The holidays in Austin are a spectacular sight. From the Trail of lights to strolling 37th Street, here are 10 quintessential Austin holiday activities guaranteed to bring more cheer to season.
Walk the Trail of Lights
If anything epitomizes Christmas in Austin, it's the Trail of Lights. For 50 years, Zilker Park has been transformed into a spectacularly lit wonderland each Christmas season. Bring your friends and loved ones to revel in this holiday tradition. Make sure you fulfill the tradition of spinning yourself dizzy under the Zilker tree, too. Admission is free on the weekdays and only $3 per person on weekends.
Experience the miracle on 37th Street
Residents on a small block on 37th Street in Hyde Park take the holidays to the max with their Christmas decorations. We're talking lights along the houses, lights around the windows, lights in the trees — lights everywhere. This corridor of light makes for a great (free!) evening spectacle. We suggest parking nearby and walking along 37th Street rather than driving. Traffic can get pretty congested, and if you walk you can enjoy the sight longer.
Decorate a tree along Loop 360
Join the crowd-sourced effort to bring a little more cheer to Austin and decorate your own tree along Loop 360. From Between RM 2222 and US-183, folks use ornaments, lights, tinsel and more for this quirky tradition. Just be sure to go back and take your decorations down once the holiday season is over.
Go ice skating on the roof of Whole Foods
Every year the flagship Whole Foods Market constructs a splendid ice skating rink on its rooftop plaza. For only $10 you can glide along the roof of this local icon and experience a small slice of a "white" Christmas. The rink is open daily from 11 am until 9 pm.
Cheers to Christmas (all year!) at Lala's
Santa doesn't live at the North Pole. He lives on Justin Lane at Lala's, a Crestview dive bar that serves up great drinks and Christmas cheer all year. Kick back and relax with a Ziegenbock or a (surprisingly good) margarita, while surrounded by vintage holiday decorations and classic tunes.
Snap a photo at the Capitol
The Capitol tree lighting ceremony has passed, but the glowing spectacle still stands in all its glory. This is a great spot for some festive family photos or a quick little picnic on the grounds — weather permitting. At noon on Monday, December 22 you catch a special string quartet performance from the Austin Symphony.
Revel in the holiday spirit at The Driskill
The halls are decked (for real) at The Driskill Hotel. Decorations abound, and with choirs performing and special holiday drinks available at the cozy The Driskill Bar, this Austin icon is the perfect setting for a Christmas date.
Keep Austin Weird at the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar
There are plenty of local holiday markets, but the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar is a true Austin tradition. From now until the Bazaar ends on Christmas Eve you can shop for locally crafted gifts, while catching live performances from the likes of Ray Wylie Hubbard, Alpha Rev, Jitterbug Vipers, Ruthie Foster, Jimmy LaFave and more. Kids under 12 get in free; there is a $7 admission fee per day for adults.
Enjoy a light show on the lake
Mozart's on Lake Austin offers spectacular choreographed light shows each evening. The shows last about 15 minutes and run every hour on the hour from 6 pm until midnight. Just remember to bundle up: the lake view is one of the things that makes Mozart's so special, but it will also be a little chillier along the water.
Austin's New Year 2015
The Austin New Year celebration at Butler Park is loaded with essential Fs: free, family friendly, fun and fireworks. Enjoy a variety of activities, projects, movie screenings and live tunes from Mother Falcon, Peelander-Z, Riders Against the Storm and more. Most importantly, stick around until 10 pm for the fireworks finale over Austin.