What exactly makes the Coastal Bend so enchanting during the holiday season? What we lack in snow-blanketed pine trees we make up for in community events and joyous spirit. We’re here to help you make the most of this merry season. Mark your calendar for these 15 holiday events in Corpus Christi and the surrounding areas.
Watch the Illuminated Boat Parade
Marvel at water vessels of all shapes and sizes decked out in holiday decor on Saturday, Dec. 2 from 6-9 p.m. at the Illuminated Boat Parade presented by The Port of Corpus Christi and hosted by Downtown Corpus Christi. The parade will be viewable from the seawall between the Lawrence Street T-head and Coopers Alley L-head. Hot chocolate and treats will be available to purchase from local pop-up vendors.
Catch the H-E-B Tree Lighting Ceremony
The community is invited to watch in awe as the H-E-B Christmas Tree comes to life this Saturday, Dec.2 from 4-9 p.m. at Water’s Edge Park. Hosted by Downtown Corpus Christi, the Official Lighting Ceremony event will include over 75 pop-up vendors, dozens of local food trucks, live music, DJs, photos with Santa Claus, a beer garden, a petting zoo and more. The lighting ceremony will take place at 6 p.m., so don’t be late!
Experience Snow in South Texas
While the holiday season in the Coastal Bend doesn’t generally include snow, the Rockport Tropical Christmas Festival is the next best thing. Happening on Dec. 2, the festival includes a snow slide to tube down, live entertainment, food trucks, specialty vendors, a visit from holiday favorites such as Mr. and Mrs. Claus and The Grinch, an LED night kite display and a spectacular grand finale fireworks show. The festival will take place at the Rockport Harbor Festival Grounds from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. and is free to attend.
Check Out Christmas on the Coast’s Month-Long Programming
December 2 – 29
Celebrate the holidays with the City of Portland and make plans to attend its month-long series of events for Christmas on the Coast. Several family-friendly events will take place between Dec. 2 and Dec. 29, such as the lighting of the Christmas Tree Forest (Dec. 2), the Parade of Lights (Dec. 4), the Christmas in Portland Festival (Dec. 9), the Illuminated Tinsel Trot and Concert (Dec. 16), Christmas Movie Night at the Rink (Dec. 22) and more. For a full lineup of events and more information, visit the website.
Try Your Skills on a Real Ice Rink
December 2 – January 1
Grab your skates and head over to the City Complex in Portland for the opening of its annual ice skating rink made with real ice! The opening ceremony will take place alongside the City of Portland’s annual Tree Lighting Ceremony on Dec. 2 at 7 p.m. and will remain open on Dec. 3, Dec. 7 – 10, Dec. 14 – 17 and Dec. 20 – Jan. 1. The daily admission fee is $10 per person/per session (which includes the skate rental fee), and sessions take place at 5:30 p.m and 7 p.m.
Attend the Corpus Christi Symphony Orchestra’s Home for the Holidays Concert
Happening Saturday, Dec. 9, it’s a classic holiday event you don’t want to miss! Join the Corpus Christi Symphony Orchestra for an evening of holiday musical stylings. Special featured guests include the Corpus Christi Chorale, Del Mar Master Chorus, TAMU-Kingsville Concert Choir, local soprano Olga Milituta and Santa himself! Tickets are available online.
Spend an Evening at Aurora Arts Theatre for Winter Wonderettes
Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through Dec. 31
The energetic and sparkling production of Winter Wonderettes is back at Aurora Arts Theatre this season. Follow along as the Wonderettes entertain at the Harper’s Hardware Holiday Party, only to find out Santa himself is missing. The girls must save the company holiday party by performing 60s versions of holiday classics such as “Jingle Bell Rock.” Ticket prices and showtimes vary.
Shop Holiday Markets on Peppermint Lane
Every Sunday in December
Every Sunday through Dec. 17 from 2-7 p.m., the Peppermint Lane Holiday Market hosts dozens of pop-up vendors, food trucks and seasonal photo opportunities. Located on Chaparral Street, from Lomax to Lawrence Street, this weekly market provides the perfect opportunity to shop local for all your holiday gifts.
See the Nutcracker
December 9 – 10 and 16 – 17
Discover the magic of Corpus Christi Ballet’s The Nutcracker at the Selena Auditorium. Family weekend will take place Dec. 9 and 10 with discounted tickets, and Gala Weekend with a live soundtrack from the Corpus Christi Symphony Orchestra takes place Dec. 16 and 17. Ticket prices vary and are available for purchase online.
Visit the Christmas Tree Forest
Now through January 3
In partnership with H-E-B and the Junior League of Corpus Christi, the Art Museum of South Texas’ Annual Christmas Tree Forest features 30 individual trees decorated by local school groups. With the theme “A Reading Wonderland,” each tree is inspired by a literary twist with hand-crafted decorations. Stop by the museum for Free Family Day on Dec. 9 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. for H-E-B goodie bags, hands-on art activities, photos with Santa, live musical and dance performances, a food truck and more.
Snap a selfie with Scuba St. Nick
December 9 – 23
The beloved Scuba St. Nick will dive into the H-E-B Caribbean Sea Exhibit at the Texas State Aquarium every day from Dec. 9 to Dec. 23 at 2 p.m. to take photos with guests and their families. Plus, the Whataburger 4-Dimension Theatre will show The Polar Express 4-D Experience, which will run until Dec. 31. Admission prices vary.
Go Ice Skating at Coastal Christmas
December 18 – 23
American Bank Center’s Coastal Christmas returns with indoor ice skating and holiday fun for the whole family. Regular skate sessions, late-night sessions soundtracked by a live DJ and sensory-friendly sessions are all available Dec. 18 through 23. But the fun doesn’t stop there! Family photo ops, visits from special holiday characters, holiday refreshments and more are available at the 5th Annual Coastal Christmas.
Watch A Christmas Carol Live on Stage
Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through December 23
Don’t miss Harbor Playhouse’s annual production of A Christmas Carol. The superb musical trails Scrooge on Christmas Eve as he is visited by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future—ultimately resulting in his discovery of the true meaning of Christmas. The play has become a Coastal Bend tradition and will run every weekend through Dec. 23. Tickets are available online.
Stop by Holly-Days at The Gardens
Every Friday and Saturday until Dec. 23
Watch the South Texas Botanical Gardens and Nature Center transform into a magical winter wonderland with Holly-Days at the Gardens. Stop by every weekend until Christmas for four Eco Christmas Trees, light displays, two 15-foot wooden reindeer, Santa, a huge lighted fir tree, hay rides, a petting zoo, photo ops, s’mores, hot cocoa and more! Admission prices vary.
Attend a Polar Express Pajama Party
La Ratama Central Library is hosting a Polar Express-themed pajama party on Dec. 23. Starting at 11 a.m. you’re invited to watch the classic holiday film with hot cocoa and craft activities to pair! Make sure to show up in your coziest, family-friendly holiday pajamas.
Editor’s Note: The original version of this article was published in the December 2022 print issue of The Bend. This article was modified with updated information.