November 17, 2015
POSTED BY: ADDIE GROSS NOVEMBER 17, 2015
Ok, grab your calendars, make some hot cocoa, and settle in, because this list is full of holiday cheer! We have compiled a roundup of Austin holiday happenings that’s the size of both Santa’s Naughty and Nice Lists! If you’re not on information overload after reading this one, check out our list of Holiday Markets and our roundup of Santa Sightings, for even more holiday fun!
2015 Holiday Happenings in Austin
Now through December 13 | Barton Creek Square (Upper Level Sears Wing) and Lakeline Mall (upstairs by JC Penney)
Area malls are helping to spread holiday cheer to children in need. Now through December 13, you can be an angel to a child in need who would otherwise be left out on Christmas morning. Select an “Angel” tag from the tree. After shopping for a gift indicated on the tag, shoppers are asked to bring the unwrapped present (and tag) back to the tree. The Salvation Army will then see to it that the child selected receives his or her gift by Christmas.
November 19 at 6 p.m. | Hill Country Galleria, 12700 Hill Country Blvd., Bee Cave
Welcome Santa with FREE live music and fireworks!
November 20 – January 3 | Mozart’s Coffee Roasters, 3825 Lake Austin Blvd., Austin
Starting 6 p.m. each evening, and replaying at the top of every hour until closing, enjoy dazzling lights set to music! The lights show will happen every night, excluding Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Don’t miss out on all the Holiday fun! FREE!
Walkway of Lights (Marble Falls)
November 20 – January 1 | Marble Falls
The Walkway will open on November 20th, 2015! If there is a chance of rain for the night you are planning to visit, please look for a weather update at noon on that day. Walkway cannot be turned on when the ground is wet. FREE!
Fridays & Saturdays, starting on November 20 from 5:30-9:30 p.m. | The Domain, 11410 Century Oaks Terrace, Austin
Enjoy FREE horse-drawn carriage rides each Friday and Saturday night between November 20 and Christmas. Pick-up locations near Santa’s Workshop and at the Macy’s north entrance by California Pizza Kitchen.
November 21 from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. | 10000 Research Blvd, Austin
You’re invited to Santa’s Arrival Party! Holiday music and festivities to delight children of all ages from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Santa arrives at noon. This event is FREE and open to the public.
November 21 at 2:30 p.m. | University Presbyterian Church, 2203 San Antonio St., Austin
Austin Children’s Choir’s first concert of the season. Mark your calendar for this wonderful performance! $10 suggested donation at the door.
Holiday Model Train Show (Round Rock)
November 25 – January 2, Wednesday-Sunday, 12-5 p.m. | 231 E Main St, Round Rock
The trains are coming back to ArtSpace! Last year, more than 7,000 people came to the gallery in downtown Round Rock to see the model train show and the exhibition of local artwork. The train display is designed and operated by the Tinplate Trackers. FREE, but donations will be accepted.
November 25 – December 27; times vary | Topfer Theatre, 202 South Lamar, Austin
The most popular show in ZACH’s history returns to rock in the holidays! ZACH’s fresh take on A Christmas Carol features three soulful ghosts making a joyful noise, while moving our hearts with the Cratchit family’s love and Ebenezer Scrooge’s miraculous transformation. Ages 5 and up. Tickets start at $25.
November 27 – December 24 from 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. (closes at 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve) | Marchesa Hall & Theatre, 6226 Middle Fiskville Rd., Austin
The Blue Genie Art Bazaar is a unique holiday art show, open again for its 15th year. The Bazaar features handmade artwork and gifts from more than 200 local and regional artists, with a portion of proceeds going to Make-A-Wish® Foundation. Parking and admission are FREE of charge. Full bar with snacks. Cash and cards accepted.
November 27 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. | Long Center, 701 W Riverside Dr, Austin
It’s back! Bring the kids for a FREE photo with Santa and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer overlooking the best view in Austin! Kick off the holidays and take a break from mall madness this Black Friday when Santa Claus comes to the Long Center. Sip hot chocolate, enjoy some of Austin’s most delicious food trucks, and kick off the holiday season with Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer: The Musical (tickets from $24). Also, check out Architects of Air: Pentalum (ticket info) on the lawn. RSVP on Facebook. This event is happening weather permitting, and pictures are on a first-come first-serve basis. Being in line is no guarantee of getting your picture taken.
Annual Lighting of the Square (Georgetown)
November 27 at 5:30 p.m. | Georgetown Square, 710 S. Main Street, Georgetown
Kick off the holiday season with Georgetown’s annual Lighting of the Square! Sing along with The Austin Carolers and warm your tummy with hot chocolate and cookies. Stay for pictures with Santa. Plan to get in some shopping, too, as merchants will stay open late. FREE!
Lost Pines Christmas River of Lights (Bastrop)
November 27 – January 1 | Fisherman’s Park, 1200 Willow St., Bastrop
Take in the River of Lights, 120 lighted displays in a variety of seasonal themes lining Bastrop’s scenic Colorado River Walk and enhanced by music. To access this one-half mile promenade, come down the stairs west of the intersection of Main and Pine Streets or select the fully accessible entrance at Fisherman’s Park on Farm Street. The Bastrop Chamber of Commerce and community organizations and individuals generously provide this traditional treat enjoyed by all ages and by visitors and locals alike. FREE!
Lights Spectacular (Johnson City)
November 27 and 28 | Johnson City
The twinkliest town in the hill country celebrates its 26th annual Lights Spectacular! Johnson City transforms itself from a slow-paced, presidential hometown nestled on the banks of the Pedernales River, into a bright beacon of light like a guiding star, welcoming visitors with good old fashioned Christmas cheer. The spectacular courthouse lighting ceremony and fireworks on Friday, November, 27th kicks off the festival with more than a million lights which fill three city blocks including the Courthouse, City Park and Pedernales Electric Co-op headquarters. The season-long celebration is family and pet-friendly, and lasts until New Year’s Day. FREE!
Breakfast with Santa (Cedar Creek)
November 28 from 9 a.m. – noon | Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort, 575 Hyatt Lost Pines Rd, Cedar Creek
Pancake breakfast with Santa, kid-friendly activities, and photos with Santa. $16-32; children 5 and under are FREE with a paying adult.
November 28 from 11 a.m. – noon | Congress Avenue, Austin
Giant inflatable balloons, festive holiday floats, famous children’s characters, spectacular marching bands, cool classic cars and Santa! Bring a toy to donate to Operation Blue Santa during the parade. Starts at the State Capitol at 11th and Congress, moving south on Congress all the way to Cesar Chavez, ending just north of the bridge. Click here for a parade map. FREE!
November 28 and 29 from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. | Fair Market, 1100 East 5th St., Austin
This event features a thoughtfully curated selection of the finest indie-craft goods, perfect for all of your holiday gift-giving needs. Attendees will enjoy a weekend of shopping handmade, participating in DIY workshops, and joining in on the festive holiday vibes. FREE!
North Pole Flyer (Cedar Park)
November 28-December 20 on Saturdays and Sundays (times vary) | 401 E. Whitestone Blvd., Ste C-100, Cedar Park
Children of all ages enjoy the North Pole Flyer, the railroad’s own Christmas story! This 2.5 hour excursion features Santa and Mrs. Claus, storytelling, hot cocoa and Christmas cookies. Each car is decorated for the season and the North Pole Flyer story is read live onboard! All cars are pulled by a 1960 Alco diesel locomotive. Parties of two may be seated at shared tables. This ride is 2.5 hours round trip, with no layover. Tickets start at $33.
The EmilyAnn Theatre & Gardens Trail of Lights (Wimberley)
November 28 – December 29 at 6 p.m. | Emily Ann Theatre and Gardens, 1101 FM 2325, Wimberley
Stroll a walking path with more than 100 lighted exhibits created by local businesses, churches, organizations and families. Roast a marshmallow at the Yule Log and listen to live entertainment on most nights. The trail will be open from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. FREE!
Christmas Tree Lighting (Hutto)
November 28 from 6-8 p.m. | Downtown Hutto
Join Mayor Holland and friends as she calls upon Santa’s magic to help light the Christmas Tree in Downtown Hutto. Local organizations and churches will be at the event singing, playing music, serving hot cocoa, and decorating Christmas cookies. FREE!
November 29 – January 9 | Whole Foods Market, 525 N Lamar Blvd, Austin
Ice skating on the plaza begins November 29th! Visit the Whole Foods flagship store for ice skating on the rooftop, from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m., daily! Your $10 ticket includes your skate rental.
November 29 from 12-5 p.m. | Jo’s Hot Coffee Good Food, 1300 S Congress Avenue, Austin
The holiday spirit will be alive and well during the Jo’s Sinner Sunday Holiday Extravaganza Sunday, November 29th from 12-5 p.m. Guests can enjoy live music from the Jo’s House Band while shopping the merchandise from many local vendors showcasing their newest wares. Santa will be on hand to pose for pictures in front of the “I love you so much” wall and in support of Operation Blue Santa, bring an unwrapped toy to receive a FREE coffee.
November 29 from 2-6 p.m. | Kyle United Methodist Church, 408 W Lockhart St, Kyle
Santa Claus is coming to Kyle United Methodist Church! Enjoy hot chocolate and Christmas treats! Bring a non-perishable food item to donate to the Hays County Food Bank and get a FREEpicture with Santa! Event is FREE to the community!
Reindeer Run (Round Rock)
November 29 from 4-8 p.m. | Old Settlers Park and the Dell Diamond parking lot, 3400 E Palm Valley Blvd, Round Rock
6th Annual Round Rock Rotary Reindeer Run 5k and Family Fun Run through the Rock’N Lights Holiday Light Tour. This will be your only opportunity to walk/run through this amazing holiday event! The Reindeer Run benefits Round Rock’s Play for All Abilities Park. Register online now($25 for 13 and up; 12 and under FREE). Rock’N Lights Holiday Light Tour will be open for driving through November 30 – December 26. Admission is $15 per car. Keep an eye on the Facebook page for coupons.
November 29 at 6 p.m. | Zilker Park, 2100 Barton Springs Rd, Austin
Each year, the Austin community eagerly awaits the lighting of the 155-foot tall Zilker Tree as a symbol of the upcoming holiday season and Trail of Lights festivities. The tree lighting ceremony at 6 p.m. will feature local entertainment, food, novelties and live music. Prelude Music by the Austin Civic Wind Ensemble, Robert Laguna, Conductor. Additional event music by the Barton Hills Choir, Gavin Tabone, Director, Kati Achtermann, Principal. Please note that the Trail of Lights will not yet be open. FREE!
November 30 & December 1 from 5-6 p.m. | Four Seasons, 98 San Jacinto Blvd, Austin
Enjoy complimentary hot apple cider and festive cookies as you ooh and aah over the details of the “Wild, Wild West” themed gingerbread village in the lobby. Talented pastry chefs along with special guest Santa will also be on hand for photo opportunities, and to answer questions about the houses, which will be on display from November 24 to December 31, 2015. FREE!
December 1 at 6 p.m. | The Driskill, 604 Brazos Street, Austin
Enjoy seasonal music from the Arundel Ensemble String Quartet in celebration of the annual lighting of The Driskill Tree. FREE!
December 1-24 | Various Austin Locations
The Austin Symphony is excited to continue its new program this holiday season that will bringFREE music to all Austinites. Christmas in the Community is a series of twelve concerts held throughout the city of Austin featuring different ensembles of the orchestra playing familiar holiday music. The program kicks off in December. Christmas in the Community is proudly sponsored by Macy’s. These performances are all FREE and open to the public with no tickets required.
December 1 from 6-8 p.m. | Mueller Control Tower, Berkman Drive, Austin
The FREE, family-friendly event will feature live music from the Reagan High School Drumline and the Huston-Tillotson Jazz Band. The event will also include free coffee, hot chocolate, and holiday treats as well as activities for children. Austin City Council Member, Ora Houston, will be counting down the moments until the Noel sign is lit across the Control Tower, honoring a tradition that dates back to the 1960s.
December 1 at 8 p.m. | Hyde Park Baptist Church, 3901 Speedway, Austin
The Austin Symphony once again presents its Christmas tradition, Handel’s Messiah, accompanied by Chorus Austin for you and your family at Hyde Park Baptist Church. The ASO is wanting to bring this concert more centrally located for all of Austin to enjoy. HPBC has greatparking and plenty of superb seating. Tickets start at $15.
Main Street Bethlehem (Burnet)
December 4, 5, 6 and 11, 12, 13 from 6-9 p.m. | Two blocks east of the town square, Burnet
This Christmas, visit Bethlehem . . . in Burnet, as the ancient city of Christ’s birth comes alive again. Admission is FREE! Donations are accepted. FREE cookies and hot chocolate/coffee are served at the exit. Friday and Sunday night visitors may experience a shorter waiting time than on Saturday night. As this is an outdoor presentation, it will be canceled in rainy weather.
Through December; starting at 6, 7, and 8 p.m. | The Domain II, 3225 Amy Donovan Plaza, Austin
Watch the holidays come to life with hourly lights show in Domain II. More than 82,000 lights and 2,200 strobes will dance to holiday music for the first 15 minutes of each hour.
Friday – Sunday in December | Century Oaks Park, The Domain, 11410 Century Oaks Terrace, Austin and Domain II, 3225 Amy Donovan Plaza, Austin
Century Oaks Park (Domain I, near Starbucks): Fridays 6-9 p.m., Saturdays 2-5 p.m. & 6-9 p.m., and Sundays 2-5 p.m.; Domain II lawn: Fridays 2-5 p.m., Saturdays 2-5 p.m., Sundays 2:30-5 p.m.
Saturdays in December from 6-8 p.m. | The Domain, 11410 Century Oaks Terrace, Austin
The sounds of the season will drift through Domain I each Saturday night as strolling carolers roam the sidewalks!
Sights and Sounds of Christmas (San Marcos)
December 2-5 from 5-11 p.m. | 401 E. Hopkins St., San Marcos
Ice skating rink, town of Bethlehem, carnival, Santa photos, food court, live performances, Santa’s gift shop, kids arts and crafts, Jingle Bell Run, petting zoo, and pony rides! Nightly admission is $5; kids 12 and under are FREE. More ticket info here.
December 2 at 6:30 p.m. | Omni Barton Creek Resort and Spa, 8212 Barton Club Dr, Austin
Calling all gingerbread house builders! Submit your “Winter Wonderland” themed creations to compete for fabulous prizes from resort stays to prize checks. Or, simply join in on competition night for delicious desserts, holiday carols and a tree lighting to remember. Visit the website for prize and competition details.
Holiday Sing-Along with the Vintage 15 (Bee Cave)
December 3 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. | Hill Country Galleria, 12700 Hill Country Blvd, Bee Cave
Join in a holiday sing-along with your favorite jazz/swing big band, the Vintage 15! Enjoy live music and meet Santa! Bring a blanket, sit back, and sing along! FREE!
December 4 from 6-9 p.m. | Mueller Hangar, 4550 Mueller Dr, Austin
Set against a backdrop of twinkling lights, the 8th Annual Lights of Love 5K and Family Fun Run on December 4 kicks off the holiday season. The fun begins in the Mueller Hangar with holiday festivities for everyone — family, friends, organizations, schools and even four-legged friends. Strollers, walkers, joggers and runners don their best holiday outfit and enjoy a holiday inspired course in the Mueller neighborhood. Kids’ crafts, photos with Santa Claus, festive music, hot chocolate and more round out an evening of fun for everyone! Registration for the Family Fun Run is $25.
Christmas Family Night (Round Rock)
December 4 at 6:30 p.m. | Dell Diamond Parking Lot at Christmas Towne, 3300 E. Palm Valley Blvd., Round Rock
During Christmas Family Night, the Old Settlers Association is decorated with small wooden houses which host various games and activities. The event kicks off with a welcome from Round Rock Mayor Alan McGraw, followed by the illumination of holiday lights. Then Santa makes his grand entrance. This FREE event includes activities for the entire family including live music, dancers, candle making, game booths, Frosty the Snowman, Santa Claus and more. Children should bring their wish lists for Santa Claus and parents are encouraged to bring their own cameras for pictures with Santa. Plus, enjoy FREE hot dogs, popcorn, hot chocolate, and other refreshments, activities and snacks. Enjoy performances throughout the evening.
Holiday Tree Lighting and Santa’s Workshop (Cedar Park)
December 4 from 6:30-9 p.m. | Heritage Oak Park, 875 Quest Parkway, Cedar Park
On this magical night, join in the tradition of lighting the tree. Over 65,000 lights illuminate the largest Live Oak Tree in Cedar Park. Santa’s Workshop will kickoff immediately following the tree lighting ceremony. Enjoy live music, carriage rides, games and prizes, inflatables, FREE photos with Santa (bring your own camera), and arts & crafts projects. Bring the whole family for what promises to be a festive evening. FREE admission.
Breakfast with Santa (Round Rock)
December 5 from 8-11 a.m. | 2920 Round Rock Ranch Blvd., Round Rock
Join the Gattis PTA for Breakfast With Santa. There will be crafts, games, vendors, a silent auction, pictures with Santa, breakfast and more. Tickets: $5 per person or $20 for a family of 4 or more.
December 5 from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. | The Domain II, between Dillards and Dick’s Sporting Goods, 3211 Feathergrass Ct, Austin
Enjoy breakfast, live music, character appearances, games, crafts and a (brief) visit from Santa!FREE, but if you’d like to visit with Santa you should make an appointment.
December 5 from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. | For the City Center, 500 Saint John’s Ave, Austin
The Sixth Annual Christmas Market is a venue for patrons to shop responsibly this holiday season, while supporting local, socially conscious vendors. Hosted by Allies Against Slavery, the Market features 25+ fair trade, direct trade, and social enterprise merchants who use their businesses to promote employment and well-being for people in Austin and around the world. This FREE event for the public will include art, jewelry, music, clothing, purses/bags, toys, cosmetics, coffee, paper goods, housewares, photo prints, and much more.
December 5-23 | The Long Center, 701 W Riverside Dr, Austin
From the scrumptious sets and costumes to all of the colorful characters and Divertissements you love, Ballet Austin’s The Nutcracker is the longest-running production of the seasonal classic in Texas. Stephen Mills’ take on this timeless tale features a cast of hundreds of dancers, including the charming and talented students from the prestigious Ballet Austin Academy who share the spotlight with our professional company of artists. Celebrate the magic of the holidays by experiencing this sweet treat with your family and friends. Tickets start at $22.10.
December 5 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. | German Free School, 507 E. 10th St., Austin
The German-Texan Heritage Society offers shoppers handmade, imported crafts including plenty of Christmas themed decorations such as nutcrackers and ornaments. It is a festival atmosphere with traditional German Christmas music, tables full of handcrafted items direct from the Erzgebirge region of Germany, a visit by both historic American Santa Claus and the traditional German Sankt Nikolas with gifts for the children, a hospitality serving of Glühwein (hot spiced wine), coffee, apple cider/juice and gingerbread cookies, and plenty of German style baked goodies for purchase. FREE admission! Lunch served by Frank-Purveyors of Artisan Sausage. All purchases are Sales Tax Free on this special day.
December 5, 6, 12, & 13 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. | 10621 Pioneer Farms Dr., Austin
Holiday program with pioneer demonstrations, music and special activities at various sites. General admission prices are $8 for visitors ages 13 and over, and $6 for children ages 3-12. Children 2 and under are FREE.
December 5 and 6 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. | Brentwood Elementary School, 6700 Arroyo Seco, Austin
Annual fall arts festival featuring music, artists, and plenty of holiday shopping. Expect to find unique artwork from talented sculptors, potters, and fiber artists, painters, jewelers, glass artists, woodworkers and metal smiths. Shop for hand made gifts and great quality art, and support local cottage businesses. It’s always FREE admission for the whole family! RSVP on the Facebook page for updates on location, artists, and music.
Snow Days (Bee Cave)
December 5, 13, and 19 from 12-4 p.m. | Hill Country Galleria, 4000 Galleria Parkway, Bee Cave
It snows every weekend in December at the Hill Country Galleria! Enjoy a family fun day with real snow! Toss a snowball, build a snow man, make a snow angel, and take fun family photos! Enjoy live holiday music, holiday carolers, and more from noon-4 p.m. every day that it snows! FREE!
December 5 from 12-3 p.m. | Cat Hollow Park, 8600 O’Connor Dr., Austin
Come enjoy a FREE fun-filled Family Holiday Festival and Craft Fair. There will be tons of fun and activities for all ages. Craft Vendor Shopping, Activities, and Live Music and Dance Performances. At noon Santa Arrives on a Firetruck. Bring your camera for picture opportunities with Santa and Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer!
Milk and Cookies with Santa (Kyle)
December 5 from 1-2 p.m. | Cross Plants and Produce, 705 N Old Highway 81, Kyle
Bring the entire family to meet Santa Claus at Cross Plants and Produce! Put on your Christmas best, have your photo taken with Santa, and tell him what’s on your Christmas list! There will be a mini market of booths geared for children. Milk and cookies will cost around $2; photos with Santa are FREE!
December 5 from 1-6 p.m. | 2nd Street District, Austin
2ND Street District encourages all of Austin to take a stroll and visit the elaborate art installations, as they will be featured in over eleven storefront windows from November 23 to December 6, at Etcetera, etc., Estilo, Rae Cosmetics, Luxe Apothetique, Hacienda, Area, Hemline, Teddies for Bettys, Silicon Labs, Flor, and Mercury. On Saturday, December 5, the winning design will be announced during the Deck the District event from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., where window walkers can stroll the 2ND Street District and enjoy a special appearance by the one and only Santa Claus, while taking advantage of the in-store specials at 2ND Street District shops. Deck the District will be FREE and fun for all ages.
December 5 at 2 and 6 p.m. and December 6 at 2 p.m. | St. Michael’s Catholic Academy, 3000 Barton Creek Blvd, Austin
Bring the whole family and be swept off your feet as 44 young dancers bring this glorious holiday favorite to life. Join Clara at a festive party and watch in delight as the Sugar Plum Fairy hosts a dazzling array of dances in the enchanting Land of Sweets. Tickets are $15.
Snow in Fisherman’s Park (Bastrop)
December 5 from 3-7 p.m. | Fisherman’s Park, 1200 Willow St., Bastrop
Slide down a snow hill, make s’mores, and watch a holiday movie by the river.
Pfestival of Lights and Christmas Parade (Pflugerville)
December 5 from 5-8:30 p.m. | Railroad Avenue to Main Street, Pflugerville
Pfree arts and crafts projects to take home, Pfree hot chocolate and apple cider, Pfree cookies, and a bonfire to warm up! Pfree photos with Santa Claus (you bring the camera!), Pfree glowsticks and glow-in-the-dark necklaces. Also, Pflugerville Animal Trailer will be on site – apply to give a pet a Pforever home for the holidays! FREE!
Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting (Leander)
December 5 at 5 p.m. | City Hall, 200 West Willis Street, Leander
Celebrate the season with The City of Leander! The Christmas Parade will begin at 5 p.m. with the Tree Lighting to follow. Pictures with Santa, Holiday Hayrides, Yule Fire, Choral Performances, and a variety of vendors. FREE!
Holiday Celebration at Wolf Ranch (Georgetown)
December 5 from 5-8 p.m. | Wolf Ranch Town Center, 1015 W University Ave, Georgetown
Enjoy a fun, family evening as we celebrate the holiday season with FREE hot cocoa, cookies, complimentary carriage rides, local school music performances and a special sing-along with two very famous Princess Sisters. FREE! Also, don’t forget to take your photo with Santa (all proceeds benefit Brown Santa of Williamson County).
Christmas Luminary (Pflugerville)
December 5 & 6 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. | 500 Immanuel Rd, Pflugerville
Biblical Christmas scenes illuminated.
December 5 from 6-9 p.m. | Congress Ave., downtown Austin
The annual Holiday Sing-Along & Downtown Stroll is a FREE, family-friendly event that celebrates the arrival of the holiday season and the joy it brings. The evening starts at 6 p.m. when crowds gather on the south steps of the Capitol to sing the songs of the season during KUTX 98.9 “Eklektikos” host John Aielli’s Holiday Sing-Along. As the clock strikes 7 p.m., the countdown to the lighting of the Capitol tree begins, featuring a programmed light show at the top and bottom of every hour, set to holiday songs of local Austin musicians. From 7 to 9 p.m., Congress Ave. will be abuzz with holiday cheer during the Downtown Stroll. Shops, restaurants, galleries and museums will be open late and will feature special activities and offers. Additional Stroll activities include classic holiday cartoons, photos with Santa, live music, a special holiday Farmers’ Market with Sustainable Food Center, and much more. Support fellow members of the community by bringing non-perishable food or cash donations to the Capitol Christmas tree for the Capital Area Food Bank. The Holiday Sing-Along & Downtown Stroll attracts more than 20,000 attendees each year, so guests are encouraged to bike or use public transportation. FREE!
December 6 from 12-3 p.m. | Bullock Texas State History Museum, 1800 Congress Avenue, Austin
Enjoy FREE exhibit admission all day during Free First Sundays, held the first Sunday of every month. Families can explore the Story of Texas through three floors of exhibits that showcase artifacts from around the state. Special family programs from 12-3 p.m. combine art creation, presentations by partner organizations, and gallery activities. At December’s Free First Sunday, families with kids ages five and up will discover the mysteries behind this magical time of year with snowflake chemistry, train construction, fluffy snow and more hands-on fun! Families with kids six and under can attend a winter-themed story time at 2 p.m. FREE!
December 6 from 2:30-5 p.m.
Children are invited to make their very own chocolate bars and enjoy a classic holiday film. And for the adults — there will be plenty of chocolate samples to taste. The event is FREE, but guests are asked to bring an unwrapped toy to be donated to Dell Children’s Hospital.
The author with her family at the Austin Trail of Lights
December 8-22 from 7-10 p.m. | Zilker Park, Austin
Visit the North Pole at the Trail of Lights to share your holiday wish list with Santa at Santa’s House, pick up a free book from the H-E-B Read 3 Book Train and stop in Santa’s Workshop for a photo and a variety of interactive experiences. Entry to the Trail of Lights is FREE from December 8-15. From December 16-22, general admission is $3 for guests age 12 and up, onlineor at H-E-B stores. Children 11 and under are FREE every night! Parking passes and shuttle tickets are also available online.
December 9 at 7 p.m. | Frank Erwin Center, 1701 Red River, Austin
A rock-holiday tradition for a new generation. Tickets start at $46.50.
Dashing Through the Snow Holiday Market (Dripping Springs)
December 11 and 13 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., and December 12 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. | 29401 Ranch Road 12, Dripping Springs
Listed as one of Country Livings “Top 7 Don’t Miss” barn sales for 2015. Vintage Market Days is an upscale vintage-inspired indoor/outdoor market featuring original art, antiques, clothing, jewelry, handmade treasures, home décor, outdoor furnishings, consumable yummies, seasonal plantings and a little more. Map and directions. Cost: $10 on Friday; $5 Saturday and Sunday; kids 12 and under are FREE.
Winter Wonderland Ice Skating Rink (Bastrop)
December 11 from 3-9 p.m. and December 12 from 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. | Historic Downtown Bastrop, Parking Lot I, Bastrop
Visit with Santa as you whirl around the rink! Skating is $10 for 45 minutes.
Old Town Christmas in Fritz Park (Hutto)
December 11 at 5:30-8:30 p.m. | 401 W Front St, Hutto
This event is FREE and features caroling, letters to Santa, arts & crafts, hot chocolate, cookies, popcorn and train rides through the park! Buddy the Elf will also make a special guest appearance! The movie will begin at 6:30 p.m. Please bring chairs and blankets.
December 11-20 | Dougherty Arts Center Theater, 1110 Barton Springs Road, Austin
Share Clara’s adventures as she battles a giant Rat King and transforms her Nutcracker doll into a Prince. Together, Clara and the Prince visit the magical Land of Snow and travel to the Kingdom of Sweets in an enchanted sleigh. Tickets are $15-25. Children 11 and under are FREE.
December 12 from 8-10 a.m. | 2901 S Capital of Texas Hwy, Austin
Children are invited for a fun morning of food, fun and goodies with Santa. FREE! Photo packages available for purchase.
Breakfast with Santa at Lakeline Mall (Cedar Park)
December 12 from 8:30-10 a.m. | Dillard’s Women’s Court, 11200 Lakeline Mall Dr, Cedar Park
Enjoy a FREE breakfast with Santa. Photo packages available for purchase.
Breakfast with Santa at the Gin (Hutto)
December 12 at 8:30 a.m. | 401 W Front St, Hutto
Enjoy a morning of wish list making, crafts, breakfast, and Santa himself! This year, breakfast is provided by Hutto’s own McDonald’s restaurant which includes pancakes, sausage and juice. Don’t forget your camera to get a picture with kids and Santa! Tickets are $10 per person. Sign uphere, or stop by the Parks & Recreation office at 306 E. Live Oak in Hutto.
December 12 from 9 a.m. – noon | 10000 Research Blvd, Austin
Join Santa for a light breakfast and enjoy Holiday music, games and other festive activities including a special visit by the Peppermint Princess! The event is FREE and open to the general public.
Christmas Dreams & Snowy Things (Round Rock)
December 12 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. | Chasco Family YMCA, 1812 N. Mays Street, Round Rock
Snow is coming to Round Rock! FREE admission!
Downtown Christmas Fair (Hutto)
December 12 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. | Downtown Hutto
Shop the stores, enjoy a meal at the downtown restaurants, shop vendors featuring handmade items, unique gifts, home decor, jewelry, toys, and delicious fair food and drinks! The YMCA Children’s Area will include crafts, games, inflatables, train rides and… SNOW! Admission to Children’s Area is $5 per child and includes all activities!
Santa’s Village (Bastrop)
December 12 from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. | Historic Downtown Bastrop
A special market will be set up in Downtown Bastrop in Alley B to give a one-stop shopping destination for unique gifts and handcrafts. Meanwhile, on South Main Street, the whole family can enjoy special activities and live performances that would put anyone in the holiday spirit from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
December 12 and 13 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. | Maplewood Elementary, E. 38 1/2 St. & Maplewood Ave., Austin
Cherrywood Art Fair is an art filled two-day event showcasing local artists, live music, kids activities and great food in a FREE, family-friendly environment. More than 8,000 visitors stroll through the fairgrounds looking at art, listening to beautiful music and sampling some of Austin’s finest food trailer cuisine. Since its 2002 inception, the Fair has served as a destination for discerning holiday shoppers seeking unique and artful items from Texas artists and makers. Check out the facebook page for updates.
December 12 at 12 p.m. | Texas State Capitol, 1100 Congress Ave, Austin
Ring in the Christmas holiday season with A Cappella Texas at the State Capitol Rotunda. Gather all your family and friends, and especially the children, for an afternoon of great singing and Christmas cheer. Join A Cappella Texas, Austin’s premier men’s chorus, for a delightful free all-ages concert and community sing-along in beautiful four part Barbershop Harmony. FREE!
December 12 from 12-4 p.m. | French Legation Museum, 802 San Marcos Street, Austin
Get into the holiday spirit at our Festival of Carols! Enjoy festive music performed by local school choirs, holiday crafts, games, and concessions. Some activities and the refreshments may require the purchase of tickets. Guests are encouraged to bring lawn chairs, blankets, picnic lunches.FREE!
December 12 & 13 at 2 and 6 p.m. | Kam and James Morris Theatre, 2300 Lohman’s Spur, Austin
The TexARTS Broadway Company stars in this holiday revue that features irresistible Rockette-style numbers, your favorite holiday hits, and a special appearance by Santa Claus! This perfectly wonderful family favorite is sure to put the SPARKLE in your holidays. Tickets are $15.
December 12 & 13 from 6-9 p.m. | Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Austin
Thousands of luminaries and twinkling lights turn the center into a holiday wonderland during Luminations, an Austin holiday tradition. Visit with Frosty the Snowman, children’s activities, kettle corn and hot beverages. Admission is $3-5; children 4 and under are FREE. Guests are asked to bring a food donation for the Capital Area Food Bank.
December 15-24 from 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. | Palmer Events Center, 900 Barton Springs Rd, Austin
Hot music, fine art, and cold beer make the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar the place where Austin shops in the giving season. The show is actually two events in one: an art fair and music festival with a vibrant community-driven vibe. Visitors can explore an amazing array of handmade items from 160+ artists while enjoying live local music and sips from a full bar. It all adds up to a fun authentic Austin experience. Food and drink from open to close. Admission is $8 for a single day pass; kids 12 and under are FREE. Tickets here.
Little Elves (Cedar Park)
December 17 from 3-5:30 p.m. | Community Rooms in the Cedar Park Recreation Center, 1435 Main Street, Cedar Park
Drop your child off for a fun afternoon full of holiday themed crafts, games, story time and snacks/drinks. $25 for ages 3 – 10 years old (must be potty trained).
December 18 – January 6 | Omni Barton Creek Resort and Spa, 8212 Barton Club Dr, Austin
6th Annual Holiday Lights & Ice event benefiting Make-A-Wish Central & South Texas. Get in the holiday spirit with skating on an indoor ice rink that overlooks the scenic hill country and is accompanied by a display of twinkling lights and festive activities for the whole family to enjoy. Skating tickets: $25 adult; $20 children age 12 and under.
December 21 at 12 p.m. | Texas State Capitol Building, South Steps, 1100 Congress Ave, Austin
2015 is the 42nd anniversary for TUBACHRISTMAS concerts, which are presented throughout the world. TUBACHRISTMAS was conceived in 1974 by Harvey Phillips as a tribute to his teacher and mentor William J. Bell, born on Christmas Day, 1902. Through the legendary William J. Bell we reflect on our heritage and honor all great artists/teachers whose legacy has given us high performance standards, well structured pedagogy, professional integrity, personal values and a camaraderie envied by all other instrumentalists. FREE concert!
December 21 from 5-8 p.m. | Central Austin
Kid-friendly! Minor Mishap Marching Band invites you under the dark Solstice sky in a PARADE OF LIGHT! Gather together on the shortest day of the year to celebrate light, darkness, music, community, nature and other things of general awesomeness. Party down and shake your booties! It’s (finally) getting (slightly) cold around here: time to shake that thang and warm up. Please make a lantern to carry in the parade! The beauty of this event is created by YOU! FREE!