2023 Holiday Events: Annual River of Lights celebration and night kayaking on the San Antonio River

Written by:

Posted on:




Get The Latest:

Join our print or digital newsletter to be informed about the agency’s many projects and other news.

A child sits with Santa Claus during the River of Lights event

Last Updated on February 13, 2024

The weather is turning chilly. Glowing lights and festive decorations are up across the city and along the Museum Reach of the San Antonio River Walk. Schedules start to fill with gift exchanges, beautiful celebrations, and delicious food.

It’s a great time of year for recognizing and reflecting on the past year with family, friends, and neighbors. No matter what brings you joy this time of year, we can all agree on the cheer that our rivers and creeks provide us!

In that spirit, we invite you to start your holiday season on the San Antonio River at the annual Holly Jolly Kayaking event! Join us for this uncommon opportunity that allows participants to paddle between the Pearl and the San Antonio River Lock and Dam after dark while holiday lights illuminate the river.

Kayaks go down the river during holly jolly kayaking event

On December 2nd, if you paddle south from our designated put-in spot, you’ll have the best seat in the river for the Pixel Tree Light Show.

Kayakers approach River of Lights display

Have your own kayak, canoe, or stand-up paddle board and want to get in on the fun? Snag a BYOBoat ticket option and join us for Holly Jolly Kayaking!

Continue your holiday season on December 9th at the 2023 River of Lights Celebration! We invite you to join us for an evening of fun that includes pictures with Santa, food vendors, holiday vendors, and more. The KSAT weather team is also predicting snow for the celebration this year. So, wear your snowshoes and join us at the snow slide!

River of Lights promotional image

Write a letter to Santa, visit Santa’s longhorns, decorate cookies with chefs and student chefs from the Baking and Pastry Arts Program at St. Philips College, and enjoy some holiday tunes at the Santa stage and Holiday Stage featuring some of the best musicians in town!

What             2023 River of Lights

When           Saturday, December 9th, 2023, from 4:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Where          San Antonio River Lock & Dam


  • SNOW slide and play areas
  • Pictures with Cowboy Santa
  • Write letters to Santa
  • Santa’s Longhorns
  • Country Christmas Acoustic Music Stage
  • Cookie decorating
  • Hot Cocoa Station
  • Community Christmas Stage

Plus, Food Trucks and Shopping vendors!

Kids decorate cookies


  • Madelyn Victoria
  • Katy Mckenzie
  • Small Town Habit


  • Poe MS Mariachi
  • Brackenridge HS Choir
  • Lanier HS Jazz Band
  • Thomas Jefferson HS Jazz Band
  • Fox Tech HS Jazz Band
  • Bexar County Sheriff’s Office Mariachi

See the full updated schedule.

Band plays at the River of Lights events


As part of the 2023 River of Lights, the San Antonio River Foundation seeks donations of unwrapped gifts or non-monetary, in-kind items to donate to St. PJ’S Children’s Home and Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation!

Fill the Canoe toy drive

Crowds and Christmas lights aren’t your jam? Snag a spot on our last Winter Bird Hike of 2023!

Join River Authority staff on a bird hike and marvel at the beauty of Branch River Park- located along the Central Migratory Flyway! With over 600 species of birds documented in Texas, you never know if you might see a Nearctic-Neotropical migratory bird on its way south for the winter. Bundle up and join us, because you won’t want to miss your chance to see some of these magnificent, feathered friends.

We can’t wait to spend the holidays with you! Stay tuned for more events to come in 2024.

Related Articles


Acequia Trail Notice

The Acequia trail will have heavy traffic near MROC starting May 22nd until further notice. The SAWS Acequia project will be bringing in crews to work on the lift station site and across the street. There will have flaggers to stop traffic, please use caution. 

SASPAMCO Paddling Trail

The SASPAMCO paddling trail is open from River Crossing Park to Helton Nature Park.
*Please Note: Paddling Trail from Helton Nature Park to HWY 97 is still closed due to blockages. 

River Reach Newsletter and Blog Signup

River Reach is offered as a printed, physical mailing to your residence or business. The Blog is a weekly electronic email with news and updates in order to be more environmentally conscious. Please fill out the form below and indicate your preferred method of delivery.

By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing materials from: San Antonio River Authority, 100 East Guenther St., San Antonio, TX, 78204, US. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.