Christmas on the Coast

December 12, 2018

starfish with santa hat in the sand on the coast
During the holidays the kids are home from school, and most offices close down for some much-needed time off. This year, take advantage of your days off with a Texas-style Christmas “staycation.” Here are some of our top picks for a holly jolly family road trip.  

Galveston Island

Galveston has enough holiday celebrations to last the entire season. Dickens on the Strand is one of their most famous events, taking place the first weekend in December. From Fezziwig’s kickoff party, to elaborately costumed event-goers, to Charles Dickens’s own descendants showing up, this annual event is not to be missed. Galveston’s Holiday Lighting Celebration features a horse-drawn carriage, live entertainment, and culminates with the lighting of a 35-foot tall Christmas tree. Moody Gardens hosts their annual Festival of Lights, featuring eight different attractions, including ice-skating and an “Arctic” slide. This is only a small sampling of the many holiday events held on the island throughout the holidays.

South Padre Island

Lights Over South Padre Island is the island event of the holiday season. Enjoy holiday-themed sand castle sculptures, a traditional parade and a boat parade, breakfast with Santa, and plenty of entertainment for the kids. Visitors can also enjoy an indoor water wonderland at Schlitterbahn, which opens for the holidays.

Port Aransas

It’s a laid-back coastal Christmas in Port Aransas. Holiday visitors flock to see the Whooping Cranes at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, where the birds migrate for the winter (between October and March), before heading back to Canada for the summer. The island also hosts a lighted boat parade, Christmas tree lightings, a pirate ship Christmas tour on the famous Red Dragon, an “enchanted” holiday forest, and other festive events.

Corpus Christi

The Harbor Lights Festival kicks off the holidays in Corpus Christi with a bang. The full-day festival boasts a parade, live entertainment, children’s fun zones, Christmas tree lighting, and a boat parade. If you love Christmas trees, Corpus Christi has a gorgeous tree, over 65-feet tall (the tallest in CC), located at The Water's Edge, where you will also be treated to beautiful views of the downtown Marina. The city hosts many other beloved holiday events, from a traditional performance of A Christmas Carol at the Harbor Playhouse, to a musical performance at the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Performing Arts Center that has become a tradition for many families. The performance features the Corpus Christi Symphony Orchestra, joined by local choirs who perform carols, and is topped off with a sing-a-long with Santa Claus himself. 


This small coastal town along Galveston Bay is buzzing with holiday activities. There’s a popular annual lighted boat parade (with a new theme every year), and Kemah Boardwalk hosts Jingle on the Boardwalk—with fun family-friendly events every weekend in December. 

Port Arthur

Visit Port Arthur for the truly unique A Very Marshy Christmas event at Sea Rim State Park. See Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive by airboat, then participate in crafts, photos with Santa, and enjoy some hot chocolate and cookies. Kids and adults alike enjoy this non-traditional take on a coastal Christmas.

Power of Texas wishes Texans across the state a happy holiday season. Learn more about how you can help keep Texas clean and beautiful for future generations.

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