Day Trips & Beyond: December Events Roundup

It's the most wonderful time of the year

With Christmas lights, New Year’s Eve celebrations, bullfighting, and more, December is an exciting month.

The entire town seems to get involved in the Lights Spectacular holiday tradition in Johnson City. The forest of lights at the PEC Building go beyond spectacular. (Photo by Gerald E. McLeod)

The festival of holiday lights in Johnson City lives up to its name, “Lights Spectacular.” The county courthouse is bathed in a wave of tiny lights and the buildings around the square are outlined in colorful bulbs. Every weekend of December the celebration offers hay rides and carriage rides, but on Dec. 7-9, 14-16, 21-23 there will be extra special events and tours. Don’t miss the forest of lighted trees at the Pedernales Electric Co-op building, 201 S. Ave. F, and the tours of the LBJ Boyhood Home.
Through Jan. 6, Lights Spectacular, Johnson City, 830/868-7684, www.johnsoncitytexas.info/lights-spectacular.html

Gates open at 1pm with bullfights beginning at 4pm at Santa Maria Bullring deep in the ranching country north of McAllen. Tickets are sold as “sunny,” “shade,” or “box seats.” (Photo by Gerald E. McLeod)

The thrill of the ballet between a raging bull and the matador returns to Texas’ only permanent bullring for its December to March season. Santa Maria Bullring brings top matadors to the Brush Country north of McAllen for the bloodless contest between man and beast. The matador plucks a flower from the bull’s head instead of dispatching the animal with a sword. The uniquely Rio Grande Valley festival is filled with food and music and the pomp of Mexican bullfighting.


Dec. 8, Jan. 12, 26, Feb. 9, 23, Mar. 9, Santa Maria Bullring, La Gloria, 956/481-3300, www.fredrenk.com

Elvis Presley and James Burton greet visitors to the Shreveport Municipal Auditorium. You can walk on the stage where Elvis, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, and many other music icons played. (Photo by Gerald E. McLeod)

Take a walk in history with the Backstage Music Tours https://www.shreveportmunicipalauditorium.com/tour-the-municipal/at the famed Municipal Auditorium in Shreveport, La. Once home to the Louisiana Hayride radio program, the auditorium’s stage has seen the greatest names in American musical history. Elvis Presley made his national broadcast debut here. Public tours require at least two persons to make reservations, but if you have at least eight friends you can schedule a private behind-the-scenes tour.
Dec. 2 & 9, Backstage Music Tours, Shreveport, La., 318/841-4000, www.shreveportmunicipalauditorium.com

Travel Notes:

Looking for an unusual Christmas present for that special someone? For $100 you can adopt a Galveston Bay dolphin for a year in their name through the Galveston Bay Dolphin Research and Conservation Program. The recipient receives a certificate of adoption, a photo, quarterly updates, and more. If you really want to impress that certain someone for $1,000 you get to name one of the dolphins in the bay.

In honor of Schlitterbahn Water Park’s 40th anniversary season in New Braunfels, the park is inviting fans and guest to be a permanent part of their new Wave of Fame. The water park is updating the entrance and decorating it with personalized bricks on sale for $49.99 for a 4- by 8-inch brick or $99.99 for an 8- by 8-inch brick.

Work continues on the repairs to the Balmorhea State Park’s pool since it was closed in early May due to structural damage. http://www.garrisonbros.com Garrison Brothers Distillery will donate $5 from each bottle of Balmorhea Bourbon sold this year to the restoration project at the West Texas spring-fed pool.

Trout fishing in Texas is underway with more than 322,500 rainbow trout stocked in waterways around the state by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. There are at least 11 stocking locations in the Austin area including Onion Creek, Guadalupe River, and the ponds at East Metropolitan Park.

Family trees of the African Americans who had connections with Thomas Jefferson are traced from the plantation to freedom in Slavery at Jefferson’s Monticello: Paradox of Liberty at the African American Museum in Dallas. The groundbreaking exhibit organized by the staff of Monticello has been extended to Jan. 21, 2019.

Other December Events:

Gumbo Cook-off
Dec. 1, Castell, www.castellgeneralstore.com

Holiday by the Tracks
Dec. 1, Elgin, www.elgintx.com

A Ranger Christmas
Dec. 1, Fredericksburg, www.trhc.org

Christmas Stroll
Dec. 1, Georgetown, www.thegeorgetownsquare.com

Gen. Zaragoza Society’s Las Posadas
Dec. 1, Goliad, www.fb.com/events/2260710347495358

Garrison Brothers Distillery's Wild Game Chef Dinner
Dec. 1, Hye, www.garrisonbrothers.ticketspice.com/wild-game-dinner-with-chef-john-brand

Old Town Christmas Festival
Dec. 1, Leander, www.visitleandertx.com

Christkindlmarkt
Dec. 1, New Braunfels, www.ckmnbtx.org

Christmas Parade
Dec. 1, Round Top, www.roundtop.org

Narrated Glass Blowing Demonstrations
Dec. 1, Tomball, www.threedimensionalvisions.com

Budafest
Dec. 1-2, Buda, www.budafest.org

Dickens on the Strand
Dec. 1-2, Galveston, www.dickensonthestrand.org

Island Holiday Market
Dec. 1-2, Port Aransas, www.portaransasartcenter.org

Waco Wonderland
Dec. 1-2, Waco, www.wacowonderland.com

Bethlehem Revisited
Dec. 1-2, 7-9, Waxahachie, www.waxahachiecvb.org

Christmas in the Park
Dec. 1, 8, 15, 22, Richmond, www.georgeranch.org

A Wonderland Christmas
Dec. 1, 8, 15, 16, 21-23, San Antonio, www.morganswonderland.com

Tours of Jacob’s Well Nature Area
Dec. 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, Wimberley, www.co.hays.tx.us/jwna.aspx

Sights and Sounds of Christmas
Dec. 1-8, San Marcos, www.sights-n-sounds.org

Christmas in Goliad
Dec. 1-8, Goliad, www.historicalgoliad.com/index.php/christmas-in-goliad

Holiday Crystal Wine Trail
Dec. 1-9, Brenham, www.texasbluebonnetwinetrail.com

Christmas Wine Affair
Dec. 1-16, Fredericksburg, www.texaswinetrail.com

Holiday Sandcastle Village
Dec. 1-16, South Padre Island, www.sopadre.com

Life-Size Nativity Figures
Dec.1-31, Comfort, www.comfortchamber.com

Eisbahn Outdoor Ice Skating
Dec. 1-Jan. 6, Fredericksburg, www.skateinfred.com

Walk in Bethlehem
Dec. 4-5, Boerne, www.visitboerne.org

Christmas at the Courthouse
Dec. 6, Giddings, www.giddingstx.com

Holiday Music for the Hill Country
Dec. 6, Kerrville, www.symphonyofthehills.org

Schmeckenfest – Christmas Wassail Tasting Festival
Dec. 6, La Grange, www.visitlagrangetx.com

Wassailfest
Dec. 6, New Braunfels, www.nbtexas.org/1845/Wassailfest

“Humanity”
Dec. 7, Boerne, www.cameratasa.org

Light the Night Christmas Parade and After Glow
Dec. 7, Fredericksburg, www.lightthenightchristmasparade.com

Pearl Harbor Day Observance
Dec. 7, Fredericksburg, www.pacificwarmuseum.org

The Christmas Town
Dec. 7-8, 14-15, Boerne, www.visitboerne.org

Main Street Bethlehem
Dec. 7-8, 14-16, Burnet, www.fbcburnet.org

Briscoe Ranch Barbecue Cook-off
Dec. 7-8, Uvalde, www.uvaldebbq.com

Davis Mountains Preserve Open Weekend
Dec. 7-9, Fort Davis, www.nature.org/en-us/get-involved/how-to-help/volunteer-and-attend-events/find-local-events-and-opportunities/davis-mountains-open-days

Christmas at Old Fort Concho
Dec. 7-9, San Angelo, www.fortconcho.com

Christmas Village
Dec. 8, Burton, www.burtontexas.org

Christmas Through the Years in LBJ Country
Dec. 8, Johnson City, www.nps.gov/lyjo

“Humanity”
Dec. 8, Kerrville, www.cameratasa.org

Pottery-Making Boot Camp
Dec. 8, Luling, www.lulingicehousepottery.com

Christmas on the Brazos
Dec. 8, Washington, www.wheretexasbecametexas.org/plan-your-visit/special-events

Holiday with the Cranes
Dec. 8-9, Galveston, www.galvestonnaturetourism.org/holiday-with-the-cranes-2018

Weihnachtsfeier
Dec. 9, San Antonio, www.fb.com/pages/category/Community/San-Antonio-Weihnachtsfeier-1673307589666229

Wolves Behind-the-Scenes Tour
Dec. 10, Glen Rose, www.fossilrim.org

Christmas in Fulton
Dec. 12-13, Fulton, members.rockport-fulton.org/events/details/christmas-in-fulton-dec-12-13-39635

Central Texas Christmas Bird Count
Dec. 14-Jan. 5, Various locations, www.houstonaudubon.org/birding/christmas-bird-counts/central-texas.html

Annual Bake Sale Benefit
Dec. 15, Fredericksburg, www.historicschools.org/events-calendar.html

Bird Banding
Dec. 15, Lake Jackson, www.gcbo.org

Bend of the River Christmas
Dec. 15, Temple, www.ci.temple.tx.us/2448/Bend-Of-The-River-Christmas

Candlelight Christmas
Dec. 15, West Columbia, www.visitvarnerhoggplantation.com

Blue (Hole) Christmas
Dec. 15, Wimberley, www.visitwimberley.com/articles/bhXmas15.shtml

LBJ Tree Lighting
Dec. 16, Stonewall, www.tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/lyndon-b-johnson

Come and Taste It
Dec. 20, Gruene, www.grapevineingruene.com

Winter Solstice Concert in the Cave
Dec. 22, Boerne, www.cavewithoutaname.com

Luckenbach Christmas Ball
Dec. 22, Luckenbach, www.luckenbachtexas.com

Lights All Night
Dec. 28-29, Dallas, www.lightsallnight.com

New Year’s Eve Historical Bash
Dec. 29, Richmond, www.georgeranch.org

New Year’s Eve Celebrations

Hill Country New Year’s Festival
Dec. 28-31, Concan, www.visituvaldecounty.com/events/2017/newyearseve

Lone Star NYE Live!
Dec. 31, Arlington, www.texas-live.com

Countdown to 2019
Dec. 31, Fredericksburg, www.fbgtx.org

USO-Style Hangar Dance
Dec. 31, Fredericksburg, www.hangarhotel.com

Dance the Night Away with the Argyles
Dec. 31, Horseshoe Bay, www.hsbresort.com/new-years-eve.aspx

New Year’s Eve Dance
Dec. 31, Luckenbach, www.luckenbachtexas.com

Celebrate SA!
Dec. 31, San Antonio, www.saparksfoundation.org/event/celebrate-sa/?l=L1&ri=0

Christmas Light Displays

Trail of Lights
Dec. 1, 7, 8, 14, 15, La Grange, www.tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/monument-hill-kreische-brewery

Fiesta de las Luminarias
Dec. 1-2, 7-9, 14-16, San Antonio, www.thesanantonioriverwalk.com/events

ElectriCritters
Through Dec. 22, Wichita Falls, www.riverbendnaturecenter.org

Comanche Trail Festival of Lights
Through Dec. 25, Big Spring, www.visitbigspring.com

Walkway of Lights
Through Dec. 26, Marble Falls, www.marblefalls.org

Trail of Lights
Through Dec. 28, Wimberley, www.emilyann.org

MSU-Burns Fantasy of Lights
Through Dec. 29, Wichita Falls, https://fol.mwsu.edu

Wonderland of Lights
Through Dec. 30, Marshall, www.marshalltexas.net/public/warrants/wonderland-of-lights

Lost Pines Christmas
Through Dec. 31, Bastrop, www.lostpineschristmas.com

Whistle Stop Christmas
Through Dec. 31, Cleburne, www.whistlestopchristmas.org

Townwide Christmas Lighting Contest and Viewing
Through Dec. 31, Comfort, www.comfortchamber.com

12 Days of Christmas at Night
Through Dec. 31, Dallas, www.dallasarboretum.org

Starry Starry Nights Lighted Christmas Park
Through Dec. 31, Llano, www.llanostarrystarrynights.com

Concho Christmas Celebration
Through Dec. 31, San Angelo, www.conchochristmascelebration.com

Azalea District Trail of Lights
Through Dec. 31, Tyler, www.visittyler.com/rosecitychristmas

Christmas in the Park
Through Jan. 1, Cuero, www.cuero.org

Zoo Lights
Through Jan. 1, Dallas, www.dallaszoo.com

Lighted Yule Trail
Through Jan. 1, Luling, www.lulingmainstreet.com

Christmas on the Creek
Through Jan. 1, Lampasas, www.lampasaschamber.org

Louisiana Trail of Lights
Through Jan. 1, Shreveport-Bossier, Minden, Monroe-West Monroe, Natchitoches, Alexandria/Pineville, La., www.holidaytrailoflights.com

Sugar Land Holiday Lights
Through Jan. 1, Sugar Land, www.sugarlandholidaylights.com

Christmas Spectacular
Through Jan. 1, The Colony, www.visitthecolonytx.com

Comanche County Christmas Lights
Through Jan. 2, Comanche, www.fb.com/comanchecountychristmas

Holiday Lights on the River Walk
Through Jan. 4, San Antonio, www.thesanantonioriverwalk.com/events

Santa Land Drive-Through Christmas Park
Through Jan. 4, Tyler, www.santalandtylertx.com

Dancing Lights of Mill Pond – Christmas Extravaganza
Through Jan. 5, San Saba, www.sansabachamber.org

Festival of Lights
Through Jan. 6, Galveston, www.moodygardens.com

Lights Spectacular
Through Jan. 6, Johnson City, www.johnsoncitytexas.info/lights-spectacular.html

Magical Winter Lights
Through Jan. 6, La Marque, www.magicalwinterlights.com

Holiday Lights on the River Walk
Through Jan. 6, San Antonio, www.thesanantonioriverwalk.com


Gerald E. McLeod has been traveling around Texas and beyond for his "Day Trips" column for more than 25 years. Keep up to date with his journeys on his archive page.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 36 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Day Trips, travel, Christmas lights, New Year's, Lights Spectacular, bullfighting, Backstage Music Tours, Schlitterbahn, Balmorhea State Park, African American Museum

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