From Ice Skating to Tamales, New Celebrations Join Festive Holiday Traditions in San Antonio

SAN ANTONIO (Nov. 18, 2019) – Hundreds of Mexican luminarias lining the River Walk, thrill-filled shouts from theme park rides set to holiday music and delicious, hand-made tamales are just a few of the festive ornaments on San Antonio’s holiday tree. This year, a new tradition joins holiday classics as the Rotary Club of San Antonio invites skaters to enjoy its outdoor ice rink. The rink will open daily Dec. 2 through Jan. 31. at downtown’s beautifully decorated Travis Park, home to the 50-foot H-E-B Blue Spruce Christmas Tree.

Holiday fun abounds in San Antonio with whimsical attractions for the entire family. The season kicks into full swing on Nov. 29 with the ceremonial lighting of the River Walk and the Ford Holiday River Parade where all ages will enjoy costumed float riders and seasonal carols on the brilliantly-lit San Antonio River Walk. On Dec. 9, Chabad Lubavitch of South Texas host the 21st annual Chanukah on the River Walk featuring a Chanukah river cruise experience, menorah lighting and live music by Yoni Z.

Around the city, visitors will find a variety of ways to get in the holiday spirit while enjoying the city’s warm winter climate: 

Millions of twinkling lights at Six Flags Fiesta Texas set the stage for the park’s annual Holiday in the Park event where musical shows and meet-and-greets with Santa Claus combine with the thrills of exciting rides such as the all-new Joker: Carnival of Chaos.

For a wild winter wonderland, the San Antonio Zoo’s Whataburger Zoo Lights features spectacular animal-themed light displays including a 15-foot-tall illuminated giraffe. Guests can sip cocoa, take snow globe photos, roast s’mores, ride camels and more.

Morgan’s Wonderland, San Antonio’s ultra-accessible™ theme park for children of all abilities, will celebrate the season with Wonderland Christmas featuring a petting zoo, entertainment and a simulated ice rink. 

Visitors will find the largest display of holiday lights in Texas at SeaWorld San Antonio’s Christmas Celebration, where more than 9 million sparkling lights create a magical atmosphere. The nightly Sesame Street Christmas Parade offers a chance to dance and sing with fuzzy friends.

The idyllic holiday photo backdrop is at Holidays in Bloom at the San Antonio Botanical Garden, where throughout the season visitors will enjoy holiday-themed events such as the interactive Ancient Art of the Tamal class on Dec. 11 and the fun-filled Cookies & Cocktails Extravaganza on Dec. 18.

Natural Bridge Caverns is the only place to find “Spelunker Claus” and carols echoing in a cave 180-feet below ground. Christmas at the Caverns festivities also include an outdoor holiday maze, hayrides through the hills, games, music and ice skating.

Oh, and about those tamales! Whether visitors want to eat them or make them, San Antonio has plenty of opportunities to indulge.

La Gran Tamalada on Dec. 14 is a daylong festival dedicated to tamales at Market Square. Hosted by La Familia Cortez and the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center this cultural celebration includes tamal workshops, vendors, corn husk doll decorating and live music. To gain serious tamal knowledge, guests can attend Tamal Institute, a three-hour deep dive demonstration and presentation on the history and cultural significance of the dish.

Visitors will laugh out loud at “Las Nuevas Tamaleras,” a comedic play about a group of three women coming together to make tamales for the first time. The show, a holiday tradition for 26 years in San Antonio, can be seen Nov. 29 through Dec. 15 at the Thiry Auditorium at Our Lady of the Lake.

The 11th annual La Tamalada at The Witte Museum is an intensive tamal-making workshop led by the exuberant and knowledgeable Dr. Ellen Riojas Clark. Participants receive hands-on instruction, two recipes, a history lesion and a dozen homemade tamales – six sweet and six savory. Space is limited for this event on Dec. 8.

For even more tamal-eating opportunities and holiday celebrations, plus event details, including dates, hours and pricing, go to