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By Annierose Donnelly

The holiday season really is the most wonderful time of year in The Woodlands. Expect extra doses of winter magic and year-topping highlights you won’t forget, as light shows, holiday markets and even a pop-up ice rink come to town.

Looking for the perfect way to end 2023 on a high? Set aside some time this season to create some long-lasting holiday memories with a number of signature events in The Woodlands. Here are The Woodlands’ Best Holiday Events:

Market Street’s Christmas Lights

Now through December 31

Market Street

Market Street isn’t just about designer stores and restaurants. It also brings holiday cheer. The square’s 70-foot-tall Christmas tree shimmers with bright lights bringing some added holiday joy to any outing. Or photo op. During the holiday season, a three-minute light show synched with holiday tunes takes place every evening in half hour intervals between 5:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.

Cost: Free

Market Street's massive Christmas tree is a holiday tradition in The Woodlands.

Market Street’s massive Christmas tree is a holiday tradition in The Woodlands. (Market Street photo)

The Junior League Holly Jolly Holiday Market 

Friday, November 17, Saturday, November 18 and Sunday, November 19

The Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel & Convention Center

Why leave your holiday shopping to the last minute this year? Head to the Holly Jolly Holiday Market to search for unique gifts, with home items, accessories, clothing, gourmet foods and jewelry for sale. They come from talented craftspeople and designers across the country. Proceeds from this event go towards helping The Woodlands community and supporting Junior League of The Woodlands’ difference-making programs.

Cost: $18

Holly Jolly Market

The Holly Jolly Market makes shopping local and easy in The Woodlands.

Lighting of the Doves

Saturday, November 18

Town Green Park

The Lighting of the Doves is a longstanding tradition in The Woodlands, and this year marks the 41st annual ceremony. The giant illuminated doves glisten in the sky symbolizing hope and peace for the holidays. There will also be live music, a visit from Santa, ice carving, family activities from The Woodlands Children’s Museum and a snow play area to enjoy. The night even concludes with fireworks.

Cost: Free

The Lighting of the Doves is a Woodlands holiday tradition like no other.

The Lighting of the Doves is a holiday tradition in The Woodlands like no other.

Nutcracker Ballet

November 24, 25 and 26`

The Woodlands Resort Grand Ballroom

Every year, the Vitacca School of Dance and Vitacca Ballet present The Nutcracker, the sensational winter classic from Tchaikovsky. The enchanting tale is set on Christmas Eve at the foot of the tree inside a child’s imagination. This adaptation will be a showcase of dancing talent, set to the cozy sounds of Tchaikovsky’s score.

You can enjoy the holiday classic with the entire family or a group of your favorite friends at an audience table – sold in groups of two, four, six and eight seats. Make it extra special with a VIP ticket experience, which includes a boutique gift bag and the chance to take a photo on stage with the Sugar Plum Fairy.

Now, that’s magical.

Cost: Tickets start at $65

The Nutcracker Market is a holiday tradition in The Woodlands.

The Nutcracker Market is a holiday tradition in The Woodlands. (Visit The Woodlands photo)

Holly Jolly Jingle at The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion

November 30

Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion

A show at The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion at this time of year is an unforgettable experience. Sing along to all your favorite festive classics, listen to Christmas carols and grab a picture with Santa. The seasonal showcase features talented student musicians from Conroe ISD. Enjoy a night of merriment and dance under the stars at one of the world’s top rated outdoor amphitheaters.

No tickets are even required.

Cost: Free

Holly Jolly Jingle brings plenty of festive cheer.

Holly Jolly Jingle brings plenty of festive cheer. (The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion photo)

Glow and Go 5K

December 2

The Woodlands Waterway

Jump into the jolly festive atmosphere and take part in this scenic 5K race, which takes a picturesque circular route around The Woodlands Waterway. Dress up in your favorite festive attire or glow-in-the dark attire. The race starts and finishes at the south side of The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. It is open to runners of all abilities, ages 10 and up.

Cost: $35

Yes, running is part of the holiday fun in The Woodlands.

Yes, running is part of the holiday fun in The Woodlands. (Visit The Woodlands photo)

Jingle Boats

December 16 from 9 am to 10 am

Riva Row Boat House

Head to the Riva Row Boat House for a festive paddle along the shores of Lake Woodlands. Explore The Woodlands Waterway in a tandem kayak and see if you can find any gifts hidden on the lake. After your adventure, head back to the boat house for holiday treats and a chance to meet a very special visitor.

Cost: Tandem kayak for two is $45

The Woodlands Town Center Ice Rink

Town Center

Throughout the festive period, mid-November to mid-January.

The Woodlands’ winter season is not complete without a visit to the 21,000-square-foot ice rink in The Woodlands Town Center on Six Pines Drive and Lake Robbins Drive. Finesse your skating skills with lessons or simply show up with your favorite crew and skate. Walkers are even available to rent for those new to the ice.

Cost for two-hour session: $15 for ages six and up; $7 for kids five and under

Yes, few places in Texas are as festive as The Woodlands. It could even be your holiday headquarters. It’s time to get out there and delight in the season.


Many thanks to The Woodlands 50th Anniversary Sponsors:

FOUNDING – Howard Hughes

LEGACY – Woodforest National Bank

HERITAGE – Waste Connections Inc.

GOLD – Entergy Texas, Houston Methodist The Woodlands Hospital

SILVER – SVN/JBeard Real Estate, The John Cooper School

PRODUCER – The Woodlands Township