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The Holiday Season in San Antonio: Lighting Up the River Walk

Program No. 22273RJ
Celebrate the holidays in San Antonio, where you’ll enjoy the festively lit Historic District, view the lights of the River Walk and revel in lectures and excursions to iconic sites.

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DATES & starting prices
Nov 27 - Dec 2, 2023
Starting at
Dec 4 - Dec 9, 2023
Starting at
Dec 11 - Dec 16, 2023
Starting at
Dec 18 - Dec 23, 2023
Starting at
DATES & starting prices
Nov 27 - Dec 2, 2023
Starting at
Dec 4 - Dec 9, 2023
Starting at
Dec 11 - Dec 16, 2023
Starting at
Dec 18 - Dec 23, 2023
Starting at

At a Glance

View the River Walk ablaze with millions of lights while journeying along the river. Through expert-led visits to San Antonio’s iconic historical sites such as the Alamo and The King William District and explorations of the vibrant and lively El Mercado and La Villita areas, you will welcome a greater perspective and understanding of this fascinating city in its most beautiful time of the year.
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
For people who enjoy walking as much as two miles a day, to explore historic neighborhoods or trails. Standing in a museum for up to 2-3 hours. Ability to go up and down stairs each day.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Enjoy historic city sights and a historic neighborhood decorated for the holidays.
  • Experience the San Fernando Cathedral, built in 1731 as a center for city life.
  • Learn about the life of LBJ on a day-long field trip to the Texas Hill Country, admiring the sparkling holiday lights in small Texas towns along the way.

General Notes

Enjoy lights and luminarias along the river walk throughout the holiday season. On December dates, there will also be carolers on the river barges.
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
Allen Lee Hamilton
Allen Lee Hamilton is a professor of Texas and American history at St. Philip’s College in San Antonio. The author of four books and 30+ articles in historical and popular journals, he has won three NISOD Awards from the University of Texas for Teaching Excellence. He completed his undergraduate and graduate work at the University of Texas at Arlington, and his doctoral work at the University of Oklahoma. Allen is a fourth generation Texan whose family has been in this great state since 1866.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Mary Brennan
Mary Brennan View biography
Mary Brennan is dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Texas State University. She has exhaustively researched conservative politics in America and has penned a number of books related to the subject, including "Wives, Mothers, and the Red Menace" that evolved from her curiosity about Joe McCarthy’s wife, and "Pat Nixon: Embattled First Lady." Mary has appeared on numerous radio and TV shows, including CNN’s "The Sixties" and CSPAN's "First Ladies: Influence and Image."
Profile Image of Allen Hamilton
Allen Lee Hamilton View biography
Allen Lee Hamilton is a professor of Texas and American history at St. Philip’s College in San Antonio. The author of four books and 30+ articles in historical and popular journals, he has won three NISOD Awards from the University of Texas for Teaching Excellence. He completed his undergraduate and graduate work at the University of Texas at Arlington, and his doctoral work at the University of Oklahoma. Allen is a fourth generation Texan whose family has been in this great state since 1866.
Profile Image of Linda Murray
Linda Jo Murray View biography
Linda Murray grew up in San Antonio, camping in the Hill Country and fishing at the Coast. A lover of history, the outdoors, and storytelling, she has led groups as a Certified Professional Tour Guide, a Master Naturalist, and as a docent at the San Antonio Botanical Gardens and Villa Finale, the San Antonio River Authority, and the San Antonio Office of Historic Preservation. She is trained as a Master Gardener and loves to garden, read, and travel.
Profile Image of Bill Perryman
Bill Perryman View biography
A fifth generation Texan and an award-winning teacher, Bill Perryman is known throughout Texas for his historical portrayals of heroic figures in Texas and American history and for his teacher trainings, seminars and educational explorations of historic San Antonio. He is the founder of History In Person Theater which is an official arts program for the Texas Commission on the Arts. Bill’s passion for history captivates audiences!
Profile Image of Mary Jurewicz
Mary Jurewicz View biography
Mary F. Jurewicz was born in Boston, Massachusetts. She has a bachelor of arts degree in economics from Emmanuel College and worked for John Hancock Life Insurance Company Investments. After marriage, Mary moved to Connecticut and received a master’s in educational psychology from the University of Connecticut. She taught Special Education for a number of years. Mary arrived in the great state of Texas — the longest stay of any location, so far! — and served three years as a volunteer in the San Antonio Historical Parks.
Profile Image of Jane Martin
Jane Martin View biography
Jane Martin grew up in San Antonio and holds a bachelor’s in art history and a master’s in architecture. Being a Certified Professional Guide is the culmination of twenty years teaching History of Architecture at San Antonio College and over thirty years as a volunteer docent at the McNay Art Museum. She is an associate member of the American Institute of Architects. Jane’s lifelong passion for architectural history has led her to become a seasoned explorer, traveling extensively throughout the world, including studies in Italy.
Profile Image of Ken Erfurth
Ken Erfurth View biography
Ken Erfurth is a life-long resident of San Antonio whose interest in the region’s history, culture, and architecture began at an early age. He holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Houston and is a registered architect. He has been conducting educational adventures in San Antonio for various groups for over 20 years. In recent years, Ken has used photography to document the unique visual aspects of his native city and surrounding area. His images have been exhibited and published in multiple forums.
Profile Image of Ginger Burkholder
Ginger Burkholder View biography
Ginger Burkholder's roots in Texas are deep, extending generations before 1836 to qualify her as a “Daughter of the Republic of Texas.” She is the eldest of ten, mother of three and “Nani” to eight grandchildren. She has a B.A. in biology and environmental studies from St. Edward’s University. She retired after 20 years with USAA as a financial services professional. Ginger loves sharing the rich culture and history of San Antonio and South Texas.
Profile Image of Janie Cadena
Janie Cadena View biography
Janie Cadena, a Texas native, is a descendant of early German settlers. She was bitten by the travel bug at an early age and has lived and explored countries around the world. She has worked as a travel agent for 30 years and is a Certified Travel Counselor. Because of her love of history, Janie appreciates the opportunity she has had to see many of the world's historic places. She even lives in a historic house built by her ancestors in the 1860s and 1890s.
Profile Image of Bruce Martin
Bruce Martin View biography
Bruce Martin is a native Texan who has lived in San Antonio for more than 30 years. A master naturalist, he leads informative and entertaining explorations throughout San Antonio’s downtown, historic districts, and natural areas as well as the nearby Texas Hill Country. A keen observer of the built environment, he shares his appreciation for San Antonio’s architectural details and public artwork. Bruce tries not to take himself too seriously. He and his wife Barbara live in a 1937 white stucco house.
Profile Image of Mary Muenster
Mary Muenster View biography
Mary Muenster is a native Texan who has lived in San Antonio since 1992. After working for Pan American World Airways as an International Flight Attendant, she moved to San Antonio to teach at one of the city’s top public high schools where she also served as the Social Studies Department Chair. Mary's passion for geography — physical and cultural — expanded beyond classroom walls and is what attracted her to settle down in the Alamo City. She has visited more than 50 countries on six continents.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Crown Jewel of Texas, the Story of the San Antonio River
by Lewis Fisher
Texas, My Texas: Musings of the Rambling Boy
by Lonn Taylor
In a collection of essays about Texas gathered from his West Texas newspaper column, Lonn Taylor traverses the very best of Texas geography, Texas history, and Texas personalities. In a state so famous for its pride, Taylor manages to write a very honest, witty, and wise book about Texas past and Texas present.
From a Limestone Ledge: Some Essays and Other Ruminations about Country Life in Texas
by John Graves
Some of the most sensible, genial prose west of the Mississippi. A kind of sequel to Hard Scrabble-recounting more about his twenty years of quiet combat with the forces of nature.
Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream: The Most Revealing Portrait of a President and Presidential Power Ever Written
by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Widely praised and enormously popular, Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream is a work of biography like few others. With uncanny insight and a richly engrossing style, the author renders LBJ in all his vibrant, conflicted humanity.
The Alamo Remembered, Tejano Accounts & Perspectives
by Timothy M. Matovina
Gone to Texas, a History of the Lone Star State
by Randolph Campbell
Gone to Texas engagingly tells the story of the Lone Star State, from the arrival of humans in the Panhandle more than 10,000 years ago to the opening of the twenty-first century. Focusing on the state's successive waves of immigrants, the book offers an inclusive view of the vast array of Texans who, often in conflict with each other and always in a struggle with the land, created a history and an idea of Texas.
Big, Wonderful Thing: A History of Texas
by Harrigan, Stephen
Written by a great story teller, this readable, monumental work is exactly what the title implies: a comprehensive history of Texas complete with wonderful historic photographs and a focus on the stories of individual people. Not for the fainthearted, the time invested in reading this is well-spent. Actually, the book is so readable that devouring it is a pleasure. It has been described as “a must read for Texas aficionados.”
As Texas Goes: How the Lone Star State Hijacked the American Agenda
by Gail Collins
Gail Collins, the best-selling author and columnist for the New York Times, visited Texas and discovered that in Texas, where Bush, Cheney, Rove, & Perry had created a conservative political agenda that is now sweeping the country and defining our national identity. Through its vigorous support of banking deregulation, lax environmental standards, and draconian tax cuts, through its fierce championing of states rights, gun ownership, and, of course, sexual abstinence, Texas, with Governor Rick Perry’s presidential ambitions, has become the bellwether of a far-reaching national movement that continues to have profound social and economic consequences for us all. Like it or not, as Texas goes, so goes the nation.
Gates of the Alamo (historically accurate novel)
by Stephen Harrigan
The Gates of the Alamo enfolds us in history and, through its remarkable and passionate storytelling, allows us to participate at last in an American legend. Filled with dramatic scenes, and abounding in fictional and historical personalities-among them James Bowie, David Crockett, William Travis, and General Santa Anna--Harrigan describes the battle from both sides.
San Antonio Missions National Historical Park
by Louis Torres
San Antonio: Outpost of Empires
by Lewis F. Fisher
San Antonio: Outpost of Empires is a vivid, honest portrait in words and pictures of San Antonio's evolution over the course of nearly three centuries, from the days of the colonists of New Spain to the defense of the Alamo to the inrush of a "jumble of races" to the rapid growth of the modern era.
Forget the Alamo: The Rise and Fall of an American Myth
by Burrough, Brian, Chris Tomlinson and Jason Stanford
Reviled by some and applauded by others, this controversial popular history focuses on factors related to the history of the Alamo. A saucy, journalistic-style read, it provides a perspective on how Texans think, information about the current redesign of Alamo Plaza, and a great bibliography for further study.
Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History
by S. C. Gwynne
S. C. Gwynne’s Empire of the Summer Moon spans two astonishing stories. The first traces the rise and fall of the Comanches, the most powerful Indian tribe in American history. The second entails one of the most remarkable narratives ever to come out of the Old West: the epic saga of the pioneer woman Cynthia Ann Parker and her mixed-blood son Quanah, who became the last and greatest chief of the Comanches.
Friedrichsburg: Colony of the German Furstenverein
by Friedrich Armand Strubberg and James C. Kearney
19 Reviews
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4.93 Average
This reviewer did not give a star rating. Review left 2/12/2023

This was our first Road Scholar Program, and it did not disappoint. Our adult children, 31, 29, and 27 joined us. We all loved the trip. We had never been to Texas and did not know what to expect. We left with such a great appreciation for the roll Texan settlers played in the founding of our nation. Also, hats off to courageous Texans, both past and present, that shaped what we would consider modern America today. The discussions, historical sites, architecture, art, and food were all amazing. Everything was timed perfectly. Our host Linda Jo was knowledgeable, spunky, and full of Texas sparkle! We could have not wished for more.

This reviewer did not give a star rating. Review left 1/05/2023

Likes: both lectures about history of Texas and LBJ life were amazing and very informative. Road trip to LBJ ranch and town and Fredericksburg was very interesting. Linda our group leader was very good, she was always happy and made us laugh. Dislike: the hotel in San Antonio was not my favorite. Although the rooms were OK but the hotel was EXTREMELY crowded and noisy full of family with lots of kids. and they were playing VERY loud music 24 hours a day in all common areas. basically no peace or quite place you site and relax except to go to your room. Elevators were way slow sometimes up to 20 minutes to get one. We extended our stay 2 more nights on our own and a hotel cross street and found peace and quite and nice atmosphere.

(5) Review left 12/20/2022

If you think you know San Antonio, think again. There is a lot to see and learn there! So much more than just the Alamo!

This reviewer did not give a star rating. Review left 12/20/2022

Superior experience! Our Group Leader, Janie, was organized and efficient, and yet flexible enough to be really fun. The two speakers, Allen Hamilton and Mary Brennan, were OUTSTANDING, both of them. We learned so much about the history of Texas and about LBJ and his impact on Texas and the country at large. The Riverwalk is beautiful this time of year. The projected show on the cathedral was a gem. Our hotel was extremely nice with many amenities, and fantastic location for this tour. We all loved the BBQ dinner with live music and dancing. I would highly recommend this trip to anyone! My only suggestion would be that we did not have much time in the lovely town of Fredericksburg, only about 1 hour, and all the shops were closing by then. Our start time was later that day, and then we stopped with box lunches for lunch. Perhaps that schedule could be altered to allow for more time in Fredericksburg.

(5) Review left 12/18/2022

Very informative program. Totally changed my feelings toward LBJ. Instructors brought history alive. And the tour leader was the best we've had.

(5) Review left 12/17/2022

We could step from the Drury Hotel directly on to the River Walk, and were given enough free time to stroll it repeatedly. In fact, a big portion of San Antonio's major attractions are a short-to-moderate distance away, so bring broken-in shoes and prepare for some of the most enjoyable walks you've ever had.

(5) Review left 12/03/2022

We had a GREAT time on this Christmas Lights tour to San Antonio. So much history there and excellent presenters.

(5) Review left 1/06/2022

Great trip....check out the YouTube "movie" I created - 6 minutes: https://youtu.be/0w97Oxd5DQY Enjoy!

(5) Review left 12/27/2021

San Antonio ar Christmas is beautiful,; the weather is wonderful, and the people are friendly. Great time to visit the southwest.

(5) Review left 1/05/2020

We have done 20 trips with Road Scholar and this was definitely one of the best. The Christmas trip features the River Walk lit with tens of thousands of lights, really beautiful. The hotel was the nicest we have stayed at and the experiences were really interesting and varied. The two lecturers were outstanding and the group leader, Ginger, was a treasure. Everything went like clockwork. While we walked around in short sleeves in perfect 75 degree weather, many of the participants loved looking at their phone pictures of snow piling up at home and appreciating San Antonio even more! I highly recommend this one.

(5) Review left 12/28/2019

This San Antonio Christmas Lights tour is a great holiday adventure of festive lights, information, and fun. This was my best Road Scholar tour to date.

(5) Review left 12/27/2019

Like all my other road scholar trips it was wonderful. I would love to see more guides follow Ginger’s lead and create ‘a day at a glance’ guide. It reduced each day to a list of times with a couple of key words. Instead of carrying around pages of 8 x 11 paper on a roughly 3 x 8 sheet that can be folded into name tag you can check out day’s itinerary. Another suggestion would be for the guides to have a supply of passports for sale. The shipping is more than the cost of the passport. I would love to have list of six and counting trips in one place. Thank you for all the wonderful adventures! Elizabeth (Betty) Costello Bettycostello915@gmail.com

(5) Review left 12/27/2019

The San Antonio program is excellent. One learns about the historical aspects of the area with the Alamo, L. B. Johnson influence on America (other than Vietnam), the architecture, the food, the beauty and the general culture of the area. For instance, I did not realize how much the Germans influenced this area of Texas.

(4) Review left 12/23/2019

San Antonio is a great city- the Riverwalk and architecture were very enjoyable.

(5) Review left 12/10/2019

Always wanted to see the San Antonio Riverwalk at Christmas? Take this Program,you won't be disappointed!

(5) Review left 12/09/2019

San Antonio was delightful surprise! A beautiful and unique city. Programs on Texas History, Missions and LBJ all very intriguing. Recommend highly.

This reviewer did not give a star rating. Review left 12/08/2019

A fun way to start the holiday season.

(5) Review left 12/08/2019

Great trip & great time to visit San Antonio!

(5) Review left 12/07/2019

San Antonio at Christmas time is extra special. There is lots of diversity in a short period of time.

Important registration tip:
If you want to attend the live lecture, please do not wait until the last minute to enroll.
If you enroll after a lecture is complete, we’ll send you a recording of the event.