HILL COUNTRY WONDERLAND
Head to the Hills for Festivities Glowing with Seasonal Spirit
By Paris Permenter and John Bigley
Sure you can celebrate 12 days of Christmas, but why not do it up in a Texas-sized way with a whole month of festivities? That's an easy wish to fulfill in the Hill Country, where shops, courthouses and historic sites welcome travelers with a show of spectacular lights and seasonal cheer.
For over 30 years, Boerne has kicked off the holiday season with the “Weihnachts Parade,” a lighted night procession on the first Saturday of December. That weekend, “Oma’s Christmas Fair” at the Kendall County Fairgrounds showcases handcrafted items.
Then on Dec. 10, “Boerne Market Days” fills the Main Plaza with crafts and music. And on Dec. 9 and 16, stroll the streets of Bethlehem during “Christmas at the Farm,” an event that also includes hayrides, a gingerbread forest and plenty of family fun.
The first two weekends of December transform Burnet’s historic district into “Main Street Bethlehem.” Enter the gates of Bethlehem and see costumed townspeople bartering, baking bread and tending to livestock.
Historic holiday fun also takes place Dec. 9 during “Christmas at Ft. Croghan.” Step back to 1849 at homesteads where costumed reenactors craft pioneer ornaments and welcome visitors with refreshments served before frontier fireplaces.
That same day, the city illuminates the Burnet County Courthouse during “Christmas on the Square,” complete with a parade and Santa’s arrival.
While other Hill Country communities offer a journey to Bethlehem or the Old West, Fredericksburg transports visitors to Germany with more than a month of Old World holiday fun. On Nov. 24, the lighting of the Main Street Marktplatz showcases a hand-carved, 26-foot-tall, wooden Christmas pyramid — and kicks off “Eisbahn in Fredericksburg,” an outdoor ice skating rink.
On Dec. 1, one of the largest Hill Country events, “Light the Night Christmas Parade,” processes along Main Street, followed the next day by the 60th Annual Christmas Home Tour and Market, a peek into homes lavishly decorated for the holidays.
Fredericksburg also provides a taste of the season, whether that’s sampling the fruits of the Texas Wine Trail at the “Christmas Wine Affair” from Dec. 1-17, enjoying a relaxing meal at one of the fine dining restaurants or noshing sweet treats like lebkuchen (honey cakes) at local bakeries.
They’re leaving on the lights — more than a million of them — for you in Johnson City during its annual “Lights Spectacular” display featuring the Blanco County Courthouse, the Pedernales Electric Co-Op Headquarters and more. Watch for the “Lighted Hooves and Wheels Parade” on Nov. 28, but every night you’ll find lighted art displays at the pet-friendly lighting event.
The days before electrical lighting are recalled with lamplight tours of the nearby LBJ Boyhood Home. President Johnson’s legacy is also evoked at the Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site in nearby Stonewall, which celebrates its 48th Annual LBJ Tree Lighting on Dec. 17.
Santa makes an early visit to the Hill Country during “Starry Starry Nights” in Badu Park starting the night after Thanksgiving. Reflecting off the waters of the Llano River, the lights create a walkway of Christmas colors.
The park becomes a winter wonderland on the second Saturday in December with “Snow Day in Badu Park,” a rare snow-filled day of fun and games.
Kicking off with the “Light-Up Parade” on Nov. 17 that processes from downtown to Lakeside Park, the “Christmas Walkway of Lights” features more than two million lights, all beautifully reflected off the waters of Lake Marble Falls. Take a self-guided walk to view light sculptures and a spectacular light tunnel, all open through Jan. 1, 2018.
This year Wimberley is celebrating its 20th Annual Trail of Lights at EmilyAnn Theatre's “Trail of Lights.” With 100-plus displays spread across eight acres, the walking trail invites visitors to grab a complimentary cup of cocoa and to stroll the grounds, where they’ll also enjoy live entertainment on most nights. The popular lighting trail runs Nov. 25-Dec. 28.