For anyone who’s ever celebrated the holidays in the Hill Country, it’s no secret that there are hundreds of events every year — lights, music, food and family fun beckon one and all to a dazzling array of events. Impossible to catch (or even list) them all, but you can start with some of these faves.
Dickens on Main on November 25-26 is back for its 17th magical year. This popular event features a glittering tree lighting ceremony, theatrical performances, carriage rides, Santa’s Workshop, a 60-foot snow slide, ice sculpture shows, a Dickens Market of handcrafted gifts and much more — all against a backdrop of a decorated historic downtown that evokes a trip back in time. The Weihnachts Parade on December 3 is themed “Lonestar Christmas,” with up to 100 lighted entries traveling down Main Street. Oma’s Christmas Craft Fair is a holiday favorite at the Kendall County Fairgrounds, also on December 3, with handcrafted wood, ceramics, knitted and crocheted items, homemade jellies and more. (No entry fees for all events.)
DON STRANGE RANCH, BOERNE
The ultimate drive-thru Christmas light spectacular features two million lights in two scenic miles of dazzling displays on Waring-Welfare Road. Or hop a hayride under the stars and leave the driving to them. Cap off the evening with a visit to Santa’s Village, where Santa is in residence every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night before Christmas, plus live music by area bands and choirs, shopping, food, and Longhorns (Santa needs more than reindeer to pull his sleigh). Bring your camera — there’s no charge for Santa pictures. Open nightly from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve. (Entry fees).
Christmas in Comfort on November 26 is the town’s annual extravaganza — 31 years and counting! It begins the Saturday after Thanksgiving with a full day of activities, starting with 125+ art, craft and food vendors on 7th and High Streets. A visit with Santa and live entertainment lead into the much-anticipated Lighted Parade capped off by festive fireworks. (No entry fee.)
Starting with Thanksgiving weekend all the way to New Year’s Day, this Hill Country hotspot has a treasure trove of holiday riches. Where to begin? Get your skate on at Eisbahn, the outdoor ice skating rink at downtown Marktplatz that opens November 26 to January 3 ($10 fee). On December 2, the Light the Night Christmas Parade and Afterglow lights up Main Street (free). Tour seven area homes decked out in holiday finest during the 59th Christmas Home Tour and Market at the Pioneer Museum (entry fee). Ring in the New Year with dances at Luckenbach Dance Hall and a USO-Style Hangar Dance at the Hangar Hotel (entry fees).
For a small town (pop. 1,785) Johnson City does the holidays big time. There’s the flipping of the switch on November 25 that illuminates the entire town, including the eye-popping Pedernales Electric Cooperative headquarters, ablaze with one million LED lights for the 27th year of Lights Spectacular. On November 26, the Christmas Parade features themed floats and other entries. Weekends bring carriage rides, hayrides, food and music. November 25-27 is the final Market Days until spring, with artisan crafts and treats at Courthouse Square. (No entry fee.)
Finish off (or start) your holiday shopping at the 8th Annual Sleighbell Boutique Holiday Market on November 18-19 at the Inn of the Hills Hotel & Conference Center, then enjoy the 16th Annual Holiday Lighted Parade on November 19, followed by the 45-foot tree lighting ceremony. From November 18 to December 3, the Hill Country Arts Foundation presents “Tiny Tim’s Christmas Carol,” a sequel to the Charles Dickens classic (tickets required). On December 1, listen to the sounds of the season in a concert by the Symphony of the Hills at the Callioux Theatre (tickets required). A very special evening with Michael Martin Murphey features cowboy songs, poetry and stories at the Cailloux Theatre on December 17 (tickets required).