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Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership GRCC
Galveston County
News Release
Sunday, November 18, 2018

Opening Festivities Kick Off Festival of Lights on Galveston Island as Santa Arrives By Parachute

Galveston, Texas Santa Claus opened the 2018 holiday season with tradition at Moody Gardens®, flipping the giant electrical switch to illuminate more than one million lights at the 17th annual Festival of Lights.

A large festive crowd saw Santa and two of his elves make their grand entrance by parachuting out of an airplane to officially flip the light switch and open the largest holiday lighting display on the Gulf Coast. The celebration featured the Salvation Army’s Harbor Light Choir, Jill Rauscher School of Dance, DLS Dance Studio and a speed painting performance by Ange Hillz of VisualPaint. Guests were able to get into the holiday spirit with various performances set to the festive sounds of the season.

The mile-long Festival of Lights trail with over 100 lighted and animated displays is one of the eight holiday attractions at Moody Gardens for the holiday season. Other attractions include ICE LAND: Pole-to-Pole, Arctic Slide, “Rudolph 4D,” Cirque Joyeux Dinner and Show at the Moody Gardens Convention Center, the area’s only outdoor ice skating rink, holiday movies in the MG 3D Theater and train rides. Guests that are looking to stay overnight or for an extended stay are encouraged to look at the family-friendly Moody Gardens Hotel which offers spectacular views of the destination’s iconic pyramids adorned with holiday lights.

“Festival of Lights has become the center of the holiday season at Moody Gardens,” said John Zendt, Moody Gardens President and CEO. “Santa’s aerial arrival each year kicks off this event and it gives us the opportunity to share the beautiful lights and venue to create those special family holiday memories.”

The Festival of Lights will continue to shine throughout the holiday season nightly through January 6 from 6-11p.m. other attractions, including ICE LAND: Pole-to-Pole are open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Admission to the Festival of Lights is $15.95 per person. Admission to ICE LAND is $26.95 for adults, $21.95 for seniors and children. Value Days provides a discount Sunday through Thursday through December 20 for guests to enjoy the Festival of Lights and ICE LAND: Pole-to-Pole while saving $5 per person.

Additional Combination Tickets offer a variety of other discounted tickets, including the Evening Pass which allows guests admission to all Moody Gardens attractions after 4 p.m. priced at $44.95 for adults with an additional $5 discount on Value Days. The Evening Pass is $39.95 for children and seniors. Children under 3 years old are admitted to all Moody Gardens attractions for free. Parking is also free.

Food Drive Thursdays will also offer guests the opportunity to enjoy the Festival of Lights at a special discount in recognition of helping those in need this holiday season. Guests can bring a non-perishable food item every Thursday throughout the Festival and receive a two-for-one admission into Festival of Lights. The food will be donated to the Galveston County and Houston Food Banks.

For more information please visit or call 409-744-4673.


Moody Gardens® is a public, non-profit, educational destination utilizing nature in the advancement of rehabilitation, conservation, recreation, and research.

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