Family Holiday activities on a budget

Festive sights and sounds will once again fill the air at Moody Gardens in Galveston during the Festival of Lights on Thursdays - Saturdays to December 11. The festival will also be open December 12. Festival of Lights also will be open daily from December 16 to Jan. 1. Guests stroll a mile-long trail of more than a million lights and 100 sound-enhanced animated displays sparkling over the beautiful Galveston Bay.

Photos with Santa will be available nightly. The festival of lights at moody garden is open daily from 6 to 10pm. Admission is $5.95 per person; children aged three and under are free.

Also in Galveston, it's the Hotel Galvez's annual holiday lighting celebration this Friday from 6 to 8pm. The celebration is free and open to the public; it will feature a special visit by Santa Claus, holiday entertainment by the Galveston ballet, and bagpipers. The event will culminate with the lighting of the hotel's new 35-foot Christmas tree. Hotel Galvez is also collecting new, unwrapped toys for the marine Toys for Tots campaign during the event.

At the Kemah Boardwalk, this Saturday, check a performance of the Nutracker Ballet, a holiday tradition performed by the bay area Houston Ballet. The free presentation starts at 4pm and is an hour long with a intermission.

Save the date for some free activities in Sugar Land at the Town Square. First on Sunday from 1 until 5pm., take a free photo with Santa and Mrs. Claus. On December 1, from 7 to 8:30pm, it's the Hanukkah Menorah Lighting and Celebration. Then on December 2, it's the city of Sugar Land's Eighth Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony.

In Katy, the town has their

Tree Lighting and Holiday in the Park

on December 2 at 5pm at Katy Heritage Park. There will be photos with Santa, entertainment for the kids and holiday treats for free.

And finally don't forget to check out "Skating with the Stars." The free event at Discovery Green is on Monday at 6pm. The region's best figure skaters, coaches, precision teams and ice show performers bring their talent to the ice. Event performances are sanctioned by U.S. Figure Skating. It's $10 to skate.

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