Day Trips & Beyond: December Events Roundup

Happy holidays to everyone and happy daytrippin’ to all!

2016 still holds lots to see and lots to do.

The Landmark Inn in Castroville (Photo Courtesy of Texas Historical Commission)

The Landmark Inn’s open-hearth historic cooking classes explore how common dishes were prepared over an open fire 150 years ago. Students go behind the recipes to discover the history and science of why certain foods taste the way they do and the methodology of cooking before modern conveniences. Space in the monthly classes is limited and reservations are required. The classes happen through May 2017, so call for a list of upcoming offerings. The Landmark Inn State Historic Site in Castroville began as a roadside tavern in 1849. After extensive restoration it reopened as a museum and bed & breakfast lodging.

Dec. 17, Landmark Inn State Historic Site, Castroville, 830/931-2133,

Blankets, chairs, and wagons provide seating at the Old Settlers Music Festival, April 20-23, 2017. (Photo by Gerald E. McLeod)

Early-bird packages are on sale for the popular music festival in Driftwood. This year the festival celebrates its 30th anniversary with the return of some old favorites and the arrival of soon-to-be favorites to the four outdoor stages. Packages cover four days, three days, and single-day tickets. Buying early assures access to camping at Camp Ben McCulloch and the late-night jams.

April 20-23, 2017, Salt Lick Pavilion, Driftwood,

Travel Notes:

Dance across Texas on a unique tour that goes to five historic dance halls in as many nights. The Texas Dance Hall Tour, March 20-26, 2017, backed by Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel, offers participants as much or as little fun as they want. The premium package includes tours of the dance halls, concerts, dance lessons, dinner, transportation, accommodations, and more. Nothing quite like this has ever been tried before, and much of the proceeds go to Texas Dance Hall Preservation. For more information and to make reservations, go to

Pablo Picasso fans have two opportunities in the state to see different sides of the master’s works. “Picasso: The Line” explores the dazzling variety of styles he used to make line drawings, through Jan. 8, 2017, at the Menil Collection in Houston ( At the Arlington Museum of Art in Arlington, “Pablo Picasso: Ceramics” delves into the Spanish artist’s lifelong experimentation with ceramic pieces, through Feb. 12, 2017 (

After years of waiting, Balcones Distilling in Waco is finally ready to welcome fans to its new home for tours. Begun in 2006, the craft whiskey distiller quickly garnered acclaim and outgrew its plant. The new location has four times the spirit still capacity as the old. Tours are restricted to those over 19 years of age. Reservations are required for visitors at the 5:15pm tours on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Sign up at

Do you have an old favorite T-shirt? Or two? Or several? Have you collected souvenir T-shirts or sweatshirts from all the places you visited, but they don’t fit anymore? Turn those memories into a unique quilt or pillow. It’s time to clean out your T-shirt drawer and contact Project Repat at

The Texas Historical Commission was recognized for its public education initiative by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in November. The prestigious John H. Chafee Award of Outstanding Achievement in Public Policy honored the state agency for the dozens of projects it manages and was one of 11 awards given in 2016.

Other December Events:

A Dickens Christmas
Dec. 2-3, Lockhart,

Dickens on the Strand
Dec. 2-4, Galveston,

Curious Exhibit
Dec. 2-4, 9-11, 16-18, 23, Palestine,

Christmas in the Park
Dec. 3, 10, 17, 20-23, 31, George Ranch Historical Park, Richmond,

Country Christmas
Dec. 9-10, Seguin,

Christmas on the Brazos
Dec. 10, Washington,

Ingleside Renaissance Faire
Dec. 10-11, Ingleside,

Winter Solstice at the Throne Room
Dec. 17, Cave Without a Name, Boerne,

Christmas Ball
Dec. 17, Luckenbach,

WW II Tank Experience
Through Dec. 17, College Station,

Loretta Lynn in Concert
Dec. 18-19, the Grand 1894 Opera House, Galveston,

You Are Here: Maps of Texas
Through Jan. 7, The Heritage Society, Houston,

Light Displays:

Holiday Lights on the River
Through Dec. 31, Bandera,

Comanche Trail Festival of Lights
Dec. 15-31, Big Spring,

San Antonio Christmas Lights Fest
Through Dec. 31, Boerne,

Buda Trail of Lights
Dec. 8-10, 15-18, Buda,

Christmas Trail of Lights
Through Dec. 31, Burnet,

Whistle Stop Christmas Lights in the Park
Through Dec. 31, Cleburne,

The 12 Days of Christmas
Through Jan. 3, Dallas,

Nature in Lights
Through Jan. 9, Fort Hood,

Festival of Lights
Through Jan. 8, Moody Gardens, Galveston,

Lights of Tejas
Through Dec. 31, Giddings,

Bayou Bend Christmas Village
Dec. 10-Jan. 1, Houston,

Lights Spectacular
Through Jan. 1, Johnson City,

Walkway of Lights
Through Jan. 1, Marble Falls,

Santa’s Ranch
Through Jan. 1, New Braunfels,

Concho Christmas Celebration
Through Dec. 31, San Angelo,

LBJ Tree Lighting
Dec. 18, Stonewall,

Sugar Land Holiday Lights
Through Jan. 8, Constellation Field, Sugar Land,

Trail of Lights
Through Dec. 29, Wimberley,

Christmas Displays:

A Walk in Bethlehem
Dec. 6-7, Boerne,

Main Street Bethlehem
Dec. 2-4, 9-11, Burnet,

A Walk Through Bethlehem
Dec. 9-11, Montalba,

Concho Christmas Celebration
Dec. 3-4, 9-10, 16-22, San Angelo,

New Year’s Eve Parties:

New Year’s Dance
Dec. 31, Twin Sisters Dance Hall, Blanco,

Gary P. Nunn
Dec. 31, Kendalia Hall, Kendalia,

Billy Mata & The Texas Tradition
Dec. 31, Leon Springs,

New Year’s Eve Celebration
Dec. 31, Luckenbach,

Pettit Brothers
Dec. 31, Sengelmann Hall, Schulenburg,

New Year’s Eve on the Square
Dec. 31, Sugar Land,

Gerald McLeod has been traveling around Texas and beyond for his "Day Trips" column for the past 24 years. Keep up to date with his journeys on his archive page. Day Trips, Vol. 2, a book of "Day Trips," is available for $8.95, plus $3.05 for shipping, handling, and tax. Mail to: Day Trips, PO Box 40312, South Austin, TX 78704.

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More by Gerald E. McLeod
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Landmark Inn State Historic Site, Salt Lick Pavilion, Texas Dance Hall Tour, Pablo Picasso, Balcones Distilling, Texas Historical Commission, Project Repat, holiday light displays, New Year's Eve parties

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