AUSTIN, Texas — Few aspects of Christmas season bring joy to so
many as do holiday lights, whether they decorate a Christmas tree,
adorn gingerbread-trimmed Victorian homes or illuminate courthouses in
many Texas communities.

– Lake Havasu

The Texas State Park system does its part to bring holiday cheer by lighting up everything from the Battleship TEXAS
and Goliad’s Mission Espiritu Santo to farmhouses and landmark homes at
historic sites throughout the state with candles, lanterns and
thousands of miniature electric lights. There’s nothing like the warm
glow of candlelight to impart the feel of an old-fashioned Texas
frontier Christmas at such places as the Starr Family Home in Marshall,
Fort Richardson State Park and Historic Site and the Sauer-Beckmann
Living History Farm in Stonewall.

One of the most popular holiday state park events takes place at Lake Mineral Wells State Park,
where local businesses, organizations and individuals go all out to
decorate campsites in the Plateau camping loop with Christmas lights
and displays. Last year, more than 800 people attended the Cross Timbers Cowboy Campfire Christmas,
donating money to the Lone Star Legacy Fund and canned good to a local
food bank in lieu of paying a park entry fee. This year’s event, which
takes place the first two weekends in December, will again feature a
Saturday night music review with caroling, cowboy Christmas songs and
stories, and refreshments.

In the East Texas pineywoods, hundreds will climb aboard a Victorian Christmas Train at Texas State Railroad State Park
on Dec. 3, 10 and 17 to enjoy Old World goodies, strolling carolers and
a visit from Santa and his elves. This is the eighth year that TSRR has
run a Victorian train during the Christmas season to transport riders
into a bygone era when trains served as a major mode of transportation.
Regular excursion runs also will be conducted out of the Rusk Depot
only during the first three weekends of December.

And for the 36th year, Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site will host the annual Tree Lighting
ceremony begun by the late President and First Lady to provide a
special celebration for the Texas Hill Country community of Stonewall
and Johnson City. The free event on Dec. 18 provides park visitors with
a chance to experience an early 1900s Christmas at a German-American
farm illuminated by candles and lanterns, visit with Santa and see a
live nativity.

Dates of special Texas State Park holiday events are:

December 2005 — Battleship Texas SHS — Yuletide Texas
— Christmas was a very special time for the sailors and officers who
served aboard Battleship TEXAS, and now you can get a glimpse at that
history. Visit throughout the month of December to see the Battleship
TEXAS in LaPorte adorned with lights, ornaments and decorations in the
spirit of the season, just the way the crew members who served aboard
her did while serving their country. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; fees free for
Texas State Parks Pass members, $7 non-members, $4 senior citizens,
free for children 12 and under (281) 479-2431.

December 2005 — Goliad SP — Christmas Lighted History Trail
— Bring your family, friends and neighbors for a wonderful evening of
visual stimulation at Mission Espiritu Santo. See the history of the
mission in lighted cutout displays as you stroll through the trail.
Dark-10 p.m. daily; call for more information (361) 645-3405.

Dec. 1–17, 2005 — Starr Family Home SHS — Christmas Candlelight Dinner Tour
— Enjoy the ultimate Victorian experience as our dinner guest at the
Blake Home in Marshall. Costumed staff serves you a sumptuous dinner in
the romantic atmosphere of this beautiful home built in the 1890s.
Included with dinner are musical selections by accomplished singers.
Following dinner, tour the magnificent Maplecroft, built in 1870, home
of James Franklin Starr. Fee $28 per person; reservations required;
call for more information (903) 935-3044.

Dec. 9–11, 2005 — Lake Mineral Wells SP & Trailway — Cross Timbers Cowboy Campfire Christmas
Bring the whole family to the park for a weekend of holiday fun.
Saturday night join us at the Lone Star Amphitheater for a campfire
program of cowboy music, poetry and sing-along with a Christmas theme.
Friday-Sunday drive through the park and enjoy a Cowboy Christmas light
display. Campfire program 6-8 p.m., drive through light display dusk-10
p.m. (940) 328-1171.

Dec. 10, 16, 17, 2005 — Monument Hill & Kreische Brewery SHS — Trail of Lights
— Get into the season’s spirit with us! Enjoy a fantastic quarter-mile
trail illuminated with thousands of lights that decorate the park. Walk
a trail overlooking the town of La Grange. Experience the more
traditionally decorated 1850s-era German home of H.L. Kreische,
bedecked in Christmas splendor, in a Texas-German style. Hear a variety
of Christmas music. Bring your children to tell secrets to Mr. and Mrs.
Santa Claus and enjoy the genuine seasonal hospitality of the Friends
of Monument Hill and Kreische Brewery, who sponsor the event. 6-8 p.m.;
fees $3 adults, $1 children 12 and under (979) 968-5658.

Dec. 10, 17, 2005 — Texas State Railroad SP — Victorian Christmas Train
— A wonderfully warm experience full of Christmas cheer and great fun
for the young and young at heart. While riding the train, enjoy good
food, song, stories and of course Santa Claus and his elves. Meet at
the Palestine station. 4-6 p.m.; fees $25 adults, $10 children 5-13,
free for children under 5; dates subject to change; reservations
required, (800) 659-3484. (800) 442-8951.

Dec. 10, 2005 — Barrington Living History Farm-Washington-on-the-Brazos SHS — Candlelight Christmas 2005
— Barrington Living History Farm invites young and old to experience a
19th Century Texas Christmas. Enjoy all the same surprises of the
holiday season that our Texas ancestors did as they celebrated
Christmas with music, dancing, food and special Christmas crafts. 1-8
p.m. (936) 878-2213.

Dec. 10, 2005 — Fulton Mansion SHS — Christmas Caroling at the Mansion
— Bring the family for a real old-fashioned Christmas caroling on the
grounds in Fulton. Afterwards, enjoy gingerbread and cider. For a
reduced fee, see the beautiful Christmas decorations on the first
floor. 6:30-8 p.m. (361) 729-0386.

Dec. 10, 2005 — Stephen F. Austin SP — Hayride and Christmas Caroling
— Enjoy caroling through the San Felipe park on a hayride, then share
cookies and hot chocolate afterwards. 6-8 p.m.; admission is one canned
good per person (979) 885-3613.

Dec. 10, 2005 — Stephen F. Austin SP — Pancake Breakfast with Santa
— Have a breakfast of homemade pancakes with homemade syrup, sausage,
juice and coffee and tell Santa all your Christmas wishes. 8-10:30
a.m.; fee $3 per person (979) 885-3613.

Dec. 15–31, 2005 — Big Spring SP — Poinsettias in the Park
— View six large metal poinsettias (each one is 20 feet wide and 8 feet
tall) and a 10-foot tall star wrapped in Christmas lights. These lights
will be placed on the edge of the 200-foot bluff in the park (at the
northern limit of the Edwards Plateau). This is in conjunction with the
Festival of Lights at the neighboring Comanche Trail Park with more
than 500,000 Christmas lights. Dark-10 p.m. (432) 263-4931.

Dec. 17, 2005 — Lake Texana SP — Christmas Crafts
— Bring the kids to the park just outside Edna and prepare for the
holidays by making Christmas crafts to decorate your home. For times
and more information contact Cindy McLemore at or call (361) 782-5718.

Dec. 17–19, 22—23, 2005 — Wyler Aerial Tramway SP — Santa at Ranger Peak
— Santa will be at the top of Ranger Peak in El Paso waiting for
children to deliver their letters in person and to take their picture
with him. Noon-5 p.m.; fees $7 adults, $4 children 4-12, children 3 and
under free (915) 562-9899.

Dec. 18, 2005 — Lyndon B. Johnson SP&HS — 36th Annual Tree Lighting
— Come to the Texas Hill Country and enjoy a community-wide event, with
carolers, a live nativity, Santa Claus, candlelight and lamp-lit 1900s
Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm and a special nighttime holiday tour
of the LBJ National Historical
Park and Texas White House. Light
refreshments will be served following the tree lighting ceremony. 6
p.m.-till; donations appreciated (830) 644-2252.

Dec. 22, 2005 — Barton Warnock Environmental Education Center — Christmas on the Border
— Come see cactus and Christmas lights, caroling cowboys and cowgirls,
folklorico dancers, the Community Choir and Papa Noel at the West Texas
Borderlands Celebration in Lajitas. The Barton Warnock Environmental
Education Center staff invite you to attend this special Wednesday
event from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Entry fees are waived for the special
event, but donations are welcomed. (432) 424-3327.

Jan. 1, 2006 — Goliad SP — Christmas Lighted History Trail
— Bring your family, friends and neighbors for a wonderful evening of
visual stimulation at Mission Espiritu Santo. See the history of the
mission in lighted cutout displays as you stroll through the trail.
Dark-10 p.m.; call for more information (361) 645-3405.

– Lake Havasu