Bells ring out in harmony, lights dance and shimmer in the twilight, and carols fill the air.
It’s the most magical time of the year again at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston’s Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens. For the third year in a row, Christmas Village at Bayou Bend has transformed Ima Hogg’s celebrated home and grounds into a show-stopping holiday wonderland.
The 14-acre estate is resplendent this year, with a trail of glowing lights leading visitors to a slew of family-themed holiday activities. After a trip across a light-wrapped suspension bridge, guests are greeted by carolers in period costume and encouraged to pick up a set of hand bells and add to the festive atmosphere.
Statues of Santa’s reindeer are sprinkled throughout the gardens, while holiday cartoons are projected on an outdoor screen. Cotton snowballs are at children’s disposal for impromptu snowball fights, and a covered grassy slope makes for excellent sledding. More holiday activities, like Christmas Tic-Tac-Toe and Ring Around the Antlers, are part of the Reindeer Games area.
No Christmas Village is complete without the jolly big man himself, and Santa will be on hand through December 23 for photos and merriment. An adjacent 12-foot Christmas tree is beautifully decorated to get guests into the holiday mood, complete with a model train that was hand-crafted by a museum conservator. Nearby, a variety of refreshments, from hot cocoa to wine to tacos, ensures that no guest will leave hungry.
Then there’s the mansion itself, renowned as one of the best places in Texas to view American paintings and decorative arts. The former home of Houston philanthropist Ima Hogg is spectacular in its holiday splendor. A festive $5 tour guides guests through the house in a series of theatrical vignettes featuring holiday effects and live actors from Alley Theatre.
Christmas Village at Bayou Bend is open every evening through January 6, with the exception of December 24, 25, and 31. Depending on the evening of your visit, admission ranges from $15-18 for adults and $10-12 for children between the ages of 5 and 12. Admission is always free for children ages 4 and under. Tickets are available on the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston website.
Featured image by Two Cats Communications