From ice skating to holiday markets to mariachi performances, December in Austin is the most wonderful (and busiest) time of the year.
‘Tis the season for event after event after event. When it comes to the holidays, Austin’s jam-packed with festivals, fairs, and parties to end the year. Here’s our list of 25 things to do before the 25th.
What started as a holiday project by one Austin resident has now turned into holiday tradition. Take a stroll down 37th Street to experience some of the most colorful and quirkiest light decorations in the city.
519 W. 37th Street
New this year to the Hill Country Galleria, the Holiday Village features Santa’s Workshop, dance and choir performances, and local artisan vendors to help with last-minute Christmas shopping. And, of course, expect plenty of family photo-ops.
Select dates from Nov. 23 through Dec. 24.
12700 Hill Country Blvd.
Enjoy drinks and small bites while crafting the perfect gingerbread house. No experience? No worries. All supplies will be provided and pastry chef Sarah Seghi will help guide guests to build their sweet creation.
Dec. 15, 6-9 p.m.
615 S. Lamar Blvd.
Sit back, relax, and enjoy a cup of something hot while you watch Mozart’s annual Christmas light show, featuring over 1 million LED lights synched to classic holiday songs. Admission is free and there’s no assigned seating, making it easy to enjoy with friends and family.
Nov. 21 – Jan. 5, 6-11 p.m.
3825 Lake Austin Blvd.
Don’t miss your chance to enjoy Austin’s staple holiday tradition, now in its 55th year at Zilker Park. Along with more than 60 displays and 2 million lights, the Trail of Lights features food trucks, local music, movies, merchants, and more. (Pro-tip: skip the line and buy your tickets online.)
Dec. 10-23, 7-10 p.m.
Fetes de Fleurs Austin will be providing all supplies, including greenery and holiday ribbon for you to make the perfect holiday wreath. Also included: light snacks and 10% off at the shop.
Dec. 8, 1-3 p.m.
2700 W. Anderson Lane Ste. 410
Looking to escape the throngs of last minute shoppers? Check out our guide to Christmas movie showings around town.
Now in its 57th year, The Nutcracker by Ballet Austin comes complete with beautiful sets, costumes, and choreography by artistic director, Stephen Mills. With over 200 dancers, the show is sure to stun … and to sell out. (We suggest snagging tickets as soon as possible.)
701 W. Riverside Drive
Stop by the annual German-Texan Christmas Market on Dec. 7 and shop a variety of handcrafted and authentic German goods. Don’t forget to stick around for treats, like Gluehwein (hot spiced wine), Silke’s German Gourmet Cookies, and other home-baked items.
Dec. 7, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
507 E. 10th Street
Get cozy at the Four Seasons with a special reading of The Night Before Christmas by Santa himself, along with tea service and caroling. Don’t forget to bring a new unwrapped teddy bear to be donated to some of Austin’s non-profit organizations.
Dec. 8, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
98 San Jacinto Blvd.
Jose Hernandez, known as a mariachi master, is taking his rich cultural heritage and adding some Christmas flair. Catch Mariachi Sol De Mexico De Jose Hernandez at the Moody Theater for some holiday favorites.
Dec. 22, 8 p.m.
310 Willie Nelson Blvd.
Take a nighttime stroll through the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center while thousands of luminarias light the way. The two week event features newly lit trails and a special performance of Blue Lapis Light’s “Oneness of Being,”aerial dance choreography, making for an ethereal holiday experience.
Dec. 5-8 and 12-15, 6-10 p.m.
4801 La Crosse Ave.
See Dripping Springs transformed with holiday spirit at the 15th Annual Christmas on Mercer Street. Visitors can enjoy a family-friendly day featuring arts and crafts, shopping, live entertainment, a petting zoo, a trackless train, pony rides, and more. The best part? Admission is free.
Dec. 7, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Mercer Street, Dripping Springs
Still looking for that perfect Christmas present? Spend a day at the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar, an Austin holiday staple featuring nearly 200 local and touring artists and makers to shop from, and you’ll be set. Expect live music from 36 bands, (Austin legends and newcomers alike), and food from local vendors.
Dec. 13-23, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Palmer Events Center
Although outdoor ice skating rinks are few and far between in central Texas, Chaparral Ice brings the fun of ice skating indoors. While offering a slew of classes for skaters of any level, public skating hours are also available. For an experience closer to home, check out the Rooftop Rink at Whole Foods Market’s downtown flagship store.
Sub out your old plastic tree this year with a fresh fir or pine tree to bring some life to your living room for the holidays. We suggest stopping by the Optimist Club of Austin—not only do they offer 5 different breeds of evergreen to choose from, but all profits go to local charity.
See your favorite reindeer brought to life for one night only at the Cedar Park Center. Wind down the weekend by watching Bumble the Abominable Snowman, the Misfit Toys, and of course Rudolph himself dance and sing.
Dec. 29, 3 p.m.
2100 Avenue Of The Stars
Austin’s very own Molly Burch is throwing a Christmas party like no other with holiday drinks, a photo booth, and a performance of her Christmas album in its entirety. Belt out “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” and “Last Christmas” with Burch during this special holiday show.
Dec. 13, 8 p.m.
1607 San Jacinto Blvd.
Spend your Saturday morning with the Grinch! This family event features a petting zoo, face painting, a donut wall, hot cocoa bar, holiday craft stations, snow fall, pictures with the Grinch, and more. Rumor has it that stylists will be in attendance, ready to transform kids’ hair into classic Whoville fashion. Not only is this event a fun way to start off your weekend, it also benefits Partnerships for Children and proceeds go toward children in Child Protective Services.
Dec. 7, 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
516 E. Sixth Street
Austin has no shortage of festive holiday bars to spice up the season. Pop on your Santa hat and duck into some of the city’s most intricately decorated venues, featuring Christmas cocktails, comfy chairs, and plenty of holiday spirit. Here’s our guide to the best.
Bundle up and enjoy an evening on the capitol grounds for Austin’s 25th annual singalong and tree lighting countdown. Get there early to peruse the holiday market and introduce Santa to your kiddos, before the city’s dazzling display of Christmas tree lights turn on and signal the official beginning of the holiday season.
Dec. 7, 5-10 p.m.
Texas State Capitol, 1100 Congress Ave.
The Community First Village of Lights is returning for a fourth year with all the necessary stops to put you in a festive mood—an Advent market selling homemade gifts by formerly homeless craftsmen and women, seasonal sips and treats by The Community Grille, and a choreographed light show synchronized holiday music and featuring a whopping total of 200,000 lights.
Dec. 7, 5-9 p.m.
9301 Hog Eye Road
Don’t miss the 53rd lighting of the iconic Zilker Holiday Tree, which has received a glow-up this year, featuring mostly LED lights in a bid to become more sustainable. Try keeping your balance spinning under the 155-foot original moonlight tower adorned with red, yellow, blue, and green bulbs and keep your hands warm with a creamy hot chocolate from one of the nearby vendors.
Lighting ceremony: Dec. 1, 5:30 p.m. to midnight
Duration: Dec. 1 to Jan. 1, 6 p.m. to midnight
2100 Barton Springs Road
Looking for an excuse to get out of the cold? Head down to Come and Take It Live dressed in your favorite ugly Christmas sweater and take in the live performances from five different artists.
Dec 20, 7:00 p.m.
2015 E. Riverside Drive, Bldg. 4
Get a head start on your holiday shopping at the Blue Genie Art Bazaar, where you can find items ranging from ceramics to jewelry to clothing, all made by local artists. Meander around the walls of photography with your family, or take yourself on a date as you peruse the aisles and support the Austin art community.
Nov. 22 to Dec. 24, 10 a.m to 10 p.m (Dec. 24: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.)
6100 Airport Blvd.