Christmas events in Austin are overflowing with live music, iconic Austin food, and funky-meets-traditional holiday entertainment for the whole family. Stroll through the Trail of Lights at Zilker Park or sing carols on the steps of the Texas state capitol.
Ice skating, photos with Santa, and hot chocolate are the sounds, sights, and taste of Christmas. Go out and capture memories your family will hold on to forever at the best Christmas events in Austin this year! Updated for 2020!
Christmas Events in Austin 2020
Get Into The Spirit of Giving
The Austin Police Operation Blue Santa facilitates toy drives for needy families all over central Texas. Consequently, over 6,000 families will receive Christmas gifts directly from these events this holiday season.
Operation Blue Santa also organizes a quieter, more intimate holiday experience for the whole family.
Bring new, unwrapped gifts downtown on December 12th from 6:30-10:00 and receive a horse-drawn carriage ride from Austin Carriage in exchange. It’s a peaceful ride, set to the gentle clip-clop of horse’s hooves and the slowly passing street scenes of downtown Austin.
Note: In 2020, the decision has been made to give out gift cards instead of toys and thee police department is looking foronline donations in order to keep things safe during Covid-19.
Chuy’s Children Giving to Children Parade takes place in downtown Austin. Marvel at the festive floats, classic cars, and beloved children’s characters. If you bring a new, unwrapped toy to the parade, you can watch your child delight in the true joy of giving. They will have the opportunity to hand over their toy to one of Santa’s elves during the procession. Cancelled for 2020.
Looking for fun in Austin any time of year? Check out our picks for the Top 10 Things to do in Austin with Kids!
Christmas Light Displays in Austin
The annual Holiday Sing-Along takes place at the state capitol building in early December. Join hundreds of other families to belt out your favorite Christmas carols! Cancelled for 2020.
The sing-along precedes the capitol’s tree lighting ceremony, complete with a light show set to holiday music. Cancelled for 2020
After the tree lighting, the Downtown Stroll is open along Congress Avenue. Local businesses and museums spread holiday cheer with special sales, treats, and live entertainment.
Grab a photo with Santa and some hot chocolate along the way! This trifecta of Christmas events in Austin is a cherished holiday tradition for many families. Cancelled for 2020
The Trail of Lights at Zilker Park is one of the most beloved Austin Christmas events. It is open from November 28, 2020 through January 3, 2021. It will be a drive-thru event due to Covid-19.
Many displays have just enough of a Texas twist to make this trail of lights unlike any other. Austin’s famed food trucks and musicians create a lively atmosphere that families look forward to every year.
The Trail of Lights Fun Run takes place on the trail as well. It’s a perfect distance for the whole family, at only 2.1 miles, and it’s stroller/walker friendly. Check the schedule for details.
Mozart’s Coffee Roasters is what every coffee shop wishes it could be. It oozes charm, comfort, and authenticity. It offers unparalleled views and seating on the banks of Lake Austin.
Mozart’s endeared itself to the community even further when it started putting on a one-of-a-kind Christmas Light Show. The show is free and open to the public, with no reservations necessary. Just drop by, grab a treat, and enjoy the tunes and decorations.
Christmas Events in Austin: Christmas Theater
Nothing says “December is here” quite like the Nutcracker! Ballet Austin presents the Nutcracker at the Long Center. The music of this world-famous ballet burrows deep, and will have your little ones dancing the waltz of the snowflakes all season long. Note: This performance will be virtual in 2020.
The Zach Theatre’s Pop! A Rockin’ Holiday Concert! is a captivating, energetic musical that seamlessly integrates today’s popular music with classic Christmas songs. Note: Ticket sales for this event have been suspended due to Covid-19.
Pioneer Farms does a more traditional rendition of A Christmas Carol. There’s a catch though. The audience stays in very small groups and moves about the historic farm – building to building – to see all the scenes of the play. It’s a completely immersive experience and kids love that they get to be on the move. Cancelled for 2020.
Step back into cinema’s golden age at the Paramount Theater. This 100-year-old theater in downtown Austin runs holiday programming for the whole month of December.
From screenings of classic movies like Miracle on 34th Street to live performances of Christmas songs by local musicians, there is something for every family. Check their events listings for details. Note: There are no listings for 2020 due to Covid-19.
Family Friendly Christmas Shopping Events
Austin hosts two very well-loved holiday markets annually. The Armadillo Christmas Bazaar runs daily from December 13th – 24th at the Palmer Events Center near downtown Austin. As of 11/10/20 Armadillo Christmas Bazaar has not updated their website for 2020.
It is THE shopping experience of the year for art and live music lovers. Listen to local musicians while you peruse the seemingly endless stalls of fine art. Pick up jewelry, clothes, hats, handbags, and more as one-of-a-kind Christmas gifts.
The Bazaar is an exceptionally no-fuss way to enjoy live music as a family. Musicians perform all day long, seating is available, and you can hear the music throughout the entire venue.
The Blue Genie Art Bazaar is another local favorite shopping event. This year it is open daily from from November 13 – December 24, 2020. The art here can be appreciated by all ages. You will find photographs and prints you can frame yourself, novelty candles, yard art, wooden toys, and more. Everything is hand made by local artists. You must book reservations to shop in 2020 due to Covid-19.
Winter Wonderland at The Circuit of the Americas sets up the largest outdoor ice skating rink in Texas from the end of November through December. Get ready for a full night of holiday fun because this event has it all! Christmas light displays, Chinese Lantern displays, camel rides, amusement park rides, a visit with Santa, and more.
Note: For 2020 Circuit of the Americas will instead host Peppermint Parkway, a drive-thru holiday experience. Check websitefor details.
If you don’t want to leave downtown, the flagship Whole Foods Market is a convenient place to have a quick skate. Whole Foods turns its roof into an skating rink for the month of December and is open daily for skating. This event appears to be cancelled for 2020.
Find more fun things to do in Texas.
Every year, The Four Seasons Hotel Austin downtown erects a massive gingerbread village in its main lobby. This year, the theme of the village is “friendship.” The centerpiece of the village is Austin’s skyline enclosed in a glass dome, reminiscent of a snow globe.
The surrounding village features iconic buildings from five of Austin’s sister cities around the world. The village is open for viewing daily throughout the Christmas season. The hotel has not updated their website for the 2020 holiday season.
Find more Christmas events near you! Trekaroo has guides for dozens of cities across the country.
Lead image courtesy of Trail of Lights Foundation.