Ring in the Holidays with Texas State Parks

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AUSTIN – Texas State Parks is kicking off the holiday season with close to 100 special seasonal activities happening across the state. Visitors of all ages can enjoy themed guided walks, crafting events, educational opportunities and more.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) highly encourages anyone planning a trip to a Texas State Park to reserve their day pass in advance since some parks are expected to reach their capacity limit. Reserve day passes online or over the phone by calling (512) 389-8900.

For more information about all holiday activities at Texas State Parks and TPWD sites, visit the TPWD calendar page on the web.

Join us from 1-3 p.m. Dec. 2 at Sea Center Texas for an underwater holiday spectacular at the Christmas with the Fishes event. Sandy Claus and his aquatic elves will dive and decorate the Gulf Tank while Mrs. Claus reads a fishy Christmas story. Santa will be available to answer all your aquatic-related questions straight from the tank. Participants can write their letters to Santa, play Christmas games and receive a Christmas craft if they bring a canned good to donate.

Bring your holiday spirit and creative side from 1-3 p.m. Dec. 9 to Caddo Lake State Park for A Crafty Caddo Christmas. Join park staff as they deck the halls, sip hot chocolate, snack on cookies and make ornaments. All supplies will be provided.

We may not have Santa’s reindeer in our parks, but we have plenty of their relatives. All ages are welcome to join rangers from 2-3 p.m. Dec. 9 at Ray Roberts Lake State Park to learn about the deer that call our parks home.

Experience the holidays on the coast during Christmas in the Park from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Dec. 9 at Goose Island State Park. Visitors are invited to enjoy a free drive through the live oak forest to see campsites decorated in lights and join park staff at Santa’s Village for holiday crafts, games, hot chocolate around the campfire and more. Campers who agree to decorate their campsite will have their fees waived from Dec. 8-9.

Whether you just got off a cattle drive or climbed out of a vehicle, you’re invited to sit back and relax with us for Cowboy Christmas Music and Poetry. Bring your best singing voice from 6-7 p.m. Dec. 9 to Copper Breaks State Park to join in the festivities.

Learn how to make a sweet holiday treat from 1-2 p.m. Dec. 16 at the Lockhart State Park Taffy Pull. Join us as we get our hands messy and learn how to make taffy. You can eat it as soon as it cools down or save it to give away to a loved one. All ages are welcome.

Experience the holiday traditions of the borderlands at our annual Posada from 6-8 p.m. Dec. 16 at Fort Leaton State Historic Site. Posada means “inn” or “shelter” in Spanish. This traditional Mexican Christmas tradition tells the story of Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem through skits and songs. Following the procession through thousands of luminaries, there will be traditional holiday drinks, snacks, piñatas and mariachi. Participants can wander the halls of the candle-lit fort on their own of take a guided tour.

Come enjoy the 54th Annual Tree Lighting, a tradition started by President and Mrs. Johnson, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Dec. 17 at Lyndon B. Johnson State Park & Historic Site. Listen to carolers, view the live nativity, visit Santa Clause, partake in holiday refreshments and take in the spectacular tree. Then journey back in time visit the Sauer-Beckmann Farm at dusk. The ambiance created by the lantern-lit path, the real Christmas Tree in the parlor, and the live music transports you back to what an authentic Texas-German Christmas was like at the turn of the century.

Add a piece of park history to your Christmas tree this year and help Texas State Parks continue its 100-year celebration with a 2023 Texas State Parks ornament.

This special ornament was designed and crafted with great attention to detail, made with vibrant colors on metal and features a laser-cutting technique used to create a distinct dot for all 89 Texas State Parks.

The ornament can be purchased exclusively for $19.95 each and includes free shipping. Ornaments purchased by Dec. 10 are likely to arrive before Christmas. Taxes will be applied at check out.

Outdoor explorers and armchair adventurers: get the best of the Texas outdoors. A subscription to Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine is now only $2 a month and includes 10 print issues plus full access to the digital app library featuring more than 800 stories spotlighting the best of Texas’ wild things and wild places. Visit https://tpwmagazine.com/specialoffers to subscribe today.