This time of year can bring so many fun things to do around Austin. But also- tis the season to feel overwhelmed with all the things. Want to know where to go to get Santa photos done? Got you girl! Looking for a unique date night for you and your partner? How about some suggestions on where to dine on a rooftop inside a cozy, romantic igloo!
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Light Displays and Shows
- Austin’s Trail of Lights opens on December 8 to the public. It is one of the most beloved events here in Austin, with it’s venue being Zilker Park. Some nights are free while others come with a small entrance fee. Click here to learn more!
- Mozart’s Light Show is another family friendly fan favorite in ATX but this year there is the addition of the light up dance floor and silent disco. To see the show, you must purchase a table (either picnic table or standing only table) but there is always an option to attend their Bavarian Market (held in the parking lot) and watch the show (with an obstructed view though) from there. Some say another trick is renting a boat on Lake Austin and seeing the show from there, but I have never personally tested this theory. Click here to learn more!
- Peppermint Parkway is a drive through light show held at The Circuit of the Americas track in Del Valley. They open on November 24 and boast a mile long trail of light displays as well as characters. They also have a holiday plaza full of games, food, rides and activities. Click here to learn more!
- Maywald Light Display is held at a private residence off Circle Dr. in Austin. They started setting up their display 16 years ago. The family asks for a donation to Make-a-Wish as the “entrance fee” to see the lights. You will NOT be dissapointed, I promise. In my opinion, this one is a MUST SEE. It opens on November 23.
- Buda puts on their own version of the Trail of Lights. They’re open December 6-9 and December 13-16 from 6pm-9pm. It’s held every year at Stagecoach park. Come enjoy food, fun, light displays and a visit with Santa!
- The Domain Northside‘s Tree will be putting on a nightly show starting on November 19, running through December 25 every hour on the hour. M-F the show runs from 5pm-9pm and on weekends from 12pm-9pm (8pm on Sunday.)
- The Downtown Austin Holiday Stroll will take place on December 2 from 5pm-9pm where there will be vendors, food trucks, photos with Santa and so much more! The event is on Congress Ave from 9th to 11 st.
- Lakeway also has their own Trail of Lights that runs from December 1 to January 1 from 6pm-12am nightly. There is no charge to park or attend.
- Longhorn Lights is a new show that will transform the Drag on campus to a beautiful winter wonderland. The show is set to music from the longhorn band. Drive or walk along Guadalupe St from 21st to 24 Sts to see burnt orange and white lights amongst 24 oak trees.
Ice Rinks and places to Ice Skate
- Ice Rink at the Long Center
- Bee Cave on Ice opens on November 10 and closes January 15. Click here to see hours, cost and directions.
- Whole Foods flagship store on Lamar and 6th on the rooftop
- Ice Rodeo at The Four Seasons opens on November 18 and runs though January 7. Ice Rodeo at Four Seasons Hotel Austin features an outdoor ice rink, outdoor dining cabins, pop-up lounges, immersive holiday décor, extravagant art installations and more.
Holiday Shopping Markets
- Blue Genie Art Baazar– running from November 17-December 24, the Blue Genie Art Baazar boasts many local artisans and is the definition of “Keep Austin Weird”. There are so many unique gifts! Located at: 6100 Airport Blvd, open from 10am-10pm
- Holiday Mini Market- small women and mother own businesses all come together to create shopping for mothers and littles alike! Sunday December 3 from 10am-3pm at Distribution Hall.
- Armadillo Christmas Bazaar– December 15-23 from 11am-9:30pm daily at the Palmer Events Center.
- Holiday Arts Market at Hill Country Galleria– every weekend in December. Friday- 4pm-9pm and Saturday 11am-7pm
- Downtown Holiday Stroll– Saturday December 2 from 5pm-9pm. This is the 29th annual tree lighting with food trucks, vendors, photos with Santa and more!!
- Budafest– December 1-3 with so many things to do. There will be a tree lighting, a lighted holiday parade, vendors, and photos with Santa. Also- did a mention a carnival!?
- Ballet Austin presents: The Nutcracker!– Join Ballet Austin in their 61st annual presentation of The Nutcracker with live accompaniment from Austin Symphony.
- Teddy Bear Brunch at The Four Seasons– The most anticipated event of the season returns more whimsical than ever. Each brunch will feature a lavish spread of festive food and drink, visits with Santa and playful teddy bear decor that will delight the imaginations of kids of all ages.
- North Pole Flyer Train– The classic North Pole Flyer is back! Departing from our historic 1912 Bertram Depot, the 2023 trip brings back some of your favorite activities and entertainers! Our special 2-hour excursion on a real train features a visit (and hugs!) from Santa and Mrs. Claus, all-you-can-drink hot cocoa, and a locally baked holiday cookie.
- Lake Travis Lighted Boat Parade– takes place on December 2 from 6pm-10pm at the Crosswater Yacht Club. Boaters decorate their boats with colorful lights and decorations, creating a dazzling display on the water
- Barton Creek Square– typically from 11am-7pm located inside Barton Creek Mall in the lower level by the Cheesecake Factory.
- Lakeline Mall– the store opens on November 10. Reserve your time slot here! Located in the lower level by Helzberg Diamonds.
- Christmas at the Caswell House– December 3 from 12:30pm-3:30pm
- Austin Taco Project– Enjoy breakfast with Santa from 7am-11am on December 16th and 23rd.
- Geraldine’s at Hotel Van Zandt– available via online reservation from December 1-December 31st.
- Fairmont Austin– open daily with reservations starting on December 2. Igloos can accommodate up to 6 people and the reservation is for up to 2 hours.
- Otopia Rooftop- The WinterSol event runs daily from November 20th to February 9th from 5pm-11pm (midnight on Saturdays.) Reserve your igloo here!