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, tpwd.texas.gov

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, www.unitedwayabilene.org/winterlightfest

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

Santa’s Wonderland
Through Dec. 30, College Station, www.santas-wonderland.com

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

Holiday at the Arboretum
Through Dec. 31, Dallas, www.dallasarboretum.org

Lights and Delights
Through Jan. 4, Dripping Springs, www.dreamlanddstx.com

Winter Fest
Through Jan. 2, El Paso, www.epwinterfest.com

Christmas Nights of Lights
Through Jan. 6, Fredericksburg, www.visitfredericksburgtx.com

Christmas in the Square
Through Jan. 2, Frisco, www.visitfrisco.com

History in Lights
Dec. 1-31, Goliad, tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/goliad

Christmas Capital of Texas
Through Jan. 9, Grapevine, www.grapevinetexasusa.com

Prairie Lights
Through Dec. 31, Grand Prairie, www.prairielights.org

Festival of Lights
Dec. 1-31, Hidalgo, www.hidalgofestivaloflights.com

Lightscape
Through Jan. 2, Houston, www.hbg.org

Lights Spectacular Hill Country Style
Through Jan. 2, Johnson City, www.johnsoncitytexas.info/lights-spectacular.html

PEC Holiday Lights
Through Jan. 2, Johnson City, www.pec.coop/our-community/pec-holiday-lights

Holiday Lights Along the Llano River
Through Jan. 1, Junction, www.junctiontexas.com/holiday-lights-on-the-llano

Trail of Lights
Dec. 4, 10, 11, 17, 19-23, La Grange, www.friendsofkreischebrewery.org/trailoflights

Lakeway Trail of Lights
Dec. 4-Jan. 2, Lakeway, www.lakeway-tx.gov/721/trail-of-lights

Christmas on the Creek
Through Jan.1, Lampasas, www.visionlampasas.org/events.html

Starry Starry Night in Llano
Through Dec. 31, Llano, www.llanostarrystarrynights.com

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

Walkway of Lights
Through Jan. 1, Marble Falls, www.visitmarblefalls.org/event/walkway

Wonderland of Lights
Through Dec. 23, Marshall, www.marshalltexas.net/483/Wonderland-of-Lights-2021

Santa’s Ranch
Through Jan. 2, New Braunfels, www.santasranch.net

Christmas Light Display Driving Tour
Through Dec. 27, Palestine, www.visitpalestine.co

Lights on the Farm
Through Dec. 26, Plano, www.heritagefarmstead.org

Christmas on the Beach
Dec. 5-31, Rockport, www.rockport-fulton.org/ChristmasontheBeach

Light up the Lake
Dec. 2-4, Round Rock, www.roundrockrecreation.com/event/light-up-the-lake-2

Holiday Lights on the River Walk
Through Jan. 10, San Antonio, www.thesanantonioriverwalk.com/events/holiday-lights-on-the-river-walk-free

Lightscape
Through Jan. 2, San Antonio, www.sabot.org

Tour of Lights
Dec. 4-Dec. 31, San Angelo, www.conchochristmascelebration.com/tour-of-lights

Sights and Sounds of Christmas
Dec. 2-4, 9-11, San Marcos, www.sights-n-sounds.org

Christmas Spectacular
Dec. 4-Jan. 2, The Colony, www.thecolonytx.gov/834/Christmas-Spectacular

Wild Lights
Through Jan. 9, Waco, www.cameronparkzoo.com/specialevents/wild-lights

Trail of Lights
December 4-26, Wimberley, www.emilyann.org/trailoflights.html

Holiday Boat Caroling, San Antonio

Other December Events:

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

Life-Size Nativity Scene
Dec. 1-31, Comfort, www.comfort-texas.com

Chriskindl Market
Dec. 1-Jan. 2, Arlington, www.txchristkindlmarket.com

Eisbahn Outdoor Ice Skating
Dec. 1-Jan. 2, Fredericksburg, www.heritageschool.org/eisbahn

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

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

Green Mountain Energy Ice at Discovery Green
Dec. 1-Jan. 30, Houston, www.discoverygreen.com/ebevents

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

Christmas Under the Stars
Dec. 2-4, Brownwood, www.brownwoodchristmas.com

Holiday Boat Caroling
Dec. 2-23, San Antonio, www.thesanantonioriverwalk.com/events/ford-holiday-boat-caroling

Balcones Heights Jazz Festival Christmas Concert
Dec. 3, Balcones Heights, www.facebook.com/BalconesHeightsJazzFestival

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

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

Dickens on the Strand
Dec. 3-5, Galveston, www.galvestonhistory.org

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

Christmas Stroll
Dec. 3-12, Salado, www.salado.com

Bethlehem Revisited
Dec. 3-5, 10-12, Waxahachie, www.waxahachiecvb.com/events/2021/bethlehem-revisited

Nativity Display
Dec. 3-21, Granbury, www.visitgranbury.com/events/annual-events/christmas-in-granbury

Old Jail Exhibit
Dec. 4, Fredericksburg, www.pioneermuseum.net/old-jail

Ranger Christmas Wonderland
Dec. 4, Fredericksburg, www.trhc.org

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

Celebration of the Lively
Dec. 4, Surfside Beach, www.surfsidetx.org/page/city.calendar

Christmas Fair
Dec. 4, Taylor, www.taylortx.gov/960/Christmas-Fair

Lighted Christmas Parade
Dec. 4, Victoria, www.explorevictoriatexas.com

Courthouse Tours
Dec. 4, Wharton, cca.whartonchamber.com

Christmas on Texas Avenue Festival
Dec. 4-5, Baytown, www.acedistrictbaytown.org/events

Holidays in Gruene Christmas Market
Dec. 4-5, Gruene, www.gruenemarketdays.com

Redbud Artisan Market
Dec. 4-5, Kerrville, www.redbudartisanmarket.com

Farmers Market
Dec. 4, 11, Boerne, www.cibolo.org/locations/herff-farm

Norwegian Country Christmas Tour
Dec. 5, Clifton, www.visitclifton.org/page/country-christmas.aspx

Lighted Christmas Parade
Dec. 7, Nederland, www.nederlandtx.com

Planetarium Show
Dec. 7, 14, 21, 18, Clute, www.brazosportcenter.com

Christmas in the Park
Dec. 10-11, Clute, www.clutetexas.gov/39th-annual-christmas-in-the-park

Candlelight at the Ranch
Dec. 10-11, Lubbock, www.ranchingheritage.org

A Walk Through Bethlehem
Dec. 10-12, Montalba, www.montalbabaptist.church

Downtown Hutto Christmas Fair
Dec. 11, Hutto, www.facebook.com/downtownhutto

Christmas on the Creek
Dec. 11, Lampasas, www.lampasaschamber.org

Snow Day
Dec. 11, Llano, www.llanochamber.org

Folk Fest
Dec. 11, New Braunfels, www.texashandmadefurniture.com

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

Black History Holiday Light Cruises
Dec. 11, San Antonio, saaacam.org/events/list

Holiday Museum Market
Dec. 11, San Antonio, www.samuseum.org

North Pole Nopal Market
Dec. 11, San Antonio, www.sariverfound.org/sarf-events/tianguis-market

Holiday with the Cranes
Dec. 11-12, Galveston, www.galvestonnaturetourism.org

Holiday Twilight Tour
Dec. 15, Houston, www.mfah.org

Come and Taste It
Dec. 16, Gruene, www.grapevineingruene.com

Alfresco Weslaco
Dec. 16, Weslaco, www.facebook.com/alfrescoweslaco1

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

Snow Day on the Square
Dec. 17, Wharton, cca.whartonchamber.com

Abilene Zoo Christmas Celebration
Dec. 17-23, Abilene, www.abilenezoo.org

Winter Solstice with Rudi and Rudiments
Dec. 18, Boerne, www.cavewithoutaname.com

Bird Banding
Dec. 18, Lake Jackson, www.gcbo.org

Christmas Ball with Gary P. Nunn
Dec. 18, Luckenbach, www.luckenbachtexas.com

LBJ Tree Lighting
Dec. 19, Stonewall, tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/lyndon-b-johnson

Eastside Market
Dec. 19, Waco, www.eastsidemarketwtx.com

Dickens-On-The-Brazos
Dec. 18, Washington-on-the-Brazos, www.thc.texas.gov/historic-sites/washington-brazos-state-historic-site

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

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


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.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 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.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Day Trips
Day Trips & Beyond: December Events Roundup
Day Trips & Beyond: December Events Roundup
Texas travel tips from Llano lights to Kerrville craftsmanship

Gerald E. McLeod, Nov. 30, 2022

Day Trips & Beyond: 10 Watering Holes From Dripping Springs to Wimberley
Day Trips & Beyond: 10 Watering Holes From Dripping Springs to Wimberley
Take a drive for outdoor patios and spectacular scenery

Gerald E. McLeod, Nov. 23, 2022

More by Gerald E. McLeod
Day Trips: Holiday Gift Guide
Day Trips: Holiday Gift Guide
Cap’n Day Trips suggests four gifts for globetrotters

Dec. 2, 2022

Day Trips: The Shady Llama, Wimberley
Day Trips: The Shady Llama, Wimberley
Craft beer and wine for the grownups, llamas for the kids

Nov. 25, 2022

KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Day Trips, holiday events, holiday lights, trout fishing, Texas Parks and Wildlife, Texas Mountain Trail Passport, whooping cranes, birding, Reason Foundation, Annual Highway Report

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle