5 Festive Ways to Enjoy the Holidays in Abilene

Cooler days and nights, evenings brightened by sparkling lights, and the aromas of hot cocoa and roasting marshmallows. There's nothing quite like the start of the holidays, a special time of year best celebrated by creating new memories with friends and family. Get into the spirit of the season in Abilene, where a festive parade and sensational displays of Christmas decorations are just a small part of the fun. Located about 180 miles west of Dallas, the Official Storybook Capital of America is an easily reached destination with something for everyone. See how you can make your holiday season remarkable when you visit Abilene during the most wonderful time of the year.

Winter Lightfest presented by Christmas Decor and sponsored by the Dian Graves Owen Foundation.

Wander into a Wonderland of Christmas Lights

Once the sun sets, don your coziest holiday outfit and head to the United Way of Abilene for Winter Lightfest, a demonstration of yuletide cheer like no other. Stroll along a 3/4-mile path and you'll pass through twinkling tunnels and breathtaking displays illuminated by more than three million lights. Make your way along the route bathed in shades of red, blue, white, green, and orange and you'll find yourself in the Christmas Village. Sip a hot chocolate, savor a s'more, check out the virtual reality experience, and listen to the sounds of local choir groups as you wait for a photo with Jolly Old Saint Nick himself. Christmas lights are an essential part of the holiday season, and there's no better place to admire it all than here in Abilene. 


Picture yourself on Santa Calls Lane and the twinkling lights in the Adamson-Spalding Storybook Garden, both in Downtown Abilene.

Take in All the Festive Cheer of Downtown Abilene

One-of-a-kind shops and local restaurants decked out in holiday decorations, all surrounding a delightfully decorated 62-foot-tall Christmas tree. All this provides a merry backdrop to an evening in downtown Abilene during the City Sidewalks celebration. It all kicks off with the tree lighting ceremony on Nov. 27, followed the next day by Small Business Saturday. Browse retailers like The Antique Station and Candies by Vletas and stop by such eateries as The Local and Vagabond Pizza, just a few spots that offer sidewalk sales, specials, and extended hours. Don't leave quite yet, as you won't want to miss the Christmas Lights Parade on Nov. 30. Fun and family-friendly, Abilene's City Sidewalks is the perfect way to start your holiday season. For some truly first-rate retail therapy, head on over to The Antique Station. Here you'll uncover a wealth of vintage and mid-century finds ranging from old-fashioned dishware to cowboy boots, furniture, and even jewelry. Meanwhile, Betty & June stocks the latest in women's fashion, along with jewelry and other accessories. To find that ideal gift for the passionate Texas in your life, Texas Star Trading Company has Lone Star State-themed puzzles, cookbooks, apparel, books, and salsas and dips made in Texas.

Explore a light tunnel and see real reindeer at the Abilene Zoo Christmas Celebration.

Celebrate the Holidays at the Abilene Zoo

Have you ever wanted to meet Santa's reindeer? You can do just that at the Abilene Zoo's Christmas Celebration (Dec. 17 - 23), a fun-for-all-ages event full of holiday merriment. Held at night, the zoo transforms into a winter wonderland of spectacular light displays and special experiences like Caribbean Christmas and Fire & Ice. During your walk on the wild side, warm up by the fire pits and get a s'more before visiting the cookie decorating area and saying "howdy" to Santa Claus. Make sure you meet some of Rudolph's friends over at Santa's Reindeer Stables before the night is done.

Texas Star Trading, Candies by Vletas, Lonestar Dry Goods, and Linen are among downtown shops with holiday gift ideas.

Savor Sugary Sweets at this Iconic Candy Shop

When those visions of sugar plums give you a craving for something sweet, indulging in one of the sugary confections at Candies by Vletas is a must. Founded by two Greek brothers in 1912, this locally owned out crafts an utterly tantalizing array of almond, almond toffee, caramel, cashew, pecan, and other fillings generously enrobed in drool-worthy dark, milk, and white chocolate. If that weren't enough, the shop offers fruit and Oreos dipped in chocolate, as well as an array of mouthwatering fudge and hard candies. Make your selection and grab some extra for the road. When you run out, you can order more from Candies by Vletas' website. After all, who says you can't treat yourself year-round?

Rest Your Feet and Restore Your Energy

Whether you're looking to cross names off your holiday shopping list or to indulge in something tasty, Abilene's thriving downtown area is home to many spots you'll want to stay for a while. Start the morning off with a cup of coffee from Front Porch Coffee Co. or visit the rapidly evolving SoDA District to sip Moose Mountain Coffee Bar & Roastery, two coffee shops that roast their own beans. Later in the day, spend the afternoon or evening savoring the luscious libations at Pappy Slokum Brewing Co., Sockdolager Brewing Company, and Grain Theory, three craft breweries that offer their own takes on ales and lagers packed with flavor. 

Looking for a great spot for your holiday date night? Amendment 21 (named after the amendment that reversed the national prohibition on alcohol) pairs its upscale and historic charm with a selection of handcrafted cocktails and more than 20 beers that pair perfectly with one of its appetizers or desserts. No matter where you go, you'll find something that will put you in the holiday spirit. 

With its festive events and one-of-a-kind shops, Abilene is a fantastic holiday season destination. Discover all the possibilities and plan your visit here