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San Antonio and Texas Hill Country Christmas Parades and Festivals

Updated on October 25, 2014
rmcrayne profile image

Originally from SC, Rose Mary is a Texas transplant, thanks to the Air Force. She enjoys local travel, particularly the Texas Hill Country.

San Antonio River Walk- Ford Holiday River Parade & Lighting Ceremony

On the Friday immediately following Thanksgiving every year at 7 p.m., a switch activates the 122,ooo lights along the San Antonio River Walk. These lights make the River Walk even more magical every evening through January 1st. This Lighting Ceremony launches the Paseo Del Rio Holiday Festivities.

Stick around and enjoy the Holiday River Parade with the 150,000 spectators that line up along the River Walk Parade route to enjoy the barge floats graced by local celebrities, bands, and participants in spectacular costumes. A Christmas parade where the floats actually float!

Limited reserved seating is available. Not big on crowds? Enjoy the festivities from home on the live television broadcast.

San Antonio River Walk with Christmas Lights
San Antonio River Walk with Christmas Lights | Source

Ford Holiday River Parade & Lighting Ceremony

Beginning after Thanksgiving and going through mid-December, enjoy Christmas Carols along the River Walk during the Ford Holiday Boat Caroling.

Over 185 local school, church, business, and civic groups will rotate to sing carols from the river barges.

Embrace tradition in early December. The River Walk will be lined with 6ooo luminarias. Luminarias are sand filled paper bags with candles.

The Fiesta de la Luminarias on the River Walk path is symbolic of the centuries old tradition of “lighting the way” for the Holy Family. It begins at dusk on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings.

Visit the official San Antonio River Walk website for dates and contact information.

River Walk Christmas Parade Scenes

A marker102 n st marys, san antonio, tx -
102 N St Mary's St, San Antonio, TX 78205, USA
get directions

St Mary's Street is one of many places where you can descend to the River Walk

Personal Video Wassailfest Entertainment

Chef Paul Prudhomme How to Make Wassail

Wassailfest in New Braunfels

Hands down, my favorite holiday festival is Wassailfest. I’ve gone to this event about 6 out of 9 years that I’ve lived in Texas. Each December, Wassailfest is held the first Thursday of the month beginning at 6 p.m. in historic downtown New Braunfels. The downtown shops are open, and the shop keepers serve their wassail, competing for votes for which is the best. Some are “leaded” but most are non-alcoholic. Holiday revelers can enjoy browsing the shops and sampling the hot fruity, spiced wassail. Be sure and buy your commemorative wassail mug, complete with cord for wearing around your neck, just like the German wine festivals.

The mood is festive, and the town square is nicely decorated. I especially love the draping of vertical lines of white lights covering the courthouse. At the other end of Main Street, Mrs. Santa serves wassail and cookies in front of the “Christmas House”, which is always lavishly decorated.


My Brother's Photos Wassailfest 2010

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Christmas House
Christmas House
Christmas House | Source

Huisache Grill

Chicken Tortilla Soup
Chicken Tortilla Soup | Source
Penne Pasta with Shrimp
Penne Pasta with Shrimp | Source
Steak with Blue Cheese Butter
Steak with Blue Cheese Butter | Source

There is often live music at Wassailfest. One year there was a great band across from the Christmas House that played classic 70s Rock. My favorite live music performance was the bagpipers. I was fascinated by the drummers with their twirling drum sticks.

Wassailfest always has lots of food booths which are mostly near the gazebo, but I suppose never enough, because the lines are always long. I opt to make reservations each year at the Huisache Grill, one of my favorite restaurants which is in a renovated old train station near the Christmas House.

They have a diverse menu, being particularly known for their Chicken Tortilla Soup and great wine list. I've tried multiple menu staples, like the penne pasta with shrimp. They also have rotating specials. My brother usually gets steak, which is always good.

Wassailfest New Braunfels Texas

Sights & Sounds of Christmas San Marcos Texas

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Funnel CakeSmoked Turkey LegCampfire Biscuits- my most unique festival foodCorn on the Cob- my favorite!
Funnel Cake
Funnel Cake | Source
Smoked Turkey Leg
Smoked Turkey Leg | Source
Campfire Biscuits- my most unique festival food
Campfire Biscuits- my most unique festival food | Source
Corn on the Cob- my favorite!
Corn on the Cob- my favorite! | Source

Sights & Sounds of Christmas San Marcos

Each year San Marcos Texas has the Sights and Sounds of Christmas festival the first Thursday through Saturday of December. In 2010 they expanded to include Wednesday, with Santa arriving by helicopter at 6 p.m. Each subsequent night Santa will arrive at 6 with pomp and circumstance- a motorcycle parade, fire engine, or classic car parade.

The Sights & Sounds festival has promised an expanded, larger than ever carnival. Families can also enjoy the toy train exhibit, and the living nativity exhibit in Lil’ Town of Bethlehem. Browse the marketplace and admire handcrafted items. Thousands of lights create an enchanted atmosphere.

One of the guilty pleasures of festivals is the food. It may vary from year to year, but you can usually count on smoked turkey legs, corn on the cob, and funnel cake. My favorite is the “campfire biscuits,” cooked in a wrought iron Dutch oven pot over a campfire.

Need something to do during the day while waiting for the evening Sights & Sounds festivities? Some years I brave the crowds and do a little holiday shopping at the Prime Outlets and Tanger Outlets near San Marcos on I-35.

Christmas Parade Boerne Texas 2010

Boerne Dickens on Main

Love the theater? All of Main Street becomes the stage for two weekends during the holiday season in Boerne Texas. Thanksgiving weekend and the following weekend, Friday through Sunday, Boerne celebrates Dickens on Main. They promise millions of twinkling lights to transform their historic downtown area. Did I mention the snow? Every 30 minutes it will snow somewhere along the Dickens on Main festival area. Some daytime events are planned, but at 5 p.m. the only transportation is horse drawn carriages.

The most popular event of the Dickens on Main festival is the annual Weihnachts, or “Christmas” Parade. This two hour parade has been held for over 25 years and begins at 6 p.m. (usually the first Saturday in December). Have you ever been to an evening Christmas parade?! All floats feature Christmas lights, therefore the evening start.

How to Make a Gingerbread House

Gingerbread House
Gingerbread House | Source

After the parade, enjoy shopping and take part in the Stocking Stroll. Buy your stocking from one of the four locations. Collect stocking stuffers from 10 of the 30 possible stores and get entered for a grand prize drawing.

Immediately before the Weihnachts Parade, enjoy a new tradition, the Holiday Pet Parade. Prizes will be awarded for best costume, most talented, and the pet who most resembles his master. Bring items such as pet food and pet beds for donation to the Hill Country Animal League.

Children from kindergarten through 12th grade can enter the poster contest. Entries are divided into four categories by age, with each having a different theme. Youth, adults, and professionals can compete in the gingerbread house decorating contest.

Check the Dickens on Main website for specific dates and events.

My Brother's Photos Boerne Christmas Parade

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Hill Country Christmas Parades and Festivals

show route and directions
A marker401 E Hopkins St, San Marcos, TX -
401 E Hopkins St, San Marcos, TX 78666, USA
get directions

Sights & Sounds of Christmas, San Marcos, Texas

B marker100 Main Plaza, New Braunfels, TX -
100 Main Plaza, New Braunfels, TX 78130, USA
get directions

Wassailfest, New Braunfels, TX

C markerMain Street, Boerne, TX -
Main St, Boerne, TX 78006, USA
get directions

Dickens on Main, Boerne, TX


Submit a Comment

  • rmcrayne profile image

    rmcrayne 6 years ago from San Antonio Texas

    An early welcome to Texas Recipe Gal. As you can see, there is plenty to look forward to. Check out my other Texas hubs:

  • Recipe Gal profile image

    Recipe Gal 6 years ago

    We are planning on moving to central Texas early next year, and I am so excited! I can't wait for the holidays and to go explore all the neat Christmas festivities!

  • rmcrayne profile image

    rmcrayne 7 years ago from San Antonio Texas

    Thanks SJKSJK. There's a lot to love about San Antonio!

  • SJKSJK profile image

    SJKSJK 7 years ago from delray beach, florida

    Such a good hub. I love San Antonio, been there many times. love the parades, the culture, the food, the weather, the river walk, everything.

  • rmcrayne profile image

    rmcrayne 7 years ago from San Antonio Texas

    Thanks prasetio30, I'm very proud of my 'elite' status through HubMob. I'm hoping to make it to the River Walk this year for the luminarias. I'm teaching in San Antonio on the day of Wassailfest, so it's going to be a rush to make it to the festival this year.

  • rmcrayne profile image

    rmcrayne 7 years ago from San Antonio Texas

    Thanks so much lyjo. I wish every town could have a River Walk!

    Vancouer, I hope to get more holiday River Walk photos this season. My brother and I are hoping to get downtown for some of the festivities.

  • prasetio30 profile image

    prasetio30 7 years ago from malang-indonesia

    The first, I want to say congratulation for you as the Hubpages elite. I am glad to know that. You always share beautiful information. I love this festival, it looks full of lights and food also. Thank you very much.

  • lyjo profile image

    lyjo 7 years ago

    What a beautifully written and well laid out hub, your first photograph is spectacular, almost like a fantasy world...really enjoyed this...will share for sure! Take care!

  • rmcrayne profile image

    rmcrayne 7 years ago from San Antonio Texas

    Lyria, you're so right. The fall and winter are so mild and beautiful here!

  • rmcrayne profile image

    rmcrayne 7 years ago from San Antonio Texas

    France Travel, head on down! Parades and festivals await.

  • Lyria profile image

    Lyria 7 years ago

    Wow, that looks like a ton of fun! Being able to walk around and enjoy all the holiday festivities in nice weather...imagine...sigh....

  • France Travel Inf profile image

    France Travel Inf 7 years ago

    Amazing hub! You have a wealth of information here --- really made me want to go home to TX for Christmas!

  • rmcrayne profile image

    rmcrayne 7 years ago from San Antonio Texas

    carrie there's so much to appreciate about the River Walk. I think the Christmas lights draw attention to the majesty of the cypress trees along the river. This year I hope to get down there during the time of the Luminarias.

  • rmcrayne profile image

    rmcrayne 7 years ago from San Antonio Texas

    Sa`ge hopefully you still get to San Antonio from time to time to see your son. I encourage you to do something "tourist-y" every time you go.

  • rmcrayne profile image

    rmcrayne 7 years ago from San Antonio Texas

    Thanks so much for the compliment dahoglund. I'm glad my love of San Antonio shines through.

  • carrie450 profile image

    carrie450 7 years ago from Winnipeg, Canada

    Beautifully written rmcrayne. The riverwalk must be gorgeous to see in person.

  • Sa`ge profile image

    Sa`ge 7 years ago from Barefoot Island

    The River Walk parade is so beautiful, I used t live in S.A., my late husband was from there and I have a son still lives there. Thank you or bringing back memories. :D hugs :D

  • dahoglund profile image

    Don A. Hoglund 7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

    Up, awesome and beautiful. This is a really well written hub. It makes San Antonio seem very appealing.