Galaxy Lights at Space Center Houston was exactly what you would expect: space crossed with Christmas, and it was absolutely amazing.
Space Center Houston (SCH) is the visitor center for NASA’s Johnson Space Center, located in Clear Lake, Texas (south of Houston). This year was either the first or second year that SCH hosted a Christmas festival of lights (I’m pretty sure that this was the first year). The festival opened on November 16 and will be running until January 5, 2020, from 6 to 10pm. Tickets are $20 for adults, and children 3 and younger are free. Unfortunately, tickets for space center employees were not discounted (even though we normally get free admission to SCH). Oh, and parking costs $5.
When you arrive, there is a giant (fake) Christmas tree in front of the building. Once you get through security and go inside, SCH transformed from space… to Christmas in space. There are still your favorite SCH attractions, like the giant International Space Station, kid play center, simulations, space suits and Mars activities, but there are Christmas light attractions and loud Christmas music.
Every 15-30 minutes or so, there is a light show with a large light display on the ceiling.
There are also stations where you can create and name your own light display, which was really fun.
The main attraction for Galaxy Lights is, of course, the outdoor lights. Visitors take the tram from SCH across the street to Rocket Park, which is located just inside the space center. It’s a quick 5 minute tram ride that takes you through several Christmas light tunnels while Christmas music plays.
Rocket Park hosts the gigantic Saturn V rocket inside the hangar, which were used during the Apollo launches to the Moon. There are only three rockets left in the entire world, and they are all unused extra rockets. When you drive to the hangar, you can see a giant Saturn V along the outside, which was really cool and probably my favorite light installation.
Inside the hangar, there was a short sequence of animations projected onto the side of the rocket that showed a boy and his robot dog in space – it was really cute!
Inside is also Apollo memorabilia and posters. For the lights festival, SCH put a black light, galaxy projections and other miscellaneous space-y lights.
Outside of the hangar is where the majority of the large light installations reside. There are rockets that always live at Rocket Park, like the modules and rockets from Gemini and Apollo missions, but there are is also a giant archway of lights and astronauts made of lights. There is a solar system, International Space Station, SLS rocket launch, Apollo astronaut and buggy, first man on the moon and other miscellaneous astronauts – all made of lights. It’s very beautiful.
I’d gotten a sneak peek of the lights because I drive by them every day when I arrive and leave my work at the space center, but it was still super fun to see them in their full glory at night.
Once you take the tram back across the street to SCH, they drop you off outside right by the plane and space shuttle mock-ups (unfortunately, you can’t go inside during this event). There are two spots where you can get food and water, one is a food truck and the other is a little pop-up shop. I think that there was also a food truck at Rocket Park. I got funnel cake fries for around $4.25-5 from the food truck (I can’t remember the exact price, sorry!) because I absolutely love funnel cake and they sounded too good to pass up. They were seriously so delicious and I might actually prefer the fries over the cake because it’s so much less messy. My friend that I went with got some s’mores and roasted them on fire pits that SCH placed around the courtyard.
There are a few more outdoor light installations, like a crescent moon that you can sit on and a written-out “Earth” where you create the “T” with your body.
When you go back inside, it takes you through the SkyLab mock-up and photo section, and then you’re back in the main SCH arena. There are two gift shops with various NASA memorabilia, including really cute Christmas NASA shirts that I loved. However, most of the stuff there is really expensive and I already have too much NASA gear, so I didn’t end up buying anything.
Overall, I think that Galaxy Lights at Space Center Houston was really fun. It would’ve been really fun to take my family, especially my little brother, but it was a little expensive. For just me it was fine, but paying for a full family would be expensive. If you have the extra cash and are interested in going, then I definitely recommend it!
BUT, if you just want to go see the lights at Rocket Park, you can actually visit for free. If you go to the main gate of the space center, you’ll pull into the guard station and if you tell them that you just want to go to Rocket Park, they usually let people park in the public parking lot right next to it and visit.
Thank you for reading! Do you like Christmas lights? Have you been Galaxy Lights? Let me know in the comments below and like this post if you want more like it!