Where to find the best celebrations of the season
Santa can make it to every house in Texas in one night, but unless you have eight enchanted reindeer and a magic sleigh, there’s no way you can possibly get to all the great places there are to visit in the Texas Hill Country during this happy holiday season. Why? Towns from Castroville to Kerrville, Fredericksburg to Blanco, Boerne to Bandera, and everywhere in between, are hosting holiday celebrations throughout most of November and December. In fact, many events once held only in December have been bumped up to late November in order to fill the calendar with even more family fun. From Thanksgiving to Hanukkah, and Christmas through New Year’s Eve, there are more celebrations in the Hill Country than elves at the North Pole.
So where can you go this year to stock up on holiday cheer? Start with a Christmas tree lighting in late November on the New Braunfels circle, then don a top hat or Victorian costume for Dickens on Main in Boerne in December. After that, enjoy a holiday campfire, horseback ride and hayride in Bandera, then catch A Christmas Carol play in Kerrville, go ice skating at the Marketplaz in Fredericksburg, drive Highway 290 to Johnson City and Blanco to see spectacular Christmas lights, and then turn back to San Antonio on Highway 281 for fun on our own lovely River Walk.
But even if you made all those fun events, you still wouldn’t have hit all the holiday events happening this season—even though it would be a good start. So just pretend you’re Santa, and begin checking all these great holiday celebrations off your list. Most are annual events, so you can visit new ones next year.
16th Annual Dickens on Main
Friday, Nov. 27, 1-10 p.m., and Saturday, Nov. 28, 1-10:30 p.m. Enjoy Boerne’s 16th annual Dickens on Main festivities. Shop for unique holiday gifts along Boerne’s Hill Country Mile for Black Friday and Small Business Saturday while the whole family enjoys live musical entertainment, Dickens-era theatrical performances, a variety of children’s activities each night including Santa and a 60-foot snow slide, live ice -sculpting shows, horse-drawn carriage rides, snow on Main Street and more. A Boerne tradition packed with holiday fun and festivities, Dickens on Main promises to be another spectacular, joyful experience.
29th Annual Weihnachts Parade
Saturday, Dec. 5, at 6 p.m. The 29th annual Weihnachts Parade 2015 on Main Street, featuring the theme, “Christmas Stories.”
Oma’s Christmas Craft Fair
Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 5 – 6. from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, and 10-5 p.m. on Sunday at the Kendall County Fairgrounds. Handcrafted wood items, homemade jellies, clothing, wall hangings, ceramics, knitted and crocheted goods, hand-embroidered items and hand-painted bird feeders and bird houses are just some of the Christmas gifts you can find spread throughout three large buildings. Lunch with Santa, bake sale and concession stands too.
Living Nativity, Lighted Night Parade
Friday, Dec. 4, 4:45 p.m., a visit with Santa, caroling, musicians, cowboys and after-hours shopping in local stores—it all starts on the courthouse lawn.
Cowboy Capital Campfire
Saturday Dec. 5, 5 p.m. Celebrate the holidays at the Cowboy Capital Campfire in Bandera’s city park on the Medina River with cowboy singers and storytellers, and see a living nativity scene. Bring a lawn chair, enjoy hot cocoa and cookies, and stroll through a display of 100-plus lighted Christmas trees and holiday scenes at the Bandera Trail of Lights at City Park, which opens each evening at dark.
Christmas Singing in the Saddle
Sunday, Dec. 20. The Longhorn Saloon will feature its annual Christmas Singing in the Saddle event and hayride. Bring your guitar and sing along. You can bring your horse (or even rent one) from the Longhorn Saloon for Christmas caroling down Main Street. A chuck wagon with hot cocoa and cookies awaits you at the end of the ride.
Cowboys on Main
Dec. 26, Noon-4 p.m. Enjoy the year’s last performance of the Bandera Business Association’s Cowboys on Main, featuring the Bandera Cattle Company, singers, chuck wagons, horses, trick ropers, wagon rides and longhorns.
Friday, Dec. 4, 6 -10 p.m., and Saturday, Dec. 5, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Historic Castroville’s 30th annual “Old-Fashioned Christmas.”
Fredericksburg and Luckenbach
Ice Skating in the Marktplatz
Friday, Nov. 27. The seasonal Eisbahn (“ice rink” in German) returns to Marktplatz in Fredericksburg for its 10th consecutive year, remaining open daily through New Year’s weekend. Enjoy outdoor ice-skating on real ice; Eisbahn uses special refrigeration units to keep the ice frozen even when the weather is warm outside. A come-and-go all-day pass is $10, including skates.
Light the Night Christmas
Parade and AfterGlow
Friday, Dec. 4, AfterGlow festivities will be 3-10 p.m. at Marktplatz, and the parade begins at 6:30 p.m. on Main Street, Fredericksburg. Enjoy free Santa photos, holiday gifts, local foods and wine and holiday cheer. 830-997-5000.
Luckenbach Christmas Tree
Lighting and Hondo Crouch
Friday, Dec. 4, Times TBA.
58th Annual Holiday
Home Tour Fredericksburg
Saturday, Dec. 5. Featuring seven festively decorated homes in Fredericksburg and Gillespie County. Tickets,. $25. 830-990-8441.
A Tuna Christmas
Friday, Dec. 11- Sunday, Dec. 20 (weekends only). Fredericksburg Theater Company presents A Tuna Christmas. Admission $29 at the door and $12 in advance.
Fredericksburg Candlelight Tour
Saturday, Dec. 26, 5-7p.m. A Candlelight Tour of four historic Fredericksburg buildings will begin at the Pioneer Museum on West Main Street and will include refreshments, caroling by the Arion Choir and more. Admission: $10 adults, $3 children. 830-997-2835.
Johnson City, Blanco and Stonewall
Old Blanco Courthouse Lighting
Friday, Nov. 27. The city of Blanco enjoys its annual Courthouse Lighting at dusk (about 6:30), with carolers and a small trail of lights in Dinseil Park on the downtown square where businesses will stay open late. For more information, contact the Old Blanco County Courthouse Visitors Center at 830-833-2211.
Johnson City 26th Annual
Friday, Nov. 27, through Friday, Jan. 1 (weekend nights). One of the largest light displays in the state featuring 100,000 lights on the Blanco County Courthouse in Johnson City and more than one million lights at the Pedernales Electric Co Op Headquarters. The lights will stay aglow each night until midnight. Admission to all events is free. Nightly attractions include the Courthouse and Co-Op lights, Christmas in the Park celebrations and carriage rides. On Nov. 27 the “Let There Be Lights” event lighting the courthouse, a Chuck Wagon Food Court; visits with Santa, and fireworks. On Nov. 28, the Clickety Cloggers will perform and there will be a Chuck Wagon Food Court, along with the Lighted Hooves and Wheels Parade and visits with Santa.
Holiday Cookie Decorating and
German Traditions in Stonewall
Saturday, Nov. 28. At LBJ State Park & Historic Site and Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm, Visitor Complex, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Enjoy cookie decorating and the German holiday traditions of wreath making and candle making as you await the arrival of St. Nicholas. Stop at the Visitor Center first to obtain a park permit, park map and event information. Annual family event, free. 830-644-2252.
Hill Country Holiday Wine Trail
Friday, Dec. 4-Sunday, Dec. 20. A self-guided Holiday Wine Trail in the Hill Country wine and food-pairing event. Venture through vineyards and wineries, enjoying complimentary chocolates and wine parings. 866-621-9463.
Christmas Market Day and Lighted Parade
Saturday, Dec 12. A special Christmas Market Day will take place on the square in the city of Blanco 9 a.m.-4 p.m., followed by a lighted Christmas parade that evening at dark.
LBJ Tree Lighting
Sunday, Dec. 20. at LBJ State Park & Historic Site, in Stonewall, a time-honored Texas Parks and Wildlife tradition that was started years ago by President and Mrs. Johnson. This is a free annual family event. 830-644-2252.
Kerville and Ingram
Kerrville’s Art Mart Hand-Made
Tuesday, Nov. 10-Saturday, Dec. 12. Hill Country Arts Foundation.
Symphony of the Hills,
Peace on Earth
Thursday, Dec. 3, at 7:30 p.m. Cailloux Theater 830-792-7469.
Hill Country Shopping
Saturday, Dec. 12. With area businesses at Blue Sage Hall, Kerrville. Enjoy refreshments and holiday music while you shop. 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
New Braunfels and Gruene
New Braunfels Lighting
Ceremony & Santa’s Arrival
Friday, Nov. 20, at 6 p.m. Enjoy the free annual event celebrating the spirit of the season. There will be treats for sale and photo opportunities with Santa.
Wassailfest New Braunfels
Thursday, Dec. 3, from 6 to 9 p.m., an evening of music, food, shopping, thousands of twinkling holiday lights and free wassail to sample.
14th Annual Gruene Pony
Saturday, Dec. 5, at 10 a.m. The Pony Express Ride will come through town carrying a “Christmas Greetings” message from the Governor. Kids take photos with Cowboy Kringle, shop at Old Gruene Market Days, enjoy a one-man performance of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and enjoy as Cowboy Kringle rides into town on horseback and lights Gruene for the holidays. 830-629-5077.
By Janis Turk