Dec 15, 2023 - Things to Do

San Antonio's River Walk holiday lights, by the numbers

Trees are lit-up with holiday lights over a barge on the San Antonio River Walk.

A view of the lights from the water. Photo: Madalyn Mendoza/Axios

Whether it's on postcards, in travel commercials, in that "Selena" scene or etched deep in the hearts of visitors, the River Walk's annual holiday lights are a classic Texas memory.

Context: From November to January, thousands of lights are draped from trees lining the river creating a kaleidoscope of colors on the water. It's a tradition that dates back to the mid-1970s.

  • Visitors can enjoy the lights on foot, on a barge tour or tableside at one of the many River Walk restaurants.

By the numbers: We chatted with tourism and River Walk experts to round up some interesting stats to impress your friends and family with the next time you're downtown.

  • There are about 100,000 lights draped from 200 trees.
  • One person, Raul Reyes, makes sure the lights are in working order before installation.
  • Last holiday season, out of the 1.3 million visitors to San Antonio between Nov. 25 and Jan. 8, 921,500 had the opportunity to witness the downtown lights.
  • Go Rio, the company that operates the barge tours, sold 90,898 tickets in November 2022. That number shot up to 150,403 last December.

Yes, but: The ticket sales do not include third-party vendors or special holiday tours, so the totals could be higher.

What they're saying: "The holidays in San Antonio are unlike any other city. Year after year, locals and visitors are immersed in the holiday spirit when they take a stroll on the River Walk or river cruise under the holiday lights," Visit San Antonio CEO Marc Anderson tells Axios.

What's next: The lights will shine bright until Jan. 7.

  • Be sure to have your ID ready to take advantage of the $12.50 resident admission.
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