Holiday markets, light displays & more: the ultimate 2018 Austin Holiday To-Do List

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Your guide for events and things to do in the Central Texas region throughout the holiday season

Nov. 17-Dec. 23
Enjoy a photo op with holiday attractions and hear carolers

Domain Northside hosts several holiday-themed attractions design by local firm Ion Art. Attractions include a 10-foot-tall Willie Nelson nutcracker, a cowboy Santa and an armadillo snowman. On Nov. 17-18 and Nov. 24-25, the first 100 guests will have an opportunity take a professional photo with an Airstream sleigh. Groups can also preregister for a time here.

Carolers perform Nov. 23-25 and Dec. 22-23 from noon-2 p.m. and 5-7 p.m. Other performances include:

  • Nov. 21, 6 p.m.: Cedar Park High School Choir
  • Nov. 28, 6 p.m.: Bridge Point Elementary School Chorale
  • Dec. 5, 6 p.m.: Austin Suzuki Music School String Performance, McCallum High School Jazz Band
  • Dec. 12, 6 p.m.: Valley View Elementary School Chorale, Lamar Middle School Jazz Band
  • Dec. 19, noon and 6 p.m.: Canyon Ridge Middle School Junior Varsity Choir, The Lamar Fiddlers

Free. Domain Northside Lawn at Rock Rose Avenue and Domain Boulevard. www.domainnorthside.com/events

Nov. 23
Elgin Christmas Tree Farm begins sales and hayrides

Upon arrival customers take a hayride out to the fields, where they can select their tree and cut it down. Hours vary. $11/tree foot. As the season progresses, tree prices will go down. 120 Natures Way, Elgin. 512-281-5016.
www.elginchristmastreefarm.com

Dec. 1
Carol through Austin and end at The State Capitol

The Holiday Sing-Along & Downtown Stroll has crafts, a petting zoo and food trucks. 5-10 p.m. Tree lighting at 7 p.m. Free. Congress Avenue between Ninth and 11th streets, Austin. 512-469-1766. www.downtownaustin.com/holidays

Dec. 1
Skate with Santa Claus

Chaparral Ice hosts its annual Santa Skate event featuring photo opportunities with Santa Claus, Christmas music, hot chocolate and a raffle. $15 (includes skate rental). Noon-3 p.m. Chaparral Ice, 2525 W. Anderson Lane, Austin.
512-252-8500. www.chaparralice.com

Dec. 6-9
Walk through luminaries at the Wildflower Center

The center’s annual winter event, Luminations, includes non-holiday themed luminaries, music and events. 6-9 p.m. $15. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, 4801 La Crosse Ave., Austin. 512-232-0100. www.wildflower.org

Dec. 7
Hear Norman Brown perform Christmas tunes

Titled “A Joyous Christmas,” Grammy Award-winning jazz musician Norman Brown will perform two evening shows at the One World Theatre. 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. $35-$108. One World Theatre, 7701 Bee Caves Road, Austin. 512- 330-9500. www.oneworldtheatre.org

Dec. 7-23
Celebrate the season at ‘The Nutcracker’

The score for Ballet Austin’s 56th production of the show is performed live by the Austin Symphony Orchestra. Times vary. $24-$89. Long Center for the Performing Arts, 701 W. Riverside Drive. 512-476-9151. www.balletaustin.org

Dec. 8
Listen to a Christmas a cappella performance

A Cappella Unlimited and A Cappella Texas host a Christmas show at South Austin’s Bethany Lutheran Church. Treats, raffles and prizes are available. 2 p.m. $20. Bethany Lutheran Church, 3701 W. Slaughter Lane, Austin. 512-931-4653. www.acappellaunlimited.org

Dec. 9
Attend a Hanukkah party with sweet Israeli treats

Congregation Beth El hosts a family-friendly community Hanukkah party complete with a menorah lighting, live music, face painting and food, including sufganiot, or Israeli doughnuts. 4-6 p.m. Free. 8902 Mesa Drive, Austin.
512-231-0266. www.betheltx.org

Dec. 13-14
Catch a baroque choral performance at a church

Hear Handel’s Messiah at Westlake Hills Presbyterian Church and St. Louis Catholic Chapel. 7:30 p.m. $10-$45. Westlake Hills Presbyterian: 7127 Bee Caves Road, Austin. 512-327-1116. St. Louis Catholic: 7601 Burnet Road, Austin.
512-454-0384. www.ensembleviii.org

Dec. 15
Enjoy a sensory-friendly Christmas celebration

Live Oak Unitarian Universalist Church hosts sensory-friendly event, in a calming environment for children with and without disabilities. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Free. 3315 El Salido Parkway, Cedar Park.
512-219-9008. www.selfieswithsanta.org

Dec. 29-31
Ring in the new year with Willie Nelson and friends

Austin City Limits Live at The Moody Theater hosts country music legend Willie Nelson and guest Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real. 8 p.m. Prices vary. 310 Willie Nelson Blvd., Austin. 512-225-7999. www.acl-live.com

Dec. 29-31
Attend a Christmas performance with a rock ‘n’ roll twist and light show

The Trans-Siberian Orchestra performs a special light show and original program, “Ghosts of Christmas Eve.” 8-11 p.m. $46-$90. 1701 Red River St., Austin.
512-477-6060. www.uterwincenter.com

5 holiday races to run

  1. Nov. 22: ThunderCloud Subs Turkey Trot
    The event features a timed and untimed 5-mile run, a 1-mile walk and a Kids K. After the race, participants can enjoy snacks, children’s activities and live music. $12-$43. Start times 8:45-9:50 a.m. Long Center for the Performing Arts, 701 W. Riverside Drive, Austin. www.thundercloud.com/event-info
  2. Dec. 1: Austin Trail of Lights Fun Run
    The 2.1-mile course starts at the Zilker Holiday Tree and winds through the Austin Trail of Lights, ending with a celebration in the center of Zilker Park. The festival features a DJ, dance party, ferris wheel, carousel rides, food trucks, drinks and more. $20-$75. Staggered start times: 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Zilker Park, 2100 Barton Springs Road, Austin. www.austintrailoflights.org/2018-fun-run
  3. Dec. 9: Austin Jingle Bell 5K
    Participants can walk or run the 5K distance with jingle bells fastened to their clothing. Santa will be in attendance. $10-$40. 8 a.m. The Domain, 11410 Century Oaks Terrace, Austin. www.austinjinglebell.com
  4. Dec. 16: Jingle Bell Run
    Participants wear holiday costumes and tie jingle bells to their shoelaces for the annual 5K and 1K race. A timed and untimed option is available. The event also includes a costume contest, food, beer, prizes and an awards ceremony. $40. 2:30 p.m. Camp Mabry, 200 W. 35 St., Austin. https://events.arthritis.org
  5. Dec. 30: Rockin’ Resolution Race closes out 2018
    The second-annual Rockin’ Resolution Race offers options including a Kids K, 5K and 10- and 20- mile runs. 7:30 a.m. $10-$80. Old Settler’s Park, 3300 E. Palm Valley Blvd., Round Rock. www.facebook.com/austinrrrace

5 places to see holiday lights

  1. Nov. 17-Jan. 1: See the Northern Lights at Domain Northside
    The shopping district has lights and photo opportunities for the holiday season. Free. www.domainnorthside.com
  2. Nov. 23-Jan. 1: See Georgetown Square illuminated with lights
    Georgetown Square features nightly holiday lights. Free. The Square, 103 W. Seventh St., Georgetown. 800-436-8696. https://visit.georgetown.org
  3. Nov. 23-Jan. 6: Visit Johnson City’s Lights Spectacular
    Many buildings rave decorative lights. Free. Locations vary. 830-868-7684. www.johnsoncitytexas.info/lights-spectacular
  4. Nov. 25-Dec. 31: The holiday tree on display at Zilker Park
    The 155-foot-tall Zilker Holiday Tree is decorated with a total of 3,309 lights. 6 p.m.-midnight. Free. Zilker Park, 2100 Barton Springs Road, Austin. www.austintexas.gov/zilkerholidaytree
  5. Dec. 10-23: Stroll the Trail of Lights at Zilker Park
    The Trail of Lights features more than 40 displays, 2 million lights and food trucks. 7-10 p.m. Free entry on Dec. 10-13,17-19; $3 general admission other nights. Zilker Park, 2100 Barton Springs Road, Austin. www.austintrailoflights.org

5 markets for holiday gifts

  1. Nov. 23-Dec. 24: Shop at the Blue Genie Art Bazaar
    Open daily from Black Friday to Christmas Eve, the bazaar features local gifts and art. 10 a.m.-10 p.m. (10 a.m.-6 p.m. on Dec. 24). Free. 6100 Airport Blvd., Austin. 512-222-7303. www.bluegenieartbazaar.com
  2. Dec. 1: Honor German heritage at German-Texan Christmas market
    Shop for authentic German-Texan gifts. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Free. 507 E. 10th St., Austin. 512-467-4569. www.germantexans.org
  3. Dec. 1-2: Enjoy a holiday artisan market and show
    The Redbud Artisan Market has handmade arts and crafts. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 1, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 2. $1. 1042 Event Center Drive, Dripping Springs. 512-660-3328
  4. Dec. 8: Sip on beers at brewery holiday market
    At Flying Man Brewing Co.’s Just Me Holidaze Art On Tap Pop-Up Market, drink craft beer while shopping. 3-8 p.m. Free. 2400 Patterson Industrial Drive, Pflugerville. 512-910-4099. www.flyingmanbrewing.com
  5. Dec. 13-24: Peruse annual Armadillo Christmas Bazaar
    Enjoy shopping and live music. 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Admission varies. 900 Barton Springs Road, Austin.
    512-447-1605. www.armadillobazaar.com
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