibit is open through January 8.

NEW YEAR’S AT GRUENE HALL IN NEW BRAUNFELS

Ring in 2017 like an authentic Texan with tamales, champagne and boot-scootin’ live music at Gruene Hall – Texas’ oldest and well-loved dance hall. Get ready to “swing your partner ’round and ’round” to the twangy, quintessential sound of true country tunes with a Texas spin. Festivities are scheduled to start at 9 p.m. on December 31 and will carry on past the stroke of midnight.

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