When it comes to the holidays, our attention inevitably turns to party hopping strategies and how much wine will be necessary to get through family gatherings. But this is also a great time to connect with friends and experience events together that only come around once a year. Here are a few that we’re looking forward to in the coming weeks. 

Downtown’s Discovery Green puts on a great show at the holidays, complete with an ice skating rink. And each year Rainbow on Ice lures LGBT fans to the park for a night of pride on skates, complete with tunes from renowned Houston DJ Joe Ross and a few performances on ice. Drag queens on ice, what’ not to love? Dec. 8. Read more

Bayou City Performing Arts and the Gay Men’s Chorus of Houston bring holiday cheer to MATCH in Midtown for two special performances of A Carol’s Christmas, a new take on the classic tale. These guys can really belt it, and they bring a bit of sass to some Christmas favorites. And the intimate setting of MATCH makes it ideal for this group. Dec. 2 - 3. Read more

Megan Hilty

The Houston Symphony is back in Jones Hall following post-Harvey renovations. And it’s a good thing. Few, if any, spaces in town have the acoustics of Jones, which is perfectly set up for the sounds of an orchestra. And just as it does each year, the Symphony is bringing in a major star to usher in the holidays. Megan Hilty (NBC’s Smash and Broadway’s Wicked to name a few) will headline Very Merry Pops. Patrons will be treated to favorites like “Jingle Bell Rock” and “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” Dec. 1-3. Read more

Perhaps the most beloved holiday experience in town is Houston Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker. Just reimagined last year by the ballet’s creative director, this fanciful performance takes guests young and old on magical journey to the Land of Snow, Kingdom of Sweets and more. Oh, and men in tights. Don’t forget the men in tights. Nov. 24 - Dec. 28. Read more

Zoo Lights

We love the Houston Zoo all year but during the holidays this local treasure really lights up. Zoo Lights brings more than 2 million lights to the grounds, turning the attraction into Houston’s version of a winter wonderland. More than 15 miles of lights illuminate the groves and pathways of the zoon and visitors won’t want to miss special displays like the 1958 Cadillac “Holly Berry” and the “Enchanted Forest.” Plenty of spots for a selfie with the crew or someone special. Nov. 18 - Jan. 15 Read more

Another holiday display that’s developed a following the last few years is Magical Winter Lights at Gulf Greyhound Park. Check out multiple “lands” such as Santa’s Christmas Village, Mystery of the East and of course, the Lone Star State. Don’t miss the nightly acrobatic performances and new amusement rides this year as well. Nov. 10 - Jan. 2 Read more

For something a bit more traditional from the Symphony, snag tickets to Handel’s Messiah. The classic performance brings together the sounds of the orchestra and the Houston Symphony Chorus for a truly inspiring experience. From “Comfort ye, my people” to the final “Amen” chorus, Messiah will have you singing “Hallelujah” for Handel! Dec. 15-17. Read more