The picturesque 1896 Sullivan Carriage House is among the buildings beautifully decorated for Holidays in Bloom at the San Antonio Botanical Garden this season. The grounds are filled with colorful winter plantings, the Conservatory features hundreds of poinsettias, and this year’s large Christmas tree offers a spot for family photos. See details in the San Antonio section below.
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Austin / Travis County
Shop the 22nd Annual Wild Ideas Holiday Event at Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on Friday, Nov. 30, and Saturday, Dec. 1, 9 a.m. -- 5 p.m., as well as Sunday, Dec. 2, noon -- 5 p.m. Get 20 percent off all merchandise, and see the gift offerings of a dozen local artists and artisans. Free admission. Find the schedule of artists and Early Bird specials at www.wildflower.org.
Enjoy the best free holiday celebration in the area: Luminations at Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 8-9, 6 -- 9 p.m. The gardens are lighted with thousands of luminarias and twinkle lights, and attractions include performances by locals like DanStarz and Outside Voices. Frosty the Snowman gives hugs, and there are children’s activities, hot chocolate and other delights. Admission is free with two canned food items for the Capital Area Food Bank. See the schedule of performers at www.wildflower.org.
Mark your calendar for the Winter Lecture Series at the South Texas Botanical Gardens and Nature Center, Wednesdays, 10 -- 11:30 a.m., beginning Jan. 16 and continuing through February. You’ll enjoy a variety of unique nature and horticultural topics related to the unique South Texas environment. Class fee included in general admission. Members free. www.stxbot.org/index.html.
Dallas County / Collin County
Take a Butterfly House Discovery Tour at Texas Discovery Gardens on Dec. 1 at 11 a.m. This family-friendly guided tour offers a behind-the-scenes look at the winged wonders and tropical plant collection of the Rosine Smith Sammons Butterfly House and Insectarium. See details here.
Take the kids or grandkids, plus the camera, and tour a huge wholesale greenhouse this weekend: Crump's Greenhouses shows off 60,000 poinsettias, Sunday, Dec. 2, noon -- 4 p.m. They'll have refreshments and guided tours of this 5th generation Collin County greenhouse business. Exit 43 (FM 543) two miles north of US 380 in McKinney. You'll find Crump's west of the freeway about one-half mile.
Bundle up the family and bring them to the Holiday Trail of Lights at the Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Center in McKinney, Dec. 14-15, 6:30 -- 9 p.m. You’ll enjoy a half mile of lights and other holiday decorations, encounter strolling carolers, listen to live holiday music in the amphitheater, and have pictures taken with Father Christmas and Mother Nature. Online tickets: $7 adults and seniors, $4 ages 3-12. For tickets at the door, add $2. Find details at www.heardmuseum.org.
Plan to start the new year in January by attending the meetings of the Plano Garden Club, which meets at 9:30 a.m. on the first Tuesday of the month (September through May) at Custer Road United Methodist Church, 6601 Custer Rd., Plano. New members are always welcome. Find details about the group and its programs here.
Join the staff of North Haven Gardens for a Holiday Happy Hour on Friday, Dec. 7, 4 -- 7 p.m. In addition to complimentary wine, beer and appetizers, the staff offers POP UP classes on “Terrariums” and “Planting Tulips in Pots with Pansies.” Neil Sperry makes a special appearance to sell his pens at North Haven on Sunday, Dec. 16, 1:30 p.m. Find details at www.nhg.com.
Marvel at the “Artistry of the Nativity,” the George Dvorsky Collection and The Harrington Collection of nativity scenes, on display at the Dallas Arboretum throughout the holiday season. Other special events include photo ops with Santa, Rudolph and Frosty on weekends, special holiday dining opportunities, and the continuing spectacle of Dale Chihuly glass throughout the grounds. Find details at www.dallasarboretum.org.
Fort Worth / Tarrant County
Share your holiday gift giving with our feathered friends by helping decorate the Birds’ Christmas Tree at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden on Dec. 1, 11 a.m. -- 12:30 p.m. Children of all ages are invited to make biodegradable bird treats ahead of time and bring them to the event to hang in the Garden’s Grove, providing food for wildlife and a little holiday cheer! This free event, complete with music and entertainment, is one of Fort Worth’s oldest holiday traditions. www.fwbg.org.
Galveston / Galveston County
Go sledding through lights at Moody Gardens this holiday season. The popular vacation destination celebrates its 22nd Festival of Lights through early January. Newest feature is Snow Tubing, a ride down a 100-foot ice slide set up on the Moody Gardens grounds on Galveston Island. Open Thursdays through Saturdays now to Dec. 8, then opening nightly from Dec. 13 to Jan. 5, 6 -- 10 p.m. Find festival details at www.moodygardens.org.
Johnson City / Blanco County
See an entire town bathed in lights now through Jan. 1, by taking a trip to the 23rd Annual Lights Spectacular in Blanco County. The Blanco County Courthouse is lit with 100,000 lights, while the Pedernales Electric Coop headquarters nearby boasts a lighted forest of more than a million lights. Hayrides, carriage rides, and lamplight tours of the LBJ Boyhood Home are just a few of the special offerings of the season. Find details here.
Attend the December lecture in the Theresa and Les Reeves Lecture Series on Wednesday, Dec. 19, when David Creech of SFA Gardens and Stephen F. Austin State University presents “Why Raising a Garden and Raising Kiddos Is about the Same Thing -- Breaking Rules.” The Theresa and Les Reeves Garden Lecture Series is held at the Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture’s SFA Mast Arboretum. A rare plant raffle will be held after the program. Free and open to the public; donations appreciated. Click for details.
San Antonio / Bexar County
‘Tis the season to visit Holidays in Bloom on the 38 acres of the San Antonio Botanical Garden. Now through Dec. 31, the holiday season comes to life with winter plantings and natural displays. Special attention has been lavished on the 1896 Sullivan Carriage House and the Lucile Halsell Conservatory, which features hundreds of poinsettias. This year’s large Christmas tree is on display just above Gertie’s Garden behind the Carriage House, offering a beautiful photo opportunity for families this season. The Carriage House Bistro offers lunches and hot cocoa breaks. Find details at www.sabot.org/.
Bring your favorite four-legged friend to Happy Howlidays at the San Antonio Botanical Garden on Dec. 1-2, 9 a.m. -- 5 p.m. Owners may treat their dogs to a special lunch at the Carriage House Bistro or have their dogs micro-chipped at the Animal Defense League Mobile Unit (11 a.m. -- 1 p.m.). All dogs must be on a leash. Regular admission required, plus $5 cash only per dog. The canine admission benefits the Animal Defense League, Animal Care Services, the Humane Society of San Antonio, and the San Antonio Botanical Society, co-partners of Dog Days. Visit www.sabot.org for details.