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San Antonio's River Walk offers winter wonderland

By Trysta Eakin
Dec. 20, 2010 at 6:20 a.m.


Make a weekend of itIf your day trip turns into an overnighter, here are a few other activities you don't want to miss out on.

Windcrest Light-up - For a major dose of Christmas lawn decorations, Windcrest, is the place to be. Many residents of the small San Antonio suburb put on elaborate light displays and holiday decor to compete in various judging categories, including best handcrafted, creative lighting, religious, joyous, etc. Visitors are welcome to drive through the town's streets while the displays are up from Dec. 15 to Dec. 31.

San Antonio Foodie Tours - For a taste of what San Antonio has to offer, this tour line takes you on a palette-pleasing trip. The Flavors of San Antonio Foodie Tour illustrates San Antonio's rich culinary history by taking you to five or six locally-owned restaurants to sample the best of barbecue, chili, homemade root beer and more. The King William Culinary & Culture Walking Tour artfully combines architecture, craftsmanship and food in the King William historic district. Sampling food such as buckshot balls, Texas pecan pie and jalapeno tuna salad at the area restaurants and art galleries, the tour will also take you to historic homes built from the 1850s on.

Garcia Art Glass, Inc. - This glass-blowing center offers demonstrations, giving visitors the chance to see how owner and blower Gini Garcia makes these one-of-a-kind creations. Formed from a molten chunk of glass blown into particular shapes or molds, glass lighting structures, sculptures, tablescapes and wall art are produced in brilliant colors and forms.

Green Chile Cheese BallIngredients

4 large Anaheim chile peppers

1 1/2

2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. ground black pepper

2 cups finely chopped pecans

Directions

1. Preheat an outdoor grill for medium heat, and lightly oil the grate. Cook chiles on the preheated grill until the skin of the peppers has blackened and blistered, about 5 minutes. Be careful not to overcook the peppers, or the skin will not come off easily. Turn the peppers often to cook evenly. Place the blackened peppers into a bowl, and tightly seal with plastic wrap. Allow the peppers to steam as they cool, about 20 minutes. Once cool, remove the skins and seeds. Chop the peppers.

2. Combine the chopped peppers with the pepper jack, cream cheese, garlic, salt, and pepper. Form the the mixture into a ball and place on a plate covered with wax paper. Place the cheese ball in the freezer until very cold, about 15 minutes.

3. Spread the chopped pecans on a large cutting board or baking sheet. Roll the frozen cheese ball in the pecans. Use your hand to pack any areas that are not covered by pecans, making sure the entire outside of the cheese ball is covered with a nice layer of pecans.

Source: allrecipes.com

As close to the North Pole South Texas can get, come the day after Thanksgiving, San Antonio's River Walk will bring good tidings and cheer with about 122,000 glistening lights.

Shining on through Jan. 1, the twinkling canopy will make its debut Nov. 26 with the one-hour Ford Holiday River Parade and Lighting Ceremony. Elaborately-decorated floats will drift down the San Antonio River, featuring local celebrities, bands and costumed contributors of Christmas cheer. Averaging more than 150,000 spectators, the celebration is a holiday favorite.

The parade and lights are not the only thing to enjoy at the Paseo del Rio this season, however.

From Nov. 27 to Dec. 19, carolers can be heard throughout the popular attraction singing traditional Christmas songs on the cruise boats.

More than 185 school, church, corporate and civic groups, along with bell choirs, Latino ensembles and hearing-impaired performers gather each year to celebrate the holidays in song.

Carolers will perform from 6:30 to 9:45 p.m. each evening.

Throughout many of those days, the River Walk will also glow with more than 6,000 candles in the Ford Fiesta de las Luminarias. Lining the river banks and walkways, the luminaries in sand-filled bags symbolize the "lighting of the way" for the Holy Family, a centuries-old tradition.

The candles will be lit at dusk from Dec. 3-19 on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays only.

Those looking for an activity completely embodying the spirit of the season, plan a trip coinciding with Dec. 19.

On this special evening, the San Fernando Cathedral will celebrate Las Posadas, Spanish for "the inns," by re-enacting the night of Jesus' birth.

The processional starting at 6 p.m. in Milam Park, Mary and Joseph seek shelter from several landmarks, such as the Museo Alameda and the Spanish Governor's Palace, and are turned away each time.

Making their way through the downtown area to the cathedral, which eventually receives them, the couple is followed by candle-holding spectators.

A tradition in the cathedral since the 1730s, La Gran Posada promises to move its participants each year.

Whatever your holiday traditions might be, San Antonio has a multitude of activities designed to help you enjoy the season to the fullest.

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