Holiday Fun and More: Things to Do in San Antonio This Season

Looking for holiday fun and more things to do with your family? There is no shortage of things to do in San Antonio this season, so once you’ve enjoyed the lights on the River Walk, get out and explore how the Alamo City makes the holidays fun. The list below includes something for everyone, so keep it on hand to help entertain visitors too.

If you need to fit in a Santa visit, check out our list of where to see the man in red. And if you’re looking for lights galore, check out our list of lights to enjoy this season. For more ideas on events to enjoy, bookmark our online calendar.

Don’t forget: Many of our local museums offer free hours or special days for locals to visit, making affordable family fun. And a gifting hint: A museum membership or season pass makes a holiday present that ensures fun throughout the year. If you’re looking for a great gift that doesn’t end up as clutter, give the experience of dinosaurs, cowboys, animals, or LEGOs to fill their year with San Antonio adventures.

san antonio botanic garden holiday display
Lightscape at the San Antonio Botanic Garden

Holiday fun and more things to do in San Antonio this season include:

tree branches wrapped in white light
Photo Credit: The Alamo

See the Alamo in a whole new light. Alamo Lights allows you to walk the beautiful Alamo grounds, decorated with festive lights throughout that illuminate the gardens and larger-than-life light-decorated figures of Alamo Defenders and a few other surprises. On December 10 and 17, this special after-hours experience will also include live performances, presentations from local artists, and holiday food and drinks.

Make your holidays tasty. Tamales flavor the holiday season in San Antonio and you can learn how to make your own at La Gran Tamalada. The free, family-friendly annual gathering will include vendors selling pre-made tamales, tamale kits, and holiday gifts. Visitors also will be able to take in live Tejano music, complimentary kids’ activities, and faux snow in Market Square on December 10–11.

a girl and boy doing the Nutracker balletDelight in the magic of “The Nutcracker.” Enjoy the Children’s Ballet of San Antonio’s Broadway-level production and holiday family favorite, The Children’s Nutcracker! See a wide array of talented young artists including vocalists, actors, special needs artists, and dancers from a diverse range of disciplines perform this holiday classic December 9–10. And the holiday cheer meter will be on high with the return of their popular holiday market that includes photos with Santa and the cast, magical makeovers, sweets and treats, shopping, and more. It’s all the magic of the holidays wrapped up into one enchanting experience for the entire family to enjoy.

Skate through the holidays. The Rotary Ice Rink is back in Travis Park through January 16, 2023. There’s something different to enjoy each night, with live ice sculpting on Mondays, movies on Tuesdays (and discounted tickets, so make it a family night!), live jazz on Wednesdays (date night!), snow flurries on Thursdays, food trucks on Fridays, and story time with Santa on Saturdays.

an actress looking at a rabbit for Velveteen RabbitCreate new memories and see beloved toys come to life. Delight in the timeless tale of “The Velveteen Rabbit” at the Magik Theatre through December 24. Celebrating its 100th anniversary, the story by Margery Williams Bianco endures because it speaks to both children and adults, making it something the entire family will enjoy. Magik’s “The Velveteen Rabbit” is a delightful retelling of the classic children’s story of a child who receives a stuffed rabbit sewn from velveteen as a present on Christmas Day. As the Rabbit’s dapper appearance gets worn over time and shabby from play, a wonderful change begins to happen.

two polar bears in the snow
Photo by Thomas D. Mangelsen

Step into a photographic zoo. Bears, bison, bald eagles, and more in large format images that draw you into a wild world are a must for any nature lover at the Briscoe Western Art Museum. Don’t miss “Thomas Mangelsen: A Life In the Wild,” featuring 40 of the renowned nature photographer’s most resonant photographs—images that take viewers on a journey across the West and around the globe. The exhibition is on view through January 29, 2023, and is included with museum general admission. The classic photographs were personally selected by the photographer for this retrospective exhibition making its Texas debut in San Antonio and are presented in large format, some of which measure 10 feet across. With subjects ranging from an Arctic fox to grizzlies roaming the West, everyone in your family will enjoy being eye-to-eye with these fantastic images, and there’s a children’s area that features learning opportunities about some of the animals in the exhibition.

STEAM your way into the holidays. Want to mix some learning fun into the holidays? Children 12 and under always receive free admission at the Briscoe Western Art Museum and the third Saturday of each month is their education series Full STEAM Ahead allowing learners of all ages to work together and learn about the American West by engaging in hands-on STEAM learning experiences. It’s a fun way to sneak some learning into your family fun day. December 17 features luminarias and farolito. Families will learn about the paper lanterns that are a Christmas tradition, then design and create their own luminaria or farolito to take home. 

Enjoy some evening shopping and fun. Shop and play at Pearl during their Holiday Night Markets, 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. every Wednesday leading up to Christmas. This features live music curated by Stable Hall, including carolers from Conroy Entertainment showcasing classic holiday tunes while fully costumed in Victorian attire. And don’t forget to roam the Museum Reach and see the holiday lights.

Glow in the garden. The San Antonio Botanical Garden is captivating guests again this holiday season with more than one million lights and festive artistic displays as Lightscape returns for its second season. Set to joyful music, the outdoor illuminated one-mile walking trail showcases new installations and some favorites from last year. (The bluebonnet field is a favorite!) Available to enjoy on select evenings through January 8, 2023. If you don’t fit it in during the holidays, make it a new year must.

a large fake fish in a museum display
Photo by Mark Thiessen/National Geographic

Hook a monster fish. Dive beneath the surface and get an up-close look at the fascinating (and often mysterious) giant fish swimming in rivers all over the world at The Witte. With National Geographic’s Monster Fish: In Search of the Last River Giants, you’ll discover these rare, colossal freshwater fish and how local people depend on them. From mythical tales and storied traditions to threats and conservation efforts, gain a greater appreciation for the important role of Monster Fish in both culture and ecosystems. The interactive exhibition is based on the Nat Geo WILD series “Monster Fish,” showcasing the results of Dr. Zeb Hogan’s decade-long search for the world’s largest freshwater fish.

Check out toys from Christmas past. Take a walk down memory lane at The Witte and play along thanks to Toys: The Way We Play. Relive cherished memories from your childhood with retro toys—such as Cabbage Patch Kids, G.I. Joe, Teddy Ruxpin, Kewpie dolls, Care Bears, Star Wars, Transformers, and more—alongside early toys, revealing that how we play has been the same for generations.

Celebrate with everyone. Morgan’s Wonderland glows with holiday lights and a nightly tree lighting, as well as carolers and holiday shows. Enjoy hot cocoa and cookies, visit with Santa, and delight in the fun that Morgan’s Wonderland provides on select nights through December 23. And, as always, the fun is free for those with special needs.

a giraffe in lights at the zooGo wild at the zoo. Zoo Lights is back to light up the San Antonio Zoo through January 1, with live music, sleigh rides, and a lakeside light show.

An Army brat who came to Texas for college and ultimately managed to make the Lone Star State her permanent home, Dawn became a mom “AMA” (advanced maternal age), giving her the opportunity to use a stroller vs. a walker as she navigates the world of motherhood. Her growing up way too fast native Texan loves all things Star Wars, Legos, dinosaurs and keeping his parents on their toes. When she’s not busy parenting the original strong-willed child, Dawn runs Tale to Tell Communications, a San Antonio-based PR and marketing agency. An award-winning writer, Dawn also contributes to San Antonio Woman, Rio Magazine and Texas Lifestyle Magazine. She and her family enjoy exploring all that San Antonio has to offer, going on adventures and playing tourist together as much as possible. Favorite Restaurant: Clementine Favorite Landmark: The beauty of the River Walk, especially La Villita Favorite San Antonio Tradition: Celebrating anything and everything with color, music and food