Where to see Christmas lights in Houston 2023: Neighborhoods, drive-thru displays, holiday festivals

It may still be November, but the Christmas lights are already shining bright. Several weeks-long holiday events are already underway or kicking off this week.

Here's a look at those events all around the Houston area, as well as some popular neighborhoods to visit during the holidays.

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Houston Zoo Lights

See the Houston Zoo in a whole new light as you stroll through the holiday scenes and glowing animal-themed lanterns. Pose in front of the 33-foot-tall holiday tree or stroll through a canopy of glowing flowers and butterflies in the Hanging Pollinator Garden. Santa will be at his workshop at Twiga Cafe until Dec. 23 for photos.

When: Nov. 17 to Jan. 7

Where: Houston Zoo, 6200 Hermann Park Dr, Houston, TX 77030

Cost: Varies by date

Click here for more information.

City Lights Downtown Holiday Magic

Visit 11 different holiday-themed "villages" across Downtown Houston to see stunning light displays and participate in family-friendly seasonal activities. For example, you can ice skate at Discovery Green, see a magical Christmas tree display in the "Grand Holiday Window" at the George R. Brown Convention Center, or visit the sweet holiday display in the Hilton Americas-Houston lobby that is made with more than a ton of chocolate.

Where: Map of locations

Cost: Most sites are free

Click here for more information.

The Light Park

You can enjoy this light experience without having to step out into the cold. See millions of dazzling lights in the drive-thru displays located in Katy and Spring. Christmas tunes will play, and food and drinks are also available. Visitors are charged per car.

When: Nov. 3 to Jan. 2

Where: Locations in Spring, Katy

Cost: Tickets vary by day $29+ per vehicle

Click here for more information.

Sugar Land Holiday Lights

Be dazzled by more than three million lights at this holiday event. There is a light show, a 40-foot Christmas tree, a carnival, food, holiday shopping, themed areas, and more. Some nights have special events like screenings of holiday movies or giveaways.  You can even visit with Santa until Dec. 23.

When: Nov. 17 to Jan. 1

Where: Constellation Field, 1 Stadium Dr, Sugar Land, TX 77498

Cost: Varies by event date

Click here for more information.

Holiday in the Gardens at Moody Gardens

Moody Gardens is transforming into a holiday wonderland featuring seasonal attractions for some family-friendly fun. Explore Ice Land with a "Rainforest Holiday" theme, stroll through the mile-long Festival of Lights trail, take a ride down the Arctic Slide, and more. 

When: Nov. 18 to Jan. 6

Where: Moody Gardens,1 Hope Blvd, Galveston, TX 77554

Cost: ICE LAND starts at $29 for adults and $24 for kids/seniors; Festival of Lights starts at $25 for adults and $21 for kids/seniors; passes for multiple attractions also available

Click here for more information.

Galaxy Lights at Space Center Houston

Have some out-of-this-world holiday fun at Space Center Houston! It has turned into a dazzling wonderland of lights and immersive experiences for the family to enjoy. Attendees can enjoy exhibits like the Light Pods, hands-on activities, and a chance to learn how astronauts celebrate the holiday while they're in space. Don’t miss the Kinetic Light show!

When: Nov. 11 to Jan. 7 (closed on select days); 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Where: Space Center Houston, 1601 E NASA Pkwy, Houston, TX 77058

Cost: $19.95 to $27.95; children 3 and younger free

Click here for more information.

MORE: Space Center Houston's Galaxy Lights provides out-of-world holiday experience

Galaxy Lights at Space Center Houston

Dasher’s Lightshow

Enjoying a dazzling light show set to your favorite Christmas music at this drive-thru display. This year, there is a new option to travel through the lighted tunnels on a hayride.

When: Sam Houston Race Park, 7575 North Sam Houston Pkwy W Gate 3, Houston, TX 77064

Where: Nov. 17 to Dec. 31

Cost: Priced per person

Click here for more information.

Big River’s Christmas

Be dazzled by the drive-thru light display, stroll through the Walk of Lights, or take an Enchanted Hay Ride. There are also other fun activities like fairground amusement rides, a petting zoo, bounce houses, and more.

When: Nov. 17 to Dec. 31

Where: Big Rivers Waterpark, 23101 TX-242, New Caney, TX 77357

Cost: Tickets vary by activity.

Click here for more information. 

Magical Winter Lights

Illuminate your night with millions of lights and huge lantern sets arranged in seven themed sections including "The Kingdom", "The Village" and "The Space". For an extra cost, there is also a carnival with rides for thrill seekers of all ages.

When: Nov. 17 to Jan. 7

Where: Katy Mills, 5000 Katy Mills Circle, Katy, Texas, 77494

Cost: Adults $25; Senior (65+)/Child (3-12yrs) $18; 4-pack $88; carnival wristband $25

Click here for more information.

Santa’s Wonderland

If you want a quick holiday getaway, why not head out to College Station to get transported to this winter wonderland? Here you'll find multiple light trails and more. Take a hayride tour of the lights, or upgrade your visit and book a private carriage ride. Then you can visit a second light trail that can only be explored on foot. There's also a snow playground featuring real snow. On select nights, you can make a reservation to meet Santa.

When: Nov. 10 to Dec. 30

Where: Santa’s Wonderland, 18898 HWY 6 South, College Station, TX 77845

Cost: Adults $54.95; Children $49.95; pre-season discount tickets available until Nov. 19

Click here for more information.

Popular Houston neighborhoods for Christmas lights

As the Christmas holiday gets closer, there will be several free chances to see lights in neighborhoods all around the Houston area.

Several neighborhoods are known for their annual Christmas light displays that you can enjoy from the comfort of your car.

In the city, head over to the shopping districts like Uptown, Highland Village, and the Galleria area to see the lights set businesses aglow.

One of the most popular neighborhoods for the holidays is the River Oaks area where million-dollar homes have over-the-top beautiful holiday decor.

The Quail Valley neighborhood in Missouri City has transformed into Candy Cane Lane in December for decades.

Over near Willowbrook, homes in the Prestonwood Forest subdivision in northwest Houston will light up for "Nite of Lites". The event begins around the second weekend in December and runs through the last weekend of the year.

The Pecan Grove neighborhood in Richmond attracts many people with their annual magical Christmas displays that include extravagant holiday decor.

Please be advised that most neighborhoods will turn lights off by 10 p.m. during the week but may have extended hours on the weekend. Remember to be respectful of residents' homes and property.