Holiday Season Features Unique Shopping, Enchanting Festivals, Victorian Charm
Head South for Shopping, Festival of Lights, Dickens on the Strand, and More
GALVESTON, Texas – As if beaches and palm trees aren’t enough for an enchanting island holiday, this season Galveston Island will offer a plethora of unique shopping opportunities and special festivities to celebrate the season.
Galveston is the perfect holiday destination for a small weekend get-a-way or a full holiday vacation just 50 miles from Houston but a world away in spirit. When you head south, be sure to check out the following holiday events:
Black Friday Shopping
If you’re looking for an alternative to the Black Friday crowds found at malls and department stores, Galveston Island is your 2011 holiday shopping destination. The island’s downtown district is filled with boutiques and unique stores where shoppers can find special gifts on any budget. Thanksgiving weekend, many downtown shops will offer major discounts and special sales to kick off the season of holiday shopping. For more information, visit www.downtowngalveston.org.
Home for the Holidays Gift Market
As a special treat, the Moody Gardens Convention Center will host a new holiday shopping extravaganza with the island’s first Home for the Holidays Gift Market. The market will feature more than 150 of the region’s most unique gift vendors offering distinctive home décor, candles, craft foods, accessories and more. The market will be open Nov. 25-27. For details, visit www.homefortheholidaysgiftmarket.com.
City of Galveston Holiday Lighting Celebration
The 100-year-old beachfront Hotel Galvez will host the City of Galveston’s annual public Holiday Lighting Celebration from 6-8 p.m. Nov. 25 with the lighting of its 35-foot Christmas tree. The public celebration will also feature entertainment from Galveston Ballet, Houston Children’s Choir, bagpipers and more. Inside the hotel, Executive Chef Antonio Rodriguez and his staff invite guests to see the hotel’s elaborate holiday gingerbread display. Visit www.mitchellhistoricproperties.com for details.
Victorian Homes Tour
With one of the largest, well-preserved collections of Victorian architecture in the country, Galveston offers the charm of a traditional Christmas with the benefit of island weather. This year, visitors can experience that charm on the 22nd Annual East End Victorian Christmas Homes Tour. The tour Dec. 2 will feature four restored Victorian homes and a cottage all found in Galveston’s historic East End district. Tickets are $15. For more information, call 409-765-1894.
Dickens on the Strand
While you may not find Galveston’s palm trees in England, the island’s historic downtown makes the perfect backdrop for the award-winning “Dickens on the Strand” festival, where bobbies, Beefeaters and the Queen herself help recreate the Victorian London of Charles Dickens. Each year, characters from Dickens novels parade the streets of Galveston during the first weekend of December while food and entertainment fill the area with sights and smells from another era. This year Dickens on the Strand – to be held Dec. 3-4 – will celebrate its 38th event with a variety of festivities, including the return of its popular “Steampunk” performers who will host an edgy bazaar, circus and street ball. For more information, visit www.galvestonhistory.org.
Imagine Christmas Aerial Acrobatics Dinner Show
Imagine Christmas will return to the Moody Gardens Convention Center this year to tell the story of Christ’s birth with a live show that combines aerial acrobatics, kite flying, music, and dance. Audiences will enjoy an enhanced production for 2011 with the addition of a state-of-the-art light show and video production, complementing the dynamic onstage theatrics. The show includes dinner and runs Dec. 15 through 27. For details, visit www.islandstarlive.com.
10th Annual Festival of Lights
The 10th annual Festival of Lights at Moody Gardens – the largest holiday lighting festival on the Gulf Coast – is going on now through Jan. 1. Don’t let Galveston’s moderate weather fool you as Festival of Lights transforms the 240-acre Moody Gardens property into a winter wonderland and draws more than 85,000 visitors to the event each year. The festival features a mile long trail of more than 100 lighted holiday scenes, nightly live music, visits from Santa Claus, holiday shows and a “Snow Zone” for kids. For more information, visit www.moodygardens.org.
A Tuna Christmas
Don’t miss master comedians and original cast members Joe Sears and Jaston Williams as A Tuna Christmas returns to The Grand 1894 Opera House for two weeks December 13 through 23. In this side-splitting comedy, Sears and Williams – with their deft comedic timing, trademark characterizations and instant costume changes – portray all 24 denizens of Texas’ mythical third-smallest town, Tuna, as they attempt to cope with the traumas and dramas of the holidays. For more information, visit www.thegrand.com.
New Year’s Eve Galas
Put on your black tie attire and ring in the New Year in grand style as the San Luis Resort and the Moody Gardens Hotel both host luxurious New Year’s Eve galas. The San Luis event will be a Roman-style celebration, including an elaborate four-course meal, a premium bar, party hats and favors, a champagne toast and balloon drop plus live entertainment by the band Password. Event tickets are $190 per person. For information, call 409-744-1500. At Moody Gardens, “New Year’s in the Gardens” guests will enjoy an open bar, elaborate food stations, deluxe party favors, a champagne toast and balloon drop at midnight plus non-stop entertainment by the band Commercial Art. Event tickets are $425 per couple or $225 per person. For information, call 888-388-8484.
About Galveston Island: Galveston Island is a historic beach town located on the Gulf of Mexico just 50 miles from Houston. The island is best known as a vacation destination, offering 32 miles of beaches, a variety of family attractions, Texas’ premier cruise port and one of the largest and well-preserved concentrations of Victorian architecture in the country, including several National Historic Landmarks. Galveston Island is home to popular amusements such as, Moody Gardens and Schlitterbahn Galveston Island Waterpark, as well as a variety of museums and recreational activities from surfing to birding. For more information on Galveston Island visit www.galveston.com or call 1-888-GAL-ISLE.