Holidays evoke San Antonio's diversity

SAN ANTONIO -- To the untrained eye, the holiday season is celebrated in San Antonio much like it is in many other cities around the country: Carolers raise their voices in song, lights adorn homes and businesses, and people exchange holiday greetings with friends and strangers alike.

But San Antonio is one of the few cities in the country where locals and visitors are treated to traditional celebrations highlighting the city's multicultural heritage.

In this diverse city, it's not surprising for visitors to find themselves eating German sausage and Tex-Mex tamales from the same plate while listening to Handel's "Messiah" and mariachi bands at an outdoor celebration.

Celebrating the holidays along the San Antonio River Walk.In one of these traditions, the San Antonio River Walk will sparkle in the glow of more than 100,000 holiday lights from Nov. 26 through New Year's Day.

After the switch is thrown Nov. 26, festively decorated floats will wind along the river in one of the country's only nighttime river parades.

For visitors who can't get enough holiday lights, the University of the Incarnate Word sets its grounds ablaze Nov. 20 with three-quarters of a million Christmas lights strung across the campus.

Meanwhile, on Dec. 4, the Fiesta de las Luminarias begins illuminating the San Antonio River Walk with the glow of candlelight from 2,500 traditional Mexican Christmas lanterns.

San Antonio visitors also have a variety of seasonal music offerings from which to choose. The Austin Vocal Ensemble will join the San Antonio Symphony in a performance of Handel's "Messiah" Dec. 10 to 12 at the Empire Theater. Also, many of San Antonio's greatest horn players will gather at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center for the 17th annual Holiday Saxophones concert Dec. 11 and 12.

Meanwhile, the popular King William Holiday Home Tour of mansions built by the city's early German immigrants kicks off Dec. 4. Conducted in German will be "Die Deutsche Welhnachtsfeier," a traditional Christmas candle service held at the Lutheran High School on Dec. 12, featuring two German choral groups.

Sports fans can usher in the holidays Dec. 4 at the Big 12 football championship game and the annual Sylvania Alamo Bowl Dec. 28.

Bazar Sabado, a bustling Saturday market brimming with fine handcrafted folk art, textiles, pottery and jewelry from Latin America, will be held on the grounds of the San Antonio Museum of Art Dec. 11. Traditional foods and drinks also will be available.

New Year's Eve revelers can welcome 2000 at the Celebrate San Antonio bash in the heart of downtown.

For a packet of San Antonio visitor information, call the San Antonio Convention and Visitors Bureau at (800) 447-3372.

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