It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and restaurants, bars, and various locales in and around Houston are prepared to celebrate the spirit of the season with food, drinks, photo-ops with Santa, holiday markets, and more. Deck your calendar with the 11 following festive events and pop-ups that are great for everyone — children, parents, friends, and coworkers — and then eat, drink, shop, and be merry this holiday season.Read More
19 Houston Holiday Happenings to Get in the Spirit of the Season
Get jolly before Christmas by snapping photos with Santa, exploring local holiday markets, and cheers-ing with cocktails at these Houston restaurants, bars, and pop-up events
Miracle at Johnny's Gold Brick
The Miracle holiday pop-up has returned to Johnny’s Gold Brick, illuminating the Heights bar with Christmas lights and over the top holiday decor through December 30. Along with whimsical glassware and cocktails like the Christmapolitan and a Snowball Old Fashioned, expect countless photo ops to help you get in the spirit of the season. Reservations are available on Resy and are highly encouraged.
This rum-filled tiki bar has gotten merry with Christmas decor galore and a full holiday menu of fun cocktails. Indulge in Lei Low’s “Holiday in Paradise” with its Ponche Pants drink, a combination of Oaxaca rum, tamarind, pomegranate, cinnamon, lime, and orange that’s served in a Santa pants mug, plus $7 chocolatey Elf Hooch shots, and a celebration of the return of Coquito season with its comforting version of this Puerto Rican holiday nog.
Magical Winter Lights®
From now until January 7, explore more than 100 lantern sets designed as castles, worldwide landmarks, oceanic scenes, and magical lands at this dazzling display set up outside Katy Mills Mall. You will also encounter over 6 million lights divided into themed sections to make the evenings happy and bright. Tickets range between $18 and $25; a family four-pack is $88.
Porch Swing Pub
This Heights hangout has basically gift-wrapped itself for the holiday season, offering a merry place to imbibe and calm your inner Grinch. Find plenty of Christmas-themed cocktails, fun photo ops for the Gram, plus Christmas Bingo every Tuesday at 7 p.m. through December 19, and live DJs on Friday and Saturday nights.
Tinseltown pop-up at Chatter’s Cafe
Drink and be merry at the Tinseltown bar pop-up, which has taken over Chatters Cafe through December 30. Bask in the cheery atmosphere, as nostalgic holiday tunes flood the room, and partake in a Christmas-themed beverage menu, which includes hot drinks and zero-proof cocktails. Tickets are $22 per guest for 90-minute sessions.
The intergalactic cocktail bar and pizzeria trades in some of its spacey theme for some seasonal cheer, complete with holiday lights, fun inflatables, and a cozy outdoor firepit. Expect the same delicious fare, including pizza fries, ironclad-style pizzas with crispy edges, and inventive cocktails, plus specials that you can only get this time of year.
Treat yourself to classic cocktails, various versions of mint juleps, and holiday cocktails — all the while basking in the glow and holiday cheer that this James Beard Award-winning bar is bringing this holiday season.
Holly Jolly Holiday Bar at the Big Casino
Downtown newbie, the Big Casino, has been transformed into the Holly Jolly Holiday Bar for a holiday pop-up through December 30. The immersive experience features floor-to-ceiling tinsel, trimmings, and ornaments, plus a variety of holiday-themed cocktails and mocktails. General admission starts at $15 for a 90-minute session, but you can also splurge on the burlesque brunch, which starts at $65 and includes a burlesque performance, entree, and themed cocktail.
Holiday High Tea at the Lancaster Hotel
If planning a visit to the Wortham Theater for the Nutcracker, consider Lancaster Hotel’s elegant holiday afternoon tea before or after the show. Two seatings are offered at noon and 2:30 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday through December 31, during which a selection of hot teas, tea sandwiches, cranberry scones, and seasonal patisserie are on offer. The experience is topped off with a complimentary tea tin to takeaway, packed with Lancaster’s specialty holiday spiced black tea.
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Holiday Sip & Shop at Pastore
Hit the rooftop terrace at Pastore for a breezy holiday sip and shop on Friday, December 8 from 2 to 6 p.m. Peruse items from Colores Collective, Paris Texas Apparel Co., Kendra Scott, French Cuff Boutique, and others while sipping on hand-crafted spritzes and bubbles and munching on light bites. Attendees may enter a raffle to win a number of prizes, including a chef-curated dinner at Pastore. Tickets are $5.
Texas Winter Lights at Marriott Marquis Houston
The Altitude Rooftop & Pool, located on the 6th floor of the Marriott Marquis Hotel, has been transformed into a winter wonderland. Coined Texas Winter Lights, the display of 1,500 glittering lights across the sprawling terrace is shown daily until Sunday, December 31, along with plenty of photo displays and treat stations with candy and churro bars. Attendees can also float the famed Texas-shaped lazy river, which has been heated to 80 degrees. As a first this year, those looking for additional holiday cheer can reserve a 6-course dining experience in the Gastrodome, an igloo-inspired set up that can accommodate up to 10 people.
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Gingerbread Tea with Santa at Four Seasons Hotel Houston
The Four Seasons Hotel is hosting an interactive gingerbread tea at Toro Toro on Sunday, December 17 with two seatings at noon and 2 p.m. Along with a selection of hot teas, pastries, and sparkling wine, attendees may partake in decorating gingerbread houses and enjoy a visit from jolly ol’ Saint Nick. Tickets are $95 per guest, with complimentary entry for children ages 5 and under.
Holiday Happenings at Discovery Green
Discovery Green is a draw for visitors year-round, but it feels especially magical during the holidays with the park illuminated with twinkling lights. Stock up on Christmas or Hanukkah gifts at the weekly holiday Flea by Night market, then wind down by gliding around the Green Mountain Energy ice-skating rink. Finish off the evening with a seasonal cocktail, like the pumpkin espresso martini or Woodford Reserve-fueled cinnamon whiskey sour, at the Grove.
This interactive bar lives up to its imaginative reputation by getting into the Christmas spirit, with fun installations that serve as the perfect backdrop for selfies, bright lights, and plenty of drinks — whether you’ve been naughty or nice this year.
Montrose restaurant Riva’s continues its tradition of filling its space with the gaudiest of Christmas decor, complete with hundreds, if not thousands of twinkly lights, and unbeatable plates of Italian fare, including veal parmesan and creamy penne dishes. Sunday brunch is also a hit among Riva loyalists. Be warned: the experience is for ages 13 and up only.
Eloise Nichols Hotty Toddy Holiday Pop-Up Bar
‘Tis the season for hot toddies, and Eloise Nichols is the place to partake. The Adair Family restaurant is featuring a dedicated holiday drink menu showcasing six seasonal cocktails for $10 each. Try the Four Roses Bourbon-fueled Eloise Hot Toddy, hot mulled wine, or the house nog. Visit Eloise Nichols’ daily happy hour from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and enjoy the drinks at the bargain price of $7.
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Miracle at Winnie's
Like Johnny’s Gold Brick, the Miracle holiday pop-up is in effect at Winnie’s through December 30. Unlike its Heights counterpart, which is taking reservations, the Mid Main bar is opening its seating up to walk-ins only, with sessions limited to 90 minutes. From wall to wall, the bar is furnished with holiday trimmings and its menu has been refreshed to include holiday-themed sandwiches, snacks, and cocktails.
The Toasted Coconut
This Montrose tiki bar is known for being festive year-round, but for the holidays, it’s definitely decking out its digs to make the season bright. Settle in for a signature cocktail, like its rum-loaded Toasted Coconut or its Tropic Like Its Hot, and a filling dish like its cheeseburger or pork dumplings, and then bask in its decorations. The dining room feels like a cozy living room thanks to a fireplace backdrop with a mantel ornate with stockings and a gaudy Christmas tree.
In addition to its weekly lineup of events and specials, including its Wednesday drag competition, Grand Prize Bar is decked out in holiday decor that will make any outing of the week a more joyous occasion. Explore its two floors of cocktails and illuminated fun, including the upstairs area, which is ornate with Christmas trees and a pool table for some friendly competition.