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San Antonio's River Walk offers winter wonderland

Trysta Eakin

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


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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