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Celebrating the Holiday Season

Holiday hotel packages San Antonio really lights up for the holidays, making it the perfect place to get your family into the holiday spirit. We’ve decked the River Walk and turned our theme parks into winter wonderlands. So plan your visit today and help us spread the cheer.


Lights and Parades

San Antonio is known for being a festive city, and the holidays are certainly no exception. In this special time of year, the historic streets and famous River Walk shine brighter than ever. While strolling among millions of decorative lights, visitors of all ages are treated to dazzling displays and breathtaking arrangements. San Antonio gives you millions of twinkling reasons to make the city your family’s favorite holiday tradition.

Light the Way, Nov. 22 – Jan. 6: Nearly a million lights decorate the University of Incarnate Word campus, starting with the "A Cardinal Christmas" kickoff event on Nov. 22 at 7:30 p.m. Come and witness this beautiful San Antonio holiday tradition.

Holiday Parade, Nov. 28 at 7 p.m.: The day after Thanksgiving, our river parade kicks off the holidays as thousands of lights illuminate the River Walk and decorated floats wind through the river in one of the country's only nighttime river parades.

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San Antonio Traditions

You can find holiday traditions nearly anywhere you go, but in San Antonio, we add a little more flavor to the season. For generations, the unique San Antonio tradition of tamale making has captivated people of all ages. Families gather every year to celebrate this delicious custom where the tamaleras put their classic recipes on display, and onlookers of all ages enjoy the tasty creations. This cultural and educational tradition is one that makes San Antonio a truly special holiday destination.

Tamales at the Pearl, Dec. 6: Since 2010, the Tamales! Holiday Festival at Pearl has established itself as one of San Antonio’s top holiday events. Located along the River Walk, Tamales at Pearl offers delicious tamales from over 40 vendors, live music and plenty of fun for the whole family. This festive event is the perfect way to celebrate the holidays as well as the rich culture of San Antonio. 

La Tamalada and Time Travel Saturday: South Texas Holiday Traditions at the Witte Museum, Dec. 13: Make and flavor your own half-dozen tamales at the La Tamalada workshop. Afterward, join in on the holiday fun with Time Travel Saturday: South Texas Holiday Traditions.

La Gran Tamalada, Dec. 14: To maintain such a resilient custom, you have to educate future experts. At the annual tamal-making community party known as La Gran Tamalada, you’ll get hands-on experience from community tamaleras and enjoy San Antonio storytelling at its finest. Every holiday season, participants of all ages learn valuable methods and techniques in this informative and highly entertaining workshop at the historic Guadalupe Theater.

Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza, Nov. 16-22: Dating back to 1979, this event is the longest running mariachi music festival in Texas. And today, it's also the setting for the largest mariachi competition in the United States. You'll experience some of the most renowned groups in the world as mariachis strive to be named the best vocalist, violinist, guitarist and more! And to top it off, you'll enjoy a culminating performance by Mexico City-based Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán on November 22 at the Lila Cockrell Theatre. It's one event you don't want to miss.

Valero Alamo Bowl, Jan. 2: The Valero Alamo Bowl showcases the #1 teams from two of the premier conferences in the country, the Big 12 and Pac-12. The Bowl has quickly become one of the most popular, producing some of the most-watched bowl games in ESPN history while selling out six of the last eight years.

U.S. Army All-American Bowl, Jan. 3: The U.S. Army All-American Bowl is the nation’s premier high school All-American game, featuring the best 90 players in a classic East vs. West matchup every January at San Antonio’s Alamodome. Building upon the extraordinary players and incredible moments featured during each of the previous U.S. Army All-American Bowls, this year’s edition promises to provide an unforgettable look at the future of college and professional football.

Tamale Recipes

While you're in the tamale spirit, you can start a San Antonio holiday tradition of your own. Here are a few simple and tasty recipes that could bring some extra flavor to your kitchen this season, including the delicious Pork Tamale recipe from Mi Tierra Café Y Panaderia that is featured in the Holiday Tamale Making video above. But whether you choose traditional or non-traditional tamales, there are endless ways to feature your tasty inventions on the holiday menu.

holiday_iLights.jpgHoliday Shopping

Here in San Antonio, you’ll find something for everyone, from upscale boutiques to shopping malls to outdoor markets. Perhaps that’s why Forbes named us the “Top Shopping Destination in the Nation.” And when you head to our upscale outlet malls, you can do all of your holiday shopping at post-holiday prices.

Hecho a Mano, Nov. 15 – Dec. 20: Traditional and contemporary works of art are joined by pieces from local, regional and national visual artists for the launch of the new Hecho a Mano Boutique at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center.

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Theme Park Festivities

SeaWorld San Antonio, Nov. 22 – Jan. 4: Enjoy SeaWorld San Antonio’s amazing array of family-friendly seasonal shows, including “Shamu Christmas Miracles,” “A Dolphin Christmas” and “Elmo’s Christmas Wish.” You’ll also find dazzling Christmas lights, candy canes, hot chocolate and more.

Six Flags Fiesta Texas, Nov. 28 – Jan. 4: Experience thrilling rides and exciting family entertainment, along with tasty treats and iceless skating, at Six Flags Fiesta Texas. Watch the “Majesty of Christmas” holiday spectacular, celebrate with the Looney Tunes and meet Santa at his castle.

Morgan’s Wonderland: Discover a winter wonderland with sparkling lights, carolers and Santa Claus at Morgan’s Wonderland. This 25-acre theme park is full of popular rides and attractions that are accessible to people of all abilities.

Christmas at the Caverns, Nov. 28-Dec. 23: Natural Bridge Caverns celebrates the holidays in a style uniquely its own. Enjoy thousands of lights and holiday attractions, including two underground shows, Caroling in the Caverns and Journey to Bethlehem. You’ll also find a musical light show, a 30-foot-tall decorated tree, a maze, hayrides, s’mores, zip lines, shopping and more!

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New Year’s Eve

If you want to have a romantic New Year’s Eve, spend it in one of the nation’s top 10 romantic destinations. You’ll find millions of lights, fireworks and the ever-romantic River Walk.

New Year's Celebration/Celebrate San Antonio, Dec. 31: Ring in the new year San Antonio style! Enjoy spectacular fireworks, live music on multiple stages, food booths, family activities and more.

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  • Celebrating the Holidays

    The River Walk lights, the tree at the Alamo, and plenty of shopping. Find what makes the holidays special in San Antonio

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  • Discover the Unforgettable

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