The Best Cheap & Free Holiday Events in Houston (2020)

This holiday season will be like no other we’ve experienced. Many of the holiday events we’ve come to love over the years have been canceled or greatly reimagined due to the pandemic, but the good news is there’s still plenty of fun to be had this Christmas while staying safe.

Get out your calendar and schedule these cheap and free holiday events in Houston. This year’s list features some exciting cheap and free holiday events! Enjoy the season and create memories with family and friends. Check out our guide to the best things to do in Houston for Christmas!


Enjoy a Holiday Theatrical Production from Home

alley theatre a christmas carol

December 4-27, Alley Theatre (Online Stream)

Cuddle up on the couch and stream a special performance of A Christmas Carol from Alley TheatreThe show will be available for streaming December 4-27.


Check Out the Reimagined Dickens on the Strand Event

dickens on the strand

December 5-6, Galveston

Dickens on the Strand is back again for a weekend of Victorian fun, but this year’s event will be different than ever before! Highlights include Dickens Victorian Bed Races, Victorian Costume Contest, daily parades through Galveston’s historic Strand District, walking tours, handbell concerts, nonstop entertainment on four stages, jugglers, and so much more. For 2020, Dickens on The Strand will become Dickens on The Squares, and it will take place across five separate locations on December 5-6 from 10 am to 6 pm daily. Click here to learn more.


Shop the Holiday Market at Levy Park

levy park holiday market

December 4-6, Levy Park

Levy Park Holiday Market is a free 3-day event that will feature local vendors, food and drink vendors, and plenty of holiday cheer. It’s a great chance to get your holiday shopping done early while supporting local businesses. The market will be outdoors and socially distanced.


Head to the Farm for Tons of Holiday Fun

Dates through December 27, Dewberry Farm

dewberry farm christmas lights

Visit Dewberry Farm for holiday fun on the farm with wagon rides through the woods to see 1 million+ holiday lights (drive-thru lights show in your own vehicle is also available), Santa photo ops, and dozens of other holiday activities.


Be Amazed at This Remarkable Lights Display in Sugar Land

sugar land holiday lights

Now through January 3, Constellation Field

Don’t miss the Sugar Land Holiday Lights at Constellation Field  (save over 30% on tickets) where you can witness over 3 million individual lights and numerous beautiful displays across themed areas. There are also special events throughout the season, including movie nights, Lights & Leashes where you can bring your pet, Ugly Sweater Night, and more.


Visit the Zoo After Dark for the City’s Most Popular Holiday Lights Events

Houston Zoo Lights 2018 Featured

Now through January 10, Houston Zoo

See the Houston Zoo in a whole new light at this remarkable annual holiday lights show! Houston Zoo Lights returns with two million Christmas lights illuminating throughout the area. Check out our Houston Zoo Lights guide for all the info about this excellent event.


Enjoy Outdoor Ice Skating in the Heart of Houston

ice skating discvoery green

Now through January 31, Discovery Green

The Ice at Discovery Green is jam-packed full of holiday events and Christmas activities for Houstonians to enjoy. General admission is $15 with skate rental included. On Cheap Skate Mondays, tickets are just $8 including skate rentals. Green Mountain Energy employees and customers can both get $2 off with proof.


Catch a Live Concert in the Open Air

ad players karen carpenter

December 10-23, A.D. Players at The George Theater

Enjoy an outdoor, socially distanced holiday music show at A.D. Players at The George Theater with ‘Merry Christmas Darling: Heidi Kettenring Sings Karen Carpenter. It’s a great production the whole family can enjoy. The local theater has built a stage outside and divided the parking lot into safely distanced boxes to accommodate groupings of 2-4 people.


Watch a Holiday Concert Outdoors in Sugar Land

holidays in the plaza sugar land

December 10, 18; Sugar Land Town Square

Holidays in the Plaza at Sugar Land Town Square takes place select dates throughout the month with a different act. Expect a free show in the outdoors with great holiday music from a local musical group.


Choo Choo! Head to Tomball’s Historic Railroad Depot Museum for Holiday Fun

The Best Cheap & Free Holiday Events in Houston (2020)

December 12 & 19, 10 am – 2 pm, The Depot

After a lengthy closure due to the pandemic, Tomball’s historic 1907 railroad museum, The Depot, has just reopened on a limited schedule for the holidays. The Depot is all decked out for the holidays with a sleigh full of elves, holiday trains, wreaths, a 7-foot-tall Lionel Christmas tree decorated with railroad holiday ornaments, model trains decorated for the season, and more. Admission and parking are free! The Depot is located at 201 South Elm Street along the BNSF Railroad tracks in downtown Tomball.

See a Christmas Boat Parade on the Water

kemah boat parade

credit: Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce

December 12 at 6 pm, Kemah Boardwalk

The annual Christmas Boat Parade at the Kemah Boardwalk is always a hit. Entrance to the boardwalk is always free! Get there early for the best views. You can also catch the parade from other public viewing spots, including Both Sides of Kemah/Seabrook Channe,l Nassau Bay Lagoon, South Shore Harbour Marina, Clear Lake Shores, and Davis Road Canal/Constellation Pointe. The parade begins at 6 pm.


Spend the Weekend Exploring a Winter Wonderland

balmoral winter wonderland

December 12-13, Balmoral Lagoon

Santa and snow will take over Balmoral at the Winter Wonderland at Balmoral for a “brrrr-illiant” mix of wintery fun 11 am to 6 pm December 12-13. The beachy lagoon will turn into a winter wonderland with tons of games, inflatables, kayaking, beach volleyball, ornament-making, photos with Santa, an Ugly Sweater Contest, live music, and more. This is located at 15808 Crystal Terrace Drive, Humble, Texas 77346.


Don’t Miss Galveston’s Best Christmas Lights Display

moody gardens holidays

Now through January 2, 2021, Moody Gardens

Spend an evening on the island at Galveston’s Festival of Lights at Moody Gardens. It’s one of the best light displays in the nation with two million lights, 100 animated sound-enhanced light displays, a four-story digital Christmas tree, and a great collection of new scenes and old favorites.


Welcome Back the Island’s Feathered Friends

holiday with the cranes

Credit: Barbara Rabek, Galveston Island Nature Tourism Council

December 12 at 10 am, Galveston (Online Stream)

Celebrate the return of the island’s wintering Sandhill Cranes at Holiday with the Cranes in Galveston Saturday, December 12. It’s the ultimate birding experience during the winter and one of the quirkiest annual holiday events in the area. This year’s event is going virtual with a fun online presentation you can enjoy from anywhere! Special guest Glenn Olsen will be on hand to talk all about the history and intricacies of this important species.


Get Your Picture Taken with Santa

photos with santa

Various Dates & Locations

Photos with Santa are a holiday tradition, but with the ongoing pandemic, things are different this year. Thankfully, many places around town have found safe ways to offer in-person and virtual Santa visits. Trader’s Village is hosting a Holiday Market with Santa every Saturday and Sunday through December 20.  Santa’s Wonderland at Bass Pro Shop offers free photos with Santa with advanced reservations. Many malls throughout the city are also offering Santa photos this year in a safe, socially distanced manner, and some, like Memorial City Mall are even offering Zoom call visits with jolly old Saint Nick. Check out our complete guide to getting Santa photos in Houston for more info.


Hit the Ice in The Woodlands

woodlands ice rink

Now through January 18

The Ice Rink at Woodlands Town Center is open daily now through mid-January. Visitors will be screened upon entry, requiring a mask and passing temperature to skate. Additionally, visitors are encouraged to travel in smaller groups as a way to practice social distancing. Admission plus two hours of skate rentals start at just $6 for little kids.


Don’t Miss the Annual Nite of Lites Event

prestonwood nite of lites

credit: Mark White,

December 12-27, Prestonwood Forest

Drive through Prestonwood Forest subdivision in NW Houston for the 43rd annual Nite of Lites event, a holiday tradition and competition since the 1980s. This neighborhood goes all out and has some of the best decorations and displays in the area! Visitors can drive through the community weekdays till 10 pm and weekends till 11 pm. Folks are encouraged to vote online for their favorite home as the People’s Choice Award. Dates are December 12-27.


Watch Your Favorite Holiday Movies Under the Stars

free outdoor holiday movies houston

Various Dates & Locations

Spend a night in the outdoors enjoying a great Christmas movie for free! Numerous parks, churches, malls, and other venues across town will be screening hosting various outdoor holiday movie nights throughout the month. Check out our schedule of free holiday movies in Houston for more info.


Head Home for the Holidays with This Popular Annual Holiday Event in Spring

home for the holidays spring


Weekends now through Christmas

Don’t miss Home for the Holidays in Old Town Spring, the 40th annual weekend event through Christmas! The hometown holiday festival features a spectacular display of twinkling holiday lights, entertainment, family-friendly activities (including horse-drawn carriage rides and a petting zoo!), and photos with Santa every weekend! Event located at 403 Main Street in Spring.


Have Some Holiday Fun on the Boardwalk


kemah boardwalk christmas

photo credit: @wxfowl Instagram

Weekends December 4-20, Kemah Boardwalk

There is lots of free fun planned at Jingle on the Boardwalk weekends on the Kemah Boardwalk. Starting on December 4th, Kemah Boardwalk will welcome visitors in with an ample dose of Christmas cheer. Activities include a Santa’s Workshop, pictures with Santa, live music, balloon artists, and so much more. Located at 215 Kipp Ave.


Blast Off with This Out-of-This-World Lights Display

space center houston galaxy lights

Now through January 3

Space lovers won’t want to miss Galaxy Lights at Space Center Houston this holiday season! This year’s event is going to be bigger than ever before, while also adapting to provide a safe, socially distanced event for all to enjoy. Expect two amazing light shows, photo stations, a s’mores pit, an indoor meteor shower, a 200-foot LED light tunnel leading to NASA Johnson Space Center, light projections, holiday music, and stories of the universe told magically through lights. Check for the lowest pricing for this awesome light show through Groupon.


Witness a Magical Lights Show from Your Car at these Drive-Thru Events

rudolphs light show houston

Various Dates & Locations

Don’t feel comfortable visiting one of the local lights displays where you have to get out and walk around? This year, several drive-thru Christmas light shows have popped up that let you enjoy beautiful displays from the safety and comfort of your car. You pay for admission by the carload. A couple of our favorites are Rudolphs Light Show in Hockley and The Light Park at Hurricane Harbor Splashtown.


What free and cheap holiday events in Houston are you looking forward to this season? Let us know your favorite Christmas things to do in Houston and the surrounding areas by commenting below: