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Christmas in Austin- The Best Christmas Events in Austin for Families in 2023

Christmas in Austin- The Best Christmas Events in Austin for Families in 2023

Christmas in Austin is overflowing with live music, iconic Austin food, and funky-meets-traditional holiday entertainment for the whole family. Stoke the holiday cheer with a stroll through the Trail of Lights at Zilker Park or carols on the steps of the Texas state capitol this December.

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 for 2023!

Christmas in Austin – The Best Christmas Events in Austin for 2023

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 as a result of Operation Blue Santa this holiday season.

Traditionally, toys were collected at the Chuy’s Christmas parade, but the parade has been indefinitely cancelled as a result of Covid. Cross your fingers for a reemergence of this fun event in the future!

In the meantime, drop off toys at your nearest fire station, volunteer to organize, prepare, and deliver the toys, or adopt a family to support the mission of this organization this holiday season. See the website for details on how to contribute.

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 on December 2, 2023. 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 back in its traditional format and will run Monday December 8th through December 23rd. Tickets are available online for purchase.

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 on December 2, 2023. 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 on the banks of Lake Austin. Mozart’s hosts a Christmas Light Show in the evenings, November 9, 2023 -January 6, 2024.

Reservations are required and fill up fast! 4-person tables are $40, 6-person tables are $60, and admission to the Bavarian Marketplace standing room only section is free.

New this year is a Silent Disco on the parking lot dancefloor and a Nautical Light Show where your party will enjoy the lights and music from the comfort of a boat on Lake Austin.

Peppermint Parkway at the Circuit of the Americas is a mile-long drive through light display that runs November 24 – December 30, 2023. After the light trail, visit Peppermint Plaza for food, amusement park rides, shopping, and a train ride. Add-on experiences include a zipline, drive around the racetrack, fast kart rides, and Christmas trees for purchase.

Pinkmas at the Museum of Ice Cream

Museum of Ice Cream

From November 17, 2023 through January 15, 2024, the Museum of Ice Cream will transform into a pink wonderland with a Pinkmas tree forest and life-sized snow globe as well as the iconic sprinkle pool and samples of seasonal ice cream flavors.

Christmas in Austin – Christmas Theater

Christmas in Austin includes 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. The music of this world-famous ballet burrows deep and will have your little ones dancing the waltz of the snowflakes all season long. This year’s shows will be performed on select dates December 2 – 23, 2023.

From November 17 – December 31, 2023 the Zach Theatre’s captivating, energetic musical that seamlessly integrates modern music with the classic A Christmas Carol story. The Zach also puts on Una Nocha Buena about Las Posadas that is sure to be a big hit. This runs December 9 and 16.

Every year, Pioneer Farms offers a unique Christmas production in an intimate setting. Their Victorian Christmas features a take-home nutcracker activity, a hayride, caroling, an appearance by Santa, and 1800s-style decorations on December 9, 2023.

Step back into cinema’s golden age at the Paramount Theater. This 100-year-old theater in downtown Austin runs a holiday film series for the whole month of December including Charlie Brown Christmas and Cowboy Christmas. This list of films and live performances is extensive so be sure to check out and make some holiday plans.

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 15- 23, 2023 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 November 17 – December 24, 2023. 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 in Austin

Christmas in Austin- The Best Christmas Events in Austin for Families in 2023 2
Ice Skating at Ice Rodeo, photo courtesy of The Four Seasons Austin

The newest ice-skating rink in Austin is right on the shores of Lady Bird Lake at The Four Seasons Austin. Ice Rodeo includes skating, cabana rentals with food and drink service, firepits for s’mores, and over-the-top decorations including a gingerbread display and a 120-foot tunnel of lighted stars. Ice Rodeo runs November 18, 2023 – January 7, 2024.

Additionally, the flagship Whole Foods Market downtown is a convenient place to have a quick skate. Whole Foods turns its roof into a skating rink for the month of December and is open daily for skating.

Find more fun things to do in Texas

Is there an Austin Christmas event we missed? Does your business have updated information to share? Email [email protected] and tell us about it!

Find more Christmas events near you! Trekaroo has guides for dozens of cities across the country.

Lead image courtesy of Trail of Lights Foundation.