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 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. Take it all in as you walk or jog through the 2.1-mile Fun Run. At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, stroll through a botanical oasis decked out in sparkling holiday lights during Luminations, where holiday music adds to the festivities. Join in the annual Holiday Sing-Along and Downtown Stroll, culminating in the lighting of the tree in front of the Texas State Capitol. At Mozart’s Coffee Roasters, sip on a steaming cup of hot chocolate while watching the dazzling lights display choreographed to lively music. Be wowed by Winter Wonderland at The Circuit, held at Circuit of The Americas, offering holiday fun that includes carnival rides, music stages, the Tunnel of Lights, an ice skating rink, Santa’s Village, selfies with St. Nick and much more.
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 ZACH Theatre, “The Nutcracker” with Ballet Austin at the Long Center, “Handel’s ‘Messiah’” performed by the Austin Symphony Orchestra and Chorus Austin at Hyde Park Baptist Church, and “Conspirare Christmas” at the Long Center.
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.
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 “White Christmas” and “Elf,” 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.
Courtesy of Armadillo Christmas Bazaar.
Check off your holiday gift list at special shopping events and bazaars.
From November 14–18, 2018, shop for holiday gifts while helping a good cause during 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 23–December 24, 2018. In Fredericksburg, shop nutcrackers, handmade ornaments and more while enjoying German specialties on December 1, 2018 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 8–9, 2018. Peruse fine art and handmade gifts by local artisans while indulging in festive drinks and listening to live music at the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar from December 13–24, 2018.
Join in the festivities at a classic Austin hotel.
Gather at The Driskill hotel and watch as the grand lobby tree is lit on November 27, 2018, accompanied by holiday music and caroling. The historic Driskill hosts holiday events throughout the season, including cookies with Santa and music in the evenings. Marvel at the mouthwatering Gingerbread Village in the lobby of the Four Seasons Hotel Austin. During Gingerbread Village Open Houses the public is welcome to come in and meet the pastry chefs who created the yummy gingerbread houses, take a picture with Santa, and enjoy complimentary hot apple cider and holiday cookies. 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.
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. Holiday pop-up bar Miracle is returning 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 2019 as you celebrate Austin’s New Year 2019, an all-out party at Auditorium Shores in Downtown. 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.