Island Holiday Guide For The Entire Family

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Island Holiday Guide For The Entire Family

Updated 188 days ago

When planning your Holiday adventures, you will not want to miss out on what Galveston Island has in store this season. The Island transforms into a “Winter Wonder Island,” as the store-fronts of downtown get blanketed in wreaths, lanterns and, of course, lights. Saengerfest Park will also feature an interactive photo frame and a giant snow globe that visitors can enter for family photos. It never fails to be magical. 


The best part of the Holiday season is being with your loved ones and creating new memories along the way. This is why Galveston has become a top destination for travelers looking for some family-friendly entertainment, but with all of the various events, exhibits and festivals going on, it can get difficult to keep track of it all. Therefore, I have created your one-stop-shop for planning your holiday itinerary. 

“ICE LAND” at Moody Gardens 
Date: Nov. 11 – Jan. 7 
Time: 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., daily
Where: Moody Gardens, 1 Hope Blvd., Galveston, TX
Admission: $26.95 adults; $21.95 seniors; $21.95 children
Info: Calendar of Events

This holiday season, Moody Gardens will be home to the coolest experience on the Gulf Coast, where visitors can explore a 28,000-square-foot ICE LAND exhibit with a brand-new Rainforest Holiday theme for 2017. Professional ice carvers will use 2 million pounds of ice to create this amazing exhibit featuring majestic rainforest themed ice sculptures, slides and even a Shivers Ice Bar serving cool beverages for adults.

Festival of Lights at Moody Gardens
Date: Nov. 11 – Jan. 7
Time: 6 p.m. to 11 p.m., nightly
Where: Moody Gardens, 1 Hope Blvd., Galveston, TX
Admission: $10.95
Info: Calendar of Events

Brighten up the winter season at the 16th annual Festival of Lights at Moody Gardens taking place Nov. 11 through Jan. 7. Here, guests can enjoy the largest holiday lighting event on the Gulf Coast, featuring a mile-long trail of more than 100 sound-enhanced animated light displays. Visitors to the festival can also go ice-skating at the Moody Gardens outdoor ice rink or snow tubing on the Arctic Ice Slide. From Nov. 16, 2017, through Jan. 4, 2018, guests are given the chance to enjoy the Festival of Lights at a special two-for-one admission discount. All you need to do it bring a non-perishable food item to receive this discount! 

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer 4D at Moody Gardens 
Date: Nov. 11- Jan. 7 
Time: 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. daily
Where: Moody Gardens, 1 Hope Blvd., Galveston, TX
Admission: $10.95 adults; $8.95 children and seniors; FREE children under 3
Info: Moody Gardens Holidays

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and his friends are back at Moody Gardens this year to spread their Holiday cheer to you and your family. The classic film returns to the special 4D Special FX Theater at Moody Gardens. When they’re eating smores, you smell smores in the theater; when it’s snowing, you feel the see snow around you. It’s truly an adventure your family should experience this Holiday season!

Ice Skating at Moody Gardens
Date: Nov. 11 to Jan. 7 
Where: Moody Gardens, 1 Hope Blvd., Galveston, TX
Price: $8.95/ person; $8.00 skate rentals 
Info: Moody Gardens Holidays 

Lace up your skates and head on down to Moody Gardens for some ice skating! This seasonal ice rink located near the Festival of Lights boasts the exclusivity of being the area’s only outdoor skating rink during the Holidays. While you’re here, don’t forget to take a dash down the Arctic Slide or take pictures with Santa Claus. 

Downtown Lanterns & Lights 
Date:  Nov. 25- Jan. 2
Time: Varies
Where: Saengerfest Park, 23rd and Strand Street, Galveston TX
Admission: Free

'Downtown Lanterns and Lights’ will feature a magical display of Christmas trees and other artisan made pieces as they illuminate Saengerfest Park from Nov. 24 through Jan. 2. The park will also feature an interactive photo frame and a giant snow globe that visitors can enter for family photos. The snow globe will be available Nov. 25-26 and Dec. 9, 16 and 23.

Dickens on the Strand, Kid Events
Date: Dec. 1 to Dec. 3
Time: Dec. 1, - 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Dec. 2 - 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Dec. 3, - 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Where: The Stand in The Historic Downtown Galveston District
Tickets: Buy Tickets

“Each year, children by the thousands attend Galveston Historical Foundation’s Dickens on The Strand Festival. With its parades, petting zoos, history encampments and more, there’s a full weekend of quality children’s programming on hand for attendees. This year the educators at the Galveston Children’s Museum will be lending their expertise to a new “Oliver’s Alley” children’s area in the festival grounds featuring hands-on educational opportunities for youth.  Activities in Oliver’s Alley will allow children to step back in time and experience play in the manner of children in Victorian times.  The same techniques used to develop the exciting and novel STEM and Arts exhibits at the Galveston Children’s museum will be used to create a magical place where children can explore, investigate, and discover the Victorian world, creating their own toys and reviving games from the Victorian times.” - GHF

Hotel Galvez Holiday Lighting Celebration
Date: Nov. 24
Time: 6:00 p.m.
Where: Hotel Galvez & Spa
Price: FREE 
Info: Calendar of Events

The Holiday Lighting Celebration at the Hotel Galvez is a wonderful opportunity to get the family together to officially kick off the Holiday season here on the Island. Experience the lighting of the massive 35-foot Christmas tree on the front lawn of the Hotel Galvez; embrace the music from the carolers and maybe even welcome a special appearance from Santa Claus!

Christmas Wonderland Holiday Spectacular 
Date: Nov. 24 – 25
Time: Friday – 8 p.m.; Saturday – 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Where: The Grand 1894 Opera House
Tickets: Buy Tickets
Info: The Grand 1894 Opera House Holidays

Bring the entire family out The Grand 1894 Opera House this holiday season to experience glittering costumes and the highest kicking chorus girls this side of the North Pole. Join Santa Claus and his merry helpers on their nostalgic holiday journey. Enjoy classic Christmas music such as “Winter Wonderland,” “Jingle Bells,” “Silent Night,” and much more! Performers from around the world will transform the historic opera house stage into pure winter wonderland magic.

Holiday with the Cranes
Date: Dec. 9-10
Where: Various Locations
Price: Varies depending on activity
Info: Calendar of Events



The impressive three-to-four-foot tall Sandhill Cranes, known for their size and the bright red cap atop their heads, arrive in Galveston late October and depart late February through early March. Last December, over 200 cranes were counted on the island. There are 15 species of cranes around the world and only two are found in North America, the Whooping Crane, which is endangered, and the most abundant, the Sandhill Crane. Children of all ages are welcome to experience these magnificent animals!


Santa Sightings

Santa Claus has called and made reservations to get on Island Time this Holiday season and we have all the dates and times for you and your family to meet him in person! 

Photos with Santa at Moody Gardens
November 11 – December 9 (weekends only)
December 15 – December 23 (daily) 
1 Hope Blvd
Galveston, TX 77554  

Santa at The Grand 1894 Opera House
(Edna’s Room Holiday Art Market)
November 25
2020 Postoffice St.
Galveston, TX 77550

Santa on the Strand in Saengerfest Park
December 9, 16, and 23
2302 Strand St. 
Galveston, TX 77550

Sunday Brunch with Santa at Hotel Galvez
December 10, 17, and 24
2024 Seawall Blvd.
Galveston, TX 77550

Breakfast with Santa at Rainforest Café 
December 16 and 23
5310 Seawall Blvd
Galveston, TX 77551

Breakfast with Santa at The San Luis Resort (Blake’s Bistro)
December 17
5222 Seawall Blvd.
Galveston, TX 77551

Cheer on the Pier!
December 2, 9, 16 and 23
Pleasure Pier
2501 Seawall Blvd. 
Galveston, TX 77550

Article written by Clayton Kolavo

Clayton Kolavo is the newest member of the & Company family. Clayton oversees planning, implementation, and evaluation of public relations and marketing activities, including promotions, video production, blogs, and social media. Serves as Director of TV and Galveston Restaurant Week, as well as media liaison between the firm and local tourism partners.