Moving to a new city during the holidays is already a daunting task, but also affords the opportunity to experience the holiday customs that make El Paso a wonderful city to live in! Our guide to holiday events in the Sun City can be used again year after year. Make one—or all—of these mainstays a part of your new yearly traditions!
1. Shows at the Plaza Theatre (November to January) – Each year, new holiday shows get added to the Plaza Theatre roster, but you can count on the Moscow Ballet’s ‘Nutcracker’ being on the calendar, along with special productions from the El Paso Symphony Orchestra, the El Paso Choral Society, and Dave Koz. Don your best attire when you go! The Plaza Theatre is an opulent space that was restored to its former, 1920’s glitzy glory in 1986. Make sure to check www.elpasolive.com for the most up-to-date calendar of events. Prices very by show. 125 Pioneer Plaza.
2. Winterfest (December to January) – Winterfest is a new offering in Downtown El Paso, located primarily between the El Paso Art Museum and the Plaza Theatre. The month-long event prominently features an ice skating rink, the ‘Kris Kringle’ cafe that sells snacks and warm drinks, a snow globe ‘selfie’ station, and a ‘Winterfest Village’ made up of local vendors. Make sure to ‘Like’ their Facebook Page to stay in-the-know with weekly and daily specials. 1 Arts Festival Plaza.
3. Sun Bowl Game (Late December) – Football fans will know that El Paso is home to the nationally televised Sun Bowl football game. Founded in 1934, the game attracts thousands of tourists to the region to watch a PAC-12 Conference team and an Atlantic Coast Conference team go head-to-head. The Sun Bowl stadium has also been ranked as one of the most beautiful stadiums in the United States, so you’ll definitely want to see it for yourself! 2701 Sun Bowl Drive.
4. San Jacinto Lights (Late November – January) – San Jacinto Plaza has been an important part of El Paso culture since before El Paso became ain incorporated city. The small park is located Downtown, and is bordered by Main, Mills, Mesa, and Oregon Streets. During the winter months, the Plaza is lit and decorated with holiday finery, but there’s more to the Plaza than just pretty lights. The brand new San Jacinto Cafe offers delicious treats, and chess board, checkers, and huachas rentals to use at the built-in game tables and spaces.
5. Fred Loya Christmas Light Show – Though this light show is located at a private residence, the owner doesn’t mind all the attention and even welcomes it! Winner of the 2015 “Great Christmas Light Fight” on ABC, the state-of-the-art light show is located at 12001 Paseo de Oro in Eastside El Paso, and features a photo stations, and complimentary hot chocolate and cookies after every show. Schedule for 2016 can be found here.
6. Lights on the Lake (December – January) – Did you know El Paso has a lake in the middle of the city? Ascarate Lake, 6900 Delta Dr., is a 48 acre lake with a boardwalk, aquatic center, and fishing events. During December, El Paso County will decorate the park and lake. There is a $2 fee per vehicle entering the park.
Before you head out, you should know that El Paso weather can be a little unpredictable, especially during winter. Some years it snows, most years there are flurries here and there. On average, you can expect a high of 57-58° and a low of 33° in December and January. Best practice is to dress in layers, so that you can focus on the fun!
Parking downtown is located at a variety of small lots, street side parking, and large parking structures. For an updated and interactive map of parking locations in Downtown El Paso, click here.
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