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8 Things to Do in Texas Over Thanksgiving Weekend

Thanksgiving weekend officially kicks off the start of the holiday season, which means you’ll find a whole lot more to do than enjoy a turkey dinner. The Lone Star state is no exception. They say everything is bigger in Texas and these exciting things to do bring the opportunity to enjoy some of the best.

Attend San Antonio's Ford Holiday River Parade Ford Holiday River Parade and Lighting Ceremony
Credit: Ford Holiday River Parade and Lighting Ceremony by The San Antonio River Walk

Attend San Antonio's Ford Holiday River Parade

San Antonio has a lot of exciting attractions to explore throughout the year, from strolling the country’s most famous river walk to visiting The Alamo and exploring museums. its holiday festivities kick off the day after Thanksgiving. This is when the switch is flipped to light up the River Walk’s brilliant holiday display and the Ford Holiday River Parade travels through the city. It attracts some 150,000 locals and visitors who line the riverbanks to witness the colors and sounds of the season, with a variety of elaborate floats. For your Thanksgiving meal, you can find plenty of restaurants throughout town serving delicious feasts, like Biga on the Banks and Boudro’s on the Riverwalk.

Cheer on the Dallas Cowboys Dallas, Texas
Credit: Dallas, Texas by bigstock.com

Cheer on the Dallas Cowboys

If you look forward to watching the game every year, it’s hard to beat watching the Dallas Cowboys in person. Every year on Thanksgiving Day, the team plays host to a visiting NFL opponent and it’s an experience you won’t soon forget. You can take part in all sorts of events for the holiday too, with the season’s festivities kicking off in nearby Fort Worth with its annual Parade of Lights, while the Dallas Theater Center hosts its annual family-friendly holiday production of A Christmas Carol.

Watch Austin's Christmas Parade Austin, Texas
Credit: Austin, Texas by bigstockphoto.com

Watch Austin's Christmas Parade

Chuy’s Christmas Parade is an annual event in Austin that raises money for “Operation Blue Santa,” which provides toys to needy children throughout the area. Attendees are encouraged to bring new, unwrapped toys to donate and enjoy the one-hour parade that includes special holiday floats, children’s characters and giant inflatable balloons, starting at the State Capitol and moving south on Congress all the way to Cesar Chavez before culminating north of the bridge. While you’re here you can also run in the annual Turkey Trot, enjoy Thanksgiving dinner at many area restaurants and enjoy year-round attractions such as Zilker Metropolitan Park, touring the state capitol and checking out the thriving music scene.

Head to Houston for the HEB Holiday Parade Annual H-E-B Thanksgiving Day Parade
Credit: Annual H-E-B Thanksgiving Day Parade by Ed Uthman via Flickr

Head to Houston for the HEB Holiday Parade

Houston’s HEB Holiday Parade has been an annual Thanksgiving Day tradition for 70 years and is one of the largest in the state. Signifying the official start of the holiday season in the downtown area, it typically starts early Thanksgiving morning. Some of the highlights include extravagant floats, marching bands, dance teams and other entertainers as well as huge high-flying balloons to celebrate both the November holiday and Christmas. Visitors can also enjoy events like Christmas tree and holiday lighting as well as Houston Zoo Lights with its animal-themed light displays and 15 miles of tree lighting.

Enjoy Tree Lighting and Ice Skating in Fredericksburg Fredericksburg Christmas Pyramid
Credit: Fredericksburg Christmas Pyramid by © Florin Seitan | Dreamstime.com

Enjoy Tree Lighting and Ice Skating in Fredericksburg

Fredericksburg is a popular destination in Hill Country for enjoying the holiday weekend, hosting its annual seasonal outdoor ice skating event which benefits the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Heritage School, and the Boys and Girls Club of Fredericksburg. On the Friday after Thanksgiving, the Lighting of the Community Christmas Tree and German Pyramid takes place. It’s a unique twist on the celebration of Christmas, mixing the city’s rich German heritage with the holiday spirit, including caroling and a variety of food and drink. If you enjoy holiday lights, you should know that Fredericksburg was once named Readers Digest’s “20 Best Small Towns for Christmas Lights.”

Moody Gardens Festival of Lights in Galveston Moody Gardens Festival of Lights
Credit: Moody Gardens Festival of Lights by Moody Gardens Festival of Lights

Moody Gardens Festival of Lights in Galveston

The balmy city of Galveston on the Gulf Coast offers a variety of Thanksgiving feasts including the popular historic Hotel Galvez and its Thanksgiving brunch, while the Holidays at Moody Gardens has already begun, running through early January. It features numerous attractions including the Festival of Lights, an Arctic Slide, visits with Santa, train rides and Ice Land, a 100-acre ice sculpture park created by master ice carvers that use 2 million pounds of ice to sculpt a festive journey from the North to South Pole, complete with snowy owls, penguins, polar bears, humpback whales, walrus and reindeer.

Attend the San Antonio Mariachi Music Festival San Antonio Mariachi Music Festival
Credit: San Antonio Mariachi Music Festival by mariachimusic.com

Attend the San Antonio Mariachi Music Festival

Another fun event for music lovers who visit or live in the San Antonio area is the annual week-long mariachi music festival. Hosted at the Arneson River Theater, located on the banks of San Antonio River within Historic La Villita Arts Village, it brings the top mariachi artists in the world to the city as the largest and longest-running mariachi music festival in the Lone Star State. If you want to get a head start on your holiday shopping or bring back unique souvenirs, head to Historic Market Square, a large Mexican-themed that opened back in 1820 and now hosts over 100 locally-owned shops.

Participate in Dickens on Main at Boerne Dickens on Main at Boerne
Credit: Dickens on Main at Boerne by Dickens on Main

Participate in Dickens on Main at Boerne

Another fun Hill Country town, Boerne is just 15 miles west of San Antonio and hosts an annual celebration that officially rings in the holiday season over Thanksgiving Weekend. Dickens on Main offers something for everyone, including free holiday concerts, performances, kids’ and other entertainment.  Shop for unique gifts along the Hill Country Mile on Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, take in Dickens-era theatrical performances, visit Santa, whiz down a 60-foot snow slide, marvel at the live ice sculpting shows, embark on a horse-drawn carriage ride and more.

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