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Things to Do in San Antonio for Christmas in 2023

San Antonio is a city in Texas that is known for its rich cultural heritage and vibrant community. During the holiday season, there are so many things to do in San Antonio for Christmas!

The city comes alive with festive lights, holiday events, and family-friendly activities. From the River Walk lights to the outdoor skating rink and Historic Market Square, it makes for the perfect getaway to one of Texas’ best Christmas towns.

One of the most popular attractions during the Christmas season in San Antonio is the River Walk lights. With over 100,000 lights illuminating the River Walk, visitors can take a stroll along the water and enjoy the festive atmosphere. In addition to the lights, there are also boat tours, caroling, and other holiday-themed events taking place throughout the season.

We had a wonderful weekend getaway to San Antonio last Christmas and loved all the colorful, twinkling lights, fun activities, and deep historical roots running through the city. Check out some of our favorite activities as well as some still on our list for next time!

River Walk in San Antonio at Christmas

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San Antonio Christmas Events

San Antonio is a city that knows how to celebrate! And Christmas is no exception!

From twinkling lights to festive foods, there are plenty of holiday events to enjoy. Here are some of the top San Antonio Christmas events to check out this holiday season.

Visit the Alamo + Mission Trail

If you’re planning a trip to San Antonio at Christmas, make sure to include a visit to the historic Alamo and the nearby missions in your itinerary. Admission to the church is free with these timed tickets. If you’d prefer a guided tour, they offer that as well.

The Alamo in San Antonio

Step back in time as you explore the hallowed grounds of the Alamo, a symbol of Texas independence, adorned with enchanting holiday decorations. Soak up the stories of bravery and sacrifice that shaped the nation. Costumed staff members provide hands on exhibits behind the church which my children found fun and engaging.

Additionally, the nearby missions, including San Jose, Concepcion, San Juan, and Espada, provide a glimpse into the region’s rich heritage along with beautiful views and architecture.

>> We love this World Heritage Site tour which will transport you to four of the mission along with a guide and small group. The tour ends the Alamo for you to continue to explore.

San Antonio Missions
Christmas Tree in front of the Alamo in San Antonio
San Antonio Missions

As a special bonus, the Alamo now offers a beautiful light display on their grounds in the evenings from 6-8pm. Thousands of lights illuminate the grounds offering visitors a unique way to explore the Alamo. We did not know about this when we visited and I was super disappointed that we missed it! Here is your heads up so that you don’t miss out on these Christmas lights in San Antonio too!

River Walk Christmas Lights

San Antonio River Walk at Christmas

The San Antonio River Walk is a must-visit during the holidays. The always beautiful river is transformed into a magical wonderland with over 100,000 lights adorning the trees and bridges and staying aglow all night long.

Visitors can take a stroll along the river or hop on a Go Rio Cruise for a peaceful float along the river. The lights are on display from late November to early January, making it the perfect holiday tradition for families.

The lights turn on November 25th at the much anticipated Ford Holiday River Parade.

Ford Holiday River Parade

The Ford Holiday River Parade is a beloved San Antonio Christmas tradition. The parade takes place on the River Walk and features illuminated floats, live music, and Santa Claus himself. The parade is held on the Friday after Thanksgiving, so it’s a great way to kick off the holiday season.

The parade draws a large crowd, so either plan to arrive early or reserve paid seating.

River Walk with Christmas lights at night

Fiesta de las Luminarias

The Fiesta de las Luminarias is a beautiful holiday event that takes place along the River Walk at Christmas in San Antonio. The riverbank is lit up with two thousand luminarias, creating a stunning holiday display. These traditional Mexican lanterns turn the beautiful river into an even more magical display of Christmas lights.

Visitors can take a stroll through the area while enjoying hot chocolate and listening to carols. The event takes place on three select weekends in December so choose your travel dates carefully if you don’t want to miss this!

Holiday Boat Caroling

Show your true holidays spirit by joining your friends and family in a delightful caroling experience on the picturesque River Walk. Embark on a San Antonio twist on this timeless tradition by hopping on a river boat and singing your heart out while cruising along the shimmering waters. Make reservations here.

If you choose to just enjoy the carolers from the riverbanks or find a cozy spot on a restaurant patio, you still can’t help but smile when they float by spreading cheer for all to hear!

River Walk in San Antonio with Christmas tree

SeaWorld Christmas Celebration

SeaWorld San Antonio is transformed into a winter wonderland during the Christmas season. Enjoy holiday shows, meet Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and even take a ride on a snow hill. Millions of lights make this the largest light display in Texas!

The park is also home to a stunning Christmas light display. The Seaworld Christmas Celebration runs from late November to early January.

See a Christmas Show

San Antonio is home to several Christmas shows that are perfect for the whole family. In 2023, the Majestic & Empire Theatres will present “Nutcracker” and “Sarah Brightman: A Christmas Symphony.”

The Magik Theatre presents “The Velveteen Rabbit” in the 2023 season expecially for children. These shows are one of our favorite ways to get into the holiday spirit!

More Things to do in San Antonio for Christmas

Visit a Christmas Tree Farm in San Antonio

  • 2023 Dates: Most farms open November 20, 2023 while supplies last
Christmas tree farm near San Antonio

San Antonio is home to some fantastic Christmas tree farms that will make your holiday dreams come true. From the scent of fresh pine to the joy of handpicking your own tree, these farms offer an unforgettable experience that will kickstart your festive celebrations.

Two of the most popular Christmas tree farms in San Antonio where you can cut down your own tree are Devine Acres Tree Farm and Seiler Tree Farm. If you want a fresh tree but don’t care whether you saw it yourself, Holiday Hills, Murphy’s and Papa Noel’s offer some beautiful pre-cut trees.

Munch on Baked Goods from the Historic Market Square

Welcome to the enchanting Historic Market Square in San Antonio during the Christmas season! Immerse yourself in a festive wonderland as you explore the bustling marketplace, splashed with vibrant holiday décor.

Mi Tierra Cafe in San Antonio

Discover unique vendors offering an array of delightful gifts, artisan crafts, and tasty treats. From handcrafted ornaments to traditional Mexican pottery, you’ll find the perfect presents for your loved ones or a special keepsake to cherish. As you navigate through the joyful crowd, marvel at the whimsical Christmas tree, adorned with colorful lights and charming ornaments that add a touch of magic to the atmosphere.

Don’t forget to make a stop at the legendary Mi Tierra Café, where you can savor authentic Mexican cuisine and indulge in amazing desserts while soaking up the festive ambiance. Don’t let the long line deter you! There is a separate line for dining in, but if you just want to order from the bakery like we did, the line moves really quickly. There aren’t any prices posted which worried me at first, but they were super reasonable – we wish we had bought more than we did!

Historic Market Square in San Antonio
Historic Market Square San Antonio
Bakery Pastries at Historic Market Square in San Antonio

Christmas at the Caverns

Christmas at the Caverns is an annual event held at the Natural Bridge Caverns in San Antonio that you won’t find anywhere else! We love discovering unique experiences when we travel to a new place! This event is perfect for families, couples, and anyone looking for a unique and memorable way to celebrate Christmas.

You can expect to see the Caverns transformed into a winter wonderland, complete with thousands of twinkling lights and beautiful decorations. The event features a variety of activities, including caroling inside the caverns, sipping hot chocolate, walking the trail of lights, and photos with Santa. Participate in story time with Mrs. Claus, roast marshmallows over the fire, listen to live music, and make your way through the giant maze in search of Santa’s reindeer.

Bonus tip! Bring a canned food item to donate to the food pantry and receive a free s’mores pack to enjoy by the campfire! It’s a win-win!

Ice Skate at Travis Park + See the Christmas Lights

Travis Park with Christmas Tree

With its festive outdoor holiday ice rink, Travis Park transforms into a magical destination for friends and families to embrace the joy of the season. The ice rink offers a fun experience for all skill levels as you twirl and spin under the twinkling lights.

Holiday in the Park at Six Flags Fiesta Texas

  • 2023 Dates: Open year round; seasonal activities are November 18 – December 31
  • Admission: Starting at $50
  • San Antonio, TX 78257

Holiday in the Park at Six Flags Fiesta Texas is a festive event that runs from November through January. During this time, the park is adorned with festive displays, one million lights, and holiday music that will get you in the holiday spirit.

The park’s dazzling Holiday Express train ride takes visitors through Fiesta Texas and showcases heartwarming and whimsical Yuletide scenes designed to captivate the entire family. Visitors can also sing along and take photos with the Singing Saps, an animated caroling group that spreads cheer throughout the park.

In addition to the rides and attractions, visitors can also indulge in all the festive foods such as hot cocoa, funnel cakes, and holiday-themed treats.

San Antonio Botanical Garden

The San Antonio Botanical Garden is a must-visit location during the Christmas season. During this time, the garden is transformed into a winter wonderland with tons of lights and festive displays throughout the 38-acre living museum of plants. Visitors can take a leisurely stroll along a 1-mile path that winds through the garden, enjoying the illuminated trail that includes seven stunning new installations in addition to well-loved favorites set to seasonal music.

Throughout the holiday season, the Botanical Garden hosts various events, including carolers and live music performances. Guests can enjoy the sounds of the season while taking in the beautiful sights of the garden.

Instead of the San Antonio Botanical Garden, we actually visited the Japanese Tea Garden instead. Their holiday display is much smaller scale, but is still festive and lovely and FREE. We visited the gardens after an unusual December freeze, so many plants were not in their best shape and some were still covered, but the garden was still beautiful and worth the visit. If you have time, we recommend both!

San Antonio Botanical Garden in December
Japanese Tea Garden

Take a Driving Tour of Windcrest

  • 2023 Dates: December 2 – December 31
  • Admission: Free
  • Windcrest

Windcrest is a small town located just outside central San Antonio. It has a reputation for putting on one of the best light shows around! Every year, the town hosts the Windcrest Light Up event, which marks the beginning of the holiday season. The Light Up event has been a tradition in Windcrest for decades, and it has become a much-anticipated event for locals and tourists alike.

Residents of Windcrest decorate their homes with elaborate Christmas lights displays and compete for the best display. Visitors can vote for their favorite display, and the winner is announced at the end of the event. Stop by one of the many locations around town to pick up a map for a small donation ensuring that you don’t miss the best displays!

The Windcrest Light Up event also features live music, food vendors, and holiday-themed activities for the whole family. Visitors can take photos with Santa, enjoy hot chocolate and other treats, and shop for unique gifts at the vendor booths.

Watch the The Nutcracker

Ballet San Antonio is one of the premier dance companies in the city, and they put on a stunning production of “The Nutcracker” every year. The company is made up of talented dancers and they bring a level of artistry and skill to the performance that is truly breathtaking.

In addition to the professional dancers, “The Nutcracker” also features a children’s cast made up of more than 100 local children. This gives young dancers in the community a chance to perform on stage and be a part of this beloved holiday tradition.

Planning to Stay in San Antonio overnight? Check out our favorite hotels: 

Things to do near San Antonio for Christmas

If you have more than a couple days to explore the area, you’ll love the option to explore some other nearby towns during the holiday season.

Take a day trip to Fredericksburg

Fredericksburg is a charming town in the Texas Hill Country that takes Christmas very seriously! Just an hour from San Antonio, you can experience Christmas in Fredericksburg with a festive atmosphere full of twinkling lights, holiday markets, and special events.

Fredericksburg, Texas

One of the highlights of the holiday season in Fredericksburg is the town’s Christmas Nights of Lights. This event takes place each evening at Marktplatz, the town’s central square, and features a 10-minute audio presentation that tells the story of the town’s German heritage and concludes with a countdown to the lighting of the square. You can also take a stroll down Main Street to see the many storefronts and homes decked out in their holiday best.

The town’s German heritage is also on full display during the holiday season, with many shops offering traditional German Christmas ornaments, nutcrackers, and other decorations. Many local restaurants also offer special holiday menus featuring traditional German dishes like sauerbraten and schnitzel. Stop by and sample wine at one of the town’s many wineries or breweries.

Visit the Christmas Ranches in Boerne

Nearby Enchanted Springs Ranch is another great stop for their Old West Christmas Light Fest. From mechanical bull rides to food trucks to s’mores to laser tag, there are plenty of activities to keep the whole family entertained. Stroll the old western buildings decorated in strands and strands of twinkling lights for a true country Christmas experience! This is one of our new favorite family traditions! There is cuteness and fun to be found around every corner!

Old West Christmas Fest in Boerne
Old West Christmas Light Fest

Don Strange Ranch is a historic ranch located just 20 minutes west of La Cantera in Boerne, Texas. During the Christmas season, the ranch hosts the annual Christmas on the Ranch event. The ranch is well-known for its drive-thru light display, which boasts over 4.5 million dazzling lights.

Visitors can enjoy dozens of movable displays and interactive carriage and hayrides. This Christmas event in Boerne also hosts Santa and Ms. Claus every night, providing a perfect opportunity for kids to meet and take photos with the beloved holiday characters.

San Antonio Christmas FAQs

What time is the Christmas river parade in San Antonio?

The time of the Christmas river parade in San Antonio can vary each year. It is typically held in the evening, starting around 6:00 PM or 7:00 PM. It’s recommended to check the official schedule or local event listings for the specific time of the parade during your visit.

How long is the River Walk decorated for Christmas?

The River Walk in San Antonio is typically adorned with beautiful Christmas decorations throughout the holiday season. The exact duration can vary, but generally, the River Walk remains decorated from late November or early December until early January. This year it is open from November 25, 2023 – January 9, 2024.

Is San Antonio fun at Christmas?

Absolutely! San Antonio comes alive with festive spirit during Christmas, offering a wide range of fun activities and events for all ages.

Is the River Walk open on Christmas?

The River Walk in San Antonio is open on Christmas Day. You can enjoy a stroll along its scenic paths and soak in the holiday atmosphere.

How long will the Christmas lights be up on the River Walk in San Antonio?

The Christmas lights on the River Walk in San Antonio typically remain up throughout the holiday season, usually until early January. The exact dates may vary, so it’s best to check for specific information closer to your visit.

What Christmas activities can I do in San Antonio?

There are numerous Christmas activities to enjoy in San Antonio. You can visit the historic Alamo and nearby missions, go ice skating at outdoor rinks, experience festive light displays, explore holiday markets, attend parades and concerts, and even go caroling on the River Walk.

What neighborhood in San Antonio has the best Christmas lights?

One neighborhood known for its impressive Christmas lights in San Antonio is Windcrest. The annual “Windcrest Light Up” event transforms the area into a dazzling display of holiday cheer. However, there are other neighborhoods in the city that also put on fantastic light shows, so exploring different areas can lead to delightful discoveries.

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