Best Holiday Events in San Antonio Old West Christmas Light Fest

This year, our Guide to Free & Cheap Holiday Events in San Antonio is brought to you by our presenting sponsor, Old West Christmas Light Fest, the most dazzling holiday entertainment in the area. Don’t miss their spectacular light display at Enchanted Springs Ranch in Boerne, open select nights Thanksgiving through December 30th.

 

Ring in the holiday season: it’s here, y’all! You won’t want to miss one minute of the free, fabulous, family-friendly holiday fun happening in the Alamo City this year. Check back often as we’ll continue to add free holiday events in San Antonio as we find them.

 

THE BEST FREE HOLIDAY EVENTS IN SAN ANTONIO FOR 2018

 

TOP PICK

Old West Christmas Lights Fest

Open select nights Thanksgiving through December 30

What could be better than two million holiday lights? How about an entire town? To make even more Christmas dreams come true, Christmas Light Fest is bringing the holiday event everyone knows and loves to a new location, Enchanted Springs Ranch in Boerne. The beautiful 86-acre ranch is home to a true Texas Old West town, featuring more than 40 buildings brought to life in a holiday wonderland.

To celebrate its fifth year in the lights and mark all of the new holiday fun people will enjoy, Christmas Light Fest is now Old West Christmas Light Fest, featuring more displays, more lights, more fun and of course, Santa! The event features both drive-thru displays and an Old West town sparkling with lights, family fun, and holiday magic. And it’s just a quick 15 minutes outside of San Antonio, making it as easy holiday destination for everyone to enjoy.

Activities include face painting, cookie decorating, a light maze for littles, a scavenger hunt, ornament decorating and holiday games to create twinkling memories.

Tickets purchased online are just $15 per adult and $10 for kids 4 and older. Children under 4 are free. Military members/first responders and their families can get a $5 discount. Group rates available as well.

Learn more on their website!

 

OTHER FREE & CHEAP HOLIDAY EVENTS IN SAN ANTONIO

Friday, November 16: Downtown New Braunfels, TX, 6:00 p.m.
New Braunfels annual Downtown Holiday Lighting Ceremony and Santa’s Arrival. Downtown Lighting Ceremony and Santa’s Arrival is a free event celebrating the spirit of the season in Historic Downtown New Braunfels. This event is hosted by the New Braunfels Parks and Recreation Department and the Downtown Association. The event is free, however, the Downtown Association will be selling treats and photo opportunities with Santa on the bandstand. Photos are $10, cash only!

Saturday, November 17: Broadway St., 78209, 5:30 p.m.
Come out and enjoy the 40th Annual Holiday Parade by the Alamo Heights Chamber of Commerce. Watch the parade then stick around for a Bounce House, live music, food, and more fun!

Saturday, November 17 – Sunday, November 18: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Old Gruene Market Days: 100 vendors offer Christmas gifts, uniquely crafted items and packaged Texas foods. Free admission.

Saturday, November 17: University of the Incarnate Word, Gayle and Tom Benson Stadium, 4301 Broadway, 3 p.m.
32nd Annual Light the Way: This free holiday celebration kicks off at 3 p.m. The University of the Incarnate Word (UIW) has been hosting Light the Way annually on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, kicking off the holiday season in San Antonio for the past 31 years. The event features live performances, a kids corner, food truck yard, fireworks, and live music. The mayor will “flip the switch” at 6:30 pm to reveal dazzling Holiday Lights.

Saturday, November 17: JW Marriott San Antonio, 23808 Resort Parkway, 78261, 6:30 p.m. (and every evening through December 30)
The JW Hill Country Holidays! The JW Marriott Resort’s Light Up The Night begins on November 17 at 6:30 pm. Santa and Mrs. Claus will welcome the holiday season as he flips the switch for the 2018 light show set to holiday music. The show plays nightly through December 30 and guests of the resort as well as local residents are welcome to come and enjoy the thousands of twinkling lights. Santa will also be at the resort for pictures every Saturday in December for an additional cost. Details about all of the JW’s holiday events can be found here.

Friday, November 23: Travis Park, 301 E Travis St, 78205, 3:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Centro San Antonio presents: Holiday Lighting in Travis Park.  Live performances, food trucks, cookie decorating, letters to Santa, giveaways, and a screening of Elf! At approximately 6 p.m., the 55- foot White Fir tree will be lit!

Friday, November 23  – Saturday, November 2, 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. and Sunday, November 2: 12:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.: Esperanza Peace and Justice Center, 922 San Pedro, 78212
29th Annual International Peace Market. This 29th annual market brings together more than 100 international and local artisans offering handmade items including hand woven rugs, hand crafted pottery, hand crafted textiles, hand-embroidered clothing, paintings, sculptures and  more. There will also be live music and food. Parking will be at the SAC parking lot and there will be go-carts to drive you from the parking lot to the Mercado.

Friday, November 23 and Saturday, November 24: Main Street in Boerne, Texas, 10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Taking place on Thanksgiving weekend each year (Friday and Saturday, from 10 am a.m. – 10:00 p.m.), this year’s 19th annual Dickens on Main invites you and your family to welcome the holiday season on the Hill Country Mile in downtown Boerne with a free, family-friendly festival full of the sights, sounds, tastes, wonder, and delight of Christmas. Shops open at 10, snow is trucked in starting at noon, and other activities are held throughout the day.

Saturday, November 24: Comfort, Texas, 10:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Christmas in Comfort: A full day of arts and crafts vendors, food, shops, live entertainment, a visit with Santa, fireworks, and a parade.

Saturday, November 24: Arneson River Theater, 418 Villita St, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Free admission to Holly Daze Dance Performances! Enjoy holiday dance performances performed by San Antonio Parks and Recreations Dance Troupes. For information call (210) 207-3132 or go to SAParksandRec.com.

Saturday, November 24: Milam Park, 500 W Houston St, 78207, 12:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Fantasyland at Milam Park will combine an old family tradition and our beloved tree lighting at dusk to create a magical FREE event for children and adults alike. There will be various children’s entertainment groups, arts and craft vendors, train rides, face painting, and of course… visits with Santa Claus himself!  . Cookies and hot chocolate provided by Mi Tierra’s to follow. A classic car show will also be on site!

Tuesday, November 27: Texas A&M University-San Antonio, Central Academic Building Courtyard, One University Way, 78224, 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Join this University community for the lighting of Main Campus as they celebrate Lights of Esperanza! Take a magical spin on the ice skating rink, play in real snow on the snow playground and take a selfie in a human snow globe. Need a break? Grab some free refreshments all evening! Free admission, and open to the public!

Tuesday, November 27: Barshop JCC, 12500 N.W. Military Highway, 78231, 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Hands on Chanukah: Celebrate Chanukah with your friends at the J with this free, fun annual event. There will be arts and crafts, games, treats, and special guests.

Friday, November 30– Friday, December 21: San Antonio Riverwalk, 6:15 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Ford Holiday Boat Caroling: more than 185 school, church, company, and civic choral groups ring in the holidays by singing traditional carols on cruising boats. Viewing is free to the public from the banks of the Riverwalk or local restaurant patios. It starts at Embassy Suites (River Level). Barges will make 1 lap around the River Walk horseshoe bend.

Friday, November 30- Saturday, December 1: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on the corner of UTSA Blvd. and Valero Way, 6240 UTSA Blvd.,
Free performance of Handel’s Messiah. Kids welcome! Two wiggle rooms will be set-up in the back of the church for children who wish to use their voices or move around. Audio for the performances will also be available in these rooms. The performance runs 90 minutes and prelude performances will begin 20-30 minutes before each Messiah performance. Friday’s performance begins at 7 pm. Saturday offers two separate performances- one at 3 pm and one at 6 pm.

Friday – Sunday, November 30- December 2, December 7-9 & 14- 16: San Antonio Riverwalk, dusk
Ford Fiesta de las Luminaries: Experience the Holiday serenity of the River Walk as you stroll along the lush banks of the San Antonio River guided by more than 6,000 Luminaries. Warmly glowing candles in sand-filled bags line the walkways to symbolically mark the “lighting of the way” for the Holy Family. This century’s old tradition begins at dusk Friday, Saturday & Sunday only.

Saturday, December 1  – Sunday, December 2: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Gruene Christmas Market Days: 100 vendors offer Christmas gifts, uniquely crafted items and packaged Texas foods. Free admission.

Saturday, December 1 – Sunday, December 2: Concordia Lutheran, 16801 Huebner Rd., 78258, 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Concordia’s Annual Drive-Thru Nativity. This annual event brings the story of Christmas within reach of each vehicle that comes through – starting from Christmas today, all the way back to the birth of our Savior, Jesus, and the travels of the wise men! Ten beautifully decorated stations, complete with over 60 actors, angelic choirs, and live animals bring the story to life. Admission is free. This fun family event is a great way to kick off the Christmas season!

Saturday, December 1: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on the corner of UTSA Blvd. and Valero Way, 6240 UTSA Blvd., 3:30 p.m. & 6:00 p.m.
Free performance of Handel’s Messiah. Kids welcome! Two wiggle rooms will be set-up in the back of the church for children who wish to use their voices or move around. Audio for the performances will also be available in these rooms. The performance runs 90 minutes and prelude performances will begin 20-30 minutes before each Messiah performance.

Saturday, December 1: Gruene, Texas, 5:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Gruene Town Lighting: Watch as Cowboy Kringle rides into town on horseback and lights Gruene for the Holidays. Celebrate with live musical performances with festival food and wine available for purchase. Afterwards, get some holiday shopping done at Gruene’s 30+ stores, cozy up to a fireplace for dinner at the Gristmill, head over to Mozie’s for a cold one, or stop by the Hall for the show that evening.

Saturday, December 1: Main Plaza located at 115 N. Main Avenue, 78205, 4:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
10th Annual Silver Bells in the City. Come join in the celebration and see the beautiful tree light up the plaza. Centered where Elizondo Plaza meets Main Plaza near historic San Fernando Cathedral, you can see the tree light up and shine from all directions. Sharing in this special family event are special guest speakers, music, mariachi, Santa Claus, food, fun and more. Free and open to the public, Main Plaza is family friendly, pet friendly, bike friendly and Christmas holiday season friendly.

Sunday, December 2: Alamo Beer, 202 Lamar St., 78202, 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
EgCollaborations hosts the 2nd Annual Sunday Masa – a Holiday Tamales Extravaganza! This event is family & pup friendly & open to the public! 20% of profits will go towards the Elf Louise Christmas Project to bring presents to more kids this year. Featuring: 20+ San Antonio tamales vendors (all samples $1-$3, plus purchase your holiday tamales in bulk from your favorite vendors), “Made in SA Holiday Market” (Sponsored by San Antonio Magazine is the perfect spot to shop for holiday gifts from local vendors), “Pan Dulce Pavilion” (Enjoy fresh pan dulce under our Pan Dulce Paviliion from local bakeries), Local Alamo Beer, Live Music, Cookie decoration corner, Gift wrapping station & MORE!

Friday, December 7- Saturday, December 8: Arneson River Theater, 418 Villita St, 7:00 p.m.
Free Admission to Holly Daze Rock. Enjoy a musical performance by the Take Note Band featuring seasonal pop and rock favorites along the San Antonio River Walk. For information call (210) 207-3132 or go to SAParksandRec.com.

Saturday, December 8: Schertz Dog Park located at 1730 Schertz Pkwy, 78514, dusk
Join Slab Cinema for Movies by Moonlight. The movie is Santa Buddies. Get there early for a good spot. The movie will start at dusk.

Friday, December 7- Sunday, December 9 & 14- 16: San Antonio Riverwalk, dusk
Ford Fiesta de las Luminaries: Experience the Holiday serenity of the River Walk as you stroll along the lush banks of the San Antonio River guided by more than 6,000 Luminaries. Warmly glowing candles in sand-filled bags line the walkways to symbolically mark the “lighting of the way” for the Holy Family. This century’s old tradition begins at dusk Friday, Saturday & Sunday only.

Saturday, December 8- Sunday, December 9: Wonderland of the Americas, 4522 Fredericksburg Rd, 78201, 10:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
What do you give geeks who have every gadget, gizmo, whatchamacallit and thingamajigy imaginable? Find something at the Nerdtacular Holiday show! Jack and Oggie Boogie coming down from Halloweentown for Christmas Pictures and more! Free admission and free parking.

Saturday, December 9: Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center Theater, 723 S. Brazos St., 78207, 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
The Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center presents La Gran Tamalada, the annual community workshop that honors the tradition of making tamales on Saturday, December 10, 11am to 1pm, in the Guadalupe Theater, 1301 Guadalupe St. The free event blends storytelling, the history of the tamalada and promotes cultural pride and lifelong learning. Children and adults participate in this hands-on opportunity to learn about the ingredients, recipes and cooking methods used in making this culturally iconic dish. Participants take home both knowledge of and appreciation for the techniques that have been passed from generation to generation for many years. The Cortez Family, owners of the popular Mi Tierra restaurant, will share their love of family, tradition, and tamales with the community.

Sunday, December 9: Christmasville, Texas, 2220 NW Military Hwy, 78213, 5:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Christmasville, Texas is a family-oriented event that is full of seasonal fun and festivity. It is an environment where all are welcome and community relationships are fostered. This is our hometown Christmas celebration. All entrance fees are $2. Featured attractions include: Santa, Snow Slide, Carousel, Train rides, Food and more!

Thursday, December 13: Quarry Village, 300 E Basse Rd, 78209, 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Free Holiday Block Party at Quarry Village! Enjoy the 4th annual Holiday Block Party at Quarry Village on Thursday, December 34 from 6 – 9 p.m. This free, family-friendly event features a 15 x 15 foot play zone filled with REAL snow, a gorgeous Christmas tree lighting, live Christmas carolers, a Santa photo station, complimentary bites by area restaurants, wine, cocoa, with beer provided by Weathered Souls Brewing Co., a DJ, plus holiday sales and giveaways. MBP Photobooth Co. will be providing complimentary photos with Santa (and he’s pet-friendly!). Just bring a Toys for Tots donation for your photo print out.

Friday, December 14- Sunday, December 16: San Antonio Riverwalk, dusk
Ford Fiesta de las Luminaries: Experience the Holiday serenity of the River Walk as you stroll along the lush banks of the San Antonio River guided by more than 6,000 Luminaries. Warmly glowing candles in sand-filled bags line the walkways to symbolically mark the “lighting of the way” for the Holy Family. This century’s old tradition begins at dusk Friday, Saturday & Sunday only.

Sunday, December 16: Christmasville, Texas, 2220 NW Military Hwy, 78213, 5:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Christmasville, Texas is a family-oriented event that is full of seasonal fun and festivity. It is an environment where all are welcome and community relationships are fostered. This is our hometown Christmas celebration. All entrance fees are $2. Featured attractions include: Santa, Snow Slide, Carousel, Train rides, Food and more!

 

Have an event that’s free, family-friendly, and not listed? Let us know in the comments: