The month of December invites us all to slow down, take the long way home and feast on the eye candy of homes and lawns that twinkle with festive lights and Christmas cheer. If you just can’t wait that long, hop in your car and treat your senses to the Festival of Lights at Galveston’s Moody Gardens. The Festival kicks off on November 10, with Santa Claus set to parachute in and flip the switch for the light displays. From there, visitors can walk the trail of the million-light display and see different holiday themes throughout. Live entertainment, including choirs, musicians and dancers, will be a part of the festivities.
This opening celebration will kick off nearly two months of a fun-filled holiday season, with the Festival running Thursdays through Saturdays from November 16 to December 8, before opening nightly from December 13 until January 5, including Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Hours run from 6 to 10 pm.
For a decade, the Festival of Lights has entertained visitors with more than 100 lighted scenes themed to holiday music. Now in its 11th year, the Festival will feature Snow Tubing, a ride down a 100-foot ice slide set up on the Moody Gardens grounds. “We are excited to bring this new activity to the Festival of Lights,” said Moody Gardens president and CEO John Zendt, who added that guests appreciate the traditional and new activities this event offers each year. “Guests will be given a tube to glide down our big ice slide. This is going to be a lot of fun.” Snow Tubing will be featured Saturdays during the Festival, before opening daily on December 22. The slide will open from noon to 10 pm and costs $12 for admission.
Inside the Visitor’s Center, guests can get their photos taken with Santa, as well as enjoy several seasonal movies like the “Polar Express 4D Experience” in the MG 3D, Ridefilm and 4D Special FX Theaters.
Admission to the Festival of Lights is $6.95. With the purchase of a Festival of Lights entry, tickets to the Aquarium Pyramid®, Rainforest Pyramid®, MG 3D Theater, 4D Special FX Theater, Ridefilm, Discovery Museum and Colonel Paddlewheel Boat are available for only $6 each.
Admission to the area’s only outdoor ice rink is included with a Festival ticket. Guests can bring their own skates or skate rental is available for $6. A holiday buffet is also available at the Garden Restaurant.
Food Drive Fridays return this season to provide a discount and help those in need this holiday season. Guests can bring a non-perishable food item any Friday during the event and receive 2-for-1 Festival admission. The food will be donated to the Galveston County and Houston Food Banks to help needy families in the area.
Other special events for this year’s Festival of Lights include a gift market, a half marathon and Family Fun Walk, and “A Magical Christmas” Dinner Show.
The inaugural Holiday Half Marathon will be at 8 am on November 8 and primarily take place on Moody Gardens’ property and Scholes International Airport. The Family Fun Walk will take place at 5:30 pm on November 17. Tickets are $15 per person (children under 3 are free). Race participants will receive a t-shirt, finisher’s medal, and a post-race party with music, food and drinks. Age groups awards will be given as well.
The Holiday Gift Market is scheduled for November 23-25 at the Moody Gardens Convention Center. Admission is $5.
Moody Gardens presents “A Magical Christmas” Dinner and Show starring Master Illusionist Curt Miller and friends on December 14-16 and December 20-27 at the Moody Gardens Convention Center. The price is $49 for adults, $29 for children under 12, and includes the dinner buffet and performance, Festival of Lights ticket and all taxes, gratuities and parking. Premium seats and group pricing are available for the dinner show.
Hotel rates during Festival of Lights start at $149 per night, plus taxes.
For more information, call 1-800-582-4673 or visit www.moodygardens.org