Day Trips & Beyond: December Events Roundup

Texas travel tips from Llano lights to Kerrville craftsmanship

Happy holidays to one and all; now get out there and start daytrippin’.

The town of Llano turns on the lights for visitors during the holidays. The county courthouse square is just part of the Christmas spirit. (Photo by Gerald E. McLeod)

Land of Rudolph. Every year the lighted jumping deer in front of the Llano County Courthouse installed to welcome deer hunters is transformed into a reindeer for the holidays. The colorful lights around the courthouse are just a small part of the town’s Christmas decorations. Across the river, Badu Park sparkles with thousands of lights. Stroll through the Starry Starry Nights Lighted Christmas Park nightly until Dec. 31. Enjoy a Snow Day in the park on Sat., Dec. 10 from 1-9pm when a 35,000-pound mountain of the white, fluffy fun stuff is delivered.

It’s about an hour and half of a beautiful drive from Austin to Llano. Selecting your cut of meat right out of the smoker at Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que is a year-round destination by itself. Llanite is rare kind of brown granite found in Llano County, which is also found at Enchanted Rock and Jewelry on the courthouse square along with other unique Christmas gifts. Just off the courthouse square, Fuel Coffee House is closed on Sunday, but you might catch a local musician playing while you sip a warm drink any other day of week. A good place to stretch your legs and get a good look at the historic Roy B. Inks Bridge over the Llano River is from Grenwelge Park at the southeast corner of the bridge.
Through Dec. 31, Starry Starry Nights Lighted Christmas Park, Llano, 325/247-5354, www.llanostarrystarrynights.com

Craftspeople from around the state compete for 10 top prizes including “People’s Choice” award at the annual Texas Furniture Makers Show in Kerrville. (Photo by Gerald E. McLeod)

Functional art. When you look around the large exhibition hall at the Kerrville Arts and Cultural Center, you have to wonder how the judges ever decide on the “Best of Show” award among the entries in the Texas Furniture Makers Show. The woodworkers’ skill at shaping the wood is astounding. The warmth of the materials seems to glow from within, and each piece radiates a bit of the soul of its creator.

The annual show, now in its 23rd year, features handmade furniture and accessories by craftspeople and artisans from around the state. Admission is free to the show held at the Arts Center at 228 Earl Garrett St. in downtown Kerrville. The galleries are open Tuesday through Saturday, 10am to 4pm. The Center is housed in the former Kerrville Post Office and next door to the Schreiner Mansion Museum and Event Center.
Through Dec. 16, Texas Furniture Makers Show, Kerrville, 830/895-2911, kacckerrville.com

Travel Notes:

The Beaver’s my buddy. A San Antonio newspaper recently caused quite a stir around office water coolers when they published a list of the best and worst foods at Buc-ee's. Whether you love Buc-ee’s Family Travel Centers or not, everyone seems to have an opinion about the Texas-based travel centers. Just don’t call them a truck stop. That’s why there was a big sigh of relief in the state when Buc-ee Beaver announced that he was bringing bragging rights back to Texas. The company will replace their current store in Luling with the world’s largest convenience store. It will unseat the current record-holder Buc-ee's in Sevierville, Tenn. At 75,000 square feet the new travel center on I-10 will be 1,000 square feet bigger, have 120 fueling stations (no big rigs allowed), and miles of fan favorite foods. The Luling outpost opened in 2003 as the first travel center in the Lake Jackson convenience store’s chain and will remain open until the new building is completed sometime in late 2023.

Underground lights. The latest art installation at the Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern in Houston illuminates the former underground drinking water reservoir with lights that evoke an atmosphere of flickering candlelight. Cistern Illuminated, designed by Houston artist and engineer Kelly O’Brien, features colors that shift between warm white and muted oranges, reds, and yellows, emulating the way embers flare up and fade on a dark winter’s night. Tours of Cistern Illuminated are offered every other hour through Jan. 8. Timed tickets are $10.

Trout fishing in Texas. The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department has begun stocking 337,469 rainbow trout in ponds and waterways around the state. It’s become a winter tradition that lasts through March 3. Austin has four locations with multiple stockings. Along with the annual Trout Stocking Schedule, TPWD offers tips on equipment and bait. All anglers over 17 years of age will need a state fishing license unless they are fishing in a state park.

Woohoo for the whoopers. Another Texas winter tradition is when the whooping cranes return to the Coast. The first pair of the season were spotted on Oct. 21 on Matagorda Island, and most of the birds arrive at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in December. Whooping cranes are the tallest and rarest birds in North America with a record-high population of 543 in Texas last year. After a 2,500-mile migration from Canada, they spend the winter in Texas before returning north in late March.

Other December Events:

See hundreds of nativity scenes from around the world at Red Barn in Port Lavaca.

Nativity Exhibit
Dec. 1-4, Port Lavaca, www.fb.com/redbarnportlavaca

Texas Furniture Maker’s Show
Dec. 1-16, Kerrville, www.kacckerrville.com

Quarter Horse Racing
Dec. 1-17, Grand Prairie, www.lonestarpark.com

Christmas at the Gardens
Dec. 1-23, Amarillo, www.amarillobotanicalgardens.org

A Christmas Wine Affair
Dec. 1-23, Fredericksburg, texaswinetrail.com

Christmas Tree Forest
Dec.1-25, Big Spring, bigspringtxhistorymuseum.com

Ice Land: A Caribbean Christmas
Dec. 1-Jan. 7, Galveston, www.moodygardens.org

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

Winter Colorland
Dec. 1-Jan. 31, Houston, colorfactory.co/houston

Mandela: The Official Exhibition
Dec. 1-April 23, College Station, www.bush41.org/exhibits/single-exhibit?id=53

Dickens on the Strand
Dec. 2-4, Galveston, www.galvestonhistory.org

A Dickens of a Christmas
Dec. 2-4, Llano, www.llanochamber.org/llano-events/a-dickens-of-a-christmas

Christmas at Old Fort Concho
Dec. 2-4, San Angelo, fortconcho.com/home/events/christmas-at-old-fort-concho

Bethlehem Revisited
Dec. 2-4, 9-11, Waxahachie, www.waxahachiecvb.com/events/2022/bethlehem-revisited2

Pearl Bluegrass Jam
Dec. 3, Gatesville, pearlbluegrassjam.org

Carol of Lights
Dec. 3, Lampasas, www.visionlampasas.org/events.html

Tropical Christmas in Rockport offers entertainment and festivities all day, ending with fireworks over the harbor.

Tropical Christmas
Dec. 3, Rockport, www.cityofrockport.com/844/Rockport-Tropical-Christmas-Festival

Santa’s Railroad Wonderland
Dec. 3-18, San Antonio, www.txtransportationmuseum.org

Open Days at the Garden
Dec. 3, 17, Hempstead, www.jfgarden.org

Christmas at the Caverns
Dec. 3-23, San Antonio, www.naturalbridgecaverns.com/christmas

Eastside Market
Dec. 4, Waco, www.eastsidemarketwtx.com

Walk in Bethlehem
Dec. 6-7, Boerne, www.sthelenas.net

Holidays at the Heard
Dec. 9-10, McKinney, www.heardmuseum.org/holidays-at-the-heard

Umlauf and His Influence
Dec. 9-Feb. 5, San Angelo, www.samfa.org

Christmas Past and Present
Dec. 10, Baytown, www.baytownhistory.org

Music in the Cave
Dec. 10, Boerne, www.cavewithoutaname.com

Bison Field Harvest
Dec. 10, Fredericksburg, www.roamranch.com

Snow Day
Dec. 10, Llano, www.llanostarrystarrynights.com

Folkfest
Dec. 10, New Braunfels, www.texashandmadefurniture.com/livinghistory

Lighted kites illuminate the sky in Surfside Beach Dec. 10.

Island of Nighttime Kites
Dec. 10, Surfside Beach, www.surfsidetx.org

Islamic Arts Festival
Dec. 10-11, Spring, www.islamicartssociety.org

Geminids Meteor Shower Peak Nights
Dec. 13-14, everywhere, earthsky.org

Christmas in Fulton
Dec. 14-15, Fulton, www.fultontexas.org/events/christmas-in-fulton

Come and Taste It
Dec. 15, Gruene, www.grapevineingruene.com

Schmeckenfest on the Square
Dec. 15, La Grange, cityoflg.com

Texas Cowboys’ Christmas Ball
Dec. 15-17, Anson, www.texasccb.com

Christmas Ball
Dec. 16, Luckenbach, www.luckenbachtexas.com

La Gran Posada
Dec. 16, San Antonio, littleflowerbasilica.org/events/la-gran-posada

A Lost Pines CCC Christmas
Dec. 17, Bastrop, tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/bastrop

Lighted Christmas Parade and Market
Dec. 17, Blanco, www.historicblanco.org/market-day

Music in the Cave: Winter Solstice
Dec. 17, Boerne, www.cavewithoutaname.com

Meyer Observatory Open House
Dec. 17, Clifton, www.centexastronomy.org

Bird Banding
Dec. 17, Lake Jackson, www.gcbo.org

Star Party
Dec. 17, Round Mountain, www.westcave.org

Countdown to the New Year
Dec. 31, Fredericksburg, www.fbgtx.org/868/New-Years-Eve

New Year’s Eve at Gruene Hall
Dec. 31, Gruene, www.gruenehall.com

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

New Year’s Eve Fireworks Display
Dec. 31, Port Aransas, www.cityofportaransas.org/parks-and-recreation

Holiday Lights 2022:

Baytown's Magical Winter Lights offers a fresh take on holiday light shows.

Magical Winter Lights
Through Jan. 7, Baytown, magicalwinterlights.com

Comanche Trail Festival of Lights
Dec. 4-25, Big Spring, www.fb.com/ComancheTrailFestivalofLights

Christmas Spectacular
Dec. 3-Jan. 1, The Colony, thecolonytx.gov/834/Christmas-Spectacular

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

Holly-Days at the Garden
Dec. 2-3, 9-10, 16-17, Corpus Christi, www.stxbot.org

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

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

Zoo Lights
Through Jan. 8, Houston, www.houstonzoo.org/events/txu-energy-presents-zoo-lights-2022

Lightscape Houston
Dec. 1-Jan. 1, Houston, www.hbg.org/lightscape

San Antonio Botanical Garden is illuminated by over 1 million lights for Lightscape, open through Jan. 8.

Lightscape San Antonio
Dec. 1-Jan. 8, San Antonio, www.sabot.org/lightscape

Lights Spectacular
Through Jan. 8, Johnson City, www.lightsspectacular.com

PEC Holiday Lights
Through Jan. 8, Johnson City, www.pec.coop/our-community/pec-holiday-lights

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

Trail of Lights
Dec. 9-23, La Grange, www.thc.texas.gov/historic-sites/kreische-brewery-state-historic-site

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

Logansport Christmas Lights
Through Jan. 1, Logansport, La., discoverdesoto.com/event/logansport-christmas-lights

Walkway of Lights
Through Jan. 1, Marble Falls, visitmarblefalls.org/walkway-of-lights-faq

Wonderland of Lights
Through Dec. 30, Marshall, www.marshalltexas.net/483/Wonderland-of-Lights-2022

Natchitoches Christmas Festival
Through Jan. 6, Natchitoches, La., www.natchitocheschristmas.com

Walk of Lights
Through Jan. 1, Palestine, www.visitpalestine.com/walkoflights

Lightscape
Through Jan. 8, San Antonio, www.sabot.org/light-scape

Zoo Lights
Through Jan. 1, San Antonio, sazoo.org/zoo-lights

Sights & Sounds of Christmas
Dec., 1-10, San Marcos, sights-n-sounds.org

Wild Lights
Through Dec. 31, Waco, www.cameronparkzoo.com/specialevents/wild-lights

MSU-Burns Fantasy of Lights
Through Dec. 26, Wichita Falls, fol.msutexas.edu

ElectriCritters: A Lighted Christmas Display
Through Dec. 23, Wichita Falls, www.riverbendnaturecenter.org

Trail of Lights
Dec. 3-4, 7-11, 14-23, 26, Wimberley, www.emilyann.org


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.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Day Trips, holiday events, Starry Starry Nights, Llano, Texas Furniture Makers Show, Kerrville, Buc-ee's, Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern, Houston, trout fishing, whooping cranes

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