Photo by Greg Gorman

Another year has gone by under the shrewd gaze of Gay Father Christmas Meltdown, legendary filmmaker John Waters. The iconoclastic, charismatic fast talker made a career out of celebrating extremes (in movies like the shocking Pink Flamingos, and the mostly mainstream Hairspray), ultimately developing the cinematic benchmarks of camp for many admirers, whether they realize it or not. Not for the first time by any stretch, Christmas is Waters’ muse in his annual standup performance, “A John Waters Christmas,” which he's bringing to Austin's Paramount Theatre on December 5.

In the same way straight viewers love claiming Die Hard as a Christmas movie, gay viewers have John Waters to thank for images of a Christmas tree toppling onto a shrieking mother in Female Trouble. They may be surprised to learn this episode sprung from Waters’ actual early Christmas memories, which include the year the tree fell on his grandmother. Since fame shifted the way the world interacts with the filmmaker, he has garnered plenty of festive new stories to tell, from nieces and nephews accidentally picking lewd shirts from his collection of uncensored press mailers to details on the blacklisted dangerous toys he buys himself.

Every year, Waters rewrites his standup Christmas show to make sure the content stays fresh, and while the holiday season is propped up against 70 minutes of rude jokes, the writer makes it clear it’s all out of love. CultureMap chatted with Waters ahead of his upcoming tour, discussing what’s too vulgar — even for him — on Thanksgiving; where to steal Christmas presents; and the genre-defining nerve of individuals with a vision. (Editor's note: This conversation contains sexual language, and has been edited for length and readability.)

CultureMap: Do you think it's important or just fun to have an alternative Christmas canon?
John Waters: Well, I think it's important to have a plan for Christmas, no matter what it is, because even if you hate it or love it or whatever, you can't avoid it — it's coming at you. This year nothing works anymore … and I think Christmas is the same. So rather than despair, I'm going to tell you how to fix it in a more ludicrous way … even though most people might not follow my advice.

CM: I think Austin will listen to you, because Austin loves being weird.
JW: Austin’s always been a great audience for me, so I’m happy to be coming there again. … I’ll always be the Chainsaw Massacre fan while I’m there. When I first was there, I met [Tobe Hooper], and he gave me a skull from the movie that I still have sitting right here on my desk.

CM: What’s one of the weirder holiday traditions you’ve seen that’s not yours?
JW: In Maryland, they always have sauerkraut for some reason. When I grew up and had Thanksgiving somewhere else, I was [wondering] where’s the sauerkraut? I don't know why, I guess maybe there's German people? I find it a little creepy to see mothers fist-f*cking turkeys with stuffing ... I always look away from that. It's too much for me.

CM: Do you remember a really wonderful gift, or a terrible gift — or both — that you've received?
JW: I can remember both, because Divine once gave me a beautiful cashmere throw blanket that he might have stolen, that I still have. And I used to say, ‘Are stolen presents better?’ But it depends where you stole it from. If you stole it from a large chain store that has [homophobic] politics, then yes; if you didn't, and stole it from a little shop, it's wrong. The worst present sometimes can be fun. We used to do a sort of thing where you drew a name and then … you pick the present they would hate the worst, and it's a really fun way to have a Christmas.

CM: Do you remember what that was, for you?
JW: Yes, I got two soundtracks to both Rocky movies. And I did throw them out the window, which was a mistake because I lived on the seventh floor of a high rise at the time. I don't think it hit anybody, but it wasn't very responsible. Suppose on Christmas Eve you had been murdered by a flying Rocky soundtrack.

CM: You said that the Christmas season doesn’t change, and you can’t change that it’s coming. How has the Christmas show changed over the years?
JW: I completely rewrite it. I just finished it yesterday. It always has to be up to date, because things change so much. The last show had COVID in it, but people are sick of talking about COVID. There can be a [current events] joke in there that happened that morning on the plane. I try to keep it very up to date, because a lot of people come every year. I want to give them a new show every year.

CM: How many newcomers do you think come each year?
JW: I think they get younger and younger. My audience gets younger and younger, which is the ultimate flattery.

CM: I heard that sometimes you said parents will bring their kids.
JW: Well, that's what’s really weird. When I was younger, parents called the police … and now they bring their children. My sisters used to say to me, ‘I’m not sitting next to Mom when you say that shit.’ I always warn people when they bring in their kids, you might not want to. Because, do you talk about rimming with your children? I work blue. That’s what they used to call it. People always say, "My parents gave me Pink Flamingos." I say, "They did?!" My parents never even saw Pink Flamingos, and they paid for it, and I paid them back.

CM: What do you do when you’re not in the mood to write? How do you get into the Christmas spirit?
JW: The Christmas spirit and writing are very different. I write Monday to Friday because that’s my job, and if I don’t, I’d have to go get a real job and work for somebody else. I’m like a drag queen on Halloween. I’m working if it’s Christmas. But then right when the tour is over I go with my family … so I do have a private-life Christmas that’s fairly functional. But it’s weird when I’m on the tour and I look out and see and think "God, it’s Christmas for real. It seems like this play I’m in, or something."

CM: Which part of it feels surreal to you?
JW: Well, that’s a word that’s so overused these days, and I know what you mean, but it’s just — I’ll be in an airport and I’ll see people rushing and I think, where would I go Christmas shopping. In an airport? … There is no time off. I don’t live in the real world. And people say, ‘How is it?” I don’t know what it’s like; I’m never in it.

CM: This is a one-man show, and you’re known for having a muse, but you’re writing about a huge tradition. What inspires you about individuals?
JW: Individuals: that they have the nerve to do something, that even though most everything that changes in the arts is originally hated, and got bad reviews, and it outrages the public. And I don’t mean we’re shock value, it’s just — I mean, minimalism, think about that, just really infuriated people when they first saw it. Andy Warhol with the soup cans. He put abstract expressionists out of business in one night! Just like the Beatles did to Motown. So I’m always amazed at people that have the nerve, like Cy Twombly, that just gave people those scribble drawings when he was young…. Little did they know they’d be worth millions of dollars, and be so beautiful later.

CM: Do you ever feel burdened by having to carry the weirdness for other people?
JW: No, because I don’t concentrate on that all the time. Ever since Pink Flamingos came out, I never tried to top that ending. I never did. That was it. Then, you’re trying too hard, and that’s the ultimate sin.

CM: I read that you have a lot of books in your house. Do you have any favorite Christmas books and movies?
JW: I have one called How to Eat Your Christmas Tree, and it’s for real. It’s brand new. But my all-time favorite book ever is called Extreme Ironing, and it’s pictures of people, like, ironing on speed boats or on mountain tops. I’m still completely perplexed by it. I have it down where my housekeeper is. She sees it and laughs. And every time I see her ironing I say, "Are you sure you don’t want to go out and do that on the top of the car while I’m driving?"


John Waters is visiting Austin for “A John Waters Christmas” on December 5 at 8 pm, at the Paramount Theater. Tickets (starting at $25) are available at austintheatre.org.

Photo courtesy of The Roku Channel

Weird: The Al Yankovic Story is as wacky and over-the-top as expected

Movie Review

For over 40 years, “Weird Al” Yankovic has reigned as the world’s most popular comedy musician. Given the unserious nature of Yankovic’s songs, a movie about his life was never going to be straightforward. Taking inspiration from a 2013 Funny or Die video of the same name, Weird: The Al Yankovic Story plays out as – what else? – a parody of music biopics, which tend to have many of the same beats, such as a rough childhood, music providing a salvation, issues with drugs and/or alcohol, and, ultimately, redemption.

And so, hilariously, the young Al yearns to play the accordion and make up fake lyrics to real songs, only to be stymied by his well-meaning mom, Mary (Julianne Nicholson), and angry and violent dad, Nick (Toby Huss). After hearing things like “We agree that you should stop being yourself and doing the things you love,” he rebels by going to … a teenage polka party. (Unintentionally funny is that Nicholson recently played Marilyn Monroe’s mom in Blonde, a 1-2 punch that’s hard to beat.)

When Al (now played by Daniel Radcliffe) finally gets out of the house, he’s able to spread his wings and make the weird music he wants, overcoming the skepticism of record executives like Tony Scotti (played by Yankovic) with the help of mentor Dr. Demento (Rainn Wilson). When Madonna (Evan Rachel Wood) becomes his girlfriend to, in part, get the sweet bump that one of his parody songs can provide, it starts in motion a series of events too ridiculous to be true.

Directed by Eric Appel (who also made the short film) and written by Appel and Yankovic, the film can essentially be split in two. The first half is the more successful part, as the pure comedy of his parents' overreactions to his music tastes, the random ways in which he draws inspiration for songs like “My Bologna,” and other out-of-nowhere things never fail to draw a laugh.

Not content to play out the whole movie that way, the filmmakers make the second half into something … weird. Without spoiling anything, it radically shifts the perspective of Weird Al as both a musician and a person, a change that, while still objectively funny, takes on a much different tone. It also features less of his music, a decision that takes some of the early fun out of the film.

The film features a bevy of celebrity cameos, like Lin-Manuel Miranda as a surgeon, Conan O’Brien as Andy Warhol, and Quinta Brunson as Oprah Winfrey, as well as a pool party scene featuring a slew of ‘80s icons like Devo, John Denver, Pee Wee Herman, Tiny Tim, Gallagher, Divine, and Elvira. You never know who’s going to pop up next, giving the film an extra dose of enjoyment in addition to the story.

Radcliffe, though much shorter than the actual Weird Al (likely a joke in and of itself), is a great fit for the role, bringing the type of energy it deserves. Even when lip-synching (the voice when singing is definitely the real Weird Al), he’s all-in on the performance. Wood is also great, delivering a depiction of Madonna that’s even more out-there than the real-life version.

Weird: The Al Yankovic Story ultimately hits more highs than lows thanks to the funny “origin” stories around songs like “Eat It,” “Another One Rides the Bus,” and “Like a Surgeon.” You can give the filmmakers credit for trying something different, but like any popular musician, things are better when they play the hits.


Weird: The Al Yankovic Story is now streaming on The Roku Channel.

Photo courtesy of The Roku Channel

Evan Rachel Wood and Daniel Radcliffe in Weird: The Al Yankovic Story

Photo by Louie Banks

Shania Twain rides into Texas to reclaim her throne on upcoming world tour

Concert news

Good news for Texans: Shania Twain is coming to the Lone Star State. Bad news for Austinites: you'll have to head to Dallas or Houston to catch her. The country music star's expansive world tour dubbed the Queen of Me Tour will head to Dallas on July 21, 2023, and Houston on July 22, 2023.

The Texas dates are the last of 44 North American concerts currently scheduled on the tour before Twain heads to Europe for five final shows.

This is Twain's first tour in nearly five years; she last played in Dallas in June 2018. She'll be joined on the tour by a variety of well-known current female stars; Arlington native Mickey Guyton will be her special guest in both Dallas and Houston.

The tour was announced in conjunction with the news of the upcoming release of her new album, also called Queen of Me, due out on February 3, 2023. Her first album since 2017, it is also the first with her new record label, Republic Nashville.

The sales of that album will add to her record of being the best-selling female artist in country music history, a record she's achieved despite releasing only five albums in her 30-year career.

Twain has remained a star all these years thanks to three massive albums — 1995's The Woman in Me, 1997's Come On Over, and 2002's Up! — each of which sold over 11 million copies in the U.S. alone. She also has seven No. 1 hits and eight more top 10 hits from those three albums.

Tickets for the tour will go on sale starting 10 am Friday, November 4 at LiveNation.com. Citi cardmembers will have access to presale tickets beginning 10 am Tuesday, November 1 until 10 pm Thursday, November 3 through the Citi Entertainment program.

Photo courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers

The Paramount Theatre presents Quentin Tarantino: Cinema Speculation Book Tour

Author Quentin Tarantino will hold a multi-city book tour to celebrate the publication of Cinema Speculation, his non-fiction debut.

Cinema Speculation is organized around key American films from the 1970s, all of which Tarantino first saw as a young moviegoer. At once film criticism, film theory, a feat of reporting, and wonderful personal history, the audience will get a rare perspective about cinema possible only from Tarantino himself.

Photo by Jon Shapley

Famed Hollywood director Quentin Tarantino brings the limelight to Austin's Paramount Theatre

Once Upon a time in Austin

Hollywood has really had its eye on Austin lately: Robert De Niro and Meryl Streep recently celebrated the Harry Ransom Center, Dustin Hoffman and Sissy Spacek are set to attend a world premiere at the Austin Film Festival, and now, Quentin Tarantino is coming to the Paramount Theater for the release of his new book, Cinema Speculation.

The Academy Award-winning filmmaker has had a long-running relationship with Austin's own Richard Linklater, which could explain why Austin is the only Texas stop on the five-city tour. Starting in Los Angeles, the tour also stops in San Francisco, Portland, and New York City.

The Austin stop will take place on Saturday, November 12 at 7 pm, and tickets will include a copy of the book. The evening will feature an excerpt reading from Tarantino, as well as a conversation between the director and several notable film critics and historians.

Following the success of his No. 1 New York Times bestselling fiction book, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, this new book is Tarantino's non-fiction debut. Organized around key American films from the 1970s, the work is part film criticism and film theory, part personal history.

Tickets will be available on Friday, October 7 at 10 am on the Paramount Theatre website.

Photo courtesy of Icon Global

NFL legend Terry Bradshaw's ranch north of Dallas-Fort Worth listed for $22.5 million

Celebrity listing

An Oklahoma ranch around 70 miles north of Dallas-Fort Worth that’s owned by NFL Hall of Famer and Fox Sports analyst Terry Bradshaw is back on the market for $22.5 million.

Bernard Uechtritz, owner of Dallas-based real estate agency Icon Global Group, says the 744-acre ranch was relisted after a deal with a would-be buyer fell through. Cancellation of the purchase followed a series of contract extensions, along with repeated assurances from the potential buyer and their representatives that the deal would close, according to Uechtritz. It’s unknown how much that buyer was willing to pay for the ranch.

Over the years, Uechtritz and Bradshaw have been “inundated” by inquiries about selling the ranch, where the E! reality TV series The Bradshaw Bunch was filmed, according to an Icon Global news release.

Terry Bradshaw ranch The E! reality TV series The Bradshaw Bunch was filmed here.Photo courtesy of Icon Global

Bradshaw says in the news release that he and his wife, Tammy, are “sad to leave this great big ranch and our wonderful home, which has been our idyllic retreat of so many years; however, it is time that we slowed down a little, freeing us up to travel more, as well as enjoy new grandchildren, family, and other interests.”

The Bradshaws now live on a smaller farm in Texas where they continue to operate their Quarter Horse breeding business. In conjunction with the sale of the ranch, the Bradshaws are selling 150 Quarter Horses at an October 22 auction.

Terry Bradshaw ranch The ranch sits on 744 acres.Photo courtesy of Icon Global

The ranch, just east of Thackerville, Oklahoma, and a few miles west of the Texas-Oklahoma border, will keep operating until the new owner takes over. The property, overlooking the Red River, sits within the boundaries of the Chickasaw Nation, which is home to the massive WinStar World Casino and Resort.

“The property and facilities are a turnkey-ready proposition for a major equestrian player in the horse business, or continued use as a cattle or private recreational ranch,” Uechtritz says.

Highlights of the ranch include:

  • Rustic 8,600-square-foot home with six bedrooms, six bathrooms, two half-bathrooms, and four fireplaces
  • 2,600-square-foot manager’s house
  • Four-bedroom bunkhouse
  • Outdoor patio encompassing about 1,000 square feet, with a full kitchen, bar, fireplace, hot sauna, and fire pit
  • Eight lakes and ponds
  • Outdoor pool
  • Two-story doghouse made of stone
  • 12-stall stallion barn
  • 20-stall show barn
  • 50-stall mare barn with a laboratory, breeding facility, office, and covered arena
  • 20-stall barn for weaning horses
  • Hay barn
  • Show-pig barn

The property has been on and off the market for a number of years. At various times, it’s been priced at $11.9 million, $10.8 million, $10.6 million, and $9.9 million, according to media reports.

Terry Bradshaw The Bradshaws are selling 150 Quarter Horses at an October 22 auction.Photo courtesy of Icon Global

As quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1970s and ’80s, Bradshaw led the team to four Super Bowl victories and twice clinched Super Bowl MVP honors. The Louisiana native, who celebrated his 74th birthday earlier this month, retired from pro football in 1984 after a 14-year stint with the Steelers and then joined CBS Sports as a football analyst. He’s been a Fox Sports football analyst since 1994.

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Mobile vet company brings its no-rush, stress-free services to Austin homes

Home Is Where the Vet Is

Austin, one of the largest no-kill shelter cities in the United States, already knows a lot about adopting instead of shopping. A puppy is a wonderful addition to the family, but senior dogs need love (and are loved), too. As many have learned firsthand, taking care of a senior pet can be challenging — with higher medical bills, potentially heavy lifting as joints stiffen, and tough decisions to make about what kind of care is necessary — but also incredibly rewarding.

November is National Senior Pet Health Month, calling for awareness about an older pet’s needs, and providing opportunities to celebrate wins all over local news. In Austin, one of those wins came in scrubs. The Vets, a mobile veterinary service that makes house calls, expanded into Austin in 2022 (after launching the year prior), eventually bringing the national count to 16 locations including Houston and Dallas. Texas and California are tied for the most locations, at three each.

“Among the top reasons that pet owners avoid or postpone their visit to the vet clinic include the stress of transporting their pet, restrictive pet carriers, and crowded waiting rooms,” explained a statement from the company. “Our no-rush visits give your pet the time to bond with our vet and you the opportunity to ask questions. And you always have the option to rebook the same vet to help grow that special relationship over time.”

This team provides care for every stage in a pet’s life, and most of their needs, too; that’s everything from routine wellness exams, microchipping, nutrition consulting, and even emergency services including those with specialized equipment like ultrasound machines. When the time comes to ease a pet’s end-of-life transition, the team also offers at-home euthanasia, dramatically reducing stress for both pets and people who don’t want a sterile environment or a tearful drive home.

The American Veterinary Medical Association lists many needs for senior pets, including increased medical care, vaccinations, and pet parents that are observant about environmental concerns like house structure and stimulation. With a home vet, pet owners might consider asking for opinions on how to streamline some of these interactions, without having to worry about having to write notes, try to remember potential issues in the space, or miss any important details a professional would see right away.

A good vet can make animals comfortable no matter what, but The Vets emphasizes the stronger relationships that its team can build in a comfortable, stress-free environment. In addition to a more convenient and comfortable experience, this can also mean better care for a pet that doesn’t have an entire puppyhood to adjust.

More information about The Vets, including scheduling, is available at thevets.com.

Austin-area pig rescue wins Airbnb contest to build one-of-a-kind pig-themed guest house

This Place is a Pigsty

KVUE — From tens of thousands of entries from around the world, 100 aspiring designers, architects, DIYers, and makers from more than 20 countries and regions have been chosen to bring their unique space ideas to life as part of the $10,000,000 Airbnb OMG! Fund.

One of those winners is Tracey Stabile, director of the Central Texas Pig Rescue (CTPR) in Austin. Tracey and Dan Illescas, founders of Central Texas Pig Rescue, will receive up to $100,000 to create a one-of-a-kind pig-shaped guest space. Over the course of the next 10 months, they will design, construct, and outfit the space to be guest-ready by summer 2023.

"Basically the OMG! Fund contest was a way for people to be really playful and kind of invent a really cool dwelling that would be something that's totally notable to people and be a destination," said Stabile.

Stabile said Airbnb left all of the freedom of creativity up to them. They went through several rounds of design and planning and review.

"Each step of the way, we were like, 'We're one step closer.' It was very exciting. Just getting those emails at each milestone and seeing that we were actually contenders in this contest. Then the fact that we, of course, won and now we're going to be able to build this amazing thing that we absolutely never would have been able to build under other circumstances. It's just an amazing opportunity," stated Stabile.

Stabile said she wanted to build something that was a little bit unpredictable and wanted to avoid some of the shapes that people might expect. The current pig sanctuary in Smithville, about 45 minutes outside of Austin, is home to over 200 pigs that were saved from abandonment. The sanctuary houses a mix of all different types of pigs, mostly potbellied pigs, and is 100 percent volunteer run and 100 percent donation based.


Read the full story and watch the video at KVUE.com.

Texas state parks beckon this holiday season with festive events and peaceful escapes

Silent nights

If roasting s'mores and hiking in the great outdoors sounds fun, pack up your family and visit one of Texas’ state parks this holiday season.

Texas state parks and historic sites are ringing in the holidays with a number of festive events. There are drive-thru light tours, special holiday hikes, arts and crafts for the kiddos, and more.

Reservations fill up quickly, so be sure to visit an individual park's website before you head out. And check the Holidays in the Parks page for many more fun options, pricing information, and more information.

Austin/San Antonio-area parks

Bastrop State Park
Follow ornaments with clues through the park every day in December during the annual Fa La La Through The Forest Scavenger Hunt. Enjoy the Lost Pines Christmas Parade, a collaborative event with Bastrop and Buescher Parks, at 6 pm December 10. Tour the inside of the historic Refectory and see how the Civilian Conservation Corps celebrated Christmas away from home during A Lost Pines CCC Christmas 9 am-12 pm December 17.

Lyndon B. Johnson State Park & Historic Site
Visit the popular attraction during December to learn how the farm staff get ready for das Weihnachten (Christmas). Return to the park at 5:30 pm December 18 for the 53rd Annual Tree Lighting, a holiday tradition started by President and Mrs. Johnson.

Garner State Park
Join the Buffalo Soldiers program and friends as they stop into Garner State Park before leaving for Christmas break during the Marching Towards Christmas event 10 am-2 pm December 10. Christmas activities will include hand-dipped candles, frontier Christmas painting, Christmas-themed hard tack in Dutch ovens, and stories of the Buffalo Soldiers.

Buescher State Park
On the Fa La La in the Forest Scavenger Hunt, you can follow ornaments with clues through the park to secure a prize at the end, December 1 to January 1. Enjoy the Smithville Festival of Lights and Lighted Parade, a collaborative effort between Buescher and Bastrop parks, on December 3.

Hill Country State Natural Area
See how art, history and state parks are connected; learn some basic watercolor techniques and paint a card or two to take home during the Watercolor Christmas Cards event 2:30-4 pm December 3. Come back for Horses in History & Ornament Craft from 2:30-4 pm December 22 and learn how horses played important roles in the lives of vaqueros, native people, ranchers and more. Then, play a round of horseshoes and paint a horse ornament to take with you.

South Llano River State Park
At Christmas at the Ranch, 2-5 pm December 3, guests can warm up with hot chocolate and cider, listen to live entertainment, enjoy crafts and cookie decorating, and anticipate Santa's visit while taking in the twinkling lights and Christmas decorations at the historic Ranch House that now serves as Park Headquarters.

Dallas-Fort Worth-area parks

Tyler State Park
Enjoy Reading Ranger Campfire Stories around a cozy campfire at 3 pm December 3. Head back December 9-10 for A Pineywoods Christmas, when you can stroll or drive through the Lakeview and Big Pine campgrounds to take in campers' elaborately decorated sites and take a Winter Wonderland Hike.

Lake Tawakoni State Park
Drive through or stay at the park and decorate your campsite with your favorite Christmas decorations to receive your second night of camping free during your stay. There will be a decorating contest, complete with awards, as well as a reading of The Night before Christmas — all part of Twinkle Tour 2022, 5-8 pm December 3.

Daingerfield State Park
Drive through the park lit up like Santa Land during the 10th annual Christmas in the Park drive thru lights tour December 14-17 (times vary). Marvel at the decorated campsites and lights, and enjoy hot chocolate and cookies while waiting for a chance to visit with Santa.

Eisenhower State Park
Help those in need and spread holiday cheer — and as a bonus, get free entry to the park — by bringing one unwrapped donation item to the park’s Holiday Donation Drive through December 19. Visit December 9-10 to visit the Light Up the Park drive-thru lights event, featuring milk and cookies with Santa. This year, the park is taking unwrapped toys to donate instead of collecting entrance fees for the event.

Cleburne State Park
Enjoy Pancakes With Santa and make pinecone bird feeders 9-11 am December 10.

Cedar Hill State Park
Search for birds taking their winter break at the park during their Winter Birding Walk, which takes place 7:30-8:30 am December 13. Explore Christmas on Penn Farm on December 17: Learn about the history and pioneers of the Penn Family and the farm they built 150 years ago.

Lake Mineral Wells State Park
Experience Christmas, cowboy style, at Cross Timbers Cowboy Christmas, December 3. Park ranger and cowboy poet David Owens will gather guests around a campfire at the Lone Star Amphitheater for an evening of cowboy culture through songs, stories and poems.

Dinosaur Valley State Park
In partnership with Toys for Tots, the park is hosting Christmas in the Valley, a full day of ranger-led events, programs, family friendly activities, arts and crafts, food and more. Bring a new and unwrapped toy for free admission for the whole family. The event takes place 1-4 pm December 17.

Houston and Gulf Coast-area parks

Brazos Bend State Park
Holiday in the Park is an all-day affair on December 10. Events include a self-guided "Elf Hike," Christmas crafts, "Pup Parade," s'mores, and more.

Goose Island State Park
See the park in lights, enjoy holiday activities, and camp for free when you decorate your campsite during Christmas in the Park on December 17. Guests are invited to "Santa's Village" at the CCC Recreation Hall for holiday crafts, games, hot chocolate around the campfire, and to drop off letters to Santa in the North Pole Mailbox.

Lake Corpus Christi State Park
Get in the holiday spirit with the second annual Holiday Light Drive Thru, 6-9 pm December 10. Visitors can enter the park for a drive through the lighted areas of Javelina and Opossum Bend camping loops, plus the Old Pavilion.

West Texas and the Panhandle-area parks

Franklin Mountains State Park
On December 3, make ornaments and holiday cards with recycled materials as part of the Art in the Parks series. During Cookies and Cocoa, you can decorate and take home your own Christmas treat while sipping on a cup of hot chocolate 2-4 pm December 23. Come back on Christmas Eve for a guided, two-mile Santa Hike at 11 am.

Hueco Tanks State Park & Historic Site
Bring your family out for Home for the Holidays guided family hike on December 10 and moderate hike on December 17.

San Angelo State Park
Enjoy a drive-thru tour of lights and optional pictures with Santa and Smokey Bear during Holly-Days in the Park, 6-8 pm December 10.