3 Christmas Events to Enjoy in Abilene this Holiday Season

They say everything’s bigger in Texas, and that includes Christmas. Even without the guarantee of snow on the ground, Abilene transforms into a winter wonderland during the holiday season. Parks become elaborately decorated landscapes, local retailers and eateries go all out with seasonal offerings, and a 62-foot tall Christmas tree is lit in Storybook Capital’s historic downtown with a hullabaloo and fanfare that rivals the imaginary land of Who-ville. While you can check off your entire Christmas list in one weekend in Abilene, with the abundant offerings during the holiday season, you’ll want to come back for more.

 


Fireworks lighting up the night sky above the Abilene Convention Center.

 

Shops, Eats, and Holiday Treats: Downtown Abilene City Sidewalks Celebration Makes This Year a December to Remember

The annual City Sidewalks Celebration presented by the Abilene Downtown Association continues to grow each year. City Sidewalks began more than 30 years ago as a one-day celebration after Thanksgiving with a grand Christmas tree lighting, parade of lights, and downtown businesses and museums offering extended hours and retail specials. Then the celebration expanded to a weeklong festival with the intent to draw more Christmas-lovers to Abilene’s quaint downtown. It’s such a beloved season, the association organizes a full month of activities throughout downtown. City Sidewalks aims to make this a “December to Remember,” for all the right reasons.

Travel pro tip: Get a Round Up Pass for the family and save money on gate fees to Abilene’s top attractions.

Start your day with a stroll through downtown’s three parks, all decorated for the season. Beginning at Everman Park, you’ll see familiar faces from Dr. Seuss classics like the Grinch and marvel at the massive “singing” Christmas tree. Next enjoy the glittering water curtain at the newly renovated Minter Park. Finally get lost in the Adamson-Spalding Storybook Garden, where you’ll see how the Three Little Pigs and Charlotte’s Web get festive for the season.

 


Picture yourself on Santa Calls Lane and the twinkling lights in historic Everman Park, both in Downtown Abilene.

 

Get all your holiday shopping done downtown and have fun while doing it! Downtown businesses offer unique festivities and great deals so you can find the perfect gift for everyone in your life. Find fantastic local books, gifts, and souvenirs at Texas Star Trading Company. Snag the perfect thing for the cowboy in your life at Lone Star Dry Goods. Get delectable, handmade chocolate candies for stocking stuffers at Candies by Vleta’s. The Motis Building, downtown’s novel retail hub, features a number of small boutiques like Linen, Karson’s, K. Ellis Clothing Boutique, and more on the way.

 


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

As if the daily attractions and shops weren’t enough to keep you busy, exclusive downtown events will summon the holiday spirit. The first Saturday of each December, catch a family friendly Christmas Pops Concert by the Abilene Philharmonic. The second weekend of December, the Historic Paramount Theatre movie palace alternates annually between showing “White Christmas” and “It’s a Wonderful Life”. The Paramount has more recently added an irreverent Christmas movie the first Saturday of December (think “Die Hard” and “A Christmas Story”). See the Philharmonic and Paramount websites for tickets and information.

If you need an escape from the kids, you can enjoy a special date night downtown. Restaurants offer diverse eats like dressed up comfort food at Cypress Street Station, savory steaks at The Beehive Restaurant & Saloon, contemporary Mexican food and cocktails at The Local, and delicious Neapolitan style pizza at Vagabond Pizza.

 


The Local, a contemporary Mexican restaurant, and Vagabond Pizza located in the heart of downtown Abilene.

 

If you just can’t choose among all the incredible downtown restaurants, try them all in one evening on the Abilene Food Tour! Offered every Saturday in November and December, the walking tour combines food with local history, architecture and culture. Book your tour online at abilenefoodtour.com.

For a more exclusive date night experience, check out December ArtWalk on the first Thursday of December. The Center for Contemporary Arts partners with other local galleries and downtown businesses to present a festive evening of live music, adult beverages, culture and camaraderie. End the night with a Belsnickel Beer Stroll, where you will follow your guide Belsnickel to find tasty treasures at venues around the downtown Cultural District, ending the evening with an after-party at the Center. Limited tickets include a t-shirt. Call (325) 677-8389 for more information.

Out-of-town guests will want to plan their Abilene excursion with a visitor guide and coupons.

 

Merry & Bright: Winter Lightfest Provides Outdoor Instagram-Worthy Fun

Move over Clark Griswold, Winter Lightfest is here with over 1 million lights to dazzle and delight! A newer holiday offering in the Big Country, Winter Lightfest is possible through a partnership between United Way of Abilene and Christmas Décor by Lone Star Electric. You can feel good about visiting the Lightfest, because a portion of the proceeds goes to United Way. We can’t think of a more fun way to secure your spot on Santa’s “Nice” list.

 


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

 

Bundle up and bring your camera, because you’ll find dozens of Instagram-worthy photo ops at this outdoor wonderland. Enjoy nature as you wander down tree-lined paths lit with twinkling stars and breathtaking animated displays. Dont forget to stop by the Christmas Village where you can enjoy shopping, a visit with Santa, and food trucks.

The designers at Lone Star Electric keep it fresh, and this year’s event is promising even bigger, better, and brighter displays at its new home at 2250 EN 10th St.

 


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

 

Winter Lightfest will be open weekends only (Friday-Sunday) November 27 to December 13. The fest will be open every night the week leading up to Christmas, December 18-23 and December 26. Gates open at 6 pm and the last admission is at 9 pm. Accessibility rides are available on Sundays from 6-7 pm and require advance reservations. Tickets are on sale now, so snag yours online at unitedwayabilene.org/winterlightfest/.

 

The Abilene Zoo Becomes a Wild Christmas Wonderland

When brainstorming Christmas animals you might think of reindeer, penguins, and a partridge in a pear tree…but giraffes and lions aren’t usually on the list. After visiting Christmas Celebration at the Abilene Zoo, you’ll see how even the wildest of critters can get into the holiday spirit too. As Abilene’s No. 1 tourist attraction, the zoo pulls out all the stops for their Christmas Celebration. Take a trip to a Wild Christmas Wonderland with activities kids and adults can enjoy.

 


Take a zoom on the Safari Express.

Included with admission is access to all the zoo’s various zones. Familiar regions like the plains of Africa or the jungle of Madagascar undergo a complete holiday transfiguration. Wander through an 85-foot long tunnel of lights and enjoy a nightly Christmas tree lighting. Children can visit Santa in his sleigh complete with live reindeer, then head on over to Mrs. Claus’ Texas Bakery to decorate their own Christmas cookie. If you’re still hungry, you can make your own smores at the smores station and warm up with a hot chocolate. Adults can even enjoy their own special spiked hot chocolate and hot toddies.

Ice and snow may seem like a foreign concept in West Texas, but the Zoo has found a way to keep things chill. Watch a professional ice carver make a stunning ice sculpture right before your eyes. Give skating a try at the ice-skating rink and enjoy snowy skies every half hour at the “North Pole.”

 


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

 

While the kids are busy ice-skating, sneak into the gift shop and sponsor an African Lion or a Black Rhino to provide a gift that gives back. For the serious animal-loving kids in your life, consider purchasing a Zoo Crew membership. Along with a backpack full of adventuring supplies, members of the Zoo Crew will get their name permanently displayed on the upcoming Madagascar Exhibit signage and an exclusive invitation to be one of the first to tour the new exhibit.

Christmas Celebration at the Abilene Zoo won’t last long. It will be open the week leading up to Christmas, Dec. 18-23 from 4 pm-10 pm. Purchase tickets online at abilenezoo.org

There’s nothing like Christmas in the Big Country. Journey to Abilene any time during December and you’ll never run out of things to do. Plan your visit here.