Photos by Matt Baker & Olivier Brajon

Cirque du Soleil, the famous international circus troupe, already has many audiences' hearts with 42 original shows, but a new show this winter makes a dramatic change in the entire experience. This will be the company's first-ever venture on ice.

Cirque du Soleil brings Crystal (formatted CRYSTAL), its acrobatic ice show, on tour through the H-E-B Center at Cedar Park in February of 2024, with a promise that it will be the most dazzling and magical production yet.

Real snowballs and world-class skating will be some of the chillest new additions, but the Cirque's signature acrobatics and surprisingly deep storytelling will remain a main theme.

“It’s Cirque du Soleil’s very first foray into this world,” Crystal senior publicist Christine Achampong tells CultureMap. “Our entire ‘stage’ is an ice rink, so everything and everyone slides and glides across the surface, which creates another layer of speed and spectacle in the show.”

Audiences will join the main character, Crystal, on a journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance as she moves through an exhilarating adventure colored by whimsical encounters, movement, and plenty of playful imagination. While the show’s message offers a universal appeal, it’s the intricate and intentional details of the production that are sure to make the most lasting impact on audiences.

It's not just ice that sets this show apart. Crystal is the only currently touring Cirque du Soleil production to use top pop songs within its soundtrack, a distinctive departure from the musical scores of creations past. Additional new changes for Crystal include large-scale interactive projections and an integrated spotlight tracking system to provide audiences with a hyper-immersive experience.

To help execute the gravity-defying stunts and high-speed precision choreography planned for the show, more than 5,000 pieces of custom-made costuming were created to withstand the cold and rigorous conditions of the stage.

Achampong says that the show features a team of professional acrobats and world-class skating performers all outfitted with adaptive garments. Some of these costume elements include Kevlar gloves to combat cold surfaces, shoes with ice-resistant traction, and water-resistant, insulated costuming material to provide safe, dry, and warm conditions.

“Our skaters are former World Champions, Olympians, and competitive skaters across multiple disciplines including solo and pairs skating, freestyle skating, and extreme skating,” Achampong says. “Combined with the tumbling, acro, aerial numbers, cinematic-style music, and comic characters, this show is incredible to watch from beginning to end.”

All signs point to Crystal being a truly unique production marked with several moments never before attempted by the Cirque team. Crystal performances are scheduled for February 21-25, 2024, at various showtimes. General ticket sales start on Monday, August 28, at cirqueudusoleil.com. This show is suitable for viewers of all ages.

\u200bCirque du Soliel Crystal

Photos by Matt Baker & Olivier Brajon

Cirque du Soliel's first-ever ice show, CRYSTAL, flurries to the H-E-B Center at Cedar Park in February 2024.

Photo courtesy of Cirque Musica

New Cirque holiday show flips into Cedar Park for Christmas-time debut

Holiday acrobatics

Audiences around the country are being gifted with an all-new version of Cirque Musica Holiday Wonderland, and the show will include a stop at Cedar Park's H-E-B Center just before Christmas - on December 24.

Cirque Musica Holiday Wonderland is a musical journey that transports audiences to a magical land far away, says a release. It features a talented cast of acrobats and aerialists, blending the grace and athleticism of circus performers with a musical mix of seasonal favorites.

“Our holiday-themed Cirque Musica productions have quickly become a season tradition for families across the country and we are excited to continue this tradition with our 2023 ‘Holiday Wonderland’ tour,” says Stephen Cook, President of TCG Entertainment, Producer of Cirque Musica in a statement. “We expect fans of cirque shows to be enchanted with our all-new production with new music and new acts from around the world. We hope it will create wonderful memories for all to share.”

The Cirque Musica holiday tour starts a little before Thanksgiving on November 17 in Mankato, Minnesota, with two different troupes traveling to almost 40 cities in 48 days.

Their Cedar Park date is the final date of the tour. Other Texas stops include Fort Worth (December 17), San Antonio (December 20), and Dallas, one of the few cities on the tours getting multiple performances (December 22-23).

Tickets for the Cedar Park date go on sale on Friday, July 21, 2023 at CirqueMusica.com.

2023 Cirque Musica Holiday Wonderland Tour Dates

  • 11/17 Mankato, MN Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center
  • 11/18 Burnsville, MN Ames Center
  • 11/19 Bemidji, MN The Sanford Center
  • 11/20 Grand Forks, ND Alerus Center
  • 11/21 La Crosse, WI La Crosse Center
  • 11/22 Cedar Rapids, IA Paramount Theater
  • 11/24 Peoria, IL Peoria Civic Center Theater
  • 11/25 Rockford, IL Coronado Theater
  • 11/26 Grand Rapids, MI Forest Hills Fine Arts Center
  • 11/28 Louisville, KY The Louisville Palace
  • 11/28-29 Airway Heights, WA Northern Quest Casino & Resort
  • 11/30 Ridgefield, WA Ilani Event Center
  • 12/1 Hammond, IN Horseshoe Hammond
  • 12/1 Folsom, CA Harris Center
  • 12/2 Waukegan, IL Genesee Theatre
  • 12/2-3 Valley Center, CA Harrah's Resort Southern CA
  • 12/5 Richmond, VA Altria Theater
  • 12/6 Springfield, MA Symphony Hall
  • 12/7 Verona, NY The Event Center at Turning Stone Casino
  • 12/8 Niagara Falls, NY Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino
  • 12/8 Maricopa, AZ Harrah’s Ak-Chin
  • 12/9 Santa Fe, NM Buffalo Thunder Resort & Casino
  • 12/9-10 Atlantic City, NJ Tropicana Casino & Resort
  • 12/10 Grand Junction, CO Avalon Theatre
  • 12/12 Shippensburg, PA Luhrs Center
  • 12/12 Casper, WY Ford Wyoming Center
  • 12/13 Englewood, NJ Bergen Performing Arts Center
  • 12/13 Colorado Springs, CO Pike’s Peak Center
  • 12/14 Tysons, VA Capital One Hall
  • 12/15 St. Charles, MO The Family Arena
  • 12/17 Fort Worth, TX Will Rogers Auditorium
  • 12/18 Wichita, KS Century II Concert Hall
  • 12/20 Jacksonville, FL Florida Theater
  • 12/20 San Antonio, TX The Tobin Center
  • 12/21 Melbourne, FL King Center
  • 12/22 Clearwater, FL Ruth Eckerd Hall
  • 12/22-23 Dallas, TX Winspear Opera House
  • 12/23 Sarasota, FL Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall
  • 12/24 Cedar Park, TX H-E-B Center at Cedar Park
Photo by Hayffield L on Unsplash

New luxury pet grooming boutique opening in Cedar Park

paw-sitively perfect

Everyone loves a spa day, but how about treating your four-legged best friend to one too? Texas-based Petbar, a luxury pet grooming boutique, is opening their third Austin location in Cedar Park on Friday, July 7.

Petbar focuses on bringing its furry clients full-service washing and grooming services by professional groomers with the latest equipment and products. The Cedar Park location will also provide monthly memberships and a self-service station for pet owners that like to DIY their dog-washing experience.

The new location is spearheaded by an Austin family: Garrett and Aisling Dewan and their two daughters. They own four dogs of their own, two English bulldogs, a French bulldog, and a bulldog-chih tzu mix, which inspired them to become Petbar franchisees.

“You could say we’re an animal-loving family,” Aisling Dewan said in a press release.

To help celebrate the arrival of the new boutique, the first 100 guests who sign up for a membership during their opening week will have their $100 membership initiation fee waived.

"Petbar makes caring for beloved pets fun and easy," said Garrett Dewan. "Our concierge grooming team is amazingly talented and has such a high commitment to excellence."

After their soft launch opening on July 7, the Cedar Park Petbar will host a grand opening event from 9 am to 4 pm on Friday, July 14. Austinites can bring their dogs to enjoy some treats and mimosas, grab some Petbar swag, and capture memories together in a photo booth. The event is family-friendly, and special giveaways will happen throughout the day.

The new Cedar Park Petbar is located at 406 West Whitestone Boulevard, Building 2, Suite #204. More information can be found on petbarinc.com.

Photo by Alexander Grey on Unsplash

Austin household bills are 25 percent higher than the national average, report finds


We already know how expensive it is to live in Austin. With rent prices on the rise and a six-figure salary not going as far as it used to, it’s no wonder why people would rather move to the suburbs than live in the city. Now, a new tool explores just how pricey the average Austinite’s household bills are in comparison to the national average. Spoilers: it’s not a pretty picture.

The average Austin household pays $2563 monthly for their bills, which adds up to $30,756 a year. When compared to the national average, which is $24,552 a year, the Austinite household is paying $6,204 more per year, or 25 percent more. Their findings show Austin is the No. 33 most expensive Texas city for household expenses, so at least we’re not at the top of that list.

If you look around at other Austin-area cities, like Pflugerville, the average household is paying $2,358 per month for their bills, which is only 15 percent higher than the national average.

In Round Rock, however, the average household there pays more than they would in Austin proper, at $2,606 a month, making them the No. 30 priciest city for household expenses in Texas. Additionally, Round Rock residents pay $6,720 more per year in household bills than the average American household.

Here’s how Austin-area cities rank when compared to all cities in Texas:

  • No. 23 – Dripping Springs
  • No. 30 – Round Rock
  • No. 33 – Austin
  • No. 49 – Buda
  • No. 50 – Cedar Park
  • No. 55 – Manor
  • No. 60 – Pflugerville
  • No. 27 – Kyle
  • No. 135 – San Marcos
  • No. 153 – Del Valle

The DoxoInsights (stylized doxoINSIGHTS) Explorer is a first-of-its-kind tool that calculates the average monthly payments for 10 of the most common household bills and compares them to the national average. The bills that it tracks are the average cost of a mortgage, rent, auto loan, utilities, auto insurance, mobile phone, health insurance, cable and satellite, life insurance, and alarm and security.

According to the tool, Travis County is the No. 7 in a ranking of most expensive household bills in the state. Neighboring Williamson and Hays also rank in the top 10 most expensive counties in Texas at No. 6 and No. 10, respectively.

The top 10 most expensive counties in Texas are:

  • No. 1 – Collin County
  • No. 2 – Rockwall County
  • No. 3 – Fort Bend County
  • No. 4 – Denton County
  • No. 5 – Kendall County
  • No. 6 – Williamson County
  • No. 7 – Travis County
  • No. 8 – Waller County
  • No. 9 – Galveston County
  • No. 10 – Hays County

More information can be found on doxo.com.

Photo courtesy of Via 313

5 things to know in Austin food right now: Deep dish pizza fave takes a slice of Bee Cave

News You Can Eat

Editor’s note: We get it. It can be difficult to keep up with the fast pace of Austin’s restaurant and bar scene. We have you covered with our regular roundup of essential food news.


One of Austin's favorite pizza places, Via 313, is opening a new location in Bee Cave (3944 S. FM 620 Rd.) on May 15. The Detroit-style deep-dish makers now have 14 locations, 10 of which are in Texas. The opening day celebration includes a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a partnership with Cerebral Palsy Awareness Transition Hope (CPATH), which will receive a quarter of the day's sales. The restaurant has several active job listings, including an hourly wage for servers in addition to tips. Hours only appear in the business' Google sidebar.

Wu Chow, a downtown Chinese restaurant known for its soup dumplings, is expanding from its high-traffic location on West 5th Street to something more accessible to the northern masses: the former site of Rosedale Kitchen and Bar (3800 N Lamar Boulevard). This is the first full expansion from the original location, although Little Wu serves up dumplings to-go at Fareground. The location opens on May 19, with a lunch service starting on June 19, and dim sum on July 8. The dinner service this month will be open Monday through Saturday, from 4:30-10 pm.

Austin drive-through heroP. Terry’s has now hit a milestone number of locations: 30. The newest is in Cedar Park (851 W. Whitestone Blvd.), across from Stiles Switch BBQ. Like the other locations, this one will serve breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late-night eats, from 7 am to 11 pm, Monday through Thursday, until midnight on Fridays; 8 am to midnight on Saturdays, and until 11 pm on Sundays. The classic menu offers burgers, veggie burgers, fries, chicken patties, cage free eggs, and scratch-made sweet bakes.

Other news and notes

Austin sees its fair share of food festivals and competitions, but the American Lamb Jam is kicking it up a notch with a multi-city contest. The American Lamb Board hosts this event series to promote family-owned lamb producers in the U.S., calling on chefs from Austin, Boston, Denver, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C., to create a signature sharable lamb plate or appetizer to be served at their home restaurants. Austin participants hail from El Naranjo, Interstellar BBQ, KG BBQ, Lenoir and more. Diners can vote for the best dish at americanlamb.com.

Forget the spelling bee — Bee School at Waterloo Greenway will teach one group of kids everything they need to know. French perfume maker Guerlain is launching a "Guerlain Bee School" at the park in partnership with its bee conservation program. (Remember the photos of Angelina Jolie with bees?) A group of pre-selected local second-graders will attend a beekeeping class on May 12, tour the pollinator garden, taste honey, and more. Then the program will be integrated into a current photography exhibition at the Greenway, "Seeing Bees". Adults with FOMO can look into classes at Round Rock Honey, which is helping to host the private event.

Sushi|Bar ATX, one of Austin's most upscale omakase experiences, always books up fast. This series will be no different, but might light a fire under some sushi lovers who have been meaning to splurge on a visit. The new chef series, "The Second Room" (a play on the restaurant's single-room dining), has its inaugural dinner on June 8 and 9. Two Michelin-starred chef Paul Liebrandt, previously chef-partner of NYC restaurants Corton and The Elm, will join Sushi|Bar ATX executive chef Ambrely Ouimette for a 20-item menu ($495 per person), contributing 10 dishes each. Find out more and reserve on Tock.

Courtesy of Pease Park Conservancy

Austin and its neighbors earn top nods from 2023 Texas Travel Awards


Austinites and Cedar Park residents have some of the best attractions in the state, according to the 2023 Texas Travel Awards. The winners of these prestigious awards offer some of the most unique experiences that every traveler should see for themselves.

The Texas Travel Awards were created by Austin Monthly, San Antonio Magazine, and Texas Music publishers, and the winners are decided by a panel of industry professional judges, travel journalists, and a musician. 60 categories were chosen and split between statewide best attractions, and best attractions by population into three groups: small market, mid market, and big market.

Austin took home one award in both the population and statewide categories. The city's Hotel Viata was deemed the Best "Big Market" Hotel, and Kingsbury Commons at Pease Park was named the Best Park in the state.

In Cedar Park, the locally-owned Black Sugar Caffe took home the award for the Best "Mid Market" Restaurant. The cafe has two other locations in Round Rock and Georgetown.

Additionally, several surrounding cities in the Hill Country took home awards in three other categories. The winner of the Best “Mid Market” Outdoor Activity is Glow Kayak Tours in San Marcos, which is located just between San Antonio and Austin. As for the Best "Mid Market" Destination Marketing Campaign, that award went to Temple's local digital mag The Temple Ticket. And William Chris Vineyards in Hye won the award for the Best Winery statewide. Considering the popularity of the winery's new wine school, we totally understand why they deserve the recognition.

For the second consecutive year, the Texas Travel Awards created People's Choice awards for the public to vote on the best destinations in four categories: arts and culture, families, foodies, and outdoor adventures.

Unfortunately for Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth-area cities swept in the People's Choice category. Dallas won the award for Best Destination for Arts and Culture, and Grapevine won the Best Destination for Families award. The outlying towns of Granbury and Mineral Wells took home the awards for Best Destinations for Foodies and Outdoor Adventures, respectively.

Elsewhere in Texas, the Hill Country city of New Braunfels just outside San Antonio took home 12 awards, the most out of any Texas city in this year's rankings. Two Houston neighbors, Baytown and The Woodlands, took home five awards total.

The full list of winners in the 2023 Texas Travel Awards can be found on their website.
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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Fantastic visuals and original story make The Creator a must-see sci-fi film

Movie Review

In the relatively risk-averse world that is modern Hollywood, getting an original story is a rarity. The vast majority of potentially blockbuster movies these days are ones that have a connection to some kind of existing intellectual property that already has a well-established track record. So anytime something interesting arrives that’s not a sequel/reboot/remake/commercial for a product, it deserves to be celebrated.

And that goes double when it’s done as well as the new sci-fi film, The Creator. The film is set in a post-apocalyptic world in 2065, 30 years after a sentient artificial intelligence detonated a nuclear bomb in Los Angeles. Joshua (John David Washington) is an American soldier who for years worked undercover alongside A.I.-enhanced robots, many of which are fitted with clones of human faces, to try to find their reclusive leader, Nirmata, in a part of the world now called New Asia.

A personal tragedy sends him into exile, but he’s recruited back into service by Colonel Howell (Allison Janney) to seek out and destroy a weapon that may turn the tide in the war for good. Turns out the weapon is a robot in the form of a child (Madeleine Yuna Voyles), and when Joshua discovers that fact, he finds it impossible to carry out the mission. Instead, he does everything he can to protect the girl he calls Alphie, with the military hot on his tail all the while.

Written and directed by Gareth Edwards (Rogue One) and co-written by Chris Weitz, the film is astonishing in a number of ways, but mostly for its ability to draw the viewer in visually. The CGI is amazingly believable, making it easy to immerse yourself in the storytelling. From a foreboding super-weapon in the sky called NOMAD to the futuristic landscapes to the whirring metal cylinders that appear to be the brains of the robots, the film is full of fantastic details that make it a feast for the eyes.

The concept of A.I. is increasingly being used as a storytelling tool, and here the filmmakers seem to try to play both sides of the fence. Many people in the film fear its capabilities, especially given the nuclear event. But by literally putting human faces on many of the robots, it becomes more difficult to see them as pure evil, a dilemma that’s at the core of the problem for both Joshua and the audience.

Washington, who’s fast becoming as reliably good as his father, Denzel, is the star of the film, and he does a great job in that role. But stealing the show every second she’s on screen is Voyles, who delivers a debut performance the likes of which hasn’t been seen in many years. She is utterly convincing and heartbreaking as Alphie; while the story may have worked with a lesser actor, she helps take it to completely different level.

Also putting in great work are Janney, who proves herself as badass and fearsome a military leader as any man; Mark Menchaca as her No. 2; Ken Watanabe as an A.I. robot; singer-turned-actor Sturgill Simpson as a friend of Joshua; and Gemma Chan, redeeming herself after the misfire of Eternals.

John David Washington in The Creator
Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios

John David Washington in The Creator.

The Creator could’ve earned praise simply by giving us an original sci-fi story. But by accompanying it with awe-inspiring imagery and performances that elevate the story immeasurably, Edwards and his team have made a film that will likely be remembered for years to come.


The Creator opens in theaters on September 29.

Timeless elegance meets modern luxury with charming Old Enfield home

On The Market

Nestled gracefully within the historic enclave of Old Enfield, the two-story stone home at 2313 Hartford Road stands as a testament to the enduring allure of architectural charm and modern refinement.

From the moment you step inside, it's apparent that every aspect of this 3,453-square-foot residence has been meticulously crafted to create a space that seamlessly marries timeless tradition with contemporary sophistication.

The journey through this captivating abode commences in the formal living area, where an exquisite copper fireplace welcomes residents and guests alike, setting the tone for the mesmerizing style that unfolds throughout.

A culinary haven awaits within the architect-designed kitchen, featuring stainless steel countertops, double sinks, and a luxurious limestone floor and backsplash. A chef's dream, this space is equipped with double ovens, poised to bring culinary aspirations to life.

Venturing further, the grand living room beckons with its soaring seventeen-foot ceilings, a majestic stone fireplace, and an expansive wall of windows that generously bathe the room in natural light.

Rich, dark-stained wood floors underfoot contribute to the home's inviting ambiance, complementing its overall character.

Every fixture, wallpaper choice, and flooring selection within this residence has been thoughtfully curated to make a resounding statement about the home as a whole. This meticulous attention to detail permeates every facet of the property, elevating its character and allure.

Moving beyond the interior, the outdoor living space proves equally enchanting, featuring a screened-in patio that offers the perfect setting for enjoying Austin's breezy evenings without the intrusion of pesky insects.

Additionally, a charming dining area nestled under the sprawling canopy of live oak trees, adorned with twinkling lights, creates a truly magical setting for al fresco gatherings and memorable evenings.

The primary bedroom, a sanctuary of comfort and luxury, boasts its own fireplace, finely crafted built-ins, and a spacious ensuite bathroom. Three additional bedrooms provide ample space for family or guests, each appointed with the same meticulous care evident throughout the home.

In its entirety, this Old Enfield gem harmoniously marries the finest aspects of traditional architecture with the conveniences of modern living.

It is a residence that radiates charm and sophistication, indoors and out, promising an exceptional lifestyle in the heart of Austin's historic landscape.


This home is on the market with Kumara Wilcoxon of Kuper Sotheby's International Realty. Click here to see more photos, details, and to contact the agent.

2313 Hartford Rd home for sale Austin

Photo courtesy of Kuper Sotheby's International Realty

Soaring 17-foot ceilings await in the living room.

Austin's Armadillo Christmas Bazaar to pack in 200 artisans for 2023 holiday mega-market


Holiday shopping in 2023 leaves a lot to be desired. One can brave Jumanji-like stampedes during Black Friday or bask in the blue light of an endless Amazon scroll. No wonder so many people throw up their hands and order a full deck of Starbucks gift cards.

Fortunately, an Austin tradition is still around for those who see gift-giving as an expression of joy. Save the date for the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar, which will cheerfully fill the Palmer Events Center starting December 15.

The 2023 edition will showcase 200 artists, including nationwide award-winners. Guests will peruse a mind-boggling array of handmade goods, including sculptural fiber art, wall collages, hand-crocheted toys, and ceramics. Creators will be on hand to share their inspiration and accept orders for custom work.

Longtime ‘Dillo revelers will recognize a few friendly faces on the floor. Inspired by singer Lucinda Williams’ wish for a warm, comfortable holiday art market, the Bazaar has attracted crowds since 1975. Multigenerational artists have now become part of the Armadillo family.

This year’s featured artwork by Dan Grissom pays tribute to that legacy with a work inspired by Armadillo lore — incorporating nods to an ‘80s poster, a poinsettia, and the nine-banded armadillo. Look closely for an embedded 709, a number dear to the Bazaar and Armadillo World Headquarters’ history. Chat with a staffer to hear the full story.

New attractions this year include The Armadillo Artway, an interactive activation featuring Ozark’s tintype photo studio; an ornament marbling station from Mercedez Rex; and a project from not-for-profit local magazine Almost Real Things.

Bars will be scattered across the grounds to keep the happening well-fueled. For the first time, the planners have also created a food court underneath the canopy overlooking the park with more culinary choices and ample seating.

From the jump, the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar has always been one of the season’s hottest destinations for live music, showcasing legendary performers such as Asleep at the Wheel, Billy Joe Shaver, Charley Crockett, and Rosie Flores. For now, planners are mum on this year’s lineup but will spill the beans on October 23.

Tickets will not be available until that announcement but have been traditionally kept reasonable (last year, guests could grab them for $12 for a one-day pass and $47 for the season). The party will run from 11 am to 9:30 pm daily from December 15-23. While waiting, fans can order essential 2023 merch from the online store.