I want my kids to grow up with culture, and the 2014–15 holiday season is full of opportunities. I’ve gathered some recommendations here, in chronological order, and I hope you’ll give some of them a try this year. Just think about the benefits:
- Avoid boredom on weekends and school holidays.
- Prevent cabin fever. Our family doesn’t have the clothing and gear to play outside on those few really cold days—so, we often go to a museum instead.
- Entertain out-of-town visitors and show them that San Antonio is a cool place to live.
- Experience diversity and multiculturalism.
Just try not to overdo it. Amy’s post about sensory-friendly holidays is a good sanity check. Need some quiet time? Read Rocket Boys, the current Mayor’s Book Club selection. Check your local branch for events, including discussion groups and screenings of October Sky.
First Sundays for Families: Celebrate Diwali: Sunday, November 2 from noon–4:00 P.M. at the San Antonio Museum of Art. Celebrate the Hindu festival of lights with Indian-inspired art projects.
Story Time Stampede: ¡El Norte!: Saturday, November 8 at 11:00 A.M.–1:00 P.M. at the Briscoe Western Art Museum. Story time and gallery tour with a Western theme. Look for more Story Time Stampede events every second Saturday, including December 13 and continuing into 2015.
Sunday Jazz at the Witte: The Regency Jazz Band: Sunday, November 9 from 3:00–6:00 P.M. at the Witte Museum. These concerts are laid-back and family-friendly, with room to wiggle and dance, and snacks on sale to munch on. Sunday Jazz will start up again in April 2015.
Little Sprouts: Ready for Winter: Monday, November 10 from 10:00–11:30 A.M. at the San Antonio Botanical Garden. Storytelling, kids’ crafts, and garden exploration for young kids. Follow the link to register in advance. Also look for Little Sprouts: Nature’s Beauty on Monday, December 8.
Art | Music | Food | Drinks: McNay Second Thursdays: Thursday, November 13 from 6:00–9:00 p.m. at the McNay Art Museum. Food trucks, music, and free docent-led museum tours at 6:00 P.M. and 8:00 P.M. (There’s a charge for Intimate Impressionism, but it’s worth it—read more here.) Bring your kids and your pets, too. After November, McNay Second Thursdays will take a break for the winter.
San Antonio Clay Arts Festival: Saturday, November 22 from 10:00 A.M.–5:00 P.M. in the courtyard at the San Antonio Museum of Art. Admire the work of the San Antonio Potters’ Guild, watch demonstrations, play with clay, listen to music, and enjoy food-truck fare.
The San Antonio Zoo is open on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 27.
Holidays in Bloom: Starting Friday, November 28, holiday decorations made with natural materials will adorn the San Antonio Botanical Garden. Stretch your legs and get some great family photos. The garden is open daily from 9:00 A.M.–5:00 P.M.
The San Antonio Museum of Art will offer free admission on Friday, November 28 from 10:00 A.M.–9:00 P.M. The Bite Street Bistro food truck will arrive at 11:30 A.M. (Food-truck purchases not included with free admission.)
International Peace Market: November 28–29 from 10:00 A.M.–6:00 P.M. at the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center. Shop for artisan-made gifts.
The San Antonio Riverwalk will turn on the holiday lights on November 28, with a river parade from 7:00–9:00 P.M. The Briscoe Western Art Museum is hosting a viewing party. Any time during the holidays, you can enjoy the lights in a casual way by hopping on a river taxi; read more here.
The Nutcracker, featuring Ballet San Antonio and the San Antonio Symphony: November 28–30 and December 4–7, with performances at 2:00 P.M. and 7:00 P.M.—check the schedule for details—at the Tobin Center. With a local cast, including lots of cute and talented little dancers, and charming, traditional sets and costumes, The Nutcracker is becoming a family tradition. (Read my son’s comments about last year’s show.) We are looking forward to enjoying it in the Tobin Center‘s finely-tuned acoustics.
Irving Berlin’s White Christmas: The Musical: November 28–December 28, with shows at 3:00 P.M. and 7:30 P.M.—check the schedule for details—at the Woodlawn Theatre. Classic songs performed live to put you in the holiday spirit.
Handel’s Messiah Community Sing-Along with the San Antonio Choral Society: November 29 at 7:00 P.M. at the Empire Theatre. Buy orchestra-level seats if you plan to sing; if you are a spectator (like me), then buy seats in the mezzanine or balcony.
Family Art Play: Picture in a Picture: November 30 at 1:00 P.M. and 3:00 P.M. at the McNay Art Museum. Not your ordinary craft project: in these workshops, guest artists challenge kids to try new techniques. Members can make reservations by calling 210-805-1768 by noon the Friday before; non-members can pick up remaining passes the day of the event.
Fiddler on the Roof: December 5–22, with shows at 3:00 P.M. and 8:00 P.M.—check the schedule for details—at The Playhouse San Antonio. Enjoy a live performance of this family story, featuring a large, local cast of adults and kids and designs from the Broadway touring company.
Kids’ Gingerbread: Saturday, December 6 at the San Antonio Children’s Museum. The museum supplies the cookies, icing, and decorations; your kids supply the creativity; and you both get to take home a sugary work of art. Reservations encouraged.
Toy Day: Saturday, December 6 from 10:00 A.M.–3:00 P.M. at the Institute of Texan Cultures. Bring a new, unwrapped toy for the San Antonio Fire Department’s toy drive, and get free admission to the museum. Visit with the firefighters, get a photo with Santa, and make holiday crafts.
Silver Bells in the City—Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony: Saturday, December 6 from 4:00–9:00 P.M. in Main Plaza. Downtown gets festive with a 25-foot Christmas tree at historic San Fernando Cathedral.
First Sundays for Families: Food for Thought: Sunday, December 7 from noon–4:00 P.M. at the San Antonio Museum of Art. Build art projects using beans, veggies, candies, berries, and more.
Health Holidays Family Day: Saturday, December 13 from 10:00 A.M.–3:00 P.M. at the Institute of Texan Cultures. Get free admission to the museum if you bring a food item from the San Antonio Food Bank’s list of 12 most wanted items. Learn about health and wellness, and enjoy cooking demonstrations and crafts.
The Witte Museum has two events on Saturday, December 13: La Tamalada, from 11:00 A.M.–1:00 P.M., will be cooking up tradition in the kitchen downstairs at the H-E-B Body Adventure (call ahead to register); and Time Travel Saturday, from noon–4:00 P.M. across the Witte campus, will feature South Texas holiday traditions.
Los Pastores: Sunday, December 14 from 1:00–3:00 P.M. at the Institute of Texan Cultures. A traditional portrayal of Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem.
Hands-On Chanukah: Thursday, December 18 from 3:00–6:00 P.M. at the Barshop Jewish Community Center.
GET REEL Film Series: White Christmas: December 18 at 6:30 P.M. at the McNay Art Museum. Bigger kids and teens can get in the spirit of this classic movie.
Silver Screen Classics in the Garden: White Christmas: December 19 (start time TBA) on the grounds of Villa Finale, a lovingly-restored historic house and museum in King William. Free of charge, but please note that children ages eight and younger are not allowed to tour the museum, as there are too many fragile items in the collection.
Holiday Pops with the San Antonio Symphony and the Children’s Chorus of San Antonio: December 19–20 at 8:00 P.M. and December 21 at 3:00 P.M. at the Tobin Center. Beautiful music for all ages. This year, in addition to classical music and pops standards, there will be songs from Frozen.
Fiesta de Navidad: December 19–20 at the Guadalupe Theater. Details about the 2014 shows coming soon. Read about last year’s show here and at “Fiesta de Navidad and La Gran Posada–San Antonio Holiday Traditions,” Melanie Mendez Gonzales, ¿Qué Means What?, December 24, 2013.
The San Antonio Zoo is open on Christmas Day, December 25. Look for the “enrichment”—festive greenery for the animals to play with.
The San Antonio Museum of Art will offer free admission to the museum on Friday, December 26 from 10:00 A.M.–9:00 P.M. There will be a $10 surcharge per adult to see the special exhibit, Nelson Rockefeller’s Picassos: Tapestries Commissioned for Kykuit (opens December 20), and of course you’ll have to pay for your snacks from the food truck (arriving at 11:30 A.M.).
Family Art Play: Petit Chef: Sunday, December 28 at 1:00 P.M. and 3:00 P.M. at the McNay Art Museum.
Celebrate San Antonio: December 31 at 6:00 P.M.; fireworks at midnight. Join the giant party that takes over downtown, including Alamo Street, Hemisfair Park, La Villita, and the Riverwalk. Free of charge.
The San Antonio Zoo is open on New Year’s Day, January 1, 2015. Hey, for the animals, it’s just another day.
Three Kings Day Celebration: Sunday, January 4, 2015.
Catch them before they’re gone: Nature Connects: Art with LEGO® Bricks at San Antonio Botanical Garden (my interview with the artist) and Intimate Impressionism from the National Gallery of Art at the McNay Art Museum (earlier post). Both exhibits close on January 4, 2015.
Do you feel inspired? There is no reason to feel bored this holiday season. I hope you and your kids make it a memorable one.