Window-shopping under the lights
San Antonians love the Christmas holiday season and start celebrating it from Thanksgiving Day in late November. Kick off the winter vacation in San Antonio’s River Walk, where 200,000 holiday lights hang from stone bridges, graceful tree limbs and the outlines of lamp-posts, shops and hotels. City streets and driveways are lined with hundreds of luminarias, little lanterns containing glowing candles. Riverside stores fill their windows with lavish displays, and Alamo Plaza is outfitted with an oversize Christmas tree, all welcoming the arrival of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.
Winter at the theme parks
San Antonio’s theme parks take advantage of the city’s fascination with holiday festivals, decorating their amusements with twinkling lights, Santa Claus displays and holiday trees. SeaWorld San Antonio dresses Shamu, its performing orca, in Santa’s red and white cap for a winter show featuring holiday lights and music. Holiday-themed concerts and rides, Christmas cookies and hot chocolate are part of the celebration at Six Flags Fiesta Texas. And in nearby New Braunfels the Schlitterbahn Waterpark Resort trucks in snow and ice equipment to help winter visitors get in the spirit of the season with sledding and ice-skating.
New Year’s festivals
On New Year’s Eve, live music, Latin American folk dancing and food booths line the streets around La Villita, San Antonio’s old town, and HemisFair Park, site of the 1968 World’s Fair. Multiple stages fill the air with Latin, American and German music. Don’t return to your winter hotel in San Antonio before midnight. The evening finishes with a night sky blazing with fireworks, a psychedelic backdrop to the 750-foot Tower of the Americas.