Here is a guide I made of Austin happenings during the holidays. If you are coming into Austin around Christmas, I hope this guide helps you out.
Austin has some great stuff to do during the holidays. I recommend the Trail of Lights in Zilker Park and the Blue Genie Art Bazaar the most. Some of the more unique Christmas events in Austin are the Fun Run through the Trail of Lights, the Zilker “tree” and ice skating on the Whole Foods roof. (Ice skating? It’s 70 degrees?)
I hope you find some good events to do in Austin during the holidays.
Email me if you’d like to add anything to the list of Austin Christmas events, festivals and other activities.
The Trail of Lights in Zilker Park (near downtown) is a beautiful, festive mile-long walk through dazzling light displays. Grab a cup of hot chocolate, and gather the whole family for a night of lights and fun for all ages!
When the Zilker Tree bursts to life against the Austin night sky, it’s hard to not feel the Christmas spirit! This awe-inspiring tree consists of over 3,300 Christmas lights and stands more than 150 feet tall. What a brilliant way to ring in the season! The tree-lighting ceremony is open to the public.
See my guide to Austin-area Christmas and holiday lights and lightings!
Enjoy carols, live entertainment and free food as you meander down Austin’s Congress Avenue, where the galleries, stores and restaurants spill into the street in celebration. Afterward, leave a much-appreciated donation for the Central Texas Food Bank under the glowing Capitol Tree.
Armadillo Christmas Bazaar is a shopping experience like no other in Austin! Enjoy great live music, aisles spaced wide for dancing and the finest work of more than 100 artists, craftsmen and merchants who bring their best to this holiday spectacular each season. You won’t want to miss this beloved Austin tradition.
Join Austin’s Operation Blue Santa and the Austin Police Department in spreading Christmas cheer to thousands of Austin children in need by donating a new, unwrapped toy for children ages 12 and under. Collection sites are located throughout the Austin area.
A Christmas Affair brings together more than 200 national merchants for one unforgettable holiday event. Shoppers may also enjoy fine dining Noel de Paris-style in the upstairs tearoom.
The Cherrywood Art Fair has exploded onto the Austin art scene. Highly regarded for its selection and variety of artists, the show features all original art of phenomenal quality in a family-friendly atmosphere. Enjoy live Austin music, great food and special art projects just for the kids at this acclaimed event!
Start a new holiday tradition with a live Texas Christmas tree! Skip the tree lots, and bring the whole family to an Austin-area tree farm instead. Create warm memories by selecting and cutting your own tree, then enjoy the sights and sounds of the farm during the holiday season.
Hit the roof for a unique holiday skating event! Skating on the Plaza takes place on the roof of the Whole Foods Market on South Lamar. Lots of fun for the whole family! Admission includes skate rental.
Check out the Trail of Lights before it opens to the general public during this family-friendly 2-mile run. It starts at the Zilker Tree and meanders through the Trail of Lights. Costumes are highly encouraged.
Enjoy a sensational light show from the comfort of your car at Santa’s Ranch. One hundred displays and animations, comprising more than one million lights, fill the mile-long route. Excitement and fun for the whole family for one great price!
The spectacular Blue Genie Art Bazaar showcases more than 200 of the best artists from Austin and the surrounding region. This free event offers incredible indoor shopping throughout much of December, with the best in art, ceramics, paintings, sculpture and more. Great Christmas fun for the whole family!
The German Christmas Market is a special holiday destination you won’t want to miss! Traditional German Christmas music fills the air, while authentic German wares, handcrafted in the Erzgebirge region of Germany, fill the tables. Kids will love a visit with St. Nikolaus himself! An extraordinary shopping experience!
The Wildflower Center offers eco-friendly shopping opportunities and works from some of the area’s premier artists at this holiday shopping event. Enjoy free admission and special discounts on paintings, jewelry, apparel, wood products and more.
The Violet Crown Arts Festival includes more than 50 artists and craftspeople with original work on display. Pick up a one-of-a-kind gift, or enjoy the live music and incredible food at this holiday event destination. Great fun and entertainment for the whole family!
Zach conjures the warm, nostalgic fuzzies this year with a revival of the classic A Christmas Carol, and for those who need some belly laughs, Jaston Williams’ A Tuna Christmas returns with tales from Texas’ “third smallest town.”
Which local celebrities will be making cameo appearances as Mother Ginger this year? Only one way to find out. Don your gowns and bow ties, or whatever one wears to the theataah these days, and join Ballet Austin for your seasonal dose of high culture.
Join the Austin Symphony Orchestra and Chorus Austin for this annual performance of the holiday classic at Hyde Park Baptist Church.
In Austin, if you want to get warm and cozy, you can generally just go outside. But if you want some winter chill, you may have to get a little more creative. For some frost without the frostbite, head to the Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa’s 4,000-square-foot indoor skating rink, where the winter season kicks off with a Light the Night performance and laser light show.
Bring a new, unwrapped teddy bear to the Four Seasons Hotel for donation to the Dell Children’s Hospital, and stay for caroling, tea, and fireside story time with Santa. Also great for the little ones – or pretty much any baked-good enthusiast – the Gingerbread Village in the lobby features early-evening open houses throughout the holiday season, with cider, cookies, and elbow-rubbing with the talent (aka, pastry chefs and Santa).
Get your picture taken with Austin – oh, and with Santa – on the Long Center’s picturesque City Terrace (weather permitting) at this annual Black Friday event featuring free, family-friendly entertainment.
All decked out for the holidays, historic downtown Bastrop offers a variety of events throughout the season to keep the little ones – and the big ones – entertained. Highlights include the Christmas parade and the Christmas Wine Swirl.
Leander rings in the season with with a day of holiday activities for all ages, including the Old Town Rudolph 5K, the Leander Lights Parade, and ice skating.
In its 10th year, this two-hour train trip hosted by the Austin Steam Train Association is so fun, even Mrs. Claus joins in. Parents get to enjoy kids enjoying story time, picture-taking with the Clauses, and all the hot cocoa they can handle for the duration of the trip. We mentioned the two-hour part, right? Tickets sell out fast.
In its 30th year, this event roundup in San Marcos now spills over into a second weekend, with a packed concert schedule plus a scavenger hunt, a 5K race, and more. Proceeds go to local nonprofits.
Every year, Round Rock’s Penfold Theatre Co. brings to life an old-fashioned holiday radiocast using live Foley sound effects. This year’s performance: A Miracle on 34th Street.
Downtown Round Rock’s Main Street transforms into an all-out holiday wonderland with a tree-lighting ceremony, live music, dance performances, games, carriage rides, and more. According to rumor, both Santa and Frosty the Snowman will be in attendance.
In its 38th year, this two-day event has it all: a downtown lighting ceremony, a “reindog” parade, and a Santa’s Artisan Workshop, plus plenty of fun stuff for the kiddos.
Bedecked in twinkling lights, downtown Georgetown kicks off the season each year with a smorgasbord of holiday delights packed into one weekend. Visitors can stroll through Bethlehem Village, take pictures with Santa, join the Grinch for dessert, and enjoy live music. Plus there’s a town parade – a little something for everyone.
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Do some Christmas shopping done among more than 100 vendors, and bring the kids along for crafts, train rides and playing in the “snow.”
In December, the Thinkery features all kinds of opportunities for kids to explore the sights and sounds of the season. Wee ones can make snowflakes and “ski” on their socks during Winter Wonders workshops, and kids of all ages will find something to do in the age- and interest-specific Gingerbread Workshop series, which takes cookie construction to a whole new level. Candy Chemistry or Gingerbread Architecture? Choose your flavor.
Enjoy the holidays in miniature at this annual show brought to ArtSpace by Austin’s Tinplate Trackers.
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The Wildflower Center hosts 10 days of holiday events, including book signings, food sampling, and workshops for making your own wreaths and ornaments – because no one should be (crafting) alone for the holidays.
The old airport control tower at East Austin’s Mueller Development lights up for the holidays at this annual family-friendly shindig. It’s not a tree, but we think it will do.
In its 44th year, Tuba Christmas is celebrated all over world, including here in Austin, where tuba and euphonium players are invited to convene on the steps of the state Capitol to serenade passersby with the sounds of the season. No tuba? No problem. You can still show your support with an authentic Tuba Christmas hat or scarf, available on the Tuba Christmas website.