2023 City Lights Downtown Holiday Magic Presented by Shell Energy More Holiday Lights, More Activities, More Magical Fun in the Heart of H-town!

HOUSTON (November 9, 2023) – There’s no better place to get into the spirit of the holiday season than in Downtown Houston! This year’s City Lights Downtown Holiday Magic presented by Shell Energy brings more spectacular lights with larger than life experiences. A new annual tradition, Houston First Corporation is partnering with Downtown Houston+ for the second year to create a family-friendly destination to celebrate the holidays in the heart of downtown. Shell Energy joins the festivities as the official presenting sponsor this year.

The Plaza at Avenida Houston comes alive on Friday, November 17, 2023 at 5:30 p.m. with a kickoff ceremonial lighting of the Christmas trees led by Tiny Tim from Alley Theatre’s A Christmas Carol. The evening’s festivities will also include live music, holiday craft making and entertainment by aerialist performers, balloon artists, stilt walkers, and Houston’s beloved Art Cars. Visitors and residents will be able to enjoy the mostly free experience at Downtown’s holiday villages through Sunday, December 31, 2023. 

This year’s transformation of Downtown into a vibrant holiday extravaganza will feature timeless traditions as well as exciting new attractions in 11 themed villages covering dozens of blocks throughout the city’s central business district. Whether you start under the state’s biggest mistletoe in Market Square Park, interact with one of the Harmonies music boxes in the Theater District, or brave the ice to skate with Santa at Discovery Green--there is something for everyone!

“Houston First strives to create unique experiences that residents and visitors alike can enjoy, and this memorable holiday event is a great example. We are pleased to join forces once again with Downtown Houston+ and to have Shell Energy as a presenting sponsor to help transform Downtown into multiple ‘holiday villages’ with some impressive first-time activities that will captivate audiences through music, lights, interactive art, and much more,” said Michael Heckman, President and CEO, Houston First Corporation. 

“Downtown Houston is the region’s go-to destination for recreation and entertainment, and the holidays are no exception. This year’s program will offer festivities for everyone, and we're excited to welcome Houstonians from near and far to experience joy in the heart of the city. We extend our sincere thanks to our dedicated partners at Houston First and give a special nod of appreciation to this year's presenting sponsor, Shell Energy, for their support,” said Kris Larson, President and CEO, Downtown Houston+. 


  • Harmonies by LeMonde Studio – Step into a world where music and magic meet in a captivating series of interactive music boxes presented by the Houston Theater District in partnership with Lynn Wyatt Square, Market Square Park, and Trebly Park. With a simple turn of the crank, 10 music boxes of various shapes harness the power of human energy to weave mesmerizing soundscapes and illuminate their surroundings with enchanting lights. Visitors will be fascinated by the larger-than-life creations, which include a giant Nutcracker, guitar slide, massive boombox, a banjo, violin, music note, theater mask, mic and an elegant harp, each with its own unique soundtrack.
  • Pedicabs – Grab a free ride from village to village in one of the festively decorated pedicabs provided by Downtown Houston+. Locate the holiday pedicab pickup stations at Discovery Green, Lynn Wyatt Square, POST Houston, Trebly Park and Market Square Park.
  • Hop-On, Hop-Off Holiday Trolley – For a nominal fee, guests can ride in a holiday- decorated double-decker trolley to five Downtown stops: Trebly Park, Heritage Society, Avenida Houston/Discovery Green, Market Square Park and POST Houston.
  • Holiday Passports - Pick up a holiday passport from Market Square Park, Trebly and Heritage Society to explore all 11 Downtown City Light villages for the chance to win awesome prizes and be entered to win a Downtown holiday staycation package with a one-night stay at Hotel Icon, (4) tickets to a Theater District Performance, and (4) tickets to a Houston Rockets game.  


  1. Deck the Trees (Avenida Houston) – Enjoy the stunningly decorated Christmas trees on display at the Alley Theatre and the Grand Holiday Window at the George R. Brown Convention Center. On select weekends, live musical performances will take place on The Plaza at Avenida Houston.
  2. Land of Sweets (Hilton Americas) You won’t be able to get the sweet smell of chocolate out of your mind when you encounter the life-sized Super Mario Bros Chocolate display in the hotel lobby. Along with the legendary annual chocolate display, you can fill your holiday season surrounded by 80,000 sparkling lights and 14-foot Champagne trees also lining the lobby of the hotel.  
  3. Texas Winter Lights (Marriott Marquis) Where else but Houston can you enjoy floating along the 80-degree Texas-shaped lazy river atop the Marriott Marquis while also enjoying thousands of twinkling lights with floating orbs and colorful archways. Admission is complimentary for hotel guests, and a nominal admission fee for others.  
  4. ICE @ Discovery Green (Discovery Green) - A holiday tradition continues with open-air ice-skating at Discovery Green Park. Don’t miss the chance to match your skating skills with Santa on the ice.
  5. Sugar Plum Plaza (Fish Plaza, Wortham Theater) – Guests will be able to experience light and sound by turning the wheels on life-sized hourglasses. These giant time catchers, created by Creos, allow a magical way to take control of time as you sing, clap or do whatever inspires you. A Harmonies music box art installation will add to the whimsical holiday moments in Sugar Plum Plaza.
  6. Jingle Town (Lynn Wyatt Square) – The recently opened greenspace in the heart of Houston’s Downtown Theater District will come alive with sweet sounds of the holiday season when visitors turn a crank to experience three of the Harmonies interactive music box art installations—a guitar slide, banjo and violin. 
  7. Winter Wanderland (Bagby St.) – You may want to don your sunglasses to stroll through this spectacle of more than 100,000 lights in an 80-foot long tunnel. These dazzling lights are flanked by a number of constellations and blinged-out arches from Hobby Center to City Hall, creating some unforgettable selfie moments. Additionally, the Heritage Society at Sam Houston Park will be a Holiday hub with hot chocolate, free pictures with Texas Cowboy Santa, letters to Santa and the main place to grab a ticket and catch a ride on the Hop-On, Hop Off Holiday Trolley. You can also pick up your “Holiday Passport,” which if stamped at every village, qualifies you for some awesome prizes.  
  8. Twinkle Town (Trebly Park) – Enjoy live holiday music every Friday night, then on Saturday afternoons, Santa Paws will be available for photos with those ‘naughty and nice’ four-legged fur-babies. A life size, Harmonies music box art installation is available for everyone to explore whenever the park is open.
  9. Mistletoe Square (Market Square Park) – Prepare to pucker your lips under the state’s biggest mistletoe in this return of the 150-inch ball of greenery hanging from a giant 15-foot candy cane. A Harmonies music box art installation will be on site to add to the magic of the village.
  10. City Hall-iday Headquarters (City Hall) – The seat of city government is also the place to get the best view of H-town’s towering Christmas tree in Hermann Square. Live musical performances and a free photo with Santa will be part of the annual tree lighting festivities December 2, 2023 from 6-8 p.m.   
  11. Winter Wonderlawn (Post HTX) – Don’t miss viewing thousands of lights at the Post’s rooftop garden with Downtown Houston’s skyline as the backdrop. Skylawn will be decked out with festive holiday lights and decorations that will take your breath. At the center of it all, a 25-foot Christmas tree surrounded by multiple holiday-themed activations. A nominal fee will be charged for access to the Post’s rooftop during the holiday season.  

For more details including info on times, parking, prices, purchasing tickets, a map and related holiday activities go here.

Download City Lights assets here.

About Houston First Corporation: Houston First Corporation (HFC) is a local government corporation and the official destination marketing organization for the country's fourth largest city. In addition to serving as operator for the George R. Brown Convention Center and some of Houston's most prominent art, entertainment, and event venues, HFC is focused on promoting the city's vibrancy and rich tapestry of culture. By harnessing the city's collective energy, ambition, and creativity, including its diverse culinary scene, world-renowned performing arts, medical and space innovation, and elite filming locations, HFC is solidifying Houston as a premier national and global destination. For the latest news and info regarding HFC, visit www.houstonfirst.com.

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