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Holiday Traditions, Old and New

The holidays are filled with familiar rituals of food, faith and festivities that warm and cheer us every year. Enjoy the tried and true, and why not try something new? Here are a just a few ideas to get you started. Happy holidays! 

By Julie Catalano

BOERNE

Dickens on Main
November 23 – 24, 4:00 to 8:00pm
A longstanding Thanksgiving weekend extravaganza back for its 19th year, this old-fashioned celebration officially kicks off the Boerne holiday season. Dickens-style theatrical performances, live music, 60-foot snow slide, ice sculpting shows, kids’ activities, and don’t forget…shopping! Bring your gift list for Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, along with the Dickens Market for handcrafted finds. Free admission. boernedickensonmain.com, visitboerne.org

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Weihnachts Parade
December 1, 6:00pm
2018 marks the 32nd anniversary of another beloved Boerne tradition. This year’s theme is “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” and up to 100 illuminated entries will travel Main Street beginning at Frederick Street by the Firehouse and ending at River Road. Free admission. ci.boerne.tx.us

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COMFORT

Christmas in Comfort
November 24, 10:00am to 9:00pm
Glad tidings of comfort and joy are on the agenda for family fun at a small-town gem just a few minutes from Boerne. Live entertainment, more than 125 art and craft vendors, food court, Santa Land, lighted parade, fireworks display and more to discover in this German-pioneered town with almost 100 pre-1910 buildings within walking distance of the town square. Free admission. comfortchamber.com 

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FREDERICKSBURG

Lighting of the German Christmas 
Pyramid and Community Christmas Tree
November 23, 7:00pm
Festivities begin at 6:00pm in front of the Vereins Kirche (Society Church and now a museum) in the center of Fredericksburg’s Main Street surrounded by the Marktplatz (Market Square). The 26-foot, carousel style Weihnachtspyramide, or Christmas Pyramid, is based on a traditional German 16th century decoration. Live music, cookies and hot chocolate, holiday selfie station and more. Free admission. visitfredericksburgtx.com

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Eisbahn Outdoor Ice Skating Rink
Kinderhalle Pavilion at Marktplatz
November 23 – January 6
Celebrating 10 years of real ice skating in the Texas Hill Country, Eisbahn attracts thousands of skaters and spectators each year. A $15/day come-and-go pass includes skate rental. Closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. heritageschool.org

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Holiday Cookie Decorating and German Traditions
Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm, 
Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site
November 24, 10:00am to 3:00pm
About 15 miles down the road from Fredericksburg in Stonewall, learn about German traditions and see how the early settlers decorated for the season. tpwd.state.tx.us/state-parks/

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Christmas Home Tour & Market
December 1, 11:00am to 5:00pm
Celebrating its 61st year, this self-guided tour through seven fabulous homes in and around Fredericksburg is a delight for architecture and design lovers. The tour includes a booklet and tour map with full descriptions of each home. Tickets are $30 per person through November 26; $35 per person after November 26. Christmas Market hours are 9:30am to 5:00pm with 21 boutique vendors at 312 W. San Antonio. Tickets for the Christmas Market only are $5 at the door. For tickets and more information, pioneermuseum.net.

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AUSTIN AREA

Winter Wonderland at Circuit of the Americas (COTA)
November 24 – December 31, 6:00 to 11:00pm
Last year’s premiere of this holiday spectacular was such a hit they’re bringing it back for another lap. Families can celebrate with such attractions as the Tunnel of Lights, Human Snow Globe, train rides, ice rink and much more. COTA is 3.427-mile motor racing facility located on the southeastern periphery of Austin city limits. General admission $16. For more information, circuitoftheamericas.com.

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SAN ANTONIO

HEB Christmas Tree Lighting
Travis Park
November 23, 6:00pm
Last year’s inaugural tree lighting event at 301 E. Travis Street was a huge success and they’re gearing up for Year Two with more than 250,000 LED holiday lights in addition to the Christmas tree itself. Family-friendly festivities begin at 3:00pm with live entertainment, food trucks, cookie decorating, giveaways and more. The tree stays up through January 1. Check the park’s website for programming through December. Free admission. travisparksa.com 

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Lights on the San Antonio River Walk
November 23 – January 6
Residents and visitors alike wait all year for the breathtaking sight of more than 100,000 colorful lights draped over towering bald cypress trees that line the famed River Walk and remain lit dusk til dawn through January 6. The River Walk is one of the state’s most popular attractions and a free public park open 24 hours a day. visitsanantonio.com 

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Holidays in Bloom
San Antonio Botanical Garden
November 23 – December 31, 9:00am to 5:00pm
Magical displays of garlands, red ribbons and other holiday decorations welcome guests through the end of the year and make the Garden a perfect setting for holiday photographs. Also through December 31, don’t miss Art Connects: Art with LEGO® Bricks, an award-winning sculpture exhibition by New York-based artist Sean Kenney featuring nearly a half million LEGO® Bricks in 13 nature-inspired displays. Both exhibits are included in the Garden’s general $9-12 admission; free for SABOT members. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. sabot.org

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Pearl Holiday Night Markets
November 29, December 6, 13, 20, 4:00 to 8:00pm
Shop the Pearl on selected Thursday nights for Farmers Market and craft vendors, live music and unique boutiques featuring everything from fashion and jewelry to goodies and gifts. On December 3 from 6:00 to 7:30pm, Pearl hosts the 4th Annual Chanukah Menorah lighting celebration in partnership with Young & Jewish San Antonio. The 2nd Annual Las Posadas is on December 19 from 6:30 to 9:00pm, inspired by the Mexican tradition of the reenactment of Mary and Joseph’s quest for lodging in Bethlehem, with visitors joining the procession as pilgrims traveling by candlelight. Free admission for all events. atpearl.com

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Ford Holiday Boat Caroling
San Antonio River Walk
November 30 – December 2, 6:15-9:30pm
Rent a private one-hour caroling boat for friends, family, choir, mariachi band, bell-ringers or any other gathering. Decorated boats hold 15 adults or 20 youth and include a driver, an iPod loaded with popular holiday music and lyric sheets. thesanantonioriverwalk.com

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La Gran Tamalada
Historic Market Square
December 8, 11:00am to 7:00pm
What are the holidays without the cultural culinary tradition of tamales? Join the fun at the largest Mexican market in the U.S. for a tamal-making workshop. Learn how to make them or purchase your dozens at one of many vendors. This is a family-friendly event with live music, storybook reading, corn husk doll decorating and photo ops with Pancho Claus. Free admission. getcreativesantonio.com

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Brian Wilson Presents the Christmas Album Live
Tobin Center for the Performing Arts
December 17, 7:30pm
For the first time, the legendary co-founder of The Beach Boys with his band of musicians and vocalists, including longtime bandmates Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin, will perform the seminal Beach Boys Christmas Album live in its entirety along with selected cuts from Wilson’s solo Christmas album and others. Also catch the December 3 appearance of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis in a Big Band Holidays Concert. tobincenter.org 

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Valero Alamo Bowl
December 28
Celebrating its 25th year in San Antonio, the thrilling games showcase two of the premier conferences in the country after the College Football Playoff selections — the Number One Pac-12 team against the Number One Big 12 team in games that draw sellout crowds and huge television ratings. alamobowl.com. 

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New Year’s Eve Downtown
An official San Antonio 300 Tricentennial Event
December 31, 5:00pm to 12:30am
Ring in 2019 San Antonio style, with spectacular fireworks in a family-friendly atmosphere with live music on three stages, carnival rides and games, food booths and much more. Free admission. sanantonio300.org

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