The holidays are here and what better way to celebrate than taking your family to one (or more) of the many seasonal celebrations happening around town.
Holidays at the Domain – Nov. 8-Dec. 24; various hours
Photos with Santa, live holiday music on two stages, strolling carolers, light Show, holiday craft and storytime, and a special live music event for kids of all ages, The Jingle Bell Jamboree, takes place on December 7. More information here.
10th Annual Joyous Light Show at Mozart’s Coffee Roasters – Nov. 21-Jan. 5; Daily, 6-11 p.m.; Four times every hour
Mozart’s Coffee Roasters, 3825 Lake Austin Blvd
Sip on hot chocolate and enjoy a delicious treat from the bakery while watching the dazzling light show. Mozart’s decorates the deck with more than 1 million LED lights set to favorite holiday tunes. Admission is free and open to all. Parking is available in front of the shop or across Lake Austin Blvd in the overflow lot. Closed on Thanksgiving Day. Closes at 10 p.m. Christmas Eve. Closed Christmas Day.
Blue Genie Art Bazaar – Nov. 22-Dec. 24; 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; Free admission
6100 Airport Blvd.; parking available in the lot
This Austin treasure is a great place to find unique holiday gifts and support local artists. The Bazaar features handmade artwork and gifts from more than 200 area artists. Shoppers can expect to find paintings, photography, jewelry, clothing, accessories, and more. Strollers are welcome, but may be hard to navigate through crowded aisles during peak hours. A kid-friendly activity area is available for supervised children to explore.
Ice Skate on the Plaza at Whole Foods – Nov. 23-Jan. 20
Whole Foods, 525 N. Lamar Blvd.
Ice skate in downtown Austin at Whole Foods’ flagship store! The rooftop rink is open 10 a.m.-10 p.m. daily (holiday hours vary). Tickets are $12 in advance, $15 at the door.
It’s a Wonderful Life Classic Radiocast – Nov 29 – Dec 22, 2019
Penfold Theater, Old Settlers Association of Williamson County
3300 E Palm Valley Blvd, Round Rock
Frank Capra’s holiday favorite finds new life on the fictitious KPNF radio station. Be transported to another era as George Bailey experiences despair, hope, and redemption. Special show at The Driskill, Sunday, December 22.
Santa on the Terrace – Nov. 30, 8 a.m.;
Long Center for Performing Arts, 701 W. Riverside Dr.
Bring the kids to see Santa and get free pictures taken with the beautiful Austin skyline as the backdrop. Enjoy treats and holiday activities. Pictures are on a first-come, first-served basis. Parking will available in the Palmer Events Center garage for $8.
ZACH Theatre, 202 S. Lamar Blvd.
A Christmas Carol – November 20-December 29
The ZACH-inspired adaptation of Dickens’ timeless classic is infused with music that spans time and genres to appeal to everyone in your family. Dance in the aisles while celebrating with the Cratchits and the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future.
Santaland Diaries – November 29-December 29
An irreverent and cynical Macy’s elf named Crumpet takes the audience on a rollicking, not so politically correct ride through the holiday season as experienced by a department store elf. Recommended for ages 14 and up because of adult humor.
Holiday Heroes – December 7-14
This fun holiday sing-a-long is great for ages 3 and up and will get he entire family into the holiday spirit.
Muppet Christmas Carol – Dec. 1; 1:30 & 4 p.m.
Texas Spirit Theater – Bullock Museum, 1800 Congress Ave.
Explore the glorious Bob Bullock Museum for free on the first Sunday of every month. On this particular Sunday, stick around and enjoy Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, as told by the Muppets. The special sensory screening is $8 for anyone 4 and up.Please join us on Tuesday, Dec. 3 for one of Mueller’s most beloved traditions, the 14th Annual Tower Lighting.
Zilker Tree Lighting – Dec. 1, 5:30 p.m.
2100 Barton Springs Rd.
Watch in awe as the City of Austin illuminates the largest man-made holiday tree. The tree is 155 feet tall and features more than 3,000 lights. Access to the tree is free and independent of the Austin Trail of Lights admission. Food vendors and other merchants will operate at the Tree throughout the month of December. The tree will be on display each night from 6:00 p.m. – midnight, December 1 – January 1 .
Paramount Theatre Home for the Holidays – Dec. 1 – 31
Paramount Theatre, 713 Congress Ave.
The historic Paramount Theatre is your home for the holidays with its selection of holiday movies, family theater, and more. Delight in the beauty of the decked out halls of the Theatre as you and your family enjoy offerings such as The Snowy Day, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Home Alone, White Christmas, and Elf.
14th Annual Tower Lighting at Mueller – Dec. 3; 5:30-7:30 p.m.
John Gaines Park; 2708 Sorin St.
The festivities start at 5:30 with live music, food trucks, treats, and prizes. The tower lighting will take place after brief remarks from Austin City Council Member Kathie Tovo at 6:30 p.m. The event is free and open to all!
Handel’s Messiah – Dec. 3 & 4
Hyde Park Baptist Church & Emmaus Catholic Church
The Austin Symphony and Chorus Austin present Handel’s Messiah, the quintessential holiday tradition. Find comfort in the familiar magic and bask in the joy of rediscovery during this powerful and beautiful performance. Performances will be held at Hyde Park Baptist Church and Emmaus Catholic Church.
Luminations -Dec. 5-8 & 12-15, 6-10 p.m.
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, 4801 La Crosse Ave.
Stroll through gardens and trails illuminated by thousands of luminaries and light displays. Enjoy performances from Blue Lapis Light aerial dance company, live music from local artists, disco ball forest, and illuminated swings. Food and beverages will be available for purchase. Ideal for anyone who likes to slow down and experience nature’s beauty at their own pace. $18 for ages 5 and up; free for 4 and under. Thursdays are for members only.
39th Annual Georgetown Christmas Stroll -Dec. 6, 5-9 p.m. & Sat., Dec. 7; 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
Kick off the holidays with a hometown celebration. The weekend features a holiday parade, Bethlehem Village, live music, tasty treats, and more than 100 arts and crafts booths. The Stroll also will have children’s activities and rides. Santa also will be on hand to visit with all the good boys and girls. Families can enjoy dessert with The Grinch on Friday at 5 p.m., followed by a screening of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas at 6 p.m.
Cedar Park Tree Lighting & Santa’s Workshop – Dec. 6, 6: 6:30 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Heritage Oak Park – 875 Quest Parkway, Cedar Park
Come to Cedar Park for their annual tree lighting celebration on Dec. 6. Kids can enjoy a snow hill and play area, and visit Santa. There will be life music, games, a yule fire, and more. Food and concessions also will be available. The Cedar Park Police Department will be accepting new and unwrapped gifts for Blue Santa. Admission is free.
Round Rock’s Christmas Family Night – Dec. 6; 6:30 p.m.
Main Street, Round Rock
The annual holiday festival is coming back to Main Street. The celebration kicks off with a message from the mayor and Santa at the Main Stage (Mays and Main Street), followed by the illumination of the Hometown Holiday Lights. This free event will have something for everyone, including live music, dancers, candle making, game booths, Frosty the Snowman, Santa Claus and more. Children should bring their wishlists for Santa. Parents, bring your camera for pictures! Stop by the library for their holiday puppet show, The Year Santa Almost Forgot Christmas. Performances will start at 7, 7:45, and 8:30 p.m. Enjoy free hot dogs, popcorn, hot chocolate, and other refreshments.
Hutto Christmas Tree Lighting – Dec. 6; 5:30-8 p.m.,
East Street, Hutto
Enjoy holiday crafts and activities, then count down to the tree lighting. Look for a special guest dressed in red!
German Christmas Market –Dec. 7; 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
The German Free School, 507 E. 10th St.
The German Texans Heritage Society creates a traditional German Christmas experience for shoppers. They’ll have authentic, handcrafted German Christmas ornaments, Schwiebogen (ornamental candle holders), decor and more. Shoppers can enjoy German food, drinks, and even entertainment for all ages. Parking is limited; ride sharing is encouraged.
Pflugerville’s Pfestival of Lights & Christmas Parade – Dec. 7, 4-7 p.m.
Main Street, Pflugerville
Get ready for an afternoon of pfun and pfestivity, Pflugerville style. Pfestival goers can enjoy live music, refreshments, and vendors along Main Street. The lighted parade begins at 5 p.m. and runs along Railroad Ave. After the parade, join Santa as he lights the tree and poses for photos.
A Christmas Carol – Reduced, Reused & Recycled – Dec. 7-8 & 14-15; 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Austin Scottish Rite Theater, 207 W 18th St.
This original Austin Scottish Rite Theater musical combines the suspense and tradition of the beloved Dickens tale with new hope for the future. All ages will groove to Laura Freeman’s original live music, dance, puppets, and more! Who knows? It may even snow! Free show parking as available. Metered street parking also nearby. Tickets available online and at the door: scottishritetheater.org.
Downtown Holiday Stroll: 25th Anniversary – Dec. 7, 5-10 p.m.
Texas State Capitol, 1100 Congress Ave.
Kick off the holidays at this free family event! Enjoy live music, a holiday market, and photos with Santa, food trucks, and more. The annual KUT & KUTX Holiday Sing-Along starts at 6 p.m. on the Capitol steps, followed by the tree lighting at 7.
Gingerbread Workshop at Thinkery – Dec. 7 and various dates
1830 Simond Ave.
The Thinkery offers four different workshops for you and your family to create and construct a unique gingerbread house. Choose from the classic workshop, Candy Chemistry, Seriously Sweet Structures, or a private workshop. Classes are available throughout the month of December. Registration does not include admission to Thinkery.
Cherrywood Art Fair – Dec. 7 & 8, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
3808 Maplewood Ave.
Chula League’s 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. The popular event, now in its 18th year, will take place Saturday, Dec. 7 and Sunday, Dec. 8 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Maplewood Elementary School located at 3808 Maplewood Ave. Cherrywood Art Fair is free and open to the public. Proceeds from the event benefit Chula League’s nonprofit arts programming.
Ballet Austin presents The Nutcracker – Dec. 7–23
Dell Hall at The Long Center for Performing Arts, 701 W. Riverside Dr.
Vibrant sets and costumes adorn the stage in this colorful holiday tradition that features more than 200 dancers. Join Ballet Austin for The Nutcracker at the Long Center Dec. 7-23. The show runs approximately 2 hours and is recommended for all ages. Purchase tickets at balletaustin.org.
Brush Square Holiday Candlelight Celebration – Dec. 7; 3-5 p.m.
411 E. 5th St.
Bring the whole family (and pets, too!) and join the Brush Square Museums to bring in the holiday season at this FREE EVENT! Activities will include: Sunrise Homeless Choir performance, Austin Animal Center Adoptions and Free Tags, Candlelit Historic Square, Holiday Crafts and Treats, Loose Parts Nature Play with City of Austin Park Rangers, Bark Rangers with City of Austin Park Rangers. FREE!
Holiday Ornament Making – Dec. 8; 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Blanton Museum of Art, 200 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Construct a simple yet creative yarn ornament, inspired by the Blanton’s community collaboration project, Mindful Weaving. This family-friendly activity will take place in the Meredith Lounge, located on the second floor of the museum. This event is included in the price of admission. Free for members and UT students, faculty, and staff.
Austin Trail of Lights – Dec. 10-23; 7-10 p.m. nightly
2100 Barton Springs Rd.
Entering its 55th year, the Austin Trail of Lights is the longest running and best known holiday tradition. Bring your family to enjoy the 2 million lights, 70 displays, lighted tunnels, 90 lighted holiday trees, nightly entertainment, Austin’s famous food trucks, and magical holiday activities sure to create treasured memories. New this year is the Trail of Flights wine bar in the Zilker Village, expanded Holiday Market, and s’mores making. Tickets start at $5.
Armadillo Christmas Bazaar – Dec. 13-24; 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. (Christmas Eve hours: 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Palmer Event Center, 900 Barton Springs Rd., Austin
The Armadillo Christmas Bazaar is a 12-day fine art, shopping destination featuring national and local award-winning artists, live music, and two full bars in a festive, lively atmosphere.
Gingerbread Villas – Dec. 14; 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Contemporary Austin – Laguna Gloria location; 3809 W. 35th
The Contemporary Austin offers free monthly hands-on art-making activities, recommended for ages 2–11. In December, they’re offering a gingerbread workshop! Reserve your spot by Dec. 1 in order to participate.
Hutto Downtown Christmas Fair – Dec. 14; 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
208 East St., Hutto
Come shop this festive event that features more than 125 vendors, food, children’s activities, live entertainment, and snow! Downtown stores and restaurants will be open, offering specials and sales throughout the day. Children’s Area features snow slide, bouncy houses, and more. Free to attend; children’s area wristbands are $10.
Winter Solstice Lantern Parade – Dec. 21; 6-7:30 p.m.
Bring a flame-free lantern to this festive parade that celebrates the first day of winter! Minor Mishap Marching Band, a 25-piece renegade circus-punk brass band, organizes the event. Free and open to all!
Tuba Christmas Austin – Dec. 23; 12-1 p.m.
Texas State Capitol, 1100 Congress Ave.
Gather your friends and family on the Capitol steps to experience 200 tuba and euphonium players performing Christamas carols.
For more festive holiday events, including holiday markets, pub runs and more, check out our 2019 Holiday Guide.
Author credit: Susan Cooper