It’s almost the weekend before Thanksgiving, and for some of us, that means the final days of denial before we’re forced to confront the financial, social, and emotional stresses of the holiday season. (Anyone else staring down a calendar chock-full of travel days, shopping outings and obligatory family gatherings?)
If you’re feeling less-than-festive, consider easing into the holiday spirit with some low-stakes, low-effort fun. Awaken your inner child with a trip through the “Trains Over Texas” exhibit at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Frolic in a field of glowing bluebonnets at the Houston Botanic Garden. Or join the “Peanuts” gang for an evening of Christmas carols at Galveston’s Grand 1894 Opera House.
Read on for more ways to seize the season before it seizes you.
10 best bets for your Houston weekend:
- Magical Winter Lights: At this attraction at the Houston Raceway in Baytown, journey through more than 100 lantern sets in several themed sections, including a magical castle, a Christmas village, a tribute to Houston, a dino fun zone, a space maze and an ocean paradise.
- “A Charlie Brown Christmas: Live on Stage”: Charles M. Schulz’s lovable character Charlie Brown has added festive fun to the holidays since 1965. That year brought the premiere of the television special “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” which went on to become an annual broadcast and a theatrical musical. Now the “Peanuts” gang is at Galveston’s Grand 1894 Opera House, where “A Charlie Brown Christmas: Live on Stage” is playing, with tickets starting at $22.50. The production on Saturday at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. features Vince Guaraldi’s original jazz score, along with holiday tunes and high-kicking choreography. The show is 90 minutes including intermission.
- Zoo Lights: At this annual holiday lights event, stroll through a 100-foot-long light tunnel, walk under a canopy of glowing flowers and butterflies, glimpse glowing, life-size, animal lanterns, snap a picture with Santa and more. The experience will run 5:30 p.m.-10:30 p.m., Friday through Dec. 28. Purchase tickets here.
- “A Christmas Carol”: The Ghost of Christmas Past will again haunt the Alley Theatre. “A Christmas Carol” will run Friday through Dec. 30. This year, the acclaimed theater company will offer a new theatrical spin on the popular Victorian-era tale. The new adaptation by artistic director Rob Melrose “captures Dickens’ witty wording and evocative style to surprise audiences with new scenes of the familiar story they might not know,” according to the Alley Theatre news release. Tickets start at $26.
- Lightscape: This popular holiday lights event will return to the Houston Botanic Garden on Friday, and run on select evenings through Jan 1. On this illuminated trail, you’ll see stunning immersive installations including a light tunnel, a breathtaking field of bluebonnets and a glowing forest of spiraling trees.
- San Jacinto Fall Fandango: Texians in the 1830s liked to celebrate with a fandango, a festive gathering with music, dancing, games and food. Dancing and balls were an important opportunity to socialize and form a community on the frontier, where many people lived miles away from their nearest neighbors. In a nod to this tradition, a Fall Fandango will be held Saturday at the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site. There will be saloon games, period music and dancing, arts and crafts, and living history activities.
- “The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley”: Regency romance returns to Rice Village with one of literature’s most beloved couples, Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy. In Main Street Theater’s annual holiday production “The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley,” a most unwelcome visitor makes an appearance, Mr. Darcy’s nemesis and Lydia’s incorrigible husband, Mr. Wickham. The production runs Saturday through Dec. 18.
- Sugar Land Holiday Lights: Beginning Friday, more than three million lights will brighten Constellation Field during Sugar Land’s annual holiday lights extravaganza. See dazzling light displays, snap a photo with Santa, enjoy carnival rides, attend holiday movie screening and more at this holiday festival.
- “Ice Land: A Caribbean Christmas” at Moody Gardens: Moody Gardens will offer a slew of seasonal attractions including ice sculptures, a trail of lights, pictures with Santa, holiday films, fireside s’mores, and train rides.
- “Trains Over Texas”: On view beginning Thursday, “Trains Over Texas,” the Houston Museum of Natural Science’s annual spectacle in miniature, features a detailed, tennis-court-size approximation of the Lone Star State packed with replicas of some of Texas’ most iconic landmarks, including Enchanted Rock and Pedernales Falls. The exhibit is the largest indoor O-scale model railroad in Texas. From Big Bend all the way to downtown Houston’s “Be Someone” sign, model trains chug through the display, passing through oil country salt domes, prairies and the wetlands of the Texas coast. Along with an overview of the state’s rail history, the exhibit offers visitors a one-of-a-kind look at Texas’ geology. Admission to the exhibit is included in the price of general admission.
A list of lists:
- Pick up the perfect gifts at these shops, small businesses you’ll only find in Houston >> 43 local stores where you can purchase something special for your special someone.
- These memberships to Texas, Houston attractions are the gifts that keep on giving >> Trying to find something great to do or a gift for someone in your life who’s impossible to shop for? Consider experiences.
- Joyous jubilations: Start decking all the halls in your heart with this ultimate guide to Houston-area holiday fun >> Relive your favorite festive Houston traditions -- mind-bogglingly massive holiday markets, dizzyingly dazzling light displays, electrifying stage spectaculars, and more.
- From Wordle to sweets, holiday gift ideas for the grown-ups >> From sweet treats to things with wheels, some fun presents sure to satisfy the child at heart.
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