Austin, TX is a city on the rise as one of the fastest growing in the United States. Many visitors come for Austin’s celebrated live music, weird vibes, barbecue, tacos, and the beautiful Texas Hill Country.
At Christmastime, Austin comes alive with a variety of Texas-sized holiday festivities. If you’re planning to visit Austin over the holidays, be sure to check out our list of 10 things to do in Austin at Christmas so you can enjoy everything the Texas state capital has to offer!
Winter Packing Essentials:
1. Austin Trail of Lights
A tradition for over 55 years, locals and tourists alike come to Zilker Park each holiday season to see the Austin Trail of Lights, a winter wonderland of over 2 million magical Christmas lights to explore.
Visitors can see over 90 lighted Christmas trees and over 70 lighted displays and tunnels as they enjoy a festive jaunt through one of Austin’s most iconic city parks.
As one of Austin’s longest-running holiday festivities, you’ll want to add this to the top of your Christmas in Austin list and see what helps brighten the holiday spirit for hundreds of thousands of visitors every year!
2. Christmas Shopping on South Congress
A haven of shopping, live music, food, and entertainment, South Congress is quintessential Austin. You’ll want to check out this legendary neighborhood for its eclectic holiday shopping, if not for its festive people watching.
Rows of quirky local artisan shops line South Congress Avenue, providing a variety of unique Christmas gift ideas, from the kind that reflect the city’s “Keep Austin Weird” fame to the classic Texas souvenir.
Be sure to stop at Austin’s famous Torchy’s Tacos while you’re there and keep an eye out for the always interesting street performers that entertain the neighborhood’s visitors.
3. Georgetown Christmas Stroll
Annually for over 40 years, Georgetown, an Austin suburb, transforms its lovely historic downtown into a big Christmas party with Georgetown Christmas Stroll. If you’re ready to have some small-town festive fun, you’ve come to the right place!
Holiday shoppers will love the outdoor Christmas market with over 150 local artisan vendors selling crafts, jewelry and unique finds.
Stay for the Christmas parade, live nativity, photos with Santa, and festive live music. Sip some cider and gobble up a holiday treat as you enjoy your stroll!
4. Victorian Holiday Teas and Tree Lighting at the Driskill Hotel
Located in the heart of downtown Austin along the famed 6th Street, the historic Driskill Hotel is not only the place to stay during your Christmas in Austin visit, it also provides some festive holiday traditions you won’t want to miss.
The Christmas season kicks off at the Driskill with its annual Tree Lighting festivities, and continues with its famous Victorian Holiday Teas. Experience a long-standing tradition of holiday luxury as you’re pampered with festive teas and french pastries, petit fours, and finger sandwiches.
If you’re there on Christmas, you can also enjoy the Driskill’s world-class Christmas Day dinner. Warm memories await as you experience the traditions and festivities of Austin’s most historic hotel, perfect to share with the ones you love.
5. Armadillo Christmas Bazaar
A Christmas market and festival for art lovers, Austin’s Armadillo Christmas Bazaar has drawn thousands of locals and tourists annually for over 40 years during the holidays.
Visitors can purchase artwork from over 175 local and national award-winning artists in different styles and mediums.
In addition, holiday concerts, local foods, two full bars, artist meet and greets and other festivities abound for festival-goers.
The Armadillo Christmas Bazaar takes pride in making fine art accessible to holiday shoppers. Come ready to find a unique present for that special someone!
6. Holiday Sing-Along and Downtown Holiday Stroll
A beloved tradition for over 30 years, locals and tourists alike gather at the impressive State Capitol grounds to sing Christmas carols together at the Holiday Sing-Along. In the live music capital of the world, this is a holiday tradition you need to experience in Austin.
As the festive crowd sings, the giant Capitol tree comes alive with thousands of Christmas lights brightly shining with great fanfare that will put a holiday twinkle in your eye.
Afterwards, the celebration continues with the Downtown Holiday Stroll, providing tasty local foods, an artisan market, local downtown shops open late, and more festive live music!
7. Rooftop Ice Skating at the Whole Foods Flagship Store
Based in Austin, the massive grocery store chain Whole Foods hosts a popular tradition at its flagship store–rooftop ice skating!
Once you’ve grabbed your organic groceries and a cup of coffee (an Austin experience in itself), you can head up to the rooftop for a unique ice skating experience you can’t find anywhere else.
Full of holiday views of the city, this family-friendly tradition should be a priority for your Christmas in Austin visit.
8. Gingerbread Workshops at the Thinkery
As Austin’s children’s museum, the Thinkery provides a paradise of play for the whole family with hands-on science, technology, engineering, arts, and math exhibits all year. As Christmas nears, the museum embraces the holiday spirit with its popular annual Gingerbread workshops.
With interactive in-person workshops (and take-home gingerbread kits), visitors can build authentic holiday gingerbread houses, making a messy, fun, and educational Christmas in Austin experience.
Gingerbread classes in previous years have included candy chemistry and structural architecture, promoting innovative learning through holiday fun for any scientist or engineer at heart!
9. Christmas Train Rides on the North Pole Flyer
Visitors can become passengers on a festive holiday ride aboard an authentic train adorned with Christmas decor, departing a vintage 1912 train station for a two-hour magical journey with Santa on board to say hello.
Passengers can enjoy tasty Christmas cookies and hot chocolate while aboard, hear a live reading of the North Pole Flyer story, and visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus.
10. Holiday Performances at Austin’s Local Theatres
If you’re looking to be amazed by live entertainment this holiday season, you’ll want to check out Austin’s variety of theaters that provide a full schedule of holiday plays and performances.
Fans of The Nutcracker should see Ballet Austin’s popular rendition with a cast of hundreds of dancers performing live at the Long Center for the Performing Arts. Come early for some excellent photo-ops of the Austin skyline before the show.
In addition, Austin’s ZACH Theatre hosts its popular version of A Christmas Carol that is sure to bring delight to any fan of this timeless holiday classic.
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Did we miss any of your favorite things to do in Austin at Christmas?
Let us know in the comments so we can add more to the list!