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Unique Holiday Hot Spots

By Reyna Gobel


Corporate holiday parties don’t have to be in the office boardroom or a hotel ballroom. We chose five of the most unique and extravagant spaces in Texas-and they’re perfect for show-stopping holiday shindigs. Better still, they won’t break your client’s bank account.


Jack Guenther Pavilion at the Briscoe Western Art Museum

A party in Jack Guenther Pavilion at the Briscoe Western Art Museum is an event in which even the parking is special. Located on San Antonio’s River Walk, valet parking is right in front of the scenic river.

“The holiday season is a truly special time for guests as the River Walk is lit by thousands of colorful lights, making it the perfect backdrop for any event at Jack Guenther Pavilion,” says Steven M. Karr, Ph.D., Briscoe Western Art Museum’s executive director. For the perfect view of the seasonal lights along the River Walk, party barges can be arranged for pre-party river tours.

Once inside, the multifloor space is just as unique. It’s not uncommon for the first floor to be used for the main event while the third floor is used for a cocktail reception with a DJ. Retractable screens can separate party areas, making event space completely customizable.

Not sure whether you want an outdoor or indoor event? No problem. Set up in the McNutt Courtyard and Sculpture Garden and move indoors if the weather changes.

Sound is customizable, too. Music can be piped in or a band can play on the pergola. The sculpture garden features canopies of oak trees and indigenous plants. For an extra bit of culture, the pavilion will offer direct access to the brand-new Briscoe Western Art Museum. Event attendees get to walk around the museum at their leisure well beyond traditional museum hours. The museum’s grand opening is Oct. 26-27.

The Belmont
Austin: a place so hip, Facebook held its carnivalesque company party at Sixth Street’s most famous address-The Belmont.

A concert hall, The Belmont plays to its strengths- namely, the sound and lighting abilities of the venue.

Even the venue’s standing décor has a unique feel, says Emily Veltman, The Belmont event producer. The theme is black, white, grey and yellow. White leather booths and bar stools, black square tables, and black leather lounge furniture are included. There’s room for up to 950 people, although the venue doesn’t have to be rented as a whole.

Round tables can be rented for sit-down dinners, Veltman says. The venue lends itself to Great Gatsby or Mad Men themes. For Great Gatsby parties, guests are served a glass of Champagne upon entry, but should never miss the signature Jezebel cocktail: small-batched organic gin, elderflower liqueur, lime juice and a splash of ginger ale. Partygoers can also relax with one of 18 local varieties of beer.

Parties aren’t limited to the indoors; there’s also a fully equipped outdoor stage. The outdoor area features a terrace and a ground-level outdoor space with patio heaters, patio tables, tallboys with umbrellas and wicker lounge furniture. The upper deck overlooks Sixth Street with a bar, misters, heaters and its own speaker system. And don’t forget the Green Room- a VIP area with its own sound system- the perfect area for informal holiday gatherings.

The Corinthian
Want a grand venue that also happens to be a blank canvas? Consider The Corinthian in Houston’s downtown historic district. It’s a 1905 bank building with Greek columns and a grand staircase that even a royal family would appreciate.

Plus, The Corinthian has an expansive space of 23,000 square feet, making it possible to have an elegant sit-down dinner for 1,000 guests (nearly 2,000 for a reception).

Decorations can be brought in, but making use of the staircase as a showpiece is a must. Holiday garlands look impressive draped around columns and stair railings. The Corinthian also has a selection of preferred decorators and florists to choose from. Wine and liquor is strictly a service of the facility, but features a premium assortment.

Want food befitting a queen? Jackson and Company-founded by Jackson Hicks, proprietor of The Corinthian-caters many of the venue’s events. Expect real Texas fare with the most elegant of presentations, including jalapeño quail breasts and dishes featuring gulf shrimp. Dessert is customizable to the event’s theme, ensuring guests will not forget dining at this holiday party.

While a variety of parking lots are available nearby, a grand party should include arranged valet parking through The Corinthian. Coat check is also available. The one catch? This is not a place for anything other than large, extravagant parties; the venue has to be rented as a whole building, but smaller parties can still be accommodated.

Delaney Vineyards & Winery
Conveniently situated within a half-hour drive of both Dallas and Fort Worth, the Delaney Vineyards and Winery’s 5,200-square-foot barrel room is a popular party space. The walls are covered in wine barrels and the covered patio overlooks 9 acres of vineyards. Party planners can order wine made on-site at a reasonable rate.

Decorating is easy. While the sales team touts the venue as a blank canvas, it’s one that already includes a set of paintbrushes. Tables and chairs are included, with space for up to 300 for a seated meal or 400 for a cocktail reception, and linens are available in any color. The barrel room features uplighting that shines behind the barrels. You could choose red and white linens with strings of holiday lights accenting the barrels.

Menu choices from Delaney’s four preferred caterers vary, but holiday meals range from traditional Texas barbecue and mac ‘n’ cheese to mashed potato martini glasses or Spanish paella.

Special guests can make an entrance using an expansive staircase from the balcony and have access to the tank room where the wine is made.

Before a guest leaves, he or she can have a complete wine education experience- from vineyard tours to tasting wines made right in the tank room they are viewing.

(Photo Credit: Delaney Vineyards) 

Asia Society
A true art connoisseur would feel faint in the Asia Society Texas Center. It was designed by Yoshio Taniguchi, who is the same designer responsible for the ambitious renovation and expansion in New York’s Museum of Modern Art, says Lindsey Brown, director of marketing and public relations for Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau. Guests can explore the galleries while parties can take place on several levels of the event space.

Every design feature of the building is a work of art. The 3,000-square-foot education center has Appalachian oak floors and a glass wall to let natural lighting soak the space. Glass doors give entry to the Chao Foundation Green Garden filled with Asian jasmine; wicker tables among the flora make it the perfect place for an outdoor reception. For a view of the garden, guests can hover on the 1,600-plus square feet of terrace. The 273-seat theater has imported, Italian-designed fabric seats, and the two-story grand hall is nearly 3,000 square feet.

The building doesn’t need much decorating to set the tone for a relaxing evening; there’s a Zen quality to it, from the garden to the grand hall, says Chester Jacinto, Asia Society Texas Center senior director of communications and audience engagement.


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