Courtesy of Enchanted Springs Ranch

Visiting the San Antonio area this holiday season, but want to see more than the River Walk lights? Or the Travis Park Christmas tree and the surrounding holiday wonderland?

Several suburbs and towns surrounding the Alamo City have their own Christmas events. Some are a few years old, others date back decades, but each offers a taste of the community's holiday spirit. Check out 10 holiday happenings outside the San Antonio city limits.

Boerne: Old West Christmas Light FestNow through December 24
Enchanted Springs Ranch in Boerne is the place to be as the ranch is transformed into an Old West town. Guests may come during most any evening now through December 24 and get into the holiday spirit, aided by millions of twinkling Christmas lights, live music, and photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus. There's even a chance to see Santa’s herd of ... longhorns. Organizers said this year’s additions included extended Saturday hours, an interactive petting zoo, an inflatable jumping pad for children, and more illuminated tunnels through which to walk. Prices start at $20 for general admission before discounts.

Selma: The Light Park Now through January 1
Drive out to Selma’s Retama Park and ride around pathways, figures and structures lined with millions of Christmas lights, while enjoying festive holiday music. The Light Park has food and drinks, and is pet friendly. Prices start at $39 per car. Visit from 5:30-10 pm from Monday to Thursday; 5:30-11 pm on Fridays and Saturdays.

Seguin: Lighted Holiday Parade December 1
Seguin’s annual Christmas parade features more than 70 entries around the city’s historic downtown. The parade starts at the intersection of Austin and College streets at 6:30 pm, and ends at Central Park, where the mayor will flip the switch and turn on the Christmas lights hung around downtown. Attendees may also get a photo with Santa Claus. Admission is free. Stick around for other holiday events in Seguin from December 2-4.

Hondo: A Night in BethlehemDecember 2 and 3
First Baptist Church of Hondo organizes a drive-through live nativity scene outside the church, with a 120-person cast and crew. The "story of Jesus Christ’s life" will be told with live animals and historically accurate costumes. The drive-through starts at 6 pm on both days at 2400 Avenue P. The event is free, and donations are appreciated.

Castroville: Old-Fashioned Christmas Celebration and Market December 2 and 3
Medina County’s biggest arts and craft show features artisan vendors from around South Texas, gathered in Houston Square from 6-10 pm on December 2, and 9 am to 4 pm on December 3. It offers a variety of handmade crafts, gift items, home decorations, candles, jewelry, and more. There will also be children’s activities, a visit with Santa Claus, and other entertainment. Admission is free.

Schertz: Holidazzle December 3
Holidazzle is Schertz’s annual day and evening of Christmas celebrations, starting with a breakfast with Santa, followed by the Kris Kringle Market featuring handmade crafts, specialty foods, and more. Then, the Holiday Hoopla offers snow, a temporary ice skating rink, entertainment, and a chance for fireside roasting and toasting of food for all ages. The Festival of Angels Parade, held at night, concludes the event as local schools, clubs, and merchants travel Schertz’s main roads between Pickerel Park and Community Circle Drive. All festivities take place between 8 am and 8 pm.

Windcrest: Light-Up — December 3
Windcrest’s annual holiday event is one of the more renowned activities of its kind in the San Antonio area. Dozens of households decorate their front windows, doors, porches, and lawns in fantastical ways with lights and elaborate designs according to each year’s theme; this year’s theme is Fiesta de Navidad. Members of the public are invited to use a map from the city showing them participating decorated homes and businesses to judge the best decorations. The December 3 kickoff ceremony includes entertainment, a market, and a visit from Santa. Anyone can drive through Windcrest and check out decorated, illuminate homes nightly through December 31, starting at 6 pm.

New Braunfels: Old Town Christmas Market — December 8
The New Braunfels Conservation Society puts on a market fundraiser at Conservation Plaza, filled with gift baskets, refreshments, and unique, handmade crafts and other products. The one-day event runs from 2-8 pm. Admission is free.

Helotes: Hill Country Christmas Parade — December 10
The Hill Country Christmas Parade includes many local individuals, businesses, schools, churches, and civic groups marching or traveling through “old town Helotes.” The procession starts at 13715 Riggs Road near Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church at 7:30 pm; it ends at First Baptist Church of Helotes. Admission is free.

Bandera: Sunday Funday Christmas Ride — December 18
Head out to Bandera in the Texas Hill Country, mount a rescued horse (or "mule/donkey/zebra/camel," according to the cheeky event description) and enjoy a Sunday Funday Christmas Ride by Major Hope Corral. Visitors may see Bandera’s historic downtown, hit the trails going through the city park and past Medina River, go to the Cowboy Bar, and return to the ranch; there they can gather around campfire with chili and mulled wine. The ride starts at 11 am at the corral and concludes at 4 pm.

San Antonio River Walk/Instagram

7 spectacular San Antonio spots to enjoy dinner and the 41st annual Ford Holiday River Parade

Dinner and a Show

The 41st annual Ford Holiday River Parade and River Lighting Ceremony is back, y'all — why not make it a full night out with dinner and drinks? We've rounded up the best spots to sip and dine while watching the colorful display. Check out these seven local riverside hotels and restaurants.

Biga on the Banks
Head chef and James Beard award nominee Bruce Auden has curated a sumptuous three-course prix-fixe menu for guests, with options like pozole verde de pollo, beef ribeye, and more. Call Biga at 210-225-0722 for reservations or visit biga.com.

Hotel Contessa
Check out a parade pre-party at the Hotel Contessa, complete with live music, face painting, and vendors. The hotel's in-house restaurant, Ambler Texas Kitchen + Cocktails, will also offer light bites and cocktails for the parade. Purchased reserved seats for the parade at the Hotel Contessa via eventbrite.com.

Omni La Mansion Del Rio
Enjoy a four-course meal at Ostra (the Omni's in-house restaurant at the Mokara Spa), or across the river at Four Brothers (the main in-house restaurant) before grabbing your reserved seat for the parade. Guests can choose to purchase a seat to the parade only, but if you buy a ticket to one of the meals, you also get a reserved seat included with the price and a complimentary cocktail (we love the sound of a Four Brothers holiday sangria!) Purchase tickets to either dinner or a reserved seat via eventbrite.com.

On The Bend Oyster Bar
Enjoy live jazz, a full private buffet, great views of the river parade, a private VIP party, and more at On The Bend Oyster Bar. There are still plenty of tickets left for premium riverside seating at On The Bend that'll give you a great view of the parade. Purchase tickets at eventbrite.com.

The Thompson Hotel
The Thompson Hotel's signature restaurant, Landrace, will serve a decadent multi-course meal from the restaurant's head chef, James Beard award finalist Steve McHugh. Save up your post-Thanksgiving appetite for courses like roasted squash soup and slow-roasted prime rib. Guests can enjoy the parade from reserved seating at the Thompson after the meal. Purchase tickets to the dinner and reserve your seat at eventbrite.com.

The Westin
The Westin Riverwalk has a full parade reception dinner and premium seating available in three different pricing packages. Enjoy menu options like the charred aleppo spiced New York strip loin, unlimited select beer and wine options, and a reserved seat to the parade with the VIP All Is Bright package. There are also lower priced tiers for kids and guests who just want access to the reception dinner. Purchase tickets at eventbrite.com.

Hotel Valencia
If you're looking to make a true night of it, book a one-night stay at the Hotel Valencia to enjoy their Ford Holiday River Parade Seat & Parking package. Each booking includes luxury accommodations for two, two tickets to the parade in front of the Hotel Valencia in the first or second row, complimentary Wi-Fi, and complimentary valet parking for one night (this applies to one vehicle per reservation). Book your Hotel Valencia holiday parade staycation here.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Popular Pearl brunch spot remixes with new weekend DJ nights


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

4 San Antonio culinary pioneers win $21K from the Texas Food & Wine Alliance


Texas’ skyrocketing culinary scene is about to get a huge boost. The Texas Food & Wine Alliance’s grant program has awarded $107,500 to 19 culinary innovators around the state. This marks the Alliance’s 11th year providing funding to support culinary projects contributing to local communities.

The award winners were announced in a ceremony at Austin's Holdsworth Center on January 21. A private panel of distinguished culinary experts chose the winners out of 40 grant applications this year. Nine winners hail from Austin, three from Dallas-Fort Worth, three from Houston, and four from San Antonio. The awards range from $1,500 to $10,000, with a special $25,000 grant investment from Austin favorite Tito’s Handmade Vodka in honor of the company’s 25th anniversary. Grant funding will support chefs, farms, and culinary education groups, among others.

Out of the four San Antonio area winners, Talking Tree Farm received the most from the grant program, $6,250 to purchase shipping containers for storage and to buy a solar-powered cold room for their harvests. John Marshall High School’s culinary arts program will use their $5,000 grant to establish a morning café. Agricultural project Habitable Spaces and pasture-raised chicken farm Cielito Lindo Farm also won $5,000 each to purchase equipment or build infrastructure to further their endeavors in the culinary space.

Austin-area winners received the most funding from the grant program, totalling $53,750, while San Antonio winners received $21,250 in total. Dallas/Fort Worth winners were awarded $19,750, and the three Houston recipients won $12,750. All of the 2022 winners reflect just how diverse the state's trailblazing culinary scene continues to expand.

“All of this year’s funded projects will further enrich the state through innovation and giveback,” said Erika White, executive director of the Alliance. “We’re extremely grateful to each of the Texas communities, our sponsors and their support in allowing us to reward these mold-breaking projects.”

In Austin, organic farm Trosi Farms was awarded the most funding ($10,000), which will help construct a germination shed for more stable plant start production. Locavore pioneer Boggy Creek Farm won $7,500 in grants to provide ADA-compliant accessibility to their new climate-controlled Tomato House, while Texas’ first organic feed mill, Coyote Creek Organic Feed Mill & Farm, received $6,250 to help purchase a building to be used as a store for the local community.

The six other Austin area grant recipients, each winning $5,000, include Vista Farms at Vista Brewing, Jamaican family business Tierra Todun ATX, coffee roasters Rising Tide Roast Collaborative, culinary educator Chef Pascal Simon from Bake Austin, East Austin food truck Community Vegan, and Latinx pastry project Comadre Panaderia (who also just earned a James Beard nomination). All winners will be able to use their grants to improve efficiency and expand their businesses, or in Chef Pascal's case, further research and development for her upcoming cookbook for Gen-Z young adults.

After starting the program in Austin, grant co-chair and TFWA past president Cathy Cochran-Lewis says it was the Alliance’s dream to expand the grant statewide.

“We’re so humbled and thrilled to now not only support worthwhile projects across Texas but also to give more than a half million dollars in funding over the last decade to help dreams come true,” she says. “This is a tribute to the culinary talent and the community mindset we are lucky to have in our state.”

The winners in the Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston areas include:

For this year's Honorable Mention, the Alliance chose San Antonio eatery Tacos Cucuy, who will soon open a brick-and-mortar space with an expanded menu. Tacos Cucuy are currently looking for support to develop a Tex-Mex charcuterie program called La Cura Carnes Especiales.

More information about the 2022 grants and its recipients can be found on texasfoodandwinealliance.org.

Four-day Americana festival rolls out the camping mats for 36th year near San Antonio

Settle in

Music festivals nearby are one of the best benefits of city living, but sometimes they could stand to be a bit more rural — even if they’re not country festivals. OId Settler’s Music Festival fills that niche without sacrificing relevance; the festival, taking place this year from April 20-23, brings in some of the best names in folk, Americana, and Southern traditions. As announced on January 25, this means 31 groups and solo artists across four days of camping and enjoying the outdoors in Dale, about an hour-and-a-half northeast of San Antonio.

Old Settler’s Homestead, a 145-acre ranchland, has been hosting this barn dance, so to speak, for 36 years. Over time, it’s succeeded in drawing some major talents, but stayed grounded. While the lineup will excite many yearly attendees and fans of similar artists, these approachable sounds are great for visitors new to the fray without pandering with crossover names.

  • Yola sounds like the American South but hails from the United Kingdom. The powerful singer is known for her emotional rawness over smooth instrumental arrangements, both leaning into genre conventions (country, soul, disco, and beyond) and floating stoically above them.
  • The Wood Brothers bring the poetry to the festival, and that’s saying something in such a lyric-heavy genre. The trio has stuck together for nearly two decades and been in the industry even longer, and the wisdom comes through the introspective acoustic-electric jams.
  • Shovels & Rope play with chemistry, abundant between Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst, whose weathered, twangy voices bring a frankness to dramatic songwriting. This duo could play their own festival as moods and styles change from track to track.
  • Shinyribs is a warning from Austin to anyone who thinks folk music is always reserved. Frontman Kevin Russell, initially from Beaumont, is known for his performance antics — a force to be reckoned with, or otherwise, willingly swept up in.
  • Buffalo Nichols is turning the green venue blue with twangy slide guitar and a rich, nearly gravelly voice. The singer commanded a small, but dense crowd at his first year at Austin City Limits Festival in 2022, with a mellow tone amid the madness.
  • Matt the Electrician represents more country than many on the lineup, and has been active in the Austin music scene since 1998. His songwriting comes from cerebral origins, but sounds welcoming and promises easy listening as the festival rolls on.
  • Ley Line, also from Austin, is a standout for its comparatively exotic style. The four women sing in English, Portuguese, Swahili, and more, reminding fans in attendance — mostly seeking Americana — that the sphere of folk music extends far beyond our own borders.

In addition to the main attraction — the music — there will be food and artisan vendors, music workshops, and a youth talent competition. The camping, powered with renewable energy, sprawls around the active performance area, and the festival prides itself on the atmosphere away from the stages. Old Settler’s is a 501(c)(3) organization staffed by volunteers, so in addition to providing a good time, it aims to foster a lasting appreciation for Americana and the human connections available through it.

"This is one of the greatest festivals I've ever been a part of,” said Kevin Russell of Shinyribs in a press release. “In fact, I think of this as my home festival."

Tickets (starting at $35, kids under 12 free) to Old Settler’s Music Festival 2023, from April 20-23, are currently on sale at prekindle.com.