They say everything is bigger in Texas and Christmas is no exception. If you are looking for a Texas city where you can spend the holidays, Austin is the ideal location.
Austin has a terrific climate, exciting venues and interesting landmarks that make it a great place to visit any time of year, but Christmastime is especially terrific. If you are looking to spend time in Austin during the holiday season, here are a few activities you won’t want to miss out on.
While it may not be cold enough in Austin to see any real ice, there are plenty of rinks that offer a fun experience.
Chapparal Ice is great for year-round skating, but the real hot spot may be the Whole Foods flagship store on Lamar. Food and drink are sold on the lower level. Then head up to the rooftop to skate along to holiday music.
Visit the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar
The Armadillo Christmas Bazaar opens at the Palmer Events Center in mid-December and it’s a great place to find fine art and artisan goods. Browse the 160 plus stalls while drinking cold beer and eating the terrific food the vendors have available. There are also tons of musicians on hand to provide live entertainment.
Stroll Through the Zilker Trail of Lights
This 1.25-mile strip features a jaw dropping light display, holiday themed sculptures, a Ferris wheel, a carousel, 20 food trailers and visits with Santa. It has been an annual tradition since 1965 and attracts thousands of people each year.
Participate in the Trail of Light Fun Run
Before the Trail of Lights opens to the public it hosts the Trail of Lights Fun Run. Participants can run, jog or stroll the 2.1-mile course through Zilker Park and end up at the Finish Line Festival that includes a fitness and wellness expo, a costume contest, a live deejay and photos with Santa. Plus, it’s a great way to enjoy the trail of lights before everyone else gets to it.
Visit the Zilker Holiday Tree
Zilker Park is also the site of the biggest holiday tree in town. At 155 feet high and 380 feet wide, this tree holds 3309 lights and a giant star that measures a whopping 10 feet between its points. It’s a dizzying sight and a memorable must-see experience.
Enjoy the Mozart’s Coffee Roasters Experience
This coffee shop and bakery does Christmas right by decorating their store front with over 150,000 lights. They pipe unique Christmas tunes like UT’s Texas Fight Song, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s Wizards in Winter and many a song from the Pentatonix. They also serve great coffee and hot chocolate.
Buy A Real Christmas Tree
There are plenty of Christmas Tree Farms in and around Austin where you can buy a real-life Christmas tree including the Elgin Christmas Tree Farm, the Hope Valley Tree Fam and the Evergreen Farms Christmas Trees. If you are on vacation, it’s unlikely you’ll be buying a tree for your hotel room, but these farms are filled with beautiful nature that’s worth checking out.
Partake in Austin’s Annual Holiday Sing Along and Stroll
This is another Austin tradition you won’t want to miss. Every year in early December, the people of Austin gather in front of the Texas State Capitol Building to partake in this event that is hosted by the Downtown Austin Alliance, KUT 90.5, KUTX 98.9 and the Sustainable Food Center. Caroling begins at 6 PM and is followed by the lighting of the Capital Christmas tree, photos with Santa, live music, a farmer’s market and fun activities. Local businesses extend their hours so they can be a part of the fun.
Embrace the Weirdness of Weird on 37th Street
The community of Austin invites you to be weird this holiday season. During Christmastime, all of 37th St. lights up with decorations that are off the beaten path. Stroll down the street to find out what they come up with.
Check out What 2nd St. District Has to Offer
For 2nd St. District, Christmas is not just a day, it’s an entire month. Festivities include a Holiday Winter Walk and Santa Lounge and Market that takes place at W. Austin. It provides visitors with an opportunity to check out store fronts that are decorated with festive holiday scenes. You can also enjoy the lounge and market by sipping holiday cocktails, browsing pop up shops and making donations to local charities.
See a Holiday Play
Austin is a great place for entertainment and there are plenty of venues throughout the city that host holiday themed performances. Christmas Carol at the Zach Theater is one that shouldn’t be missed. The performers take the classic to a whole new level adding a Motown twist that has theater goers dancing in the aisles.
View the Gingerbread Houses
The Four Seasons is a must see stop for vacationers due to their Gingerbread Display. The display features gingerbread houses that represent different holiday themes, and it is free and open to the public. The hotel also hosts seasonal teas and brunches throughout holiday time.
Take a Train Ride to the North Pole
Think you can’t visit the North Pole from Austin? Think again! Every year the Austin Steam Train Association transforms one of their vintage trains into “The North Pole Flyer”. While the train doesn’t exactly get to the North Pole (it’s more like Bertram actually), families get to spend quality time with each other and Mr. and Mrs. Clause while enjoying hot chocolate and Christmas cookies.
Austin is a great place to take in holiday cheer in a big way. What will you be doing when you visit?