Participants in the annual Santa Run race in costume. Photo courtesy of Waxahachie YMCA

Although Santa hasn’t yet departed the North Pole, Texas is gearing up for Christmas. In preparation for the holidays, this weekend’s events offer snowy family fun, historic tours and traditions, some of the best arts and crafts markets of the year, and even indoor kart races. Each town celebrates the holidays a little differently, so check the list below to find something festive for you.

Deck the Paws

Mesquite: Dec. 14-15

The Mesquite Convention Center is hosting North Texas’ largest holiday festival for animal-lovers. The event features tail-wagging shopping and entertainment, with benefits going to local animal rescues.

Christmas Past and Present

Baytown: Dec. 14

Get in the holiday spirit at the Baytown Historical Preservation Association’s 11th annual Christmas Past and Present. The 1894 one-room Wooster Common School District No. 38 and 1910 Brown-McKay Farmhouse are adorned with period decorations and open for tours. Santa Claus is waiting in the post-and-beam barn for the children to tell him their wish lists, and Miss Bobbie is reading a Christmas story in the 1910 John C. Sjolander house. Children can make a tin-punched ornament to hang on their Christmas trees.

A Very Marshy Christmas

Port Arthur: Dec. 14

How does Santa get around in the marsh? By airboat, of course. He and Mrs. Claus have booked Sea Rim State Park’s cabin and are in town for photos and other activities.

Campfire Christmas

Richmond: Dec. 14, 21

In this one-of-a-kind immersive program, tour Richmond historic sites to see Christmas in a log cabin and a Victorian mansion. The tour culminates with cowboy songs, stories, and hot cocoa around a campfire.

Nighttime Kites

Surfside Beach: Dec. 14

The Surfside Flyers Kite Club brightens the night sky with lighted kites, creating a brilliant show.

German Christmas Market

Tomball: Dec. 13-15

With more than 200 vendors, music on four stages, food, and imported beer, the market is a great place to celebrate and prepare for the holidays.

Candlelight Christmas

West Columbia: Dec. 14

Step back in time on this tour of the Varner-Hogg plantation house and grounds, which are decorated in the style of an 1800s Texas Christmas. See the feather tree, learn about the popular toys of the period, view the dining room table set for a holiday feast, enjoy wassail and cookies, and listen to a reading of the Texas Night Before Christmas.

Armadillo Christmas Bazaar

Austin: Dec. 13-24

Shop for gifts and art while listening to live local music at this annual market, a holiday tradition for 44 years.

Christmas at Fort Croghan

Burnet: Dec. 14

Celebrate the Christmas season at Fort Croghan as it was in the days of the pioneers. The cabins are open to the public, and the grounds are softly lit with luminarias and lanterns. Re-enactors are dressed in period costumes, and carolers and family musicians take you back to the days when life was simple and less hurried.

Christmas on the Creek

Lampasas: Dec. 14

Enjoy live music, a lighted nativity scene, lights in the park, food tents, hot chocolate, Santa’s Village, and sleigh rides.

Snow Day

Llano: Dec. 14

Sled down a hill made of 35,000 pounds of ice. No need to bring your own sled, they’re provided.

LBJ Tree Lighting

Stonewall: Dec. 15

Celebrating its 50th year, this annual holiday event was started by President and Mrs. Johnson and includes carolers, a live nativity, Santa Claus, refreshments, and the special tree lighting.

Blue Christmas

Wimberley: Dec. 14

Stroll in the park and enjoy holiday vendors, food trucks, and hot drinks. Sit by the fire, roast marshmallows, and listen to live Christmas music.  Or, catch a horse-drawn carriage ride through the park and stop by the photo booth to get a picture with Santa. For those brave enough, wear your ugliest Christmas sweater and enter the ugly-sweater contest. 

Santa Shoot-out Indoor Kart Race

Graham: Dec. 13-14

Have a fun night of entertainment for the entire family, as sprint cars race around a dirt track. 

Christmas Market at Avalon Faire

Kilgore: Dec. 14, 21

Experience a Christmas market fit for a king at the medieval-themed venue of Avalon Faire. The market offers booths vending with Christmas gift items, live music, and entertainment.

Main Street Wine Swirl

Palestine: Dec. 14

At the sixth annual Main Street Wine Swirl, you can stroll, shop, and sip your way through historic downtown Palestine. Enjoy culinary delights paired with fine wines from Texas wineries. 

Christmas Cellar Tour

Bryan: Dec. 14, 21-22

Bring your friends and family to Messina Hof Estate Winery for one of three special Christmas cellar tours this month. Hot mulled wine is served and tacky sweaters are encouraged. 

Santa Run

Waxahachie: Dec. 14

At this 5K race and fun run, participants receive a five-piece Santa suit to wear during the event. Those not feeling festive can sign up for a Grinch costume and run the course backwards. 

La Gran Tamalada

San Antonio: Dec. 14

This free community event in the Historic Market Square features tamal-making demonstrations and classes, panel discussions on the history of tamales and other Latino culinary traditions, and performances by folklórico groups. For children, there’s Play-Doh tamal-making, storybook time, and a visit from Pancho Claus, a bilingual Santa who wears a sombrero and zerape.

Deutsche Weihnachtsfeier

San Antonio: Dec. 15

The Weihnachtsfeier tells the Christmas story in German through scripture, German Christmas poetry, prayers, choral and congregational singing, and instrumental music. The Beethoven Maennerchor and the San Antonio Liederkranz choirs perform.

The June 2024 cover of Texas Highways: Treasures from the Coast

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