Best Things to Do on Galveston Island for the Holidays


If you’re looking for fun and festive things to do in Galveston this winter, you’re in for a treat! Whether you’re planning your next Galveston Christmas adventure or you’re lucky enough to call yourself a local, the island is filled with a host of exciting activities that are sure to get you in the mood for the holidays.


Known around the world as a tropical retreat, the island becomes a winter wonderland destination. Thanks to a large collaborative effort by Mitchell Historic Properties, the Galveston Park Board, the Galveston Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the Galveston Downtown partnership. Begin your visit with an illuminated tour of the Strand National Historic Landmark District as you follow a trail of spectacular holiday lights outlining the historic buildings on Strand Street to the lighted Christmas trees that line Post Office Street. Visit the lighted, life-size Dickens Village in Saengerfest Park for the best Christmas photo opportunities.


Shopping on the Strand

The Strand has long been a destination for boutique shoppers looking for something different and unique. Christmas is an especially wonderful time to visit the downtown area as the retailers and restaurants extend their hours from Thanksgiving to Christmas and create a special experience to be enjoyed by all. Downtown Galveston Restaurants like Riondo’s Ristorante, Fisherman’s Wharf, Willie G’s, Olympia Grill, Shrimp N Stuff Downtown, and Stuttgarden are the perfect place to host your office Christmas party or even family Christmas event. Be sure to visit our unique shops like Skinsational Body Products, The Jewel Garden, Santa Fe Trail Jewelry, The Admiralty-Ocean Discoveries, Gracie’s, Del Sol/Cariloha and many more for exquisite gift ideas.


Hotel Galvez Holiday Lighting Celebration

A treasured Galveston holiday event, the Annual Hotel Galvez Holiday Lighting Celebration is a memorable occasion filled with festivity and light that takes place the Friday after Thanksgiving. With a special appearance from Santa himself and live holiday entertainment, the tree lighting ceremony has become an honored yearly tradition on the island. Showcasing the beautiful 35-foot tall Christmas tree located on the front lawn of Hotel Galvez, the celebration also serves to officially open the Christmas season for many in Galveston. The event is free to attend, though donations are encouraged and accepted on behalf of the Salvation Army of Galveston County.


Dickens on the Strand

Truly one of the favorite things to do in Galveston in December, Galveston Historical Foundation’s Dickens on The Strand festival has highlighted downtown Galveston’s Victorian-era architecture while providing a one-of-a-kind holiday destination filled with the sights and sounds of Charles Dickens’ work. Many locals and visitors attending the event dress in Victorian-era clothing. The event features parades, strolling carolers, roving musicians, bagpipers, jugglers, a petting zoo and a host of other entertainers. Costumed vendors peddle their wares from street stalls and rolling carts laden with holiday food and drink, Victorian-inspired crafts, clothing, jewelry, holiday decorations, and gift items.


Annual Christmas Brunch and Dinner at Hotel Galvez

The Hotel Galvez is already famous for its weekly Sunday Brunch, but the annual Christmas Brunch and Dinner is an epicurean event that is a sight to behold! Enjoy an exquisite Christmas Dinner, without all the hassle, The buffet features all the traditional entrees along with special seafood features and oh-so-fabulous desserts. Available by reservation only beginning the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, this popular event tends to sell out quickly so be sure to plan well in advance. For more information or to place a reservation, call (409) 765-7721.

If you’re planning an extended stay, be sure to visit the historic Hotel Galvez with stunning views of the Gulf or the historic Tremont House located in the heart of the Strand National Historic Landmark District. For a more modern feel, check out the Harbor House Hotel located at Pier 21 right on the harbor.

With a stunning city-wide display of lights, an immersive historic culture, and numerous holiday activities, this year’s Galveston Christmas celebration hopes to provide a memorable experience to all who visit. Come to Galveston Island and see how wonderful Christmas can be!