Things to Do

Christmas Festivities on Galveston Island are a Magical Experience

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Tony Maples Photography


Galveston Island’s holiday festivities kick off each year with Dickens on the Strand, and continue throughout December. Moody Gardens Festival of Lights, the Railroad Museum’s annual Polar Express train ride, and other events have become family traditions for many Texans.

The Festival of Lights at Moody Gardens features a festive stroll along a mile-long trail, with over two million lights and lighted scenes themed to holiday music. The trail winds around the gardens, with spectacular views of Galveston Bay. A favorite stop along the way features Star the Dancing Tree of Light. This magnificent digital dancing tree of light is four stories tall, and shines brighter than any Christmas tree in Texas.

Concession areas offer hot chocolate, fireside S’mores, and other festive foods, and Mistletoe sightings along the trail offer more photo opportunities.

Moody Gardens Holiday Fun

Holiday festivities on Galveston Island

Photo: Galveston CVB

The animated TV classic is brought to life by the magic of 4D. See the Abominable Snow Monster, Hermey the elf, Santa Claus and, of course, the most famous reindeer of all. Show times for the 12 minute show are 11 a.m., and 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9 p.m.

Other activities include the Arctic Slide (with the purchase of a Holiday pass) and train rides. Enjoy the holiday lights and music as the train takes you along a section of the Festival of Lights trail. On select nights, visitors are welcome onboard the Colonel Paddlewheel Boat for an evening cruise to see holiday lights sparkling off Galveston Bay.

Visit for up-to-date holiday schedules and prices.

The Polar Express

Holiday festivities on Galveston island

Photo: Galveston CVB

Take your family on a magical journey that begins just like the 2004 motion picture at Galveston Railroad museum. THE POLAR EXPRESS™ will pick you up at the vintage train station to take you to the North Pole.

You’ll meet many of the characters from the film. There’s the friendly conductor, the singing chefs, the hobo, and of course the main man himself, Santa Claus. You’re invited to come dressed in your PJs to experience a fun filled theatrical journey. Who knows, you might even tangle with caribou as the classic tale unfolds.

Nibble on your Christmas cookie and take a sip of your hot chocolate, served by the singing chefs. Santa will join you on board and, if you are on the nice list, hand you the first gift of Christmas, a Silver Sleigh Bell.

Train Ticket Information

Once you arrive at the North Pole you will enjoy dancing elves and spending more time with lovable Santa Claus. A souvenir of your magical journey to enjoy all year long is for purchase in the Museum Gift Shop.

Three types of tickets are available for purchase from the Galveston Railroad Museum. The only differences between Value, Standard, and Premium departures are the dates and/or times of the rides.

Lower demand departures are priced lower, offering those on a budget options. Higher demand departures are priced accordingly, but passengers enjoy the same experience on all departures. First Class and Presidential Class tickets receive a souvenir mug with the hot chocolate.

For ticket purchases or more information, please visit