Holiday markets, Trail of Lights and visits from Santa: 25 winter events to attend in the Austin area this December


With Thanksgiving and Black Friday in the rearview mirror, the 2017 holiday season is now in full swing. Here are some of the winter activities taking place throughout the Austin area through the new year.

Through Dec. 31
The Zilker tree is on display

First lit on Nov. 27, Austin continues its annual tradition of lighting the 155-foot-tall Zilker Holiday Tree nightly. The tree is decorated with a total of 3,309 lights. 6 p.m.-midnight. Free. Zilker Metropolitan Park, 2100 Barton Springs Road, Austin. 512-974-6700.

Through Dec. 24
Shop at the Blue Genie Art Bazaar

Opened daily from Black Friday to Christmas Eve, the bazaar features handmade gifts and art for purchase from local artist. 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Free.  Blue Genie Art Bazaar, 6100 Airport Blvd., Austin. 512-222-7303.

Dec. 1
Holiday tree lighting and Santa’s Workshop takes place in Cedar Park

Residents and visitors can attend the lighting of the tree, hear live music, take carriage rides, play games and win prizes, play in bounce houses, take photos with Santa, and participate in arts and crafts projects. 6:30-9 p.m. Free. Heritage Oak Park, 875 Quest Parkway, Cedar Park.512-401-5500.

Dec. 1-2
Christmas Stroll brings vendors and a parade to The Square in

The annual downtown Christmas event features arts, crafts and food vendors as well as a parade. 5-9 p.m. (Fri.), 10 a.m.-8 p.m. (Sat.). Free. The Square. 710 S. Main St., Georgetown. 512-868-8675.

Dec. 1-Jan. 1
Lakeway’s Trail of Lights is open

After the Lights On! celebration Dec. 1, this winter’s trail in Lakeway is open nightly through Jan. 1 and includes holiday lights and decorations. 6 p.m.-midnight. Free. Lakeway City Hall, 1102 Lohmans Crossing, Lakeway. 512-314-7509.

Dec. 2
A Christmas festival and parade are held in Old Town Leander

The Old Town Christmas Festival includes the Old Town Rudolph Run 5K, an ice skating rink, Leander in Lights Parade and food court. 7:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Free admission, fees for some activities. Old Town Leander, 100 N. Brushy Street, Leander. 512-259-1907.

Dec. 2
Skate with Santa at Chaparral Ice in Austin

Chaparral Ice hosts the annual event with photo opportunities with Santa Claus, Christmas music, hot chocolate and an “Alice in Wonderland” performance from Chaparral Ice’s holiday figure skating program. Noon-2:30 p.m. Admission varies. 2525 W. Anderson Lane.

Dec. 2
German-Texas Christmas Market takes place in Austin

Attendees can shop for authentic Christmas merchandise imported from Germany, including nutcrackers, smokers and handmade ornaments. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Free. German-Texan Heritage Society, 507 E. 10th St., Austin.

Dec. 2
Sing and stroll through downtown Austin

The Holiday Sing-Along & Downtown Stroll celebrates the arrival of the holiday season. The event features live music and the lighting of the Capitol Christmas tree. Free. 5-9 p.m. Congress Avenue and 11th St., Austin. 512-469-1766.

Dec. 3
The Bee Cave Chamber of Commerce presents its Fit Fox 5K Jingle Bell Run

The race benefits the Lake Travis Education Foundation and includes music, food and drinks. 10 a.m. $15 (children’s run), $35 (adult registration). Hill Country Galleria, 12700 Hill Country Blvd., Bee Cave. 512- 263-0001.

Dec. 3
The Westlake chamber hosts its annual holiday Wonderfest

The family-friendly holiday festival includes food, games, a visit from Santa on a fire truck and live entertainment. 2-4 p.m. Free. Westlake High School parking lot, 4100 Westbank Drive, Austin. 512-327-3088.

Dec. 7
Concordia University community lights its holiday tree

Concordia University Texas lights its tree for the first time this season. The holiday tree is decorated by students, faculty and alumnus on the campus pier. Participants sing carols to music played by student groups. 6:15-7:15 p.m. Free. 11400 Concordia University Drive, Austin.

Dec. 7-9
A 300-member cast portrays the life of Jesus in Cedar Park

Follow The Star is an outdoor, walk- or drive-through production of 10 different scenes from the life of Jesus Christ. Donations of food and money are accepted for Hill Country Community Ministries. 6:30-9 p.m. Free. Good Shepherd Church, 700 W. Whitestone Blvd., Cedar Park. 512-258-6227.

Dec. 8-10
East View High School in Georgetown presents ‘A Jolly Holiday’

The production features a rotating cast of students with solos, duets and larger productions. 7 p.m. (Fri.); 3 p.m., 7 p.m. (Sat.); 3 p.m. (Sun.). $5. East View High School theater, 4490 E. University Ave., Georgetown.  512-943-1800.

Dec. 9
Christmas pet event benefits animal rescue in Pflugerville

Santa Paws Is Coming To Town features photos with Santa and pets, a silent auction and more. Proceeds benefit Cuz I Matter Animal Rescue. Noon-4 p.m. Free. Hanovers Draught Haus, 108 E. Main St., Pflugerville. 512-969-5027.

Dec. 9-23
Central Texans converge on Zilker Park for the Trail of Lights

The annual tradition features more than 40 displays, 2 million lights, food trucks, nightly entertainment and holiday activities. 7-10 p.m. Free (Dec. 9-14, 18-19), $3. Zilker Park, 2100 Barton Springs Road, Austin.

Dec. 10
Race in a festive 5K at The Domain

The 20th Annual Austin Jingle Bell 5K includes a chip-timed 5K race or a Kid’s Fun Run. The first 1,000 registrant receive a moisture-wicking athletics shirt. 7:45 a.m. Registration fees vary. The Domain 1, 11410 Century Oaks Terrace, Austin.

Dec. 10
Arthritis Foundation’s Holiday run supports finding a cure

The Arthritis Foundation’s annual Jingle Bell Run includes a holiday-themed 5K race. Proceeds support the effort to cure arthritis. 2 p.m. (registration begins), 4 p.m. (race starts). Camp Mabry, 10220 W. 35th St., Austin.

Dec. 12-14
Local organizations and businesses join to feed families in need

Capital Metro, Whole Foods and the Central Texas Food Bank join efforts for the annual Stuff the Bus food drive. The goal is to fill a Capital Metro bus with food donations. Free. Times vary. Whole Foods Market-Downtown, 525 N. Lamar Blvd., Austin;  Domain, 11920 Domain Drive. 512-282-2111.

Dec. 14-24
The Armadillo Christmas Bazaar returns to Austin

The fine-art shopping destination stays open until Christmas Eve and features more than 160 artists and live music. Attendees can find a variety of fine art, handmade gifts, heirloom pieces and stocking stuffers. 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Free (age 12 and younger), $8 (adult single-day pass), $8 (parking). Palmer Events Center, 900 Barton Springs Road, Austin. 512-447-1605.

Dec. 14, 16-17
Austin Jewish Repertory Theater presents an original production

The theater performs Meshugananukkah on Dec. 14, 16 and 17. The project is supported in part by the Cultural Arts Division of the city of Austin Economic Development Department. 8 p.m. (Dec. 14 and 16), 2 p.m. (Dec. 17). $8-10. Dell Jewish Community Campus Community Hall, 7300 Hart Lane, Austin.

Dec. 16
Eat pancakes with Santa in Round Rock

Round Rock Christian Church invites children and families to a pancake breakfast featuring Santa. Children can also take photos with Santa. 9-10:30 a.m. Free. Round Rock Christian Church, 22 Chalice Way, Round Rock. 512-244-3260.

Dec. 17
Create a hanging terrarium orb at Articulture Designs in South Austin

This class teaches participants how to create a hanging orb to give as a holiday gift. All materials are provided. Wine, beer and soft drinks are also included. $50. 2-4 p.m. Articulture Designs,
 6405 Manchaca Road. 512-762-5228.

Dec. 18
Circuit of The Americas hosts a new holiday festival

Winter Wonderland at The Circuit features a 1-mile circuit of lights, a skating rink, a petting zoo, a human snow globe, movies on the lawn and a tunnel of lights. Attendees can ride carnival rides and watch live music performances. 6 p.m. $16. Circuit of The Americas, 9201 Circuit of the Americas Blvd.

Dec. 21
Equestrian Center holds Winter Solstice celebration in Leander

South Wind Equestrian Center holds a drum circle during the Winter Solstice, facilitated by Suzanne Bertran. Donations are accepted for Hope Alliance in Round Rock. 5-8 p.m. South Wind Equestrian Center, 15214 Faubion Trail, Leander. 512-689-7793.

Dec. 21
Kids play holiday games and meet Santa at a free Austin event

The city of Austin Parks & Recreation Department hosts the Night Before Christmas Break. At the event, children play holiday games and meet Santa Claus. 5:30-8 p.m. Free. Metz Recreation Center, 2407 Canterbury St., Austin. 512-978-2399.

Dec. 31
Celebrate New Year’s Eve at The Oasis

The Oasis hosts a New Year’s Eve party on its Starlight Terrace with a dinner buffet, music by the Austin Party Band and a champagne toast at midnight. 7 p.m.- 1 a.m. $150 per couple (reservations required). The Oasis, 6550 Comanche Trail, Austin. 512-226-2442.

Dec. 31
Kick-start 2018 with the inaugural Rockin’ Resolution Race

The inaugural Rockin’ Resolution Race begins at The Dell Diamond on the last day of 2017. Route options include Kids K, 5K and 10- and 20- mile distances. 7:30 a.m. $75. The Dell Diamond, 3400 E. Palm Valley Blvd., Round Rock. 512-553-8027.

This list is not comprehensive and could be updated throughout the month.

1 comment
  1. I want to join a committee to stop the building of any more toll roads in and around Austin. I have traveled all over the US and no other city has abused the use of “the rich man roads” like Austin. As a Texan and long time Austinite I am embarrassed and outraged. Please provide me with information so l can join the battle to stop “highway robbery”. Thank you.

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Nicholas Cicale
Nick was born in Long Island, New York and grew up in South Florida. He graduated from Florida State University in 2012 with a bachelor's degree in writing and a minor in music. Nick was a journalist for three years at the St. James Plaindealer in Minnesota before moving to Austin to join Community Impact Newspaper in 2016. When he's not writing, Nick enjoys sports, music, great food and bad jokes.
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