At 7:00 p.m. tonight, a switch will be thrown and approximately 122,000 lights will form an enchanting canopy over San Antonio’s River Walk (the lights will shine brightly every evening through January 1).
This evening in Johnson City, Texas, the entire town will be bathed in sparkling white lights–100,000 of them on the Blanco County Courthouse, while Pedernales Electric Coop’s Headquarters on Ave F boasts a lighted forest of over 1 million bulbs. Hayrides, carriage rides, and hot cocoa are available throughout the season. Click here for the area’s entire trail of lights.
While there’s a portion of the South that’s slamming Starbuck’s and storming shopping malls today, there’s another sector that’s embracing the holidays in a much more languid fashion. Small towns and resorts across the Lone Star State are kicking off the holiday season with the full blown Christmas experience, complete with dazzling light displays, gingerbread workshops, cinnamon-scented spa treatments, boozy peppermint beverages, visits from the man in red, and festive experiences for nature buffs. What follows, a few of our favorites:
Barton Creek Resort & Spa offers Austin’s largest outdoor ice rink (open through Sunday, January 6) and boasts 200,000 holiday lights displayed throughout the property, as well as “Frosty’s Family Fun Room” with games and activities for families and kids. Parents can indulge in a Hot Toddy for the Body ($210) a warming orange, nutmeg, and cinnamon-scented scrub along with a rum-infused natural oil massage. Afterwards, sip a Buttered Rum cocktail (made with caramelized brown sugar, dark island rum, and seasonal spices) in their Tranquility Lounge.
The Austin Four Seasons unveiled it’s annual gingerbread display. This year’s “Keeping it Weird” village pays homage to iconic local music institutions like The Continental Club and The Broken Spoke. Check it out while sipping a Chocolate Peppermint Martini from their lounge.
JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country features thousands of lights choreographed to holiday music, resident elves (they’ll even tuck your kids into bed), rubber Christmas duck races in their Lazy River pool and Yuletide carolers. Lantana Spa features a Chocolate Candy Cane Pedicure ($75) and a Sugar Cookie Body Scrub ($99), which will leave you ready for a cranberry-speckled Holiday Mojito at Cibolo Moon restaurant.
Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa, McKinney Roughs Nature Park and Bastrop County Audubon Society are partnering to host the Second Annual Lost Pines Christmas Bird Count (Saturday, Dec. 29, from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.). Started by the National Audubon Society, The Christmas Bird Count is the longest running citizen science survey in the world. It is a tradition that dates back to 1900, and it is held across the Americas each year from Dec. 14 to Jan. 5. The 2012-2013 count marks the 113th year of the event, for which tens of thousands of volunteers and birders will brave winter weather to add a new layer to more than a century’s worth of data.
Located in the heart of the Texas Hill Country, Fredericksburg gets jolly with events and decorations flavored by their German and frontier heritage. Historic Main Street will be ablaze with thousands of lights each evening, and its Marktplatz is transformed into a lighted winter wonderland with a 26 foot tall Christmas Pyramid (handcrafted in Germany), a fabulous German-themed Christmas tree, and an outdoor ice skating rink. Click here for a complete list of events.
What’s your favorite place to celebrate the season?