Mayor Sylvester Turner’s message for this holiday season is simple: he wants Houston residents to be happy.
In that spirit of giving good tidings and cheer, the mayor announced his plans for this year’s city holiday lighting event, “2020 Reliant Lights Mayor’s Holiday Spectacular – 101 Years of Holiday Cheer.”
The city will partner with ABC affiliate KTRK to livestream the show on channel 13 from 6:30-8 p.m. on Dec. 5 on ABC Digital Platforms. The show will be rebroadcast from 7-8 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 18, on ABC 13.
This year marks the 101st anniversary of the annual Christmas event. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the event has been reimagined as a virtual holiday celebration, much like the “Freedom Over Texas” celebration on July 4.
“This iconic and historic event is one that celebrates Houston for the holidays. Pandemic or not, we will produce an event that will exemplify the spirit of our community,” Turner said during a Nov. 17 press conference.
“I’d like to thank Susan Christian (director of the Mayor’s Office of Special Events) and her team for producing events like this that bring so much joy to our downtown,” Turner said. “Despite any obstacles, Houston is going to be merry, OK? We’re going to be happy, y’all. We’re going to be bright, merry and spectacular this holiday season.”
The mayor also encouraged the public to stay safe this holiday season while spending time with their loved ones.
“This is my favorite time of the year, even with the pandemic. While the holidays might be a bit different this season, there is always a reason to celebrate and be thankful. That does not change at all,” Turner said.
Christian said being able to reimagine this year’s holiday festivities highlights the importance of live events in Houston.
“People need an outlet. We need to be able to spread hope, joy and entertainment. What I want the people of Houston to know is that we don’t stop because of a pandemic; we reimagine and work to create magic for the benefit of the entire public,” she said.
Christian said the success of the Freedom Over Texas livestreamed production figured prominently in the decision to produce the Mayor’s Holiday Spectacular in the same manner.
“When it was obvious that this pandemic was going to remain relentless, we immediately talked with the mayor and said we’d do the same thing as we did with Freedom Over Texas, and he agreed,” she said.
Headlining this year’s entertainment lineup will be Grammy Award-winning pianist and record producer Robert Glasper, a Houston native and graduate of the High School for Performing and Visual Arts; R&B and Jazz Recording Artist Ledisi; and “American Idol” performer Laci Kaye Booth, a native of Livingston.
Christian said Houston’s diversity makes its music scene powerful. Having a performer of Glasper’s caliber to perform drives that point home.
“Houston is an incubator for the visual and performing arts,” she said. “Robert was successful here and is really hitting his stride, and we are very proud of that. We are happy to bring him back home. It’s always great to honor one of our own, and it makes this event more special.”
Christian said additional featured artists will include local and regional artists who will join the show from their stage of choice for their virtual appearances.
“We don’t want to be that community who forgets the great talent that comes from here. We’re very lucky to have such a pool of talent right here in Houston,” she said.
The event will be produced in a private studio with no live audience. The team will follow strict health and safety plans, she said.
This year’s production will showcase some of Houston’s favorite “Holiday Lights” destinations featuring: Highland Village, Downtown Mainstreet, Market Square/Mistletoe, Discovery Green Ice Rink, Alley Theater's "Deck the Trees" at the GRB, the City Hall lights and Official Holiday Tree, a 54-foot-tall White Fir from Grants Pass, Oregon.
The title sponsor for this year’s event is Reliant. Other sponsors include Highland Village, Cigna; Downtown District, and Raising Cane’s. The Beneficiary is Houston Civic Events Inc.
More on the Mayor’s Holiday Spectacular here.
Visit the Mayor’s Office of Special Events here.