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,

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,

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 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,

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. 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,

Holiday by the Tracks
Dec. 1, Elgin,

A Ranger Christmas
Dec. 1, Fredericksburg,

Christmas Stroll
Dec. 1, Georgetown,

Gen. Zaragoza Society’s Las Posadas
Dec. 1, Goliad,

Garrison Brothers Distillery's Wild Game Chef Dinner
Dec. 1, Hye,

Old Town Christmas Festival
Dec. 1, Leander,

Dec. 1, New Braunfels,

Christmas Parade
Dec. 1, Round Top,

Narrated Glass Blowing Demonstrations
Dec. 1, Tomball,

Dec. 1-2, Buda,

Dickens on the Strand
Dec. 1-2, Galveston,

Island Holiday Market
Dec. 1-2, Port Aransas,

Waco Wonderland
Dec. 1-2, Waco,

Bethlehem Revisited
Dec. 1-2, 7-9, Waxahachie,

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

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

Tours of Jacob’s Well Nature Area
Dec. 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, Wimberley,

Sights and Sounds of Christmas
Dec. 1-8, San Marcos,

Christmas in Goliad
Dec. 1-8, Goliad,

Holiday Crystal Wine Trail
Dec. 1-9, Brenham,

Christmas Wine Affair
Dec. 1-16, Fredericksburg,

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

Life-Size Nativity Figures
Dec.1-31, Comfort,

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

Walk in Bethlehem
Dec. 4-5, Boerne,

Christmas at the Courthouse
Dec. 6, Giddings,

Holiday Music for the Hill Country
Dec. 6, Kerrville,

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

Dec. 6, New Braunfels,

Dec. 7, Boerne,

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

Pearl Harbor Day Observance
Dec. 7, Fredericksburg,

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

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

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

Davis Mountains Preserve Open Weekend
Dec. 7-9, Fort Davis,

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

Christmas Village
Dec. 8, Burton,

Christmas Through the Years in LBJ Country
Dec. 8, Johnson City,

Dec. 8, Kerrville,

Pottery-Making Boot Camp
Dec. 8, Luling,

Christmas on the Brazos
Dec. 8, Washington,

Holiday with the Cranes
Dec. 8-9, Galveston,

Dec. 9, San Antonio,

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

Christmas in Fulton
Dec. 12-13, Fulton,

Central Texas Christmas Bird Count
Dec. 14-Jan. 5, Various locations,

Annual Bake Sale Benefit
Dec. 15, Fredericksburg,

Bird Banding
Dec. 15, Lake Jackson,

Bend of the River Christmas
Dec. 15, Temple,

Candlelight Christmas
Dec. 15, West Columbia,

Blue (Hole) Christmas
Dec. 15, Wimberley,

LBJ Tree Lighting
Dec. 16, Stonewall,

Come and Taste It
Dec. 20, Gruene,

Winter Solstice Concert in the Cave
Dec. 22, Boerne,

Luckenbach Christmas Ball
Dec. 22, Luckenbach,

Lights All Night
Dec. 28-29, Dallas,

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

New Year’s Eve Celebrations

Hill Country New Year’s Festival
Dec. 28-31, Concan,

Lone Star NYE Live!
Dec. 31, Arlington,

Countdown to 2019
Dec. 31, Fredericksburg,

USO-Style Hangar Dance
Dec. 31, Fredericksburg,

Dance the Night Away with the Argyles
Dec. 31, Horseshoe Bay,

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

Celebrate SA!
Dec. 31, San Antonio,

Christmas Light Displays

Trail of Lights
Dec. 1, 7, 8, 14, 15, La Grange,

Fiesta de las Luminarias
Dec. 1-2, 7-9, 14-16, San Antonio,

Through Dec. 22, Wichita Falls,

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

Walkway of Lights
Through Dec. 26, Marble Falls,

Trail of Lights
Through Dec. 28, Wimberley,

MSU-Burns Fantasy of Lights
Through Dec. 29, Wichita Falls,

Wonderland of Lights
Through Dec. 30, Marshall,

Lost Pines Christmas
Through Dec. 31, Bastrop,

Whistle Stop Christmas
Through Dec. 31, Cleburne,

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

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

Starry Starry Nights Lighted Christmas Park
Through Dec. 31, Llano,

Concho Christmas Celebration
Through Dec. 31, San Angelo,

Azalea District Trail of Lights
Through Dec. 31, Tyler,

Christmas in the Park
Through Jan. 1, Cuero,

Zoo Lights
Through Jan. 1, Dallas,

Lighted Yule Trail
Through Jan. 1, Luling,

Christmas on the Creek
Through Jan. 1, Lampasas,

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

Sugar Land Holiday Lights
Through Jan. 1, Sugar Land,

Christmas Spectacular
Through Jan. 1, The Colony,

Comanche County Christmas Lights
Through Jan. 2, Comanche,

Holiday Lights on the River Walk
Through Jan. 4, San Antonio,

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

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

Festival of Lights
Through Jan. 6, Galveston,

Lights Spectacular
Through Jan. 6, Johnson City,

Magical Winter Lights
Through Jan. 6, La Marque,

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

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.

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