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Your Guide to Holiday Activities in Austin

The trail of lights which is a longstanding holiday activity in austin

Looking for holiday activities in Austin this winter? Central Texans love getting in the holiday spirit! There are plenty of activities and events to help you and your loved ones enjoy a bright and cheery holiday season.

It’s smart to get started on planning early, since many of the most popular and traditional events fill up or sell out quickly. Fortunately, there are plenty of holiday activities in Austin that don’t require tickets. And no matter what you’re looking for, there’s truly something for everyone. There are dazzling holiday lights, family-friendly events, outdoor activities and longtime local traditions.

If you’re looking for local holiday performances and events, A Christmas Carol at ZACH Theatre is a great option. And, it is a family-friendly holiday tradition here in Austin. It’s a “musical sleigh ride” that promises to inspire dancing in the aisles. Another longtime local holiday favorite, Ballet Austin’s The Nutcracker is a true delight. This show is complete with the Austin Symphony Orchestra bringing Tchaikovsky’s score to life.

If you’re looking for unique gifts and local holiday shopping experiences, there are lots of great options:

  • Armadillo Christmas Bazaar. At the Palmer Events Center downtown, this “true Austin experience” features live bands. Check out local artists offering everything from stocking stuffers to upscale fine art.
  • Blue Genie Art Bazaar. This longtime favorite offers online shopping along with its annual in-person holiday shopping experience. This bazaar features unique offerings from hundreds of local and regional artists.
  • Renegade Austin Craft Fair. The weekend after Thanksgiving, explore Renegade Austin’s annual holiday market. This fair offers unique gifts and other goods from local and national artists.
  • A Christmas Affair. A Christmas Affair is a five-day holiday market offered in mid-November. It is put on by the Junior League of Austin and benefiting its community non-profit partners. More than 200 retail merchants from across the country are represented!

There are plenty of other ways to enjoy the holiday season, such as ice skating on the rooftop of the flagship Whole Foods store. While you’re there, you can pick up everything you need to make some delicious holiday recipes.

And the holidays would not be complete without taking in some beautiful, twinkly light displays! This is why many homeowners hire a professional to hang their holiday lights. There are too many fun activities going on to spend your free time hanging your lights! Read on to learn all about Austin’s holiday light display options this winter.

the entrance to trail of lights which is an austin holiday light display option for families

Austin Holiday Light Display Options

There are so many wonderful options for enjoying the Austin holiday lights displays this winter season. Whether you prefer a huge, professionally curated lights display or a smaller, more DIY neighborhood experience, the Austin area has something for everyone. Here are a few great options:

  • The Austin Trail of Lights. For many people, the Trail of Lights at Zilker Park is the first thing that comes to mind when planning for the holiday season in Austin. A long-standing local holiday tradition, the Trail of Lights will see its 57th season starting this December. With over 2 million lights, 90 lighted trees and more than 70 lighted tunnels, it is spectacular. It’s also one of Austin’s three biggest annual events, so plan accordingly. Parking is likely to be tough for visitors on foot, and lines are always long. A Dash Pass is a good option for quicker and easier access.
  • Peppermint Parkway. Circuit of the Americas offers a holiday light and entertainment experience to rival Zilker’s Trail of Lights. Visitors can expect dancing elves, an enchanted forest, mascots Pepper and Mint and, of course, lots and lots of twinkling holiday lights (millions, to be exact!).
  • Luminations at the Wildflower Center. Imagine warm, gentle light from thousands of luminarias lighting up the paths running through the Wildflower Center in southwest Austin. Then, add in hot cocoa, holiday cookies and festive music and performances. You have a delightfully unique outdoor holiday lights experience that is beloved by people of all ages.
  • Holiday Lights at Mozart’s: What’s even better than holiday lights? A dazzling display of lights that sparkle on the waters of Lake Austin in time to festive holiday music! The annual lights display at Mozart’s Coffee Roasters is beloved by Austinites for its unique beauty and location. Not to mention the delicious coffee, cocoa and other holiday treats available at the cafe.
  • Johnson City’s Lights Spectacular. If you don’t mind a bit of a drive, the Lights Spectacular holiday display in Johnson City lives up to its name. This event is about an hour’s drive west of downtown Austin. You can expect good old-fashioned Christmas cheer for free beginning the day after Thanksgiving.
  • Lala’s Little Nugget: It’s Christmas all year long at Lala’s, a delightfully funky little bar in the Crestview neighborhood. For folks who prefer to enjoy a much smaller Christmas lights display along with a delicious cold beer or cocktail, Lala’s offers an unforgettable and uniquely Austin experience. And, one you don’t even have to wait until Christmas to enjoy!
  • Your Neighborhood Holiday Lights Display. Most neighborhoods in the Austin area offer DIY lights displays that spread holiday cheer. Some neighbors even try to outdo each other! At these homes, lights twinkle in time to holiday music that you can listen to on your car’s radio by tuning in to a specific station posted at the site. If you want to wow your neighbors and bring a little holiday warmth to their hearts, consider hiring a pro to hang your holiday lights. It’s the best and most efficient—not to mention safest and most hassle-free—way to bring your vision of holiday sparkle and cheer to life. And, it leaves you time to experience all the delights of the season.

the austin skyline

Volunteer Austin Christmas Opportunities

There are many ways to give back in Austin this holiday season. Plenty of folks want to bring comfort and cheer to their neighbors in need of support during what should be a season of festivity and abundance for all. Many opportunities start in November and extend through the new year.

The Austin Empty Bowl Project is held every November on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. Founded almost 25 years ago, this family-friendly event is an effort by local potters to fight hunger in the Austin area. Visitors select a favorite bowl from thousands made by local potters. Then, enjoy live music along with gourmet soup and bread offered by local chefs. Event volunteers are always needed. You can sign up to volunteer in early November.

On Thanksgiving morning, ThunderCloud Subs will host its 31st-annual Turkey Trot. Proceeds will benefit Caritas of Austin, an organization fighting homelessness in the Austin area. The ThunderCloud Subs Turkey Trot is a family-friendly event that depends on the help of hundreds of volunteers. Volunteer opportunities will be offered both in-person and virtually this year.

There are many groups and initiatives around Austin working to ensure that everyone can enjoy a magical holiday season. Many of them depend on volunteer support to fulfill their missions. The Austin Police Department provides holiday meals and toys to thousands of families each year through Operation Blue Santa.

The Travis County Sheriff’s Office has a similar initiative with its Brown Santa program. The University of Texas even has its own version with Orange Santa! And SAFE, an organization that supports Austin residents experiencing violence and abuse at home, welcomes volunteer support during the holiday season to assist with its SAFE Holidays program.

The Junior League of Austin hosts Coats for Kids, its annual drive to provide Central Texas kids in need with warm winter coats. This organization relies on volunteer and donor support to operate. Meals on Wheels also relies on volunteer support to deliver warm holiday meals to Central Texas residents in need.

If you’re busy volunteering throughout the holiday season, you may not have time to tend to your own festive decorations at home. Or perhaps you want to bring sparkle and cheer to loved ones and neighbors with your own holiday lights display. But, you don’t relish the idea of the labor required or the potential safety hazards involved in climbing a tall ladder to put up heavy strings of lights that could shatter if they aren’t hung correctly or they accidentally drop to the ground.

That’s why many Austin residents know that hiring a reputable professional to hang their holiday lights is the way to go. A pro has all the equipment and experience needed to bring your dream lights display to life, along with your holiday spirit. The team members at ABC Home & Commercial Services work with homeowners to learn about their unique visions and make design or practical suggestions as needed. Then, they install the lights display safely and efficiently, so you can relax and enjoy the lights while attending to their choice of holiday activities.

ABC Can Hang Your Holiday Lights

With all the fun activities going on during the holidays, it’s hard to find the time to hang your lights. When you contact ABC Home & Commercial Services, we can hang your holiday lights for you. This way, you can spend your holiday season doing the things that matter most—being with friends and family.

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