Posted on 11/14/2023

Christmas in Galveston

There's a sleigh full of winter wonder-island holiday events to explore when you spend Christmas in Galveston! From festive light displays and performances to unique holiday attractions like ICE Land, Galveston is a magical experience a short drive from Houston that shouldn't be missed.

Bring your family to the island for a weekend getaway or a full holiday vacation in November or December. Either way, there are events for all ages and West End beach houses that are guaranteed to be the perfect fit!

Galveston Winter Wonder-Island Events


Set to the sounds of the motion picture soundtrack, this exciting one-hour adventure comes to life with a full cast of professional actors & dancers. Climb aboard the POLAR EXPRESS, get your golden tickets punched by the conductor, and enjoy hot chocolate and festive food while participating in a read-along of the classic children's book. 

Wear your PJs and entrust someone special with your golden sleigh bell souvenir at the end of the ride. This popular Christmas in Galveston event sells out quickly, so get your tickets soon!

Holiday in the Gardens at Moody Gardens

As an annual Galveston holiday season tradition, Moody Gardens shouldn't be missed. The Festival of Lights is a mile-long trail that showcases more than two million tiny bulbs. Explore fun vignettes while strolling along to holiday music around beautiful Moody Gardens. 

There's also a concession area with fireside s'mores and other festive foods, and kids of all ages will love the only seasonal ice skating rink on Galveston.

Back for 2023 — ICE Land: Rainforest Holiday! Frozen ice sculptures using thousands of pounds of ice are expertly carved to showcase the vibrancy of the rainforest. Expect to see birds, monkeys, butterflies, and orchids, as well as lots of tiny, intricate leaf-cutter ants. 

Don't miss the giant ice slide that zips guests from the canopy down to the forest floor, and keep your eyes peeled for ancient ruins and tropical river edges as you slide. Get into the holiday spirits at the Shivers Ice Bar, which is made completely out of ice.

The Grand 1894 Opera House Holiday Season

  • Dates: Various dates throughout November & December
  • Website:
  • Location: Historic Downtown Galveston, 2020 Postoffice Street

Our gorgeous historic theater also happens to be "The Official Opera House of Texas". Galveston locals and visitors alike love the holiday events and shows that take place in November and December. The 2023 season includes audience favorites like:

Galveston's East End Historical District's Victorian Christmas Tour

For a truly wonderful festive experience, secure yourself a ticket for the 34th Annual East End Historical District Holiday Homes Tour. The East End is the product of skilled European immigrants from when Galveston was the wealthiest city in Texas.

Listen to carolers and tour several Victorian-era homes bedecked in festive holiday decor. Roaming musicians cover the 58 blocks of this gorgeous district, and ticket holders can tour four exquisite homes. Tickets can be purchased online at the EEHD website.

Dickens on the Strand

Travel back in time to the Victorian London of Charles Dickens! A Christmas in Galveston favorite, the Galveston Historical Foundation hosts this annual Dickens festival, and every year brings new costumes, vendors, and events. Don't miss Tiny Tim's Play Land and Shopkeeper Skills Village, which were new additions back in 2022. 

Enjoy live music, parades, and delicious holiday food and drink from street stalls and rolling carts. Or, get some holiday shopping done at the unique boutiques that offer Victorian-inspired crafts, gift items, jewelry, and more.

Pro Tip: A huge part of the fun at this local favorite is dressing the part! GHF has put together some great costume suggestions for attendees who want to really get into the spirit of the era. Check it out online, and then check in to a beachfront vacation rental for a great weekend on the island!

Holiday with the Cranes

Houstonians aren't the only ones who love spending Christmas in Galveston! Our island is lucky enough to be directly on the migration track of the stunning Sandhill Cranes. They rest their wings and over-winter on the island each year.

To celebrate, the Galveston Island Nature Tourism Council (GINTC) throws a quirky little holiday event called Holiday with the Cranes each year. Avid birders and casual nature lovers alike will enjoy the indoor and outdoor activities offered over two days. Register early to guarantee your spot in the flock!

Galveston Santa Hustle Half Marathon & 5k

Bring your ho-ho-holiday cheer and run off the holiday excess with thousands of other Santas! The route for the Galveston Santa Hustle takes you through the streets of Galveston and along the gorgeous Gulf of Mexico. Festive music, silly holiday costumes, and great swag make it worth dashing through the!

Miracle Pop Up Bar at Daiquiri Time Out

Voted Galveston's 2022 "Best Bar" and "Best Cocktail Bar", Daiquiri Time Out (DTO) is one of a handful of bars in the region that take part in this festive nationwide event. Last year the venue ran a special holiday-themed drink menu featuring festive glassware and over-the-top holiday decorations for a limited-time event that brought some extra holiday cheer. Keep an eye on DTO's website for this year's event announcements.

Pro Tip: Daiquiri Time Out is right across the street from Maceo Spice & Import Company. Grab a muffuletta, pick up some unique holiday gifts for the chefs in your life, then head over to DTO for an evening of festive fun!

Christmas in Galveston Tree Lightings

The Grand Galvez Tree Lighting

This annual holiday tradition is an island favorite, with an appearance from Santa Claus and the lighting of the impressive 35-foot Christmas tree on the front lawn of the hotel. Live holiday music from the Galveston Symphony Orchestra's Brass Ensemble and an assortment of melody variations from the Galveston Ballet's "The Nutcracker" will keep everyone in the holiday spirit.

Downtown Galveston Holiday Tree Lighting

Santa Claus is coming to town... escorted in style by Galveston's police and fire departments during the annual Downtown Galveston Holiday Tree Lighting ceremony. Grab some warm drinks to go from a downtown eatery and join islanders and visitors alike in welcoming the holiday!

Christmas is Coming to Galveston Bay... and Beyond

The North Pole may be the official home of Christmas, but Galveston comes a close second. With enough holiday delights to take you well into the new year, you won't regret choosing to spend your winter vacation here on the Gulf Coast.

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