Spending the holidays in Austin? Celebrate like a local and join in some of our city’s most beloved holiday traditions, from over-the-top holiday lights displays to shopping markets and live performances of Christmas classics. It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Trail of Lights entrance
Courtesy of Trail of Lights.

Marvel at glittering holiday lights displays.
With more than two million lights and 40 displays, it’s hard not to feel awestruck by the glorious spectacle of the Austin Trail of Lights at Zilker Park, on show from December 10-23, 2019. Take it all in as you walk, or jog through during the 2.1-mile Fun Run on December 7, 2019. At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, stroll through a botanical oasis decked out in sparkling lights during Luminations, held December 5-8 & 12-15, 2019, with holiday music and new aerial dance performances adding to the festivities. Join in the annual December Holiday Sing-Along and Downtown Stroll, which includes the lighting of the tree in front of the Texas State Capitol, live music, shopping and more. At Mozart’s Coffee Roasters, sip on a steaming cup of hot chocolate while watching the shop’s dazzling lights display choreographed to lively music.

Ballet Austins The Nutcracker on stage
The Nutcracker, Ballet Austin. Credit to Tony Spielberg.

Watch a classic holiday theater production.
Bring the whole family to be mesmerized by the magic of the theater when you take them to see a beloved classic or a new twist on an old standby, such as the Motown-infused “A Christmas Carol” at the ZACH Theatre from November 20-December 29, 2019, “The Nutcracker” with Ballet Austin on select dates in December at the Long Center, “Handel’s ‘Messiah” performed by the Austin Symphony Orchestra and Chorus Austin from December 3-4, 2019 at Hyde Park Baptist Church and Emmaus Catholic Church respectively, and “Conspirare Christmas” performed by the Grammy-winning choral group at the Long Center on December 9, 2019.

People gathering at the holiday tree lighting in front of the state capitol at night
Downtown Holiday Stroll. Credit Michael Knox.

Pick the perfect Christmas tree at a local tree farm.
Breathe in the fresh air and the crisp scent of pine as you stroll the acres of St. Nick’s Christmas Tree Farm in Fredericksburg or Evergreen Farms in Elgin. Kids will love exploring the countryside and getting to cut down their very own Texas-grown Christmas tree. Don’t want to cut your own tree? No worries—they have plenty of pre-cut trees that are ready to go.

Paramount theatre Exterior Sign with Logo
Courtesy of the Paramount Theatre.

Relive your favorite holiday movies on the silver screen.
This holiday season, kick back with a beer at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and have a laugh as you watch classic holiday comedies such as “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” or “A Christmas Story.” Paramount Theatre also offers an annual series of Christmas films, including “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Miracle on 34th Street,” so be sure to check the schedule for upcoming flicks. Celebrate the season with Hollywood holiday classics at the Austin Film Society's AFS Cinema this December.

Armadillo Christmas Bazaar
Courtesy of Armadillo Christmas Bazaar.

Check off your holiday gift list at special shopping events and bazaars.
From November 20-24, 2019, shop for holiday gifts while helping a good cause during the A Christmas Affair fundraiser for The Junior League of Austin. At Blue Genie Art Bazaar, more than 200 artists and makers showcase their handmade wares from November 22-December 24, 2019. In Fredericksburg, shop nutcrackers, handmade ornaments and more while enjoying German specialties on December 7, 2019 at the German-Texan Annual Christmas Market. Support local artist mentorships while scoring a unique piece of artwork when you attend the Cherrywood Art Fair, held December 7-8, 2019. Peruse fine art and handmade gifts by local artisans while indulging in festive drinks and listening to live music at the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar at the Palmer Events Center from December 13–24, 2019.

Join in the festivities at a classic Austin hotel.
Gather at The Driskill hotel and watch as the Grand Lobby tree is lit on December 3, 2019, accompanied by holiday music and caroling. The historic Driskill hosts holiday events throughout the season, including music in the evenings. Marvel at the mouthwatering Gingerbread Village in the lobby of the Four Seasons Hotel Austin, on display from November 25 through December 25, 2019. Hotel Van Zandt celebrates the season with a lineup of evening festivities throughout December, including movie and holiday trivia nights, pictures with Santa Paws, live music and more.

Bar decked out in Christmas decor at Lalas Little Nugget
Courtesy of Lala's Little Nugget.

Get in the holiday spirit at a decked-out bar.
It’s always Christmas at Lala’s Little Nugget, where the holiday decorations are up all year round and tunes are blasted from a vintage jukebox. From November 25 through December 31, 2019, holiday pop-up bar Miracle returns to transform The Eleanor (The Roosevelt Room’s next-door event space) into Miracle on 5th Street, complete with Christmas-themed cocktails and holiday decor. A tiki version of Miracle, called Sippin’ Santa, will set up shop at Nickel City and serve drinks like Kris Kringle Colada. Do some boot scootin’ surrounded by snowflakes, ornaments and thousands of glittering lights at Donn’s Depot. Spider House Cafe and Ballroom, located near the University of Texas campus, features a courtyard strung with hundreds of holiday lights. Other spots sure to get you in the holiday spirit include Hyde Park Bar & Grill (located in a lovely 1920s home), and the kitschy and colorful Ranch 616.

Celebrate the New Year with a fireworks extravaganza.
Say howdy to 2020 as you celebrate Austin’s New Year, an all-out party held on December 31, 2019 at Auditorium Shores. Get down to live music on multiple stages, chow down on tasty cuisine served up by local food trucks, and count down to a fireworks spectacle with the illuminated city skyline as the backdrop. It’s one good time you won’t want to miss.

Looking for even more festive things to do? Explore our events calendar.