This holiday season, why not treat the family to something different and magical, like a tour of the “Winter Wonder Island of Texas?”
Use Galveston’s “Passport to Holiday Magic” as the game board for a scavenger hunt of Christmas traditions, attractions and events that promises loads of holiday fun—and prizes that would make even Santa Claus take notice. Your kids will go back to school with stories of the coolest (or should we say frostiest) holiday break ever!
Galveston is the “Winter Wonder Island” of Texas and this year the island will offer visitors a magical experience with its Passport to Holiday Magic—a two-month celebration of more than 1,000 holiday events.
The Scavenger Hunt game is easy!
- To start your family fun, just download and print your passport at www.galveston.com/holidaymagic.
- Use the passport to easily keep track of the island’s many holiday festivities.
- When someone visits five or more participating holiday events and attractions with their passport Nov. 16 – Jan. 4, they will be eligible to enter drawings for a variety of prizes, including chances to win a Carnival Magic cruise for four. The passport will be available at www.galveston.com/holidaymagic.
The “hunt” is a prize in and of itself, so everyone’s a winner. Your passport will take your family to the best Galveston has to offer during the holiday season. The Island, just one-hour’s drive from Houston, is widely known as a Texas holiday destination, hosting annual popular events Dickens on the Strand and Festival of Lights at Moody Gardens. The passport program coincides with the second year of a new major holiday event—Lasers, Lights and Magic in the Park.
At Lasers, Lights and Magic in the Park, Galveston’s historic downtown will sparkle with fun as Saengerfest Park is transformed into a holiday spectacle Nov. 30 through Dec 31. Visitors to downtown will be able to enjoy nightly holiday themed laser light shows, lights synchronized to music, flurries of “snow” and weekend visits with Santa. All activities will be free and open to the public.
In addition to Lasers, Lights and Magic in the Park, here’s a look at just a few of the magical events happening in Galveston this holiday season:
Festival of Lights at Moody Gardens
Moody Gardens lights up the season Nov. 16 – Jan. 4 in Galveston with its annual Festival of Lights – the largest holiday lighting celebration on the Gulf Coast. This magical festival includes a mile-long trail of sparking lights and light displays synchronized to music, carolers, hot chocolate stations, ice-skating, snow tubing and other holiday activities wrapped around the breath-taking Moody Gardens pyramids. For details, visit www.moodygardens.org.
Hotel Galvez Holiday Lighting Celebration
Texas’ only historic beachfront Hotel Galvez & Spa invites guests to celebrate the start of the holidays with the official City of Galveston Holiday Lighting Celebration Nov. 29. Festivities begin at 6 p.m. and include a special appearance by Santa Claus, live holiday entertainment by local entertainment including the Galveston Ballet and the lighting of the hotel’s 35-foot Christmas tree. The hotel will offer a special weekend package as part of the event. For details, visit www.WyndhamHotelGalvez.com.
Home for the Holidays Gift Market
Kick off your holiday shopping over Thanksgiving weekend at the Home for the Holidays Gift Market. Taking place Nov. 29-30 at the Moody Gardens Convention Center, the gift market will feature more than 150 of the region’s most unique gift vendors offering distinctive home décor, candles, craft foods, accessories and more. For details, visit http://homefortheholidaysgiftmarket.com.
Holiday Performances at The Grand
The Grand 1894 Opera House will kick off the holiday season with a variety of exciting performances, including FLIPSIDE – The Patti Page Story Nov. 16, B.B. King Nov. 22-23 and the award-winning musical, Memphis Nov.29-30. Throughout December, the historic theatre will offer a variety of shows to put you in the holiday spirit, including: Asleep at the Wheel – Santa Loves to Boogie; Johnny Mathis—It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year; The Midtown Men Holiday Show and performances by the Houston Children’s Chorus. For details, visit www.thegrand.com.
Great Taste of the Gulf Epicurean Evening
The Galveston Restaurant Association and Galveston.com & Company will bring the “Great Taste of the Gulf Epicurean Evening” to the island Nov. 21 at the Moody Gardens Convention Center. Sample some of the Gulf Coast’s finest cuisine and beverages provided by more than 100 of Galveston County’s top restaurateurs, hoteliers and suppliers. Festivities will also include a silent auction featuring a variety of unique items. For details, visit www.epicureanevening.com.
Santa on the Strand
Santa Claus will make special appearances in historic downtown Galveston Saturdays Nov. 30-Dec. 21 as part of Santa on the Strand at Saengerfest Park. Children can visit with Santa and take pictures in front of the Christmas tree downtown. Saengerfest Park is located at the corner of 23rd and Strand streets. For details, visit www.mitchellhistoricproperties.com.
East End Victorian Christmas Homes Tour
With one of the largest, well-preserved collections of Victorian architecture in the country, Galveston offers the charm of a traditional Christmas with the benefit of island weather. This year, visitors can experience that charm on the 24th annual East End Victorian Christmas Homes Tour. The tour Dec. 6 will feature restored Victorian homes all found in Galveston’s historic East End district. For more information, call 409-765-1894.
40th Annual Dickens on the Strand (Now Offered Friday-Sunday)
Visitors to Galveston can go on an enchanted journey through history as Dickens on the Strand transforms the island’s historic downtown into the Victorian London of Charles Dickens Dec. 6-8. Characters from Dickens novels will walk the streets while live entertainment, food and vendors fill the area with sights and smells from another era. To commemorate the 40th anniversary of the event, Dickens on the Strand will be offered Friday through Sunday. As a special treat, the event will feature an appearance from a real descendant of Charles Dickens! For details, visit www.galvestonhistory.org.
Breakfast with the Sandhill Cranes
For a unique holiday experience, join the Galveston Island Nature Tourism Council for Breakfast with the Sandhill Cranes. This annual birding event will be held on Dec. 14-15 as outdoor enthusiasts await the arrival of these large, majestic birds of ancient origin. Enjoy breakfast and hear a talk from Joan Garland of the International Crane Foundation. See the birds for yourself during a convoy by car to island crane hot spots after the presentation. For more information, visit www.galvestonnaturetourism.org.
Santa Train at the Galveston Railroad Museum
Santa is coming to town aboard the Galveston Railroad Museum’s Harborside Express train! The museum’s annual Santa Train event will be held Dec. 14 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Bring your wish list to visit with Santa, stroll through the museum’s Garden of Steam and enjoy festive holiday lights, decorations, games and crafts. For details, visit www.galvestonrrmuseum.com.
A Magical Christmas Dinner & Show Starring Curt Miller
Experience the magic at Moody Gardens this holiday season as it hosts A Magical Christmas 2: Home for the Holidays Dinner and Show starring master illusionist Curt Miller and Friends. This performance will combine dazzling magic, family comedy, inspiring music and dance to celebrate the wonderment of Christmas. Witness people floating and vanishing right before your eyes, and enjoy many of your favorite Christmas songs performed by singers and musicians. Shows will be held Dec. 19-28. For details, visit www.moodychristmasshow.com.
Runners have a “jolly good time” in Galveston for the annual Santa Hustle on Dec. 22! This event is one to be remembered as thousands of Santas will run through the streets of downtown Galveston and along the gorgeous Gulf waters. Featuring half marathon and 5K races, all event participants will receive a Santa suit long sleeve t-shirt, a free Santa hat and beard to wear while running, and will be able to stop at cookie and candy stations along their routes. For details, visit www.santahustle.com.
For a full list of holiday events in Galveston, visit www.galveston.com/holidaymagic.