Holiday River Parade

Every November after Thanksgiving, there is a holiday river parade on the San Antonio River. This is the time when the river is officially lit for Christmas. It is usually on the Friday after Thanksgiving, traditionally known as the biggest shopping day of the year, but now known as Black Friday. Anyway, this year, 2018, the lighting of the River Walk for Christmas and the Holiday River Parade were on November 28, 2018.

The mayor, Phil Hardberger for 2008, flipped a switch, lit up the river, and the parade began. Absolutely beautiful! (Mayor Julian Castro flipped the switch this year, 2010.)

122,000 twinkling lights turn the San Antonio River Walk into a magical strip, magnified by the lights’ reflection in the water. Lit barges turned into decorated floats glide by, their occupants wishing everyone a Merry Christmas. This is San Antonio at its finest.

The next day and for the next month, holiday carolers sing old, yet familiar Christmas carols in sweet harmony. Tourists and locals alike scurry up and down the sidewalk, carrying bags of Christmas treasures bought at River Center Mall and at specialty shops lining the river.

Many more ride the tour boats up and down the river while diners watch them from the many outdoor cafes. Most are in happy holiday moods, just having fun while catching the Christmas spirit.

You can buy tickets and be right on the River Walk for the lighting and parade or you can stay home and watch it on TV. This is a very popular event, but also a very crowded one. The perfect place to be for this event is in one of the River Walk hotels as a guest with a river view. You can watch the whole parade from the warm comfort of your room. It really is the best way to see the parade and avoid the crowds and the cold.

Make your hotel reservations early as the hotels tend to fill up fast for the Thanksgiving weekend, especially the best rooms with a view of the river.

The next best place to be for the Holiday River Parade is at one of the outdoor cafes. No, you cannot just walk up and sit down. For this special event, you must have a reservation. By the way, the food at these cafes is really great.