We took a staff poll of some of our favorite Austin holiday memories and experiences and shared them below. We also included the dates, times, and locations of these beloved holiday events so you can check them out for yourself. They just might become part of YOUR favorite Austin holiday memories, too!
KUT & KUTX Holiday Sing-Along, Tree Lighting, and Downtown Stroll
Kristina is a big fan of this yearly event, especially since it puts a song in her heart. “My five-year-old loves all the different vendors and foods, but he’s also really into the countdown to the tree lighting,” she says. “There’s always plenty of parking at the Capitol visitor garage, and it doesn’t feel as crowded as other holiday happenings around town. But the biggest thing is that overwhelming fuzzy feeling that comes with communal singing. Singing aloud with a big group has been proven to do things like strengthen feelings of togetherness and even regulate your heart rate and reduce stress!”
When: Friday, Dec. 7, at 6 p.m.
Where: At the holiday tree in front of the Capitol at 11th St. and Congress Ave.
More information: Visit the KUT website
Austin Trail of Lights
Luis loves Zilker Park — and he really loves its holiday festivities. “I love the Trail of Lights because it’s a completely transformed space of the park I love going to,” he says. “I also enjoy being outdoors, and the Trail of Lights isn’t too long. It puts me in the festive spirit with live music and lights. It makes me feel nostalgic because many of their exhibits are characters from my childhood, like SpongeBob SquarePants, Humpty Dumpty, and the Little Mermaid (yes, I love Ariel!). Last time I went, they had a UT Tower made of donuts!”
When: Dec. 10-23, from 7-10 p.m. nightly
Where: Zilker Park
More information: Visit the Tree of Lights website
The Christmas Lights Show at Mozart’s Coffee Roasters
This festive event proved particularly popular with our staff! Says Sarah, “Being in the events industry, I have an appreciation for how much investment goes into the six-week-long nightly production for this annual free-to-the-public show that has now become an Austin holiday tradition. Nothing creates more joy than seeing all of the lights in action while you hear Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want for Christmas Is You’ in the background and drinking some hot chocolate.”
Adds Maria, “There is no better place than right on the water to be experiencing Austin’s holiday atmosphere. I was just mesmerized by thousands of holiday lights twinkling and dancing to the tunes of holiday music. I felt like I was walking into Santaland, holding a cup of delicious hot chocolate and smiling ear-to-ear the first time I went. I love going back each year.”
Word to the wise: If you want to attend, make sure to get there early. “It’s become popular,” warns Sarah. “It’s hard to find parking, and seats are limited. So try to choose the right night to go — or try, try again the following year.”
When: Nov. 21, 2019 – Jan. 5, 2020, from 6-11 p.m. nightly
Where: Mozart’s Coffee Roasters, 3825 Lake Austin Blvd.
More information: Visit the Mozart’s Christmas Lights Show website
Local Holiday Art Fairs
Austin is home to so many fantastic art fairs that it’s easy to get truly unique gifts for your friends and family…and maybe a little something for yourself as well! “I love exploring all of the local art fairs that happen around the holiday season,” says Mindy. “I’m a big believer in shopping local, and Austin makes it really easy to do that. Visiting the fairs makes holiday shopping easy and fun. Plus, it’s inspirational to get out and see what my fellow creatives are out in the world making. I’m always amazed when I see what artists are able to physically create with their hands.”
More information: Some of Austin’s most popular holiday art fairs are the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar, the Blue Genie Art Bazaar, the Cherrywood Art Fair, A Christmas Affair, and the Renegade Craft Fair — but this is only a small list of the local great fairs out there!
Holiday Pop-up Bars
LeeAnn loves holiday pop-up bars so much, and don’t you know it, that she had to write a poem about it:
“December marks the start of the holiday season,
when dive bars alight with cheerful reason.
Local haunts swap their dark and dingy climate for a wintery lodge,
with colorful lights, bright decoration, and a Christmas hodgepodge.
Where once I might fear a dirty cup and contagion,
I merrily sip cider and dance with a grin.
Forgetting the usual sweaty ado,
we echo Mariah, singing ‘All I Want for Christmas is You.”
More information: Eater Austin has a list of holiday pop-up bars opening for the 2019 season.
Did We Forget Something Nice?
Did your favorite Austin holiday spot make the list? Are we missing your favorite seasonal event? We’d be merry happy to read about it in the comments!