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Celebrate the Holidays in Downtown Houston

by Jordan Smith    November 29, 2021

This holiday season, the Houston Downtown Management District (Downtown District) invites Houstonians and visitors to celebrate the winter holidays with shopping, sightseeing and special events in Downtown Houston. With free classic holiday film screenings, performing arts, outdoor ice-skating and virtual programming, Downtown Houston offers a variety of activities that are sure to get you in the spirit of the season.

“It’s been a long year. But the holidays are here and it’s time for Houstonians to Unwrap Downtown and celebrate a little more merrily than you ever have before,” said Angie Bertinot, Downtown District Director of Marketing and Communications. “Explore the holiday lights on Main Street, snuggle up with your special-someone under Texas’s biggest mistletoe ball, take a twirl on The Ice at Discovery Green and eat, drink and cheers to your hearts content.  There’s no place like Downtown for the holidays.”


View printable guide

View Holiday Lights & Sights in Downtown Houston


Winter Wanderland on Bagby Street
Discover the magic of the season by embarking on a festive adventure under the stars and lights. You won’t want to miss Houston’s newest holiday destination, a series of unique illuminated attractions along Bagby Street from Lamar to Franklin—over 100,000 twinkling LED lights! Signature elements include giant angel wings on the side of the Central Library, constellation arches at Sam Houston Park, an 80-foot light tunnel across from Hobby Center and more!

Marriott Marquis Presents Texas Winter Lights
The Marriott Marquis Houston brings a new poolside tradition with their Inaugural Texas Winter Lights Event, an interactive walk-through or float under light experience available on the 60,000 square-foot Parkview Terrace. Every night, from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. the hotel’s iconic Texas-shaped lazy river will be surrounded by one-mile of sparkling lights, providing an interactive light experience 110-feet above street level, complete with stunning views of downtown Houston skyline, overlooking Discovery Green Park. Cozy up near the fire pit with a cocktail and popcorn and enjoy holiday movie favorites poolside every Thursday night. Two showings each night at approx. 6:20 pm and 8:10 pm.General Admission tickets are available for the public Monday through Thursday for $20. Marriott Marquis Houston.

Main Street Lights
Stroll along Main Street and take in the twinkling lights bringing the holiday spirit to Downtown Houston! From the larger-than-life “NOEL” at Main Street Square to the sparking trees and banners guiding you from one end of the street to the other, there’s no place like Downtown Houston for the holidays.

Holiday Tree at City Hall
December 4– January 3
Stand beneath the towering Holiday Tree at City Hall! Glowing with energy-efficient LED lights, shimmering ornaments and a stunning star topper, the tree lights up the streets of Downtown Houston year after year. Free. City Hall/Hermann Square. 901 Bagby.

City Lights at Avenida Houston 
November 15 - January 2
What better way to kick off your holiday season than with the lights and trees of City Lights at Avenida Houston?  You'll find that and much more at the George R. Brown Convention Center (GRB) in the Avenida Entertainment District.  Houston First is again partnering with Alley Theatre to display Deck the Trees, their designer-decorated signature trees in the grand holiday window of the GRB.  Stay tuned for the most up-to-date information to create your holiday moments and memories.

Nutcracker Chocolate Display
Through December 28
Hilton Americas-Houston’s iconic lobby chocolate display is back this year with Nutcracker theme. Their pastry chefs will build a chocolatey scene that depicts a girl who befriends a nutcracker that comes to life on Christmas Eve and wages a battle against the evil Mouse King. Free. Hilton Americas, 1600 Lamar


The Nutcracker
November 26 - December 22  
Stanton Welch’s The Nutcracker is a grand spectacle of opulence and one of the most splendid versions of this holiday classic ever staged. With hundreds of roles and a myriad of exquisite details that will leave you discovering something new in every performance. Rejoice in the return of this time-honored tradition! Wortham Theater, 501 Texas.

A Little Day Music
December 1
Enjoy a Holiday jazz concert presented by The Jalen Baker Trio, a DACAMERA Young Artist Jazz Ensemble-in-Residence. Listen to the sounds of the vibraphone, bass and drums as you enjoy your lunch during this DACAMERA free signature program. 12-1 pm. Wortham Center, 501 Texas.

Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker + Gil Shaham
December  3-5
To celebrate the holidays, Andrés Orozco-Estrada and the orchestra share music from Tchaikovsky’s iconic Nutcracker score. Experience the full sonic color and splendor of this treasured masterpiece as never before in this special performance featuring the entire Houston Symphony. Running the gamut from radiant lyricism to jaw-dropping fireworks, Barber’s Violin Concerto is one of the most beloved in the repertoire, and no one plays it better than international superstar Gil Shaham. Shaham also joins Principal Bass Robin Kesselman for the dazzling Gran Duo Concertante by double bass virtuoso Giovanni Bottesini. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana.

December 3-19
This hilarious Tony Award-winning musical with a score by Stephen Sondheim surrounds confirmed bachelor Robert on and around his thirty-fifth birthday. Through a series of dinner parties, drinks, weddings, and dates, Robert weighs the pros and cons of staying single with his zany group of closest friends. Including beloved songs like Being Alive, Another Hundred People, The Ladies Who Lunch and Getting Married Today, and a side-splitting book by George Furth. ART Factory, 1125 Providence.

Musical Treats from the Nutcracker - For Kids! 
December 4
The Symphony’s popular Holiday Family Concert returns! Delight in the magic of the holiday season and treat your family to a morning of musical fun they’ll remember for years to come as Music Director Andrés Orozco-Estrada leads treasured selections from The Nutcracker, plus other holiday favorites. Presented in a casual, family-friendly setting, this 50-minute concert will have your little ones picturing sugar plums and sparkling snowflakes, and comes complete with fun interactive activities and a visit from Santa himself! Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana.

Chris Mitchell Presents: White Christmas
December 5
Grammy Recording Academy Saxophonist Chris Mitchell delivers renditions of Christmas classics such as White Christmas and Let It Snow, along with fan favorites from all six of his albums. Hobby Center, 800 Bagby.

Potted Potter: The Unauthorized Harry Experience - A Parody by Dan and Jeff
December 7-January 2, 2022
Potted Potter takes on the ultimate challenge of condensing all seven Harry Potter books (and a real-life game of Quidditch) into 70 hilarious minutes. It includes all your favorite characters, a special appearance from a fire-breathing dragon, endless costumes, jokes, brilliant songs, ridiculous props and a generous helping of Hogwarts magic plus lots of mayhem! Hobby Center, 800 Bagby.

The Little Mermaid 
December 7-24
Based on one of Hans Christian Andersen’s most beloved stories and the classic animated film, The Little Mermaid is a hauntingly beautiful love story. With music by eight-time Academy Award® winner, Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater and a compelling book by Doug Wright, this Broadway gem will capture your heart with its irresistible songs, including Under the Sea, Kiss the Girl and Part of Your World. Hobby Center, 800 Bagby.

The Snowy Day 
December 9-19
Jack Keats’s award-winning, ever-popular work from 1962, The Snowy Day, was the first mainstream children’s book to feature a Black boy as its protagonist. The story comes to life for the holidays in this anticipated Houston Grand Opera world premiere opera from the brilliant creative duo of composer Joel Thompson and librettist Andrea Davis Pinkney. $20 - $210. Wortham Theater, 501 Texas.

Handel's Messiah 
December 10-12
The glorious holiday tradition of Handel’s Messiah returns! The Houston Symphony, chorus, and guest soloists fill Jones Hall with joyous refrains and exultant arias, including the iconic Hallelujah Chorus, in this moving and powerful presentation of the greatest story ever told. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra 
December 12
The multi-platinum, progressive rock group return to the road for their highly anticipated Winter Tour to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the group’s landmark album Christmas Eve and Other Stories! Certified 3X platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America®, Christmas Eve and Other Stories is one of the best-selling Christmas albums of all time. Don’t miss this great holiday tradition this December! Toyota Center, 1510 Polk.

Very Merry Pops
December 18-19
Gather with loved ones in a warm and cozy winter wonderland for a sleigh-full of holly, jolly musical cheer! Broadway’s Rodney Ingram (The Phantom of the Opera) joins the Symphony and Chorus for heartwarming favorites and treasured carols. Complete with sparkling decorations and a visit from Santa, there’s no better way to get into the holiday spirit!  Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana.

Market Square Park

Mistletoe On The Go!
November 17–January 3
Pucker up! Texas’s biggest mistletoe ball is coming back to Downtown this holiday season. The 150-inch ball of kiss-inducing greenery hanging from a giant 15-foot candy cane will be on view at Market Square Park. Passersby are invited to stand under the massive ball and kiss their sweetheart. Share your smooches using #XOmistletoe. Market Square Park, 301 Milam.

Movies at Market Square Park: Gremlins
December 10
Join us for this campy holiday classic from 1984 that truly captures the horror as no other Christmas movie can. Just don’t forget 1. Don’t get it wet 2. Keep it away from light and 3. Whatever you do, never, ever feed it after midnight. Grab your blanket or lawn chair and join us at Market Square Park under the stars!  Free. 7 pm. 301 Milam. www.marketsquarepark.comFree. 301 Milam.

Christmas Craft & Sip with Pinspiration 
December 16, 7 pm
Grab your blanket or lawn chairs and make your way to Market Square Park for the Christmas classic, The Muppet Christmas Carol. Celebrate the season with the Muppets take on the classic Dickens tale of Ebenezer Scrooge with appearances from your favorites including Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy and Fozzie the Bear. Free. 301 Milam.

Around Downtown

Reliant Lights Mayor's Holiday Spectacular 
December 4
This spectacular event is a holiday tradition of music, Santa, fireworks and family fun, leaving behind a towering holiday tree, glowing with lights, shimmering ornaments and a stunning star topper to light up the streets of Downtown Houston this holiday season. Free. 5-8 pm. City Hall, 901 Bagby.

Adult Gingerbread House Decorating Happy Hours
Through January 31
A perfect way to let loose with friends, family or office mates. Book Decorating Happy Hours at MKT BAR ($55). Also, inquire about other custom private party options and take-home kits for kids and adults. MKT BAR at Phoenicia Foods, 1001 Austin,

YUMMY! Kid's Gingerbread Cookie Decorating Class
December 4, 11, 18
Sprinkle the power of creative cheer into the holidays with YUMMY! Kid’s Gingerbread Cookie Decorating Classes! As a special treat after each class, there is a brunch party and family entertainer, Uncle Jumbo, will perform live to deck our holidays with more Groove. The class runs approximately 2 hours and is geared for kids 4-10. If your child is older, give us a shout! Pre-order boxed cookie kits and virtual party options also available. Phoenicia Specialty Foods, 1001 Austin.

Buffalo Bayou Christmas Cruise
December 2, 4, 5, 11 & 12
Cruise Buffalo Bayou on a pontoon boat this holiday season. Enjoy festive boat lighting, holiday treats and time with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Advance ticket purchase required; hours vary. Allen’s Landing, 1019 Commerce St.

Breakfast with Santa at Hilton Americas
December 4-19
Enjoy a tasty breakfast with the big man himself! Every Saturday and Sunday, bring your family to 1600 Bar + Grille to enjoy a delicious and personally give Santa your Christmas list! Enjoy holiday décor around the hotel, including a life-size chocolate replica of The Nutcracker, and tons of holiday cheer! Hilton Americas-Houston, 1600 Lamar

Have a Nice Day Market
December 5
Dine and shop for your holiday gift list at Houston’s newest market celebrating the city’s culture and diversity. Have a Nice Day is boasting a lineup of the hottest food pop ups, bakers and makers. Discover your new favorites and join us at GreenStreet for a day of music, shopping, and of course plenty of eating. Located on The Lawn and adjacent lobby. Noon- 4 pm.  GreenStreet, 1201 Fannin.

Unsilent Night
Dec 11
Join BBP for Unsilent Night, a festive and interactive holiday event. Enjoy music, holiday treats, and nature at this special event. Buffalo Bayou Park, 1019 Commerce.

Breakfast With Santa at Downtown Aquarium 
Dec 11, 18, 19, 22-24
Bring your family for the most wonderful breakfast buffet this holiday season. Get your picture taken with our Santa and keep a close eye on the aquarium tank, you may see him swimming with our fish! Downtown Aquarium, 410 Bagby.

Family Winter Festival 
Dec 18
Let it snow! We're creating a Winter Wonderland for Houston families! Join us for winter-themed crafts and activities, caroling, live reindeer photo op, and the man in the red suit!  An interactive screening of the holiday classic Elf (PG) starts at 3 PM; the first 50 movie watchers will receive a bag of props for the film. Houston Public Library, 500 McKinney.

Discovery Green

The Ice at Discovery Green powered by Green Mountain Energy
Daily, November 12–January 30
Ice skating returns to Downtown Houston this holiday season! Lace up your skates and get ready for a memorable winter experience on the largest outdoor ice-skating rink in the Southwest, with daily skating events and other programs. Tickets from $15. Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney. Visit for schedule of events, holiday hours and more information.

Cheap Skate Nights
Select Mondays
On select Mondays this winter, glide around The Ice at Discovery Green for just $8 per person. Includes tax and skate rental.

Skating with the Stars
Select Tuesdays & Select Sundays
Houston’s top figure skaters perform dazzling demonstrations on The Ice at Discovery Green.

Clutch City Wednesdays
Select Wednesdays
Skate to music by Houston artists and wear any Houston sports team gear to receive $2 off admission. Discounted tickets must be purchased in person. If the desired time is fully booked, there may be a wait.  5-10 pm.

Santa at the Green Mountain Energy Ice
On Thursday evenings from 7-8pm, children of all ages are invited to skate with Santa Claus for a truly merry experience.

Flashback Fridays
Whether you remember exactly where you were when you heard your favorite song or you are experiencing it all for the first time, DJ Mohawk Steve will connect you to the power of some of the greatest hits through time. 7-9 pm.

Dance/Skate Party Saturdays
Listen to the coolest pop hits by DJ Boris while skating on the ice.  7-9 pm.

Getting Around Downtown

Explore Downtown Houston the crisp fall air. Getting around Downtown on foot is easy, and one of the best ways to experience the weather. Maps are available at

Houston BCycle
Ditch your car and ride a bike to all of the Downtown destinations this holiday season. Monthly and annual memberships available with 16 convenient stations located throughout Downtown Houston.

There are affordable parking options—garages, surface lots and on-street parking—convenient to any destination. For help finding surface lots, garage parking or on-street meters, visit

Please find additional information about holiday programming, décor and other special events below, and visit for a full event calendar.

The Downtown District was formed in 1995 for the purpose of revitalizing the urban core of the country’s fourth largest city. Over the past decade, the Downtown District has used a combination of public funds and private resources to catalyze area improvements focusing on the city blocks bordered by Interstate 10, Highway 59 and Interstate 45.

The Downtown District operates under the leadership of a 30-person board of directors who oversee the implementation of the District’s strategic initiatives. Funding for the Downtown District comes from a special assessment on all downtown property owners.

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