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Visiting the San Antonio River Walk at Christmas

Visiting the San Antonio River Walk at Christmas

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San Antonio is a hot spot for tourists year-round.  And everyone who visits spending at least some time on the River Walk. 

The River Walk is known for the great restaurants, shops, and fabulous hotels that line the banks of the San Antonio River in Downtown San Antonio. Well, what if I told you that visiting the San Antonio River Walk at Christmas is even more magical? 

For you see, this area comes alive during the holiday season and just beckons visitors to come and enjoy all of the festivities.  Honestly, it easily becomes one of the many romantic getaways in Texas.

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    San Antonio River Walk at Christmas

    Holiday Lights on the River Walk

    Christmas in Texas is awesome, especially in San Antonio!

    The San Antonio River Walk at Christmas is a sight to behold!  Each year, the River Walk glistens with over 100,000 lights draped through the tree that line its banks.  These lights come on daily at dusk and remain on until dawn for all to enjoy. 

    The lights are first turned on the day after Thanksgiving and remain lit each evening until January 2 of the new year.

    This is one of the many free things to do in San Antonio for you and your family to enjoy.   The River Walk itself is considered a public park, so it is always free to the public. 

    There is an exception to this during the Ford Holiday Parade when a ticket is required to enter the River Walk area.

    This experience should be on everyone’s Texas Bucket List!

    Ford Holiday River Parade

    The Ford Holiday River Parade kicks off the lighting of the River Walk each year.  This parade is a nationally televised event that draws visitors from all over the country.

    This hour-long parade features celebrities riding on decorated and illuminated floats to help ring in the holiday season.  The floats and costumes in this parade are incredible, especially when you pair it with the holiday music that so many include when passing by. 

    In order to watch the parade from the River Walk, tickets must be purchased through the San Antonio River Walk website.

    If you so desire, you can make a reservation at one of the many restaurants located along the River Walk.  Many offer dinner packages for you to enjoy while watching the parade.

    This is a great experience to add to your weekend in San Antonio itinerary.

    San Antonio River Walk at Christmas

    Ford Holiday Boat Caroling

    Another fun tradition on the San Antonio River Walk at Christmas is boat caroling.  The boats, which can be rented out, make a lap around the downtown area of the River Walk while participants carol to those on the banks. 

    Of course, you don’t have to participate in the caroling.  You can just enjoy the music from the banks of the River Walk.

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    Fiesta de las Luminarias

    The Fiesta de las Luminarias is definitely an experience you don’t want to miss.  This annual tradition makes the river look absolutely magical when over 2,000 paper lanterns grace the water. 

    The centuries-old Mexican tradition is said the help “light the way” for the holy family. 

    Be sure and visit on the weekends in December to enjoy this beautiful tradition.

    Holiday Artisan Show

    The Holiday Artisan Show is another great activity on the San Antonio River Walk at Christmas.  This annual show allows visitors to shop over 40 booths filled with handmade artisan goods. 

    Items like pottery, textiles, woodwork, paintings, and jewelry are just some of the examples of the treasures you can find here. 

    The show takes place on the River Walk extension near the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce building.

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    Christmas Dinner Cruise

    For a special treat while visiting the River Walk, consider participating in a Christmas Dinner Cruise.  The river barges transform into floating restaurants allowing guests to see the River Walk from an entirely different viewpoint. 

    This is truly a romantic experience as you enjoy dinner under the beautifully lit cypress trees while cruising along the river.

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    Visiting the San Antonio Riverwalk at Christmas-Final Thoughts

    San Antonio River Walk at Christmas

    As you can see, the San Antonio Riverwalk at Christmas is truly a magical experience. 

    There is just something about the thousands of lights that make the River Walk feel magical. That’s probably why it is one of the Texas Christmas destinations that we love.

    When planning your trip, be sure to check the dates of the events notated above.  I would hate for you to have your heart set on a certain event and not attend during the right time. 

    Happy Travels, friends!

    While You’re Here Check Out These Other Texas Posts:

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    Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

    Book Your Flight:

    We love using CheapOAir, Kayak, and Kiwi to search for the best prices on flights. We love using these search engines because they search the web for airlines all over the world to ensure you get the best deal! In addition to flights, you can also find great hotel prices on Kayak and Kiwi.

    Book Your Vacation Package:

    If you want to book an entire vacation package, then we suggest using Expedia. We love how easy Expedia is to use and we always find good deals on entire vacation packages on their site.

    Another great site for vacation packages is BookVIP. BookVIP offers super cheap vacation packages to incredible destinations. You are sure to save money using their site!

    For full guided vacations including hotels, some meals, transportation, and guides, then we book with Trafalgar. Trafalgar is a trusted tour company that will meet all of your needs while ensuring that you have a great experience. allows you to book flights, hotels, train tickets, rental cars, airport transfers, tours, and more all on one site. Owned by the parent company that also owns Skyscanner, this is a trusted resource for travel booking and a great “one-stop-shop.”

    Book Your Accommodations:

    We always begin our search by checking out the honest review on hotels at TripAdvisor. This allows us to narrow our search for specific properties once we are ready to book. Of course, you can also book directly on the TripAdvisor site as well!

    There are several accommodation sites that we like to use. One of our favorites is because it gives you a wide variety of hotels and guesthouses at a good price.

    Another “go-to” hotel booking site for us is We love their loyalty program that allows you to earn free nights, and their “secret prices” for members are fabulous deals!

    HotelsCombined is another cool site. They allow you to compare all of the top travel sites with one search to ensure you are finding the best deal out there. Kayak works in this way as well.

    If you are looking for a luxurious all-inclusive vacation, then consider checking out the Sandals/Beaches properties. Sandals properties are for couples only and Beaches are for families. We have visited Sandals in the past and absolutely love the attention to detail and the service they provide.

    Tour Companies We Trust:

    We love taking guided tours when visiting new places. Our go-to tour companies are and Get Your Guide. Both of these companies have been in business for years and provide excellent customer service. You can trust booking tours from their sites for sure!

    For a guided city tour, check out City Sightseeing and BigBus Tours. These bus tours are so much fun and easy to hop on and hop off at top attractions in cities around the world.

    CityPass is a great way to save money when visiting large cities. CityPass allows you to get free admission to major attractions once you buy their pass. The savings add up quickly with this pass, often saving 50% with combined admissions.

    Another great pass to save money in larger cities is the Sightseeing Pass. This pass allows you to save valuable time and money by combining admissions to major attractions. They also have a handy app that keeps everything you need at your fingertips.

    Looking to Save Time and Money?

    Check out our resource page for all of our favorite vendors. These companies help us to save time and money on our travels!

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    Michelle Snell founder of That Texas Couple and Totally Texas Travel

    About The Author

    Michelle Snell is a travel writer, history buff, wine lover, and enthusiast of different cultures. Michelle enjoys bringing places to life through her informative writing style on her blogs, That Texas Couple and Totally Texas Travel.  Her practical tips and suggestions help make travel dreams a reality while immersing her readers in the history, culture, and food of a region.  She is happiest sipping wine in Italy or chilling on a beach with her husband, Marty.

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    Thursday 19th of November 2020

    The San Antonio River Walk Christmas commercials airing right now remind me of some of the Kew Gardens lights in London which I'm going to miss tremendously this year now that we're back in the USA. Do you know if most activities and restaurants will even be open? Curious if it's a gamble booking things or not.


    Thursday 19th of November 2020

    Hi Lori. Honestly, I am not sure the answer to this given the current situation. My brother is going down soon, so I will let you know after he visits.

    Yukti Agrawal

    Wednesday 21st of October 2020

    It looks pretty and I have never been to such Christmas festivals. San Antonio river walk looks awesome.


    Monday 19th of October 2020

    Oh my gosh I love the Riverwalk but never have been here during the holidays! Will need to do this next year!


    Monday 19th of October 2020

    You really should. It is such a cool experience. Thanks for reading the post!

    Wellness Travel Diaries

    Sunday 18th of October 2020

    I love European Christmas markets, I had no idea they had such festive places in Texas! I'm adding this to my travels in the US.


    Monday 19th of October 2020

    Oh yes, Texas is full of festive places. We love touring our state during the holidays :)


    Saturday 17th of October 2020

    I was just telling my husband that I'd love somewhere with Christmas Magic to visit this year, and this sounds great! I love the idea of boat caroling, how fun!!