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San Antonio River Walk Christmas Events

the san antonio river walk at christmas time

Looking for San Antonio River Walk Christmas events to enjoy with your family and friends this holiday season? Look no further! Here is your definitive list of all the most fun, festive, heartwarming and twinkly things to enjoy in San Antonio. This list includes activities along the city’s famed central attraction, its beautiful downtown River Walk.

San Antonio is beloved by residents and tourists alike for its rich history, its colorful blend of cultures and cuisines, and its lively sense of fun. All these elements truly come to life during the holidays. It’s not hard to find incredible lights displays and fun Christmas events in San Antonio.

And nowhere in San Antonio is merrier or brighter during the holidays than at the River Walk. The popular area is a beautiful place to visit on any day of the year. But, when millions of colorful holiday lights cascade from the trees and reflect off the gently rippling waters of the San Antonio River, you can’t help but get into the holiday spirit.

It’s wise to get started early on your holiday events planning. Many popular and traditional ticketed events are already selling tickets, and may sell out as the holidays approach. There are also plenty of free events to enjoy with your loved ones. That said, planning can help you navigate common holiday issues like finding good parking and beating the crowds.

Here are some of the best ways to enjoy the festivities at the San Antonio River Walk this year:

  • The 42nd annual Ford Holiday River Parade and River Lighting Ceremony kicks off the Christmas holiday season the day after Thanksgiving. This event has lighted floats and brilliantly costumed participants. Tickets are available for purchase for attendees ages two and up. There will also be several free viewing spots along the parade route—just don’t forget to bring a chair!
  • If you love singing Christmas carols (or hearing others sing them), then Ford Holiday Boat Caroling from November 30th through December 23rd is for you. Tickets are now available to secure your spot on one of the caroling boats or even rent out your own private boat for your group. You can also enjoy the caroling for free from the river banks or your favorite River Walk restaurant patio.
  • For history buffs, Homemade Christmas at the Alamo is a fun and unique way to learn about how residents of Central Texas celebrated Christmas in the mid-1800s. Featuring Christmas carols, 19th-century trades and historical crafts, this event is free! This event is open to the public in the garden at the Alamo on Saturday, December 2nd, 2023.
  • The Ford Fiesta de las Luminarias is a centuries-old tradition in San Antonio. Luminarias, which are traditional Mexican lanterns, are illuminated at dusk on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays only. This event goes on for the first three weekends in December. Revelers stroll along the River Walk as the gentle light of more than 2,000 luminarias blends with the dazzling holiday lights overhead.
  • Last but not least, the holiday lights displayed at the San Antonio River Walk are not to be missed! This extensive, colorful and truly dazzling lights display can be enjoyed for free from mid-November on, well into the new year. Stroll along the River Walk or enjoy a visit to your favorite River Walk restaurant. Sit out on the patio to take in the lights, sounds and sights that bring Christmas alive.

With all the fun holiday events going on, it can be hard to find time to get your own home ready for the holidays. Instead of spending your free time up on a ladder, contact a professional lighting company. They can hang your holiday lights, so you can spend more time with friends and family.

zoo lights at the San Antonio zoo

Where to See San Antonio Christmas Lights

There are lots of ways and places to enjoy San Antonio Christmas lights each year. There’s everything from amazing neighborhood displays set to holiday tunes on the radio, to spectacular ticketed lights displays with sparkling LED bulbs numbering in the millions. If you love getting your holiday cheer on with some Christmas lights, here’s where to go this holiday season:

  • Christmas in San Antonio isn’t complete without a visit to take in the holiday lights at the San Antonio River Walk! This lights display is beloved by many for a reason: It’s one of the most spectacular and festive displays in the entire city, and it stays illuminated from November 24th until well into the new year. Best of all, since the San Antonio River Walk is a public park, its holiday lights display is free for all to enjoy.
  • Zoo Lights: A Starry Safari at the San Antonio Zoo is a “wild winter wonderland”. This event features a unique lights display that’s sure to put any family in the holiday spirit. Running from November 18 through December 31, 2023, Zoo Lights has much to offer. Along with taking in the colorful, sparkling lights, visitors can sip cocoa, make s’mores, decorate cookies with Mrs. Claus and visit Santa! Zoo Lights is included with a Standard Admission ticket and is free for San Antonio Zoo members.
  • Fresh off its incredible success in the UK and in Chicago, Lightscape is a one-of-a-kind holiday lights experience. This event takes place at the San Antonio Botanical Garden from November 17th through January 1nd, 2024. Visitors will enjoy a unique holiday lights experience along an illuminated mile-long path. Tickets are now on sale and promise to sell out quickly!
  • Lights Alive! promises immersive family fun in the form of a computer-controlled drive-through light show experience. Synchronized to Christmas classics, the display shimmers and sparkles in time to the beat. Visitors can also park at the Park & Play Wonderland to make holiday crafts, enjoy Christmas confections and other treats, take photos with Santa, and be dazzled by the 50-foot animated light show Christmas tree.
  • For something extra fun and a little different, try Christmas at the Caverns—Natural Bridge Caverns, that is, in northeastern San Antonio. Billed as “Christmas on a whole new level,” this unique holiday experience lets visitors enjoy the magic of Christmas carols in Texas’s largest underground cavern before returning to ground level to navigate a massive outdoor maze, meet Santa, and walk along a one-third-mile trail of lights. This is a truly unique spot for experiencing San Antonio Christmas lights!
  • For a smaller, more neighborhood-y Christmas lights experience, head northeast of San Antonio to Windcrest for the Windcrest Light Up. This event is a longtime tradition in which residents decorate their homes with elaborate holiday lights displays. There’s even a contest for the most beautifully decorated homes. Visitors are invited to drive along the neighborhood streets to take in the sparkling displays. Just don’t forget to cook up some of your favorite holiday recipes to enjoy while taking in the sights.

the nutcracker put on by ballet san antonio

Things to Do in San Antonio for Christmas

Taking in the many fabulous Christmas lights displays isn’t the only thing to do in San Antonio during Christmastime! There are lots of other events for you and your loved ones to enjoy, all of which promise to fill your heart with festive cheer for the holiday season.

  • Seaworld’s Christmas Celebration kicks off on November 1oth this year and runs through January 2nd, 2024. This “wintery, watery wonderland” offers Christmas shows and carols, festive foods, a dazzling display of nine million twinkling holiday lights, and, of course, a visit by Santa Claus himself.
  • Ballet lovers will enjoy taking in a performance of The Nutcracker, presented by Ballet San Antonio. The shows will take place from December 1–20, complete with live music performed by the San Antonio Symphony. This magical tradition is sure to warm hearts both young and old!

Want to wow everyone on your street with your own Christmas lights display? Many people envision a holiday lights display that will bring the holiday spirit alive for themselves and their neighbors. But, they aren’t sure of the best lights or design to use, or they balk at the work involved in installing so many lights. If this describes you, remember that the holiday lighting professionals can hang your holiday lights.

ABC Can Hang Your Holiday Light Display

At ABC Home & Commercial Services, our professionals are ready to help you bring the Christmas lights display of your dreams to life. This way,  you don’t have to worry about how to hang your lights from a metal roof. Our team members can assist you with everything from the design to the holiday light installation. Then, we will return at the close of the holiday season to take down your lights safely and completely.

Les Stobart

Les joined ABC in 2008 as the Director of Marketing, overseeing marketing, advertising, and communications for ABC’s branches. Les started the Lean Line, Online Chat departments, and manages corporate recruiting. He has a Bachelor of Science in Communications & Advertising from Lamart University. He has been part of the Texas Banking Association, a Financial Literacy Volunteer Teacher, ABC Kite Fest Board of Directors, a Town & Country Youth Soccer Coach, and a Neighborhood Sports flag football coach.

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