Photo by TPWD
Celebrate Christmas in a Texas State Park
What better place to enjoy the holiday season than outdoors in a natural setting? Texas winters are filled with lovely respites from the cold, so it’s easy to put on your Santa hat and gloves and find the holiday spirit in a state park. Whether it’s a historic site where re-enactors bring Christmas past to life or a campground with a patchwork of colorful lights, you’re sure to come away with rosy cheeks and lots of good cheer. Take a hike, bring your horse, hitch up your camper and join in the holiday fun.
Here are just a few events at Texas state parks this holiday season. Find more at.
Caroling at Penn Farm
Dec. 14, 6-8 p.m.
Take a lantern-lit tour of Penn Farm; hear stories of the Penn family and their pioneering spirit. Learn what life was like as they farmed and raised livestock for more than a century. The tour wraps up with a Christmas carol sing-along around the campfire with hot chocolate, hot apple cider and cookies.
Breakfast with Santa, Crafts and Dutch Oven Christmas
Dec. 21, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
The Cleburne Veterans of Foreign Wars provide a pancake breakfast and photo ops with Santa. Join the VFW and Friends of Cleburne State Park for crafting, including making pine-cone bird feeders. The Dutch Oven Society will be demonstrating Christmas cooking techniques.
8th Annual Christmas in the Park
Dec. 13-14, 6-9 p.m.
Drive or stroll through campsites “dressed in holiday style.” Stick around Saturday night for kids’ crafts, games, a visit with Santa, hot chocolate and even an ugly Christmas sweater contest. Site reservations for this weekend are available through the park only; call the park in advance to sign up for a site.
50th Annual LBJ Tree Lighting
Dec. 15, 4:30-8 p.m.
This special tradition was started 50 years ago by President Lyndon B. Johnson and first lady Lady Bird Johnson. Enjoy carolers, a live nativity, Santa Claus, refreshments and the tree lighting. Walk the trails and revisit Christmas from the past at the Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm.
Christmas in the Valley
Dec. 14, 1-10 p.m.
Decorate a giant gingerbread house, paint a Christmas card, craft a wooden ornament and make popcorn garlands. Enjoy seasonal cider and cookies in the park’s pavilion and learn about cooking with cast iron over the fire. Enjoy the sunset; stay late for a star party.
Ghosts of Palo Duro’s Past
Dec. 14, 6 p.m.
Figures from the canyon’s rich history come to life on this walk back in time. Hear the voices of Charles Goodnight, Isabel Robinson, a Civilian Conservation Corps enrollee and more! Bring red flashlights and water, and wear appropriate clothing for the weather.
Cross Timbers Cowboy Christmas
Dec. 7, 6 p.m.
Experience Christmas cowboy-style at the Lone Star Amphitheater. Gather around the campfire for an evening of cowboy culture — music, sing-alongs, stories and poems. Enjoy chuckwagon Dutch oven treats.
Posada at the Fort
Dec. 13, 6 p.m.
Celebrate Christmas in the borderlands with a traditional Mexican posada. Six hundred candle luminarias light the way as you walk and sing with Mary and Joseph. A Christmas mariachi concert with folkloric dancers waits inside, with traditional Mexican treats, a piñata and a visit from Santa.