While the state of Texas may not seem like a traditional winter wonderland, Texans truly go all out when it comes to holiday light displays. From Dallas to San Antonio, residents of major cities decorate their neighborhoods with festive props and twinkling strings of lights. Additionally, many small towns celebrate Christmas just as vibrantly. Parks shine with enchanted evening displays, and festive parades featuring illuminated vehicles wind their way through downtown business districts. Book a Texas vacation rental near one of these beautiful holiday light displays. Experience a magical Christmas you won’t forget.

1. Addison

For a magical outdoor light display that winds through a 19-acre park with a twisty creek, picturesque bridge, and a mini-lake, head to Vitruvian Park in Addison. Located just north of Dallas, Vitruvian is known for having nearly 200 restaurants in just over 4 square miles and a world-class theater, but the annual Vitruvian Park illumination is a worthy destination all on its own. The grand lighting ceremony traditionally takes place on the Friday after Thanksgiving, and the lights stay lit until January 1st. Check Vitruvian Park’s entertainment schedule for the dates of live musical performances on some Friday and Saturday evenings throughout the holiday season.

Weekends are definitely the best time to visit Vitruvian Park, as food trucks set up near the park and offer countless holiday treats, such as hot chocolate and gourmet Christmas cupcakes. Watch for Santa, who frequents the park ready to greet your children, and visit the nearby Holiday Shopping Village for some Christmas shopping or a souvenir that reminds you of your experience. For a special dinner, check out the Magic Time Machine while you are in town. Choose a themed table, and get into the spirit of the meal as costumed characters make you and your family members part of the entertainment. Your kids are sure to love the carousel table and the 1950s roadster that is now a salad bar.

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2. San Antonio

San Antonio offers visitors two huge light displays sure to put you in the holiday spirit. Between Holiday Lights on the River Walk and San Antonio Christmas Light Fest, plan on taking two or three evenings to explore the light shows. Book a vacation rental in town to help ensure your family has time to soak in all the Christmas beauty. If you time your getaway for the day after Thanksgiving, you can also watch the annual Ford Holiday River Parade along the River Walk, but don’t worry if that day isn’t good for your family. Both the River Walk display and Light Fest last from the day after Thanksgiving into the new year.

The River Walk is a public park that’s easy to stroll through by foot, but to see more of the display with less effort, consider reserving a water taxi from Go Rio San Antonio River Cruises, and travel down the river. San Antonio Light Fest, with over 2 million festive lights, takes place at the Don Strange Ranch just outside of San Antonio. Take your family out early to ensure you have enough time to visit Santa’s Village, which offers food, children’s crafts and games, and ample holiday shopping. Santa visits on weekends, and hayrides are available for a little extra fun while you take in the display.

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3. San Saba

If you prefer enjoying holiday lights from the comfort of your car or if you have little ones who aren’t able to walk very far, head to San Saba for the Mill Pond Christmas Extravaganza. This display features over a million lights all choreographed to holiday music streamed by a local radio station, and it is a truly magical sight when the lights seem to dance in rhythm to your favorite carols. The show runs from Thanksgiving into the new year, and some nights are reserved for those who want to walk through, so be sure to check the schedule ahead of time.

Known as the pecan capital of the world, San Saba also offers visitors many delicious ways to enjoy the southern nut. If you love sweets, stop by Millican Pecan Company or San Saba River Pecan Company for some delicious chocolate-covered pecan treats, or head to the Alamo Pecan and Coffee Company for fabulous nut and coffee gift baskets. In the afternoon, explore the two log cabins that make up the San Saba County Historic Museum conveniently located right in Mill Pond Park.

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4. Odessa

The annual Starbright Village in Odessa provides another opportunity to see a fantastical Christmas light display and enjoy beautiful holiday music. Running from late November through the first of the new year, Starbright Village offers both driving and walking options for enjoying over 300,000 lights arranged into themed displays. Head to McKinney Park early on Fridays and Saturdays for a stop in Santa Land. This weekend-only event offers opportunities for your kids to visit with Santa, do some holiday crafts, and sample cookies and other festive treats.

In addition to Starbright Village, Odessa also hosts a parade of lights in early December, featuring rolling floats covered with twinkling goodness. For even more holiday fun and another chance to visit Santa, check out the holiday open house at the Ellen Noël Art Museum. This event includes hands-on art stations for budding artists of all ages, holiday treats, and live musical entertainment.

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5. Johnson City

If you love the beauty of star-like white twinkle lights against the night sky, check out the Johnson City Lights Spectacular at the Johnson City Courthouse. From the courthouse shining brightly on a hill above town to a whole forest of trees with lights entwining every bough, this awe-inspiring display truly shows the beauty of the season. The event kicks off the day after Thanksgiving with a huge fireworks display at sunset and continues throughout the holiday season. Come early, and enjoy dinner at the Chuckwagon Food Court, with family favorites including corn on the cob, and browse the selection of beautiful handmade ornaments for sale to benefit local charities.

Carriage rides are available for simply basking in the beauty of the light spectacular or heading into downtown to check out the area’s many specialty shops, such as the Angry Penguin skate shop and Atomik Comiks. For more family fun, spend the night in a vacation rental, and extend your visit to include an afternoon at Science Mill. With over 50 hand-on exhibits for all ages, Science Mill is the perfect place to encourage your kids’ creativity and learn more about how science works in your daily life.

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