Family Holiday Activities in Houston

houston christmas

Christmas is my favorite time of year. I love the music, the decorations, and the food. Most of all, I love participating in fun events with my family. Houston offers some of the best holiday activities this side of the North Pole ranging from admiring holiday lights to recreations of Charles Dickens stories to outdoor ice skating.

If you’re looking for some fun family-friendly holiday activities in Houston, here are a few that my family has experienced:

Lights & Decorations

Prestonwood Forest

Prestonwood Forest, a neighborhood in northwest Houston, has an annual tradition of welcoming hundreds of visitors to view their community’s holiday decorations. Load the family in the car and drive through the festive, themed streets to see creative light displays and decorations. The neighborhood also holds a Nite of Lights contest for residents. Click here to see 2012 winners.

Zoo Lights at the Houston Zoo

My family enjoys visiting the Houston Zoo year round. The holidays only enhance the experience. The zoo transforms into a winter wonderland with lights, holiday music, and festive treats. The only thing missing is the snow, but it is Houston after all.  In addition to the seeing the lights and decorations, you can also hang out with “Holly Berry,” the 1957 Cadillac, that features thousands of vibrant lights dancing in time to joyful music. This year, the zoo has added an all-new dollhouse village (P.S. – You can save money on admission by purchasing a Houston CityPASS)

Attend a Show

The Nutcracker

My wife and I first attended The Houston Ballet’s performance of The Nutcracker when we moved back to Houston in 2000. We were amazed by the performance and couldn’t wait to take our children. We finally took our daughter when she was five years old and she also loved it (although see was a little frightened by the Rat King). I recommend this show to all Houstonians. It should be a part of your family’s annual tradition.

Friday Night Flicks on The Ice

Discovery Green has a full slate of family-friendly holiday movies scheduled for each Friday night during the holiday season. Skate and watch or just enjoy the movie. This year’s schedule includes National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, A Christmas Story, and About a Boy.

Holiday Music

Houston Symphony Holiday Community Concert

On Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 7:30pm the Houston Symphony will perform a family-friendly holiday concert at the Church Without Walls. Conductor Robert Franz will lead the orchestra in a concert of holiday favorites including “Carol of the Bells”, “The First Noel”, “Sleigh Ride” and more. Come early and visit the Symphony’s Instrument Petting Zoo beginning at 6:30. It’s fun for kids of all ages.

Holiday Train

The Polar Express

Although this event isn’t technically in Houston, I’m including it because it’s something that Houstonians should experience with their families. The Polar Express comes to life at the Texas State Railroad depot in Palestine, TX. Families are encourage to wear pajamas and participate in the immersive experience about the train. There will be singing, dancing and delicious cookies and hot cocoa. There will also be a special visit from Santa Claus.

Stay Strong,

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Join the conversation: What are some of your favorite holiday activities in your hometown.

Photo by Sarah Worthy

About author

Frederick J. Goodall

Frederick J. Goodall is the founder of Mocha Dad - a parenting website focused on fatherhood. He is passionate about parenting and helping men to be great dads, husbands, and role models. You can contact him at or on Twitter at