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!
Courtesy of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.
Holiday Lights Displays
Peppermint Parkway is a drive-thru holiday experience, held November 26-December 26, 2021 at Circuit of The Americas, complete with millions of twinkling lights synchronized to holiday songs, dancing elves and an appearance by Santa. With more than two million lights and 40 displays, it’s hard not to be awed by the glorious spectacle of the Austin Trail of Lights at Zilker Park, a dazzling drive-thru event held November 27-December 31, 2021. At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, stroll through an outdoor botanical oasis decked out in sparkling lights during Luminations, held from December 2, 2021 through January 30, 2022 (reservations strongly recommended). Join in the annual Downtown Holiday Stroll on December 4, 2021, which includes the lighting of the towering 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 nightly from November through early January (reservations required).
The Nutcracker, Ballet Austin. Credit to Tony Spielberg.
The whole family will be mesmerized by the magic of “The Nutcracker,” presented by Ballet Austin with live accompaniment from the Austin Symphony Orchestra, December 4-23, 2021 at The Long Center. ZACH Theater is bringing back its uplifting production of “A Christmas Carol,” featuring all-new music, from November 17, 2021 through January 2, 2022.
Downtown Holiday Stroll. Credit Bob Daemmrich.
Local Christmas Tree Farms
Breathe in the fresh air and the crisp scent of pine as you stroll the acres of Elgin Christmas Tree Farm or nearby Evergreen Farms. 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 both offer pre-cut trees that are ready to go. Christmas tree sales begin the day after Thanksgiving at both farms.
Courtesy of the Paramount Theatre.
Holiday Movie Screenings
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 in December, including “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “White Christmas,” so be sure to check the schedule for upcoming flicks.
Courtesy of Blue Genie Art Bazaar.
Local Shopping Events & Bazaars
During the Blue Genie Art Bazaar, more than 200 artists and makers showcase their handmade wares in person and online from November 19-December 24, 2021. From November 17-21, 2021, shop for holiday gifts while helping a good cause during the A Christmas Affair fundraiser for The Junior League of Austin. Head to the charming town of Fredericksburg to shop nutcrackers, handmade ornaments and more while enjoying German specialties. Or get your German baked goods and handmade gifts at the annual German-Texan Christmas Market, typically held in early December. Peruse fine art and handmade gifts by local artisans at the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar, held December 15-24, 2021 at the Palmer Events Center.
Courtesy of The Driskill.
Gather together and watch as the Grand Lobby tree at The Driskill hotel is lit on December 1, 2021. The historic Driskill hosts holiday events throughout the season, including Victorian holiday teas. Hotel Van Zandt celebrates the season with a festive holiday pop-up bar at Geraldine's. The South Pole-themed bar features seasonal cocktails, private rooftop igloos, and all your favorite holiday tunes. Spend the holiday season in the Hill Country at Omni Barton Creek Resort, with a full schedule of festivities that includes holiday dining and seasonal cocktails, stories with Cowboy Santa and more. Plus, don't miss Snowdown, a magical production of lights and a flurry of snowflakes on Lady Bird Lawn to celebrate the wonder of the season.
Courtesy of Lala's Little Nugget.
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 19, 2021 through late December, 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. 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 converted bungalow, and the kitschy and colorful Ranch 616 (re-opening in time for the holidays).
New Year's Eve Events
Say howdy to 2022 as you celebrate Austin’s New Year, an all-out party held at Auditorium Shores on December 31, 2021. 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.