As soon as you step onto the mile-long trail, you’re immersed in the magic of over two million dazzling lights at the Moody Gardens Festival of Lights. Towering trees glimmer in every color, festive music fills the air, and wonderous holiday displays surround you. From delicious treats to merry rides, Moody Gardens offers an abundance of festive fun for the whole family. Get into the holiday spirit in Galveston with twinkling lights, visits with Santa, ice skating, and so much more.
All About the Moody Gardens Festival of Lights
The Festival of Lights has been a beloved Texas Gulf Coast tradition for over 25 years. Taking place annually from mid-November through early January at Moody Gardens in Galveston, the festival transforms the island with holiday joy. Meander along the trail lined with glittering lights and displays, ride festive trains, enjoy holiday treats, skate on the ice rink, and delight in the magic of the season.
The festival takes place each evening from 6 to 10 PM, with extended hours until 11 PM on select nights. It’s located at Moody Gardens in Galveston, TX, just 50 miles from downtown Houston. The highlight is the mile-long trail that zigzags through the property, filled with lights, music, and cheer. Over two million lights adorn the towering trees, buildings, and displays.
Along the trail, you’ll find fun rides like the holiday train and carousel, visits with Santa at his outpost, singing and dancing shows, opportunities for photos, and more. Festive music fills the air, from classic carols to modern hits. Grab a hot chocolate or holiday snack as you walk and take in all of the lights.
Dazzling Light Displays
The trail features lights of all colors draped over tall trees, wrapped around bushes, outlining buildings, and placed carefully to create stunning light-up shapes and designs. As you meander through the glowing trail, you’ll be surrounded by the beautiful lights.
In addition to the sparkling trees and buildings, the trail includes specially designed exhibits. Don’t miss the narrated light show set to music that tells the story of Christmas. Texas themes like cowboys, cacti, and the Alamo are also brought to life in lights. And be sure to visit the Enchanted Forest wonderland filled with lights perfect for kids.
Tasty Holiday Treats
All of that walking along the trail is sure to bring on an appetite! Indulge in delicious holiday eats like fresh hot chocolate, gingerbread cookies, and loaded s’mores you can make yourself over an open fire pit. For heartier fare, a full holiday buffet dinner is also available with classic dishes like roasted turkey, cornbread stuffing, and pecan pie.
Festive Rides and Activities
In addition to the lights, the Festival of Lights offers rides and activities for visitors of all ages. Sing along with carolers or dance with characters as they perform live holiday shows. Hop aboard the Holly Jolly Holiday Train for a 25-minute ride through the light trail. Visit Santa in his outpost for photos and discussions of wish lists. And families will love making holiday crafts in Santa’s workshop.<
For those who want to get out on the ice, Moody Gardens’ outdoor ice skating rink is open during the Festival evenings. Glide along the ice under the glowing lights.
Beyond the Lights: More Holiday Fun
While the trail of lights is the main attraction, the festival offers even more holiday fun too. Extend the cheer with visits to the on-site ice exhibit, activities around Galveston, and more.
Ice Land at Moody Gardens
Adjacent to the Festival of Lights is Ice Land, keeping visitors chilled with a 20-degree ice experience. Meander through the igloo-style dome filled with magical lights and over two million pounds of ice. Marvel at carvings like Frozen’s Elsa, Santa in his sleigh, and the Houston Astros logo. Test your skills on the ice slide or grab a frigid cocktail at the ice bar.
Holiday Fun Around Galveston
While you’re visiting Galveston during the Festival of Lights, check out the island’s other holiday happenings too. Take in a performance of “A Christmas Carol” at the historic Grand 1894 Opera House, shop at the Strand for festive gifts and decor, or dine at restaurants with holiday meals and cheer. Top off your trip with dessert on the Galveston Trolley’s Holiday Lights Tour.
Planning Your Visit
With so much festive fun, the Moody Gardens Festival of Lights is a must-do Texas Gulf Coast holiday tradition. As you plan your visit, keep these tips in mind.
Tickets and Discounts
General admission starts at $25 for adults and $15 for kids. Discounted prices are available on select nights, and kids under 3 are free. Look for deals on Groupon or discounted tickets for military members, first responders, seniors, and more. Book online in advance for the best prices and entry times.
Moody Gardens is located at 1 Hope Blvd, Galveston, TX. Onsite parking is available for $8-15 per vehicle depending on event dates. For transportation from Houston, Galveston Limo and Shuttle offers festival shuttles. The Galveston Island Trolley also provides service to Moody Gardens.
Tips for Your Visit
To make the most of your Festival of Lights visit, keep these tips in mind:
- Arrive early – crowds pick up as evening goes on.
- Wear comfortable shoes and bring a jacket – you’ll be walking outdoors.
- Bring cash for food, rides, and Santa visits.
- Photograph early – lighting is best before it gets dark.
- Pick up a map to navigate the trail and activities.
Dining and Shopping
Before or after seeing the lights, enjoy holiday meals and shopping around the island. In addition to the festival buffet, Moody Gardens has three onsite restaurants. Or dine at local spots like Saltgrass Steakhouse, Rudy & Paco, and Number 13 Prime Steak & Seafood. Shop for gifts and souvenirs at downtown Galveston’s Postoffice Street shops and the Strand historic district.
For an immersive holiday lights experience on the Texas Gulf Coast, nothing compares to Moody Gardens’ Festival of Lights. Stroll the mile-long trail with over two million dazzling lights, enjoy rides, sweet treats, visits with Santa, and more. From late November through early January, the festival transforms Galveston into a winter wonderland ideal for families and holiday lovers. Plan your visit now to delight in the lights, sights, sounds, and joy of the season at Moody Gardens.