Always festive, the San Antonio River Walk will be brighter than ever this holiday season with 20 times more Christmas lights. It’s part of the city’s plan to switch from incandescent to more eco-friendly LED lighting. In total, the River Walk will be dressed with 1.8 million holiday lights, a stunning site for the city’s many holiday visitors.
Almost 200 trees will be wrapped in 10,000 lights each, while some 20 stone bridges will be colorfully illuminated in various patterns. Local artist, Bill FitzGibbons, is the designer behind this new lighting scheme. Known as an international artist and art leader, FitzGibbons is also the Executive Director for San Antonio’s Blue Star Contemporary Art Center.
The day after Thanksgiving (November 25), a switch will be flipped to illuminate the River Walk’s new display and kick off the Ford Holiday River Parade. About 150,000 patrons will line the riverbanks to experience the sounds and colors of the season with an entourage of radiant floats. It’s the perfect setting to relax with a cup of Mexican hot chocolate and enjoy the mild South Texas weather.
To complement the River Walk’s new lighting scheme, The City of San Antonio is holding its inaugural Light Up Downtown Holiday Contest, which encourages downtown business owners to compete for the most decorative and creative use of LED lights. This will combine downtown’s river and street levels into one magical holiday destination.
The River Walk is also home to Fiesta de las Luminarias. This centuries-old tradition will take place on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in December, when the River Walk is lined with 6,000 luminarias (small paper lanterns) to symbolically light the way for the Holy Family. Another River Walk favorite is the holiday boat carolers. November 26-December 18, more than 185 choirs ring in the holidays by singing traditional carols on cruising barges. The eclectic mix of participants includes bell choirs, folk groups and Latino ensembles.
More San Antonio Holiday Festivities:
Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza (November 27-December 4) – a weeklong mariachi music festival that draws the world’s top mariachi artists.
Tamales! At Pearl—a holiday family festival (December 3) – invites one and all to savor the old-fashioned techniques of tamale making. Discover unique tamales flavors like pumpkin and chocolate pecan and dance to regional music. This new San Antonio favorite is held at the historic Pearl Brewery along the new extension of the River Walk.
La Gran Posada (December 18) – the symbolic reenactment of Mary and Joseph’s search for shelter through historic downtown. It begins in downtown’s Milam Park and ends with sanctuary in San Fernando Cathedral.
Hecho a Mano Fine Arts and Crafts Market (December 2-4) – a specialty market put on by the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center offering artwork by
local and regional artists. It’s the perfect place for unique holiday shopping.
Bazaar Sabado (December 10) – a time-honored event for the discerning shopper. Held at the San Antonio Museum of Art, it offers textiles and one-of-a-kind gifts from around the world.
SeaWorld San Antonio’s Christmas Celebrations (November 19-January 1) – enchants guests with stunning live shows in a wintery wonderland and offers The Polar Express 4-D Experience.
Six Flags Fiesta Texas’ Holiday in the Park (November 25-January1) – Six Flags Fiesta Texas transforms into a winter wonderland for all visitors.
Santa’s Railroad Wonderland is pulling into the station at the Texas Transportation Museum (Fridays and Saturdays in December). Patrons can enjoy nighttime train and hayrides as well as visits from Choo Choo Claus.
San Antonio Rose LIVE’s Classic Country Christmas (November 26-December 18) -will showcase country Christmas favorites in a Grand-Ole-Opry-style show at the historic Aztec Theatre on the River Walk.
The Nutcracker (November 25-27; December 2-4) – the San Antonio Ballet and San Antonio Symphony team up to present this magical tale at the Majestic Theatre.
A Christmas Carol: The Musical (December 2-23) – The historic San Pedro Playhouse is gearing up for this musical take on Charles Dickens’s classic novel.