Day Trips & Beyond: December Events Roundup

Saddle up your reindeer

Brighten up your holiday with Christmas lights, festivals, and parades around the state, plus more winter fun.

The Guadalupe River outside of New Braunfels is a scenic place to try your luck pursuing the lively rainbow trout stocked by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department during the winter months. (Photo by Gerald E. McLeod)

Trout fishing in Texas. It’s time again for a Texas winter tradition. Between Nov. 24, 2021, and March 6, 2022, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department stocks area waters with 352,563 rainbow trout. The 2021-2022 Trout Stocking Schedule lists the 200 locations and the dates when stockings occur. Austin has four locations with several other spots within an hour’s drive.

The feisty fish are relatively easy to catch and make a tasty addition to the dinner plate. Not being native to Texas waters, the cold-water-loving rainbows rarely survive our summers. Being nearly omnivorous, they strike at worms, powerbait, flies, lures, and even sweet corn from a can, making them popular with experienced anglers and fly fishermen, as well as novices.

The best time to fish for trout is either early morning or late afternoon. Gray, chilly days with a light rain can often be a good time to drown a few worms. Keep in mind that you’ll need a state fishing license unless you’re under 17 years old or fishing in a state park (some state parks have loaner equipment). Day passes to state parks can be reserved online or by calling 512/389-8900.The statewide bag limit is five trout, except on parts of the Guadalupe River.
Through March 6, 2022, Rainbow Trout Stocking, 512/389-8900,

Travel Notes:

Take the high road. The Texas Mountain Trail Passport is a fun project to encourage exploring Far West Texas, as if you needed more incentive than the beautiful scenery or interesting attractions. Get 20 stamps in your passport from 25 historic sites, attractions, and destinations in a six-county region between Brewster County and El Paso County to win a prize. The Texas Mountain Region covers an area about equal to Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Delaware combined, but includes Big Bend National Park, Guadalupe Mountains National Park, and multiple museums, state parks, and historic hotels. The passport is available at regional visitors’ centers and in copies of the Big Bend and Texas Mountains Travel Guide.

Snow birds are back. By now most of the magnificent whooping cranes have made their 2,400-mile migration to the Texas Gulf Coast from their Canadian breeding grounds. Last year the flock held steady at 506 individuals. The first of the birds were spotted Oct. 29 at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge and in the Port O’Connor area. North America’s tallest and rarest birds can often be spotted at Galveston Island State Park, Goose Island State Park, and from cruises out of Rockport.

Road noise. The Reason Foundation, a libertarian think tank, ranked Texas’ highway system 16th in the nation in condition and cost effectiveness in their Annual Highway Report released in November. According to the report, Texas is in the middle of the pack of states at 24th by spending $75,153 per mile on state-controlled roadways, the largest highway system in the nation. The report ranks every state highway system in 13 categories. Where the Lone Star State needs the most improvement is in the urban highway fatality rate (39th) and urban traffic congestion (40th). But the state shines at the low number of structurally deficient bridges (second-lowest of the states) and low administration costs (10th lowest of the states).

Walkway of Lights at Marble Falls (Photo by Gerald E. McLeod)

Put a twinkle in your holidays with these Christmas light displays:

Winter Lightfest
Through Dec. 31, Abilene,

Comanche Trail Festival of Lights
Dec. 5-25, Big Spring,

Santa’s Wonderland
Through Dec. 30, College Station,

Christmas in the Park
Through Jan. 1, Cuero,

Holiday at the Arboretum
Through Dec. 31, Dallas,

Lights and Delights
Through Jan. 4, Dripping Springs,

Winter Fest
Through Jan. 2, El Paso,

Christmas Nights of Lights
Through Jan. 6, Fredericksburg,

Christmas in the Square
Through Jan. 2, Frisco,

History in Lights
Dec. 1-31, Goliad,

Christmas Capital of Texas
Through Jan. 9, Grapevine,

Prairie Lights
Through Dec. 31, Grand Prairie,

Festival of Lights
Dec. 1-31, Hidalgo,

Through Jan. 2, Houston,

Lights Spectacular Hill Country Style
Through Jan. 2, Johnson City,

PEC Holiday Lights
Through Jan. 2, Johnson City,

Holiday Lights Along the Llano River
Through Jan. 1, Junction,

Trail of Lights
Dec. 4, 10, 11, 17, 19-23, La Grange,

Lakeway Trail of Lights
Dec. 4-Jan. 2, Lakeway,

Christmas on the Creek
Through Jan.1, Lampasas,

Starry Starry Night in Llano
Through Dec. 31, Llano,

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

Walkway of Lights
Through Jan. 1, Marble Falls,

Wonderland of Lights
Through Dec. 23, Marshall,

Santa’s Ranch
Through Jan. 2, New Braunfels,

Christmas Light Display Driving Tour
Through Dec. 27, Palestine,

Lights on the Farm
Through Dec. 26, Plano,

Christmas on the Beach
Dec. 5-31, Rockport,

Light up the Lake
Dec. 2-4, Round Rock,

Holiday Lights on the River Walk
Through Jan. 10, San Antonio,

Through Jan. 2, San Antonio,

Tour of Lights
Dec. 4-Dec. 31, San Angelo,

Sights and Sounds of Christmas
Dec. 2-4, 9-11, San Marcos,

Christmas Spectacular
Dec. 4-Jan. 2, The Colony,

Wild Lights
Through Jan. 9, Waco,

Trail of Lights
December 4-26, Wimberley,

Holiday Boat Caroling, San Antonio

Other December Events:

Christmas Wine Affair
Dec. 1-24, Texas Hill Country,

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

Chriskindl Market
Dec. 1-Jan. 2, Arlington,

Eisbahn Outdoor Ice Skating
Dec. 1-Jan. 2, Fredericksburg,

“Honor, Courage, Commitment: Marine Corps Art, 1975-2018”
Dec. 1-Jan. 4, Fredericksburg,

“Facing the Inferno: The Wildfire Photography of Keri Greer”
Dec. 1-Jan. 15, Temple,

Green Mountain Energy Ice at Discovery Green
Dec. 1-Jan. 30, Houston,

“Texas Biennial: A New Landscape, A Possible Horizon”
Dec. 1-Jan. 31, San Antonio,

Christmas Under the Stars
Dec. 2-4, Brownwood,

Holiday Boat Caroling
Dec. 2-23, San Antonio,

Balcones Heights Jazz Festival Christmas Concert
Dec. 3, Balcones Heights,

Dickens on Main
Dec. 3-4, 8-11, 17-19, Boerne,

Light Up Live Oak Park
Dec. 3-4, Ingleside,

Dickens on the Strand
Dec. 3-5, Galveston,

Christmas at Old Fort Concho
Dec. 3-5, San Angelo,

Christmas Stroll
Dec. 3-12, Salado,

Bethlehem Revisited
Dec. 3-5, 10-12, Waxahachie,

Nativity Display
Dec. 3-21, Granbury,

Old Jail Exhibit
Dec. 4, Fredericksburg,

Ranger Christmas Wonderland
Dec. 4, Fredericksburg,

Christmas Fair and Winter at the Park
Dec. 4, Huntsville,

Celebration of the Lively
Dec. 4, Surfside Beach,

Christmas Fair
Dec. 4, Taylor,

Lighted Christmas Parade
Dec. 4, Victoria,

Courthouse Tours
Dec. 4, Wharton,

Christmas on Texas Avenue Festival
Dec. 4-5, Baytown,

Holidays in Gruene Christmas Market
Dec. 4-5, Gruene,

Redbud Artisan Market
Dec. 4-5, Kerrville,

Farmers Market
Dec. 4, 11, Boerne,

Norwegian Country Christmas Tour
Dec. 5, Clifton,

Lighted Christmas Parade
Dec. 7, Nederland,

Planetarium Show
Dec. 7, 14, 21, 18, Clute,

Christmas in the Park
Dec. 10-11, Clute,

Candlelight at the Ranch
Dec. 10-11, Lubbock,

A Walk Through Bethlehem
Dec. 10-12, Montalba,

Downtown Hutto Christmas Fair
Dec. 11, Hutto,

Christmas on the Creek
Dec. 11, Lampasas,

Snow Day
Dec. 11, Llano,

Folk Fest
Dec. 11, New Braunfels,

Dogwood Jamboree “Time for Christmas”
Dec. 11, Palestine,

Black History Holiday Light Cruises
Dec. 11, San Antonio,

Holiday Museum Market
Dec. 11, San Antonio,

North Pole Nopal Market
Dec. 11, San Antonio,

Holiday with the Cranes
Dec. 11-12, Galveston,

Holiday Twilight Tour
Dec. 15, Houston,

Come and Taste It
Dec. 16, Gruene,

Alfresco Weslaco
Dec. 16, Weslaco,

The Texas Cowboys’ Christmas Ball
Dec. 16-18, Anson,

Snow Day on the Square
Dec. 17, Wharton,

Abilene Zoo Christmas Celebration
Dec. 17-23, Abilene,

Winter Solstice with Rudi and Rudiments
Dec. 18, Boerne,

Bird Banding
Dec. 18, Lake Jackson,

Christmas Ball with Gary P. Nunn
Dec. 18, Luckenbach,

LBJ Tree Lighting
Dec. 19, Stonewall,

Eastside Market
Dec. 19, Waco,

Dec. 18, Washington-on-the-Brazos,

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

USO-Style Hangar Dance
Dec. 31, Fredericksburg,

In search of more virtual or IRL travel ideas? Visit our Out of Town listings.
Gerald 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 and follow him on Facebook.

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