Christmas traditions return to San Antonio

Beloved traditions that were virtual last year were back again in-person

SAN ANTONIO – A wave of Christmas cheer came washing over the city of San Antonio on Friday, just one day after Thanksgiving.

The holiday traditions we know and love are back and in-person after last year’s celebrations were held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Nobody fiestas like San Antonio,” Richard Oliver, the director of partner & community for Visit San Antonio, said.

Claudine and Rick Rood are visiting the city for their 25th wedding anniversary.

“It’s incredible,” Rick said. “It’s so much fun -- it’s just amazing. I’m just really thrilled about it,” Claudine added.

Just looking around downtown San Antonio, it’s clear the holidays are upon us with lights adorning the River Walk, a holiday ice rink being open for all, and much more.

“It feels extremely great to enjoy the festivities with everyone and out here having a good time, so we’re pretty happy,” Dostin Lira said, after taking his girlfriend to the ice rink.

A total of 10,000 twinkling lights illuminated Travis Park with the lighting of the 50-foot fir, which came all the way from Michigan.

From ice skating to a surprise visit from Santa, families and loved ones joined together for the 37th annual Christmas celebration.

“Hopefully we were all with family for Thanksgiving, but here we are together as a community bringing in the holiday season and I think it just means a lot for people this year, even more than ever,” Julie Bedingfield, H-E-B’s public affairs person, said.

The crowd of people hit the streets and made their way to our beloved River Walk soon after the tree lighting ceremony for the 40th Annual Ford Holiday River Parade, and each float was a little different.

“They’re going to be decorated with different themes from past parades and that’s a lot of fun,” Oliver said. “40 years of magic and you know what we missed last year and you know we had people tell us time and time again is it going to be back this year? The fact that it’s back, visit San Antonio is so pleased to bring it.”

Both the Travis Park Christmas tree and the lights on the River Walk will stay on into the new year.

More on KSAT:

WATCH: 50-foot Christmas tree lights up Travis Park


About the Authors:

Leigh Waldman is a news reporter at KSAT 12. She joined the station in 2021. Leigh comes to San Antonio from the Midwest after spending time at a station in Omaha, NE. After two winters there, she knew it was time to come home to Texas. When Leigh is not at work, she enjoys eating, playing with her dogs and spending time with family.

Adam Barraza is a photojournalist at KSAT 12 and an El Paso native. He interned at KVIA, the local ABC affiliate, while still in high school. He then moved to San Antonio and, after earning a degree from San Antonio College and the University of the Incarnate Word, started working in news. He’s also a diehard Dodgers fan and an avid sneakerhead.