Get Lit – Three Woodlands-Area Locations to Enjoy Beautiful Unique Christmas Lights
THE WOODLANDS, TX – While the weather forecast for Christmas Eve and Day this year may be more suited for late spring than midwinter, The Woodlands area still makes up for it in providing the Christmas spirit with its beautiful neighborhood lighting displays.
While basically the entire Township will be aglow each night this week and weekend with countless houses in all the villages and surrounding areas twinkling, we here at Woodlands Online wish to point out three neighborhoods in particular that go the extra mile to bring some illumination to the season.
The City of Shenandoah began as a bedroom community of 500 homes and was incorporated into a city in 1974. The city limits encompass two square miles on the northern reaches of The Woodlands, a beautiful buffer zone between our township and Conroe. For nearly fifty years, Shenandoah has shared in the growth of South Montgomery County; developers and businesses have flocked to Shenandoah in recent years inspired by its ready access to I-45 as well as its continued “small city” aura.
Shenandoah is a city of traditions, and one of those traditions is its annual Luminaria Display. Luminarias (Spanish for “small bonfires”) were first recorded in the 16th century in Mexico, when people lit bonfires along the roads to guide people to Midnight Mass on the final night of Las Posadas. Though the tradition of luminarias comes from Mexico, it has been celebrated for many years in New Mexico before spreading to communities throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. The Pueblo Indians in New Mexico have long lit small fires outside their homes to light their way to church on Christmas Eve.
Shenandoah embraces the tradition with its own annual display of the ground-level lights. Led by a group of about two-dozen volunteers consisting of a mix of new residents, new young families, and residents who have been in Shenandoah for many years, approximately 300 luminaries - consisting of bags, candles, and sand for weight - are created and distributed to each house in the city limits early Christmas week. At 7:00 PM on Christmas Eve, the candles are lit for a stunning display of lights that trace each path through the neighborhood.
Each entrance to Shenandoah – whether off Research Forest or I-45 – is marked by a lit-up heralding angel that you can use as a guidepost to enter the city limits for the Luminaria Tour.
For more than twenty years, the small Panther Creek subdivision of Creek Pines – just off Glen Loch – has warmed the hearts of residents everywhere with its annual Cort Martin Memorial Display.
The history of this display mixes tragedy with hope. In 2000, Cort Martin, a senior at The Woodlands High School, lost his life in an auto-train accident on FM 1488. That Christmas, Cort’s father, Tim, took the opportunity of stringing holiday lights to help assuage his grief. The catharsis from the activity inspired his neighbors to join in. After helping Tim get his own lights up, they asked his help in decorating their own homes. What eventually emerged was a breathtaking, all-neighborhood display of light and love.
The display is so beautiful and popular that it consistently won the Best Neighborhood Decoration Award year after year until the Panther Creek Village Association changed the rules to give other subdivisions a fighting chance.
To reach this beautiful display, take either of the Panther Creek intersections south of Woodlands Parkway to Glen Loch (at McCullough Middle School) and turn south. Within a minute, you’ll see the entrance to the subdivision to your left – marked by each yard and street lined with green neon tube lighting (first started as a precaution for the neighborhood children). Wend your way through the dazzling display that – this year – includes a holographic Santa in a window as well as a hyper-local FM radio station.
Market Street / Woodlands Waterway
It’s one thing to pile the family into the car and inch your way through a neighborhood with your headlights on low; but it’s a fun family odyssey to pull over, hop out, and enjoy the view on foot. Enter the amazing lighting displays at Market Street and The Woodlands Waterway. Both locations are favorite destinations for residents and tourists alike.
The weather this year will make an outdoors tour even more pleasurable than usual. As you walk through the greens and businesses of Market Street that look right out of a “town square” set at a movie location, you can feel the communal – and community – spirit even as you marvel at the centerpiece of a 70-foot, brightly-lit Christmas tree in the middle of the Common.
Within walking distance from this is Woodlands Waterway, which is even more gaily lit than Market Street. The thousands of sparkling lights are reflected in the waterway as another massive tree dominates the common square. As with Market Street, there are shops and restaurants plenty to enjoy al fresco dining. And the experience is more than just visual; both locations also have a steady stream of holiday music being piped through several speakers to enhance the experience.
If you have another favorite neighborhood to check out the local holiday displays, sound off in our Comments section below!