Moody Gardens hosts annual holiday display now through Jan. 8

Festival of Lights decorated trees

No need to book a trip to the North Pole to embrace Christmas festivities when you can make the short trip to Moody Gardens on Galveston Island to experience the 15th annual Festival of Lights and Ice Sculptures: A Caribbean Christmas now through Jan. 8, including Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

One of the largest holiday celebrations in the region, Festival of Lights has become a holiday tradition for families and groups alike. Enjoy more than 1 million lights within 100 sound-enhanced animated light displays and nightly live entertainment. You can also skate around on the area’s only outdoor ice skating rink. Tickets are $10.95.

The CAA Harbin Ruijing Carving Team of master ice carvers from Harbin, China, have created over 100 towering sculptures from 2 million pounds of ice, including beautiful coral, a wide range of marine life ranging from spinner dolphins and other fish, a giant hammerhead and Kemp’s ridley sea turtles. At Shiver’s Ice Bar, adults can enjoy holiday spirits, and there’s the Oil Rig Ice Slide and more with Christmas theming throughout.

“The caliber of artistic talent this ice carving team brings to Ice Land is absolutely amazing,” said John Zendt, Moody Gardens president and CEO. “As our sound and lighting teams, gift shop and food and beverage staff bring their expertise to the exhibit over this next week, it will have the nuances to showcase the ice sculptures in the best possible setting. We cannot wait to see the reaction from our guests.”

In its third year, Ice Land will have guests embark on a breathtaking underwater journey from the shores of Galveston Island through the Gulf of Mexico. As they explore the oceans depths, they will discover sunken treasure and see Christmas surprises along the way. An ice slide takes the form of a towering oil rig and gives an opportunity to venture through the beautiful Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary for encounters with spectacular schools of colorful tropical fish, eagle rays, turtles, dolphins, hammerhead sharks and more on the way to their Caribbean island destination. Ice Land admission is $26.95 for adults or $15.95 for children.

In addition to Ice Land, Moody Gardens will be home to other holiday attractions this season like the Artic Slide, Train Rides, a variety of holiday and traditional films at the MG 3D theater, and a new Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer Experience at the 4D Special FX Theater. The Rainforest, Aquarium and Discovery Pyramids will also be open. A holiday buffet will also be available nightly, and guests can enjoy the new Cirque Joyeux Noel Dinner & Show from Dec. 16-26 at the Moody Gardens Hotel.

This holiday season, members will have the opportunity to savor a bountiful breakfast buffet with Santa Claus and friends at the Garden Restaurant! Capture this wonderful experience by posing for a photo with Santa Claus and Moody Gardens’ own, Ollie the Otter. Reservations are required online at moodygardens.com.

Ice Land opens at 10 a.m. and Festival of Lights at 6 p.m. until 11 p.m.

One of the better deals is purchasing the Evening Pass, which is $44.95 for an adult and $39.95 for children featuring access to Ice Land, Festival of Lights, Aquarium Pyramid, Rainforest Pyramid, Discovery Museum, Colonel Paddlewheel Boat, MG 3D Theater, 4D Special FX Theater, SpongeBob SubPants Adventure, Ropes Course and Zip Line. You can save $5 by purchasing your tickets online.

Special packages are available for groups of 20 or more as well as hotel packages. For more information, call (800) 582-4673 or view moodygardens.com. Moody Gardens is located at 1 Hope Blvd on Galveston Island.

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