First day of Christmas

'Tis the season for Austin's annual Holiday Sing-Along and Downtown Stroll hosted by John Aielli

'Tis the season for Austin's annual Holiday Sing-Along and Downtown Stroll hosted by John Aielli

austin photo: downtown sing-along
Courtesy of Holiday Sing-Along and Downtown Stroll/Facebook

If the not-so-winter weather isn’t getting you into the holiday spirit, here’s a fun, (free!) family event that might do the trick. Austin’s annual Holiday Sing-Along and Downtown Stroll, hosted by The Downtown Austin Alliance and KUT 90.5, will be taking place this Saturday, December 1, kicking off the 25 days of Christmas with a bang.

This event has been an Austin tradition since 2003, when the Tree Lighting Ceremony at the Capitol joined forces with KUT’s annual Holiday Sing-Along; it now draws in nearly 10,000 people each year.

The fun starts at 6 p.m. as friends, neighbors and strangers gather on the south steps of the Capitol to sing seasonal classics, led by KUT “Eklektikos” host John Aielli. 

At around 7 p.m., the countdown to the lighting of the Capitol tree, which stands at an impressive 40 feet tall, begins. This year’s tree will include music and a light show at the top and bottom of every hour, featuring the holiday songs of local Austin musicians.

The night will continue with a Congress Avenue Stroll lit by the 136 trees lining Congress Ave. from Cesar Chavez to 11th St. Shops, restaurants, galleries and museums will stay open late, offering special activities and refreshments to those passing by.

The Paramount Theatre will show classic holiday cartoons and the Austin School of Performing Arts will perform as custom animations are projected on surrounding buildings. Of course, Santa will be on call for photos and bits of Christmas wisdom.

In true spirit of the season, visitors are encouraged to bring non-perishable food or cash donations to the Capitol Christmas tree for the Capital Area Food Bank.

Consider this your holiday warm-up, Austin. The fun is just getting started.