The Best Christmas Events in Austin, Texas for Families

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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

Christmas Events in Austin 2019

Get Into The Spirit of Giving

Austin Christmas Events include Chuy's Christmas Parade
Chuy’s Christmas Parade | Photo by Kim Maguire Photography

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.

Chuy’s Children Giving to Children Parade takes place on Saturday, November 30th 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. 

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 Christmas Light Show at Mozart'
The Christmas Light Show at Mozart’s | Photo by Tarlie Harris

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! The sing-along precedes the capitol’s tree lighting ceremony, complete with a light show set to holiday music.

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.

The Trail of Lights at Zilker Park is one of the most beloved Austin Christmas events. It is open from December 10 – 23rd, 2019. It’s a pedestrian-only trail through Christmas light displays. 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 before the trail is open to the public, on December 7th. It’s a perfect distance for the whole family, at only 2.1 miles, and it’s stroller/walker friendly. There are free nights and pay-for-entry nights throughout the season, so 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 

Christmas Events Austin include the Nutcracker at the Long Center
The Nutcracker at the Long Center | Photo by Tony Spielberg, Courtesy of Visit Austin

Nothing says “December is here” quite like the Nutcracker! Ballet Austin presents the Nutcracker at the Long Center from December 7th – 23rd. The music of this world-famous ballet burrows deep, and will have your little ones dancing the waltz of the snowflakes all season long.

Austin is home to not one, but two, completely original and family friendly variations of A Christmas Carol. The Zach Theatre’s version is a captivating, energetic musical that seamlessly integrates today’s popular music with classic Christmas songs. The timeless message of the story stays completely intact and works its way into the heart of the entire audience. The show typically closes with people on their feet dancing and singing!

Pioneer Farms does a more traditional rendition. 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. 

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. 

Family Friendly Christmas Shopping Events

The Armadillo Christmas Bazaar
The Armadillo Christmas Bazaar | Photo by Jennifer M. Ramos

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.

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 22nd to December 24th. 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. 

Ice Skating

Winter Wonderland at The Circuit
Winter Wonderland at The Circuit | Photo by Tarlie Harris

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. 

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. 

Find more fun things to do in Texas

Gingerbread Village

Gingerbread Village at The Four Seasons
Gingerbread Village at The Four Seasons | Photo Courtesy of The Four Seasons

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 debuts on November 25th and is open for viewing daily throughout the Christmas 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. 

About the author

Tarlie Harris is one of Trekaroo's Travel Experts. She is always planning her family's next trip and writing about the last one. She currently lives in Austin, TX where she enjoys hiking the greenbelt, swimming in Barton Springs, and catching shows at The Mohawk. She was raised in the deep south, spending many summers on the Florida Panhandle. While she is very accustomed to wide open green space and swimming pools these days, the memories from her decade in New York City are never far from her heart.

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