Winter holidays in San Antonio mean unique Christmas festivals and evenings along the River Walk that glimmers with white lights. Book a winter hotel in San Antonio and step into the heart of Texas.


    Window-shopping under the lights

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    San Antonians love the Christmas holiday season and start celebrating it from Thanksgiving Day in late November. Kick off the winter vacation in San Antonio’s River Walk, where 200,000 holiday lights hang from stone bridges, graceful tree limbs, and the outlines of lampposts, shops and hotels. 

    City streets and driveways are lined with hundreds of luminarias, little lanterns containing glowing candles. Riverside stores fill their windows with lavish displays, and Alamo Plaza is outfitted with a large Christmas tree, all welcoming the arrival of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.


    Winter at theme parks

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    San Antonio’s theme parks take advantage of the city’s fascination with holiday festivals, decorating their rides with twinkling lights, Santa Claus displays and holiday trees. 

    Holiday-themed concerts and rides, Christmas cookies and hot chocolate are part of the celebration at Six Flags Fiesta Texas. And in nearby New Braunfels, the Schlitterbahn Waterpark Resort trucks in snow and ice equipment to help visitors get in the spirit of winter  with sledding and ice-skating.

    photo by Loadmaster (David R. Tribble) (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    New Year’s festivals

    On New Year’s Eve, live music, Latin American folk dancing and food booths line the streets around La Villita, San Antonio’s old town, and HemisFair Park, site of the 1968 World’s Fair. Multiple stages fill the air with Latin, American and German music. 

    Don’t return to your winter hotel in San Antonio before midnight. The evening finishes with a night sky blazing with fireworks, a psychedelic backdrop to the 750-foot Tower of the Americas.


    Steaming bowls of chili

    After a day outside in the crisp winter air, it's time to warm up over a bowl of hot chili, a Tex-Mex favorite. There’s no single way to make chili, and comparing the bowls from one restaurant to another is half the fun. Whether the dish includes tender chunks of beef or a mix of vegetables, sizzling hot peppers or mild beans, a creamy white base or a tomato broth, San Antonio’s chili will satisfy your appetite and warm you up. 

    Look for the best chili at authentic Mexican restaurants Mi Tierra at Market Square, Casa Rio on the River Walk, or Tomatillos near Brackenridge Park.


    Festive Latin music

    Celebrate the holiday season in San Antonio with Latin American music festivals. Hundreds of mariachi bands and soloists meet in the Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza. The event takes place for a week in November, with bands competing for music awards and participating in mariachi workshops. 

    Throughout December, Market Square is the site for Fiestas Navideñas, a month-long festival with Mexican crafts and Latin-influenced Christmas music. Check out the Mariachi Mass, which takes place every Sunday at Mission San José. Always festive, the weekly service features authentic holiday music in December.


    Holiday light show

    About a million twinkling lights usher in the holidays at Light the Way, a Christmas tradition at San Antonio’s University of the Incarnate Word. Walk or drive through a campus of reindeer, crèches, university buildings, and gardens, all outlined in tiny white lights.

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