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Photo courtesy of Lightscape

Now that Thanksgiving is behind us, Christmas lights are on our mind! If you're seeking a bit of illumination for the upcoming holiday season, check out these seven local spots for brilliant light displays around San Antonio.

Elf Acres
Santa came to San Antonio early at Elf Acres! The fun doesn't stop with the one-mile, drive-through Christmas lights experience. Elf Acres also features Santa's Village, a walkable area where you can view another light show, take a photo with Kris Kringle himself, and more. Purchase tickets at elfacres.com.

Lights Alive!
Take your drive-through experience to the next level with the one-mile Lights Alive! show. The family-friendly experience features dazzling light displays, Christmas music, and even a park N play wonderland at the end where guests can create their own light show, enjoy Christmas treats, and more. Purchase tickets at seelightsalive.com.

Lightscape
Enjoy an illuminated one mile path through the San Antonio Botanical Garden thanks to the 2nd annual Lightscape event. Featuring over one million lights and festive Texas-themed displays, Lightscape has plenty of photo-worthy moments, seasonal music, a chance to roast s'mores, and more. Open now through January 8. Purchase tickets at sabot.org

The River Walk
After the 41st annual Ford Holiday River Parade ,the River Walk is now illuminated with sparkling lights for the remainder of the year. It's definitely a picturesque way to get a nice Christmas photo especially if you have family visiting from out-of-town! (Did we mention checking out the Riverwalk lights is free?)

SeaWorld San Antonio
Everything's bigger in Texas, including holiday light displays, naturally. The lights at SeaWorld San Antonio are billed as the largest Christmas light displays in Texas — exactly 250 acres worth! Purchase tickets at seaworld.com.

Light the Way
It's practically mandatory to stop by the University of the Incarnate Word's annual Light the Way display, which is free and open to the public. The entire campus is lit up with sparkling holiday lights (the trees literally glisten for extra holiday authenticity) all the way till the New Year.

Zoo Lights
The San Antonio Zoo is back again with their annual festive holiday light display. Guests of all ages can enjoy acres of zoo lights as they walk across the grounds, festive photo ops, treats for adults and kids, and more. The Zoo Lights display will be up until January 1, 2023. Purchase tickets at sazoo.org

Courtesy Presa House Gallery

6 unique ways to savor the arts in San Antonio this November

State of the Arts

San Antonio’s museums, galleries, and even gardens are providing ample opportunities to soak up the arts this month in a multitude of ways, from 10-foot-tall works on wood from Andy Villarreal celebrating the Mayan culture (and a few aliens,) to stark black-and-white photos from Duncan Ganley capturing the city of London under COVID-19 lockdown. Meanwhile, Consuelo Jimenez Underwood’s vital feminist textile art redefines weaving and painting at Ruiz-Healy, and the San Antonio Botanical Gardens give us an excuse to kick off the holiday season with Lightscape, their second annual light display and celebration.

Bihl Haus Arts
“Galactic Mayan Warriors: Andy Villarreal” — Now through November 19

Andy Villarreal’s love of Mayan culture started about 20 years ago when he took a trip to Mexico. “My work is inspired by the Meso-American culture from the Yucatan,” Villarreal says. “It celebrates the history, rituals, the people and their ways of life. My work also deals with the past, present, and future. Aliens and flying saucers are also present.” Besides UFO’s, Villarreal, who teaches at the University of the Incarnate Word, includes warriors, kings, pyramids, jaguars, and other important icons, featuring numerous 8-foot and 10-foot-tall works on wood along with some smaller silk screen prints. He believes the Meso-American culture is often overlooked in art and that he should pay tribute to his own ancestors.

Presa House Gallery
"Born to Ride the Edge of Nothing” — Now through November 26

“Born to Ride the Edge of Nothing” brings together former University of Arizona colleagues Aaron S. Coleman and Alejandro Macias. Both artists present new multidisciplinary works reflecting on political and social issues in line with their individual experiences and a broader national conversation. The exhibition fuses their work in a singular dialogue touching on matters of race, ethnicity, multiculturalism, multinationalism, faith, and place.

The Michael and Noémi Neidorff Art Gallery
“Duncan Ganley: Inventory of Empty Streets” — Now through December 10

UK photographer Duncan Ganley documented every street inside central London’s Congestion Charge Zone during the UK’s first COVID-19 lockdown in the spring of 2020. Each photograph, shot identically, presents a view of a cityscape void of people, cars and congestion, capturing the shuttered retail and entertainment hub of London’s West End, the unpopulated residential roads north and south of the River Thames, and the eerily empty global financial center of the City of London. Ganley provides a photographic typology of the lockdown and explores the dissonance between the cinematic reading of the image and the very real anxieties during the pandemic.

McNay Art Museum
“True Believers: Benny Andrews & Deborah Roberts” — Now through January 22, 2023

True Believers is the first exhibition to examine the formal and thematic overlaps in the work of two artists separated by a generation: Benny Andrews (1930–2006) and Deborah Roberts (born 1962). The exhibition was forged through deep connections between the artists’ mutual use of collage and choice of subject matter. The exhibition’s title was inspired by both artists’ emphasis on the role of Black Americans in society, as well as art’s capacity for social change. Each artist has a distinct voice and a unique approach to collage. Both Andrews and Roberts draw viewer attention to the individual portrayed by placing subjects on stark backgrounds, and they also merge collage with painting to render powerful and heartfelt narratives.

Ruiz-Healy
“Consuelo Jimenez Underwood: One Nation Underground” — Now through January 28, 2023

Redefining the practice of weaving, Consuelo Jimenez Underwood works with repurposed barbed wire, yellow caution tape, safety pins, and plastic bags and crosses Indigenous, Chicana, European, and Euro-American art practices. Jimenez Underwood uses her unique tri-cultural perspective as a Chicana Indigenous American in her work, interweaving themes and imagery that reflect and revisit social memories. In 2022, the artist was awarded the Latinx Artist Fellowship, a first-of-its-kind initiative recognizing 15 of the most compelling Latinx visual artists working in the United States today.

San Antonio Botanical Garden
"Lightscape” — November 11 through January 8, 2023

San Antonio’s newest holiday tradition, Lightscape, is set to dazzle for a second year with thousands of twinkling lights and festive displays. The outdoor illuminated trail includes enchanting new installations in addition to well-loved favorites set to seasonal music along a 1-mile path through the Garden. The dazzling illuminations will include installations unique to Texas created by local and international artists. Favorites like the Winter Cathedral will return alongside reimagined installations, including Fire Garden and an even more spectacular display of Bluebonnets, an installation only seen in Texas. Visitors will have an opportunity to enjoy festive food and drinks, including roasting s’mores.

Courtesy Presa House Gallery

An exhibit by Aaron S. Coleman and Alejandro Macias is at Presa House Gallery this month.

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Where to see the once-in-recorded-history green comet approaching San Antonio

Seeing green

The world is buzzing with news of an approaching astronomical body, Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF), more often referred to in the news and social media as "the green comet." Its most recent appearance was 50,000 years ago — compared to the about 200,000 years since modern humans emerged.

"While the pictures of it have been impressive, its visual appearance differs greatly," explains Joe Wheelock, public program specialist at the McDonald Observatory at the University of Texas at Austin. "Currently you might glimpse it with the unaided eye as a fuzzy patch of light[,] but you would need to be away from city lights. Binoculars or a telescope would improve the view, and you might even glimpse a faint tail."

As tempting as it is — and as much fodder as its made on social media — this experience will not be easy for most Texans to photograph and share. "The pictures that have been posted on various websites were taken by experienced astrophotographers and in most cases cameras designed for astrophotography," Wheelock warns.

Some logistics to note when planning a viewing:

  • The comet will be closest to Earth (thus, likely the most visible) on February 1.
  • Wheelan says placement will also be good in late January and early February, and it will be best viewed after midnight. Since the new moon was on January 21, every day the moon will compete with it a little more.
  • The McDonald Observatory posts daily stargazing tips, so viewers will have a few chances at seeing something special, even if the comment doesn't work out.
  • Getting out of San Antn is the best bet against light pollution.

Those who are willing to make a trip out of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity should consider their best chances at out running the city lights. The closest popular option to San Antonio proper is McAllister Park, which sometimes hosts stargazing events. For a more structured approach, the Curtis Vaughan Jr. Observatory at the University of Texas at San Antonio hosts first Friday stargazing nights after sunset. The McDonald Observatory, although it is an entity of the University of Texas at Austin, is in Fort Davis, about 400 miles from San Antonio.

The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) maintains records of some of the world's least light-polluted skies and works to protect them, ensuring that these places stay available for reliable stargazing retreats. There are four IDA-certified Dark Sky Parks in Texas: Enchanted Rock (90 miles from San Antonio), South Llano River (120 miles), Copper Breaks (370 miles), and Big Bend Ranch (490 miles).

In addition to the certified parks, there is a smaller group of Dark Sky Sanctuaries, which are especially dark and carefully protected. There are two in Texas: Devil's River State Natural Area (170 miles) and Black Gap Wildlife Management Area (390 miles).

For more in-depth reading on the comet's trajectory and context, Wheelan suggests an article in Sky & TelescopeSky & Telescope.

San Antonio suburb among the richest places in Texas for 2023, plus more top stories

Hot Headlines

Editor’s note: It’s that time again — time to check in with our top stories. Here are five articles that captured our collective attention over the past seven days.

1. San Antonio suburb cashes in among the richest places in Texas for 2023. Alamo Heights has been renamed the third richest place in Texas for 2023 in a recent study.

2. San Antonio home sales slowed in December 2022, report finds. San Antonio sold 36,477 homes all year, a 10 percent decrease from 2021.

3. Here are the top 5 things to do in San Antonio this weekend. Nina Simone, Pink Floyd, the Beatles and more music-centered events made our roundup of the best things to do in Alamo City this weekend.

4. San Antonio Home & Garden Show returns with HGTV star. Ati Williams will headline the San Antonio Spring Home & Garden Show, which takes place February 24-26.

5. H-E-B opens first location in growing San Antonio suburb. The state-of-the-art facility offers 110,000 square feet of floor space, providing everything from cat food to charcuterie.


Popular Pearl brunch spot remixes with new weekend DJ nights

OONCE OONCE OONCE

Though Full Goods Diner has barely been open for half a year, it has already become a San Antonio staple for working weekday lunches and lingering Sunday Fundays. Now the Pearl eatery is looking to be a hot spot after dark.

Via release, the popular local haunt just announced a new limited-time music series, Full Goods at Night. Starting on February 2, Full Goods Diner will open select evenings throughout the month.

The Full Goods at Night series will feature popular local San Antonio DJs, including El West Side Sound, Hector Gallego, DJ Plata, Steven Lee Moya, and Cami Gee. Guests can enjoy live sets while indulging in a specially curated food and drink offerings.

The menu will include some of Full Goods Diner's best—selling items, such as French toast sticks, barbacoa waffle fries, and jumbo cheesy tots. Libations like the Attaboy Negroni, Royal Bermuda Daiquiri, Pink G&T, and more will fuel the festivities.

In addition to enjoying moonlight brunch, guests can relish some prime people-watching. And, of course, the restaurant is just a hop from other nightlife destinations like Pink Hill, 3 Star Bar, and Summer Camp Bar, making it the perfect party starter.

The series runs every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from February 2-25, 6-10 pm. The complete DJ schedule is listed below.

February 2 — El West Side Sound·
February 3 — Hector Gallego
February 4— DJ Plata
February 9 — El West Side Sound
February 10 — Steven Lee Moya
February 11 — Cami Gee
February 16 — El West Side Sound
February 17 — Steven Lee Moya
February 18 — Hector Gallego
February 23 — El West Side Sound
February 24— Steven Lee Moya
February 25 — DJ Plata