McALLEN — Rio Grande Valley residents have until Jan. 2 to experience the South Pole Illuminated Festival here where they can walk through five lit tunnels at the McAllen Convention Center every night. 

This year’s South Pole Illuminated Festival, presented by Junior’s Supermarkets, is bigger and brighter than ever with millions of lights, giant illuminated lanterns and a 64-foot-tall Christmas tree, said Director of the McAllen Convention Center Facilities Yajaira Flores.

The light festival opens every day at 5:30 p.m. and closes at 9:30 p.m. on weekdays and 10:30 p.m. on weekends. Children may enter for free, but adult tickets start at $10. Tickets are available at or at McAllen Convention Center Box Office.

Unlike last year’s socially distant drive-thru festival, this year the trip to the South Pole will allow visitors to walk through the illuminated tunnels for an experience that will light up an evening.

Visitors walk into the entrance of the South Pole Illuminated Festival on Friday, Dec. 3, 2021, in McAllen. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])

In addition to the lights, the festival will also feature recreated snowfall, the Club Rudolf Laser Show, a musical water projection hologram show, Santa’s Castle, interactive photo ops throughout the convention center grounds and a Holiday Fireworks Spectacular on weekends via Sunset Live concerts. 

Guests can get a taste of the South Pole and enjoy their favorite treats at the Holiday Food Park and classic seasonal staples at the hot chocolate and s’mores station.

Visitors can also bring their children to enjoy the rides at the Holiday Carnival.

Attractions for children include classic photos with Santa, train rides, private South Pole Christmas parties and gingerbread house building activities.

For a chance to win free tickets to the South Pole, participants must decorate their home or office with Christmas cheer, and post a photo on social media with #southpoleoftexas. Ticket winners are selected daily.

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To see more of South Pole Illuminated Festival, check out Monitor photojournalist Joel Martinez’s full photo gallery below:

Photo Gallery: McAllen South Pole Illuminated Festival