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Photo courtesy of Austin Trail of Lights

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and we’ve made our list of can’t-miss events — and have checked it twice — to ensure a joyous time is had by all. Check out the 10 best things to do in Austin this holiday season, and let the merrymaking commence. For a full listing of holiday-themed activities and more, visit our events calendar.

The Paramount Theatre presents Holiday Film SeriesWeekly through December 17
Holiday cinematic classics are back on the silver screen as part of The Paramount Theatre’s festive film series. Moviegoers can enjoy screenings of blockbuster movies including It's a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, and Home Alone. For a full list of screenings and for tickets, click here.

Wanderlust Wine Co. presents Tinseltown: Where Everyday Is ChristmasThrough December 30
Sip and be merry at the newest seasonal cocktail experience by Wanderlust Wine Co. Tinseltown visitors can expect an immersive, Christmas-themed pop-up bar filled with classic holiday tunes, themed drinks, festive decor, Santa and his elves, and more. Non-alcoholic beverages are also available. Pop-up bar admission is for guests 21 and older. For family-friendly accommodations, go to the ticketing website.

Circuit of The Americas presents Peppermint ParkwayNow through December 30
Cruise through Peppermint Parkway when you celebrate its return to the Circuit of The Americas. Activities include the famous Candy Cane Cruise, as well as games, a holiday characters meet-and-greet, a new Holiday Market, and rides at Peppermint Plaza. Guests can also scale the COTA Candy Cane, COTA’s 251-foot-tall Observation Tower for a view of the Parkway and Austin’s iconic skyline. Real Christmas trees are also available for purchase at the new Wonder Woods farm. For tickets and more information, click here.

Commodore Perry Mansion Lighting FestivalDecember 1
The festive celebration of Commodore Perry Estate’s rich Texas heritage is back for another year of spirited fun. Locals and visitors alike are invited to witness the estate’s annual lighting tradition and enjoy other activities throughout the grounds. Highlights include holiday music and cocktails, kids' crafts, an illuminated walk through the Estate Garden, s’mores and other seasonal snacks, and more. Tickets are available here.

Santa on 2nd StreetDecember 3
Get up close and personal with Kris Kringle himself at this special appearance. The 2nd Street District will transform into a holly jolly corridor complete with a craft station, warm seasonal beverages, and Santa’s favorite snack of all: cookies. Adult guests can take a break from the holiday hustle and bustle at the Apres Ski: Holiday Bar at W Austin. Boozy winter cocktails, holiday entertainment, ski lodge-inspired decor, and fun photo opportunities at the W Austin’s Living Room make the perfect case for a quick reprieve from the kid-friendly fun.

Ballet Austin presents The NutcrackerDecember 3 through December 23
Get lost in a world of whimsy and wonder when you enjoy The Nutcracker performed by the talented Ballet Austin company. This production at Long Center for the Performing Arts features a cast of hundreds of dancers, choreography by Stephen Mills, and will be accompanied by music from the Austin Symphony Orchestra. Following this opening weekend, showtimes are scheduled through December 23. Get tickets here.

Broadway in Austin: Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas! The MusicalDecember 6 through December 11
The beloved story of the lovable green grump comes to life on the stage at Bass Concert Hall. Max the Dog narrates how the Grinch plans to steal Christmas from the town of Whoville’s holiday-devoted residents. Audiences can expect a brilliant production of Dr. Seuss' timeless tale featuring hit songs “You’re A Mean One Mr. Grinch” and “Welcome Christmas” from the original animated special. Tickets for all showtimes are available.

58th Annual Austin Trail of Lights — December 8 through December 23
Austin’s premier holiday lights activation plugs back in for another illuminating season of in-person, winter-inspired wonder. This year’s Austin Trail of Lights marks its triumphant return to its traditional walk-through format. Visitors can take their time strolling through the numerous light displays and lighted tunnels while eating cookies and listening to holiday music. Secure your tickets here. The Austin Trail of Lights is open at Zilker Park through December 23.

Bee Cave On IceNow through January 3, 2023
Hit the ice in the spirit of the season at Hill Country Galleria. Guests can experience the classic winter activity in the heart of the Texas Hill Country at this brand-new ice rink. Each ticket includes skate rental and a 75-minute session on the ice. While walk-up options are available, making a reservation in advance is highly recommended. For rink information, check out the event website.

Four Seasons Hotel Austin presents Ice RodeoNow through January 8, 2023
Embark on a journey to a Texas-inspired wonderland in the heart of downtown at the luxe Four Seasons Hotel Austin. Ice Rodeo is an elevated and stylish holiday experience that combines the nostalgia and whimsy of the winter season with modern activations. Highlights include an outdoor ice-skating rink and massive art installations like a 30-foot Christmas tree and a life-size gingerbread Airstream trailer. Guests can also rent cozy and chic “cabins,” stocked with fire pits, seasonal goodies, and beverages. Get more information on tickets here.

Photo courtesy of Austin Trail of Lights

Austin's longest-running holiday tradition returns to its traditional, in-person format this year at Zilker Park.


Photo by Brian Nixon

Here are the top 5 things to do in Austin this Thanksgiving weekend

Weekend Event Guide

Kick off the holiday season with a healthy helping of festive events and jubilant gatherings. Settle in for a screening of Home Alone at Fareground Austin or hit the ice rink at Four Seasons Hotel Austin’s new Ice Rodeo. Check out the top five things to do in Austin this Thanksgiving weekend. For a full listing of events, go to our calendar.

Photo by Brian Nixon

Blood Over Texas presents Horror For The Holidays.

Thursday, November 24

Four Seasons Hotel Austin presents Ice Rodeo
Embark on a journey to aTexas-inspired winter wonderland in the heart of downtown. The Four Seasons Hotel Austin's Ice Rodeo is an elevated and stylish holiday experience that combines the nostalgia and whimsy of the winter season with modern activations. Highlights include an outdoor ice-skating rink and massive art installations like a 30-foot Christmas tree and a life-size gingerbread Airstream trailer. Guests can also rent cozy and chic “cabins” stocked with fire pits, seasonal goodies, and beverages. Get more information on tickets here.

Friday, November 25

Cap City Comedy Club presents Godfrey
Comedian Godfrey brings his irreverent style of humor to the Cap City Comedy Club for a few days only. He’s best known for his various appearances in films and television shows like Zoolander, Louie, and 30 Rock. More recently, his onscreen credits include his current starring role on the TruTV series Upload. For tickets, go to the comedy club's website. Shows are scheduled through November 27.

Saturday, November 26

Blood Over Texas presents Horror For The Holidays
The biggest dark holiday market in the city is back for another year of gifts, collectibles, oddities, and more. This two-day event will include a market of over 70 dark and horror vendors, a Krampus Parade, raffle prizes, photos with Evil Santa, and various food and drink offerings at the Palmer Events Center. For tickets and more event information, click here.

Fareground presents Screen on the Green: Home Alone
Pack a blanket and some mittens and settle in for an outdoor screening of a holiday classic on the green on Fareground Austin. Guests are invited to enjoy 1990 blockbuster Home Alone under the stars. An assortment of seasonal concessions including cotton candy and $4 happy hour drinks will be available for purchase. Admission is free and open to the public.

Sunday, November 27

Neill-Cochran House Museum presents Holiday Art on the Lawn
Give the gift of a new work of art to someone special or yourself this holiday season with the help of this festive art sale on the Neill-Cochran House Museum grounds. Shoppers can peruse and purchase unique art and gifts from Austin-based artists while benefitting the museum’s programming efforts. Kids in attendance can also take part in a guided art activity while parents shop. Admission is free.

Photo courtesy of Character Arts

Here are the top 5 things to do in Austin this weekend

Weekend Event Guide

Ease into the holiday spirit with the perfect amount of festive fun to enjoy in the days to come. Don’t miss your chance to see the iconic television program, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer off-screen and on the Bass Concert Hall stage, or make your shopping list and check it twice at Blue Genie Art Bazaar. Live music, outdoor movies, and more are also on the agenda. Check out the top five things to do in Austin this weekend. For a full listing of events, go to our calendar.

Photo courtesy of Character Arts

Texas Performing Arts presents Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical at Bass Concert Hall.

Thursday, November 17

The 1975 in concert
Ultra-cool indie pop band The 1975 comes back to Austin for a live concert at the Moody Center in support of their new album, Being Funny in a Foreign Language. Since their rise to notoriety in the early 2000s, the UK-based group amassed top hits like “The Sound" and “Robbers.” For information on seating options and availability, click here.

Friday, November 18

Blue Genie Art Bazaar
Kickstart your holiday shopping at a bonafide Austin tradition complete with the most unique and handmade gifts you can imagine. Blue Genie Art Bazaar returns for another year of wall-to-wall local vendors, live music, treats, and more. Check out even more information about what to expect at Blue Genie before you start shopping here. The bazaar is open through December 24. Admission is free and open to the public.

Austin Parks Foundation presents Movies in the Park: Soul
Bundle up and head to the park for a family-friendly movie night under the stars. This installment of the regular outdoor movie series hosted by Austin Parks Foundation and Rocket Cinema will feature a screening of the 2020 animated film Soul. Food trucks will be onsite to provide premium movie snacks and more. Guests are welcome to bring their dogs, picnic blankets, and lawn chairs for an optimal viewing experience. Admission to this screening event is free and open to the public.

Saturday, November 19

Sweet Sensi presents Texas Hemp Harvest Festival
Celebrate all things hemp at Distribution Hall. Festival highlights include a variety of local vendors, hemp industry experts, live music, food trucks, a raffle, and more. Minors are welcome at the festival but must be accompanied by adults 18 and older at all times. For a full schedule of events and for ticket information, go to the festival website.

Sunday, November 20

Texas Performing Arts presents Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical
The magical tale of everyone’s favorite reindeer comes to life on the Bass Concert Hall stage for one night only. This off-screen adaptation of beloved TV classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer will include appearances by classic characters like Santa and Mrs. Claus, Hermey the Elf, and Rudolph himself. All ages are welcome. Explore ticketing options here.

Photo courtesy of Ray Wylie Hubbard

Here are the top 5 things to do in Austin this weekend

Weekend Event Guide

Live music moments and artistic expression top our list of can’t-miss local activities in the days to come. See Ray Wylie Hubbard live in concert or enjoy a number of performers on stage at Music Hill Ranch. Check out the top five things to do in Austin this weekend. For a full listing of events, go to our calendar.

Thursday, November 10

Straight No Chaser in concert
All-male a cappella group Straight No Chaser brings their vocal stylings to ACL Live for a special evening of entertainment. The nine voices known for this unique style of harmonizing and added humor come to Austin as part of their 25th anniversary tour. A select number of tickets for the ACL Live show are still available.

Friday, November 11

Ray Wylie Hubbard in concert
Singer-songwriter and all-around Texas legend Ray Wylie Hubbard performs live at Paramount Theatre this week. Hubbard is known for his pioneering role in Americana music and boasts a decades-long career, including 13 studio albums. Attendees can expect songs from his entire discography along with music from his newest album, Co-Starring Too. Select tickets are still available.

Rodeo Austin presents Bulls in the Ballpark
Experience the Dell Diamond’s transformation into a rodeo arena with the return of Bulls in the Ballpark. The two-night extreme bull riding event will feature competition by 35 of some of the toughest bull riders and cowboys in the sport. One lucky winner will take home a grand prize of $37,500. A dazzling fireworks display will conclude each evening’s high-energy action. For tickets and more information, go to the event website.

Saturday, November 12

Great Promise for American Indians presents The Austin Powwow and American Indian Heritage Festival
Experience the culture, talent, and heritage of hundreds of Native American dancers and singers from across the country as part of this unique Austin event at Travis County Exposition Center. Guests can enjoy numerous live performances, dine on traditional foods at the Native Food Court, and shop unique handmade creations at the Native Market. For a full schedule of events and ticketing information, click here.

The Art Gathering at Music Hill
Spend the evening at Music Hill Ranch surrounded by all things artistic. Guests can enjoy a showcase of art, architecture, live music, chef-prepared hors d' oeuvres, and libations in the spirit of celebration. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.

Photo courtesy of Ray Wylie Hubbard

Legendary musician Ray Wylie Hubbard performs live for one night only at Paramount Theatre.

Photo by Katrina Barber

Here are the top 5 things to do in Austin this weekend

Weekend Event Guide

Get outside and explore the many wide-open spaces that are perfect for mixing and mingling in the city limits. Savor the flavors of the city and the entire state at the Austin Food & Wine Festival or watch a family-friendly flick under the stars at Mueller Lake Park. Here are the top five things to do in Austin this weekend. For a full listing of events, go to our calendar.

Thursday, November 3

CultureMap presents The Tailgate
Don’t miss the newest signature event series from CultureMap. Embrace and celebrate the Texas tailgating lifestyle with an elevated experience complete with game day-inspired activities, entrainment, crafted bites, signature cocktails, and more at Distribution Hall. For a full list of participating restaurants and chefs, and to purchase tickets, check out the event website.

Friday, November 4

11th Annual Austin Food & Wine Festival
The city’s premier food festival returns with a three-day schedule packed with food, wine, and spirits celebrations. Attendees to the foodie-approved fun will enjoy engaging cooking demonstrations, culinary conversations, signature dish samples, beverage tastings, live music, and more. For a full schedule of events and to purchase passes, visit the festival website.

Austin Parks Foundation presents Movies in The Park: Luca
Settle in on the lawn at Mueller Lake Park and enjoy a family-friendly movie night featuring Disney and Pixar’s original feature film Luca. Guests are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs and blankets for a more relaxing viewing experience. Dogs are welcome, and admission to the screening is free.

Saturday, November 5

Texas Book Festival
The two-day schedule includes panel discussions, book signings, author readings, family activities, food vendors, and more. This year’s featured authors include Omar Epps, Janet Evanovich, Anand Giridharadas, Gabino Iglesias, Margo Price, Rebecca Roanhorse, and many others. For a full list of authors and more event information, go to the festival website.

20th Annual Travis Heights Art Trail
Explore the historic and artful Travis Heights neighborhood in the spirit of philanthropy. The two-day, walkable tour will feature creations from more than 35 Austin artists and local nonprofits including Art From the Streets and Adventures Academy. Admission to this event is free and open to the public.

Photo by Katrina Barber

The premier culinary event of the year returns to Vic Mathias Shores this weekend only.

Photo courtesy of Ventana Ballet

The 10 best Halloween happenings in Austin, from spooky to fun

Halloween Happenings

Peak spooky season has finally made it to the city limits and there’s no time to waste. We’re making the case for locals and visitors alike to experience monster mashes, haunted happenings, and family-friendly festivities in the days ahead, and there’s something to pique every creepy interest. The amount of freaky fun activities happening in the city is downright un-boo-lievable. Check out these top 10 things to do in Austin this Halloween weekend.

For even more Halloween event listings, go to our calendar.

Thursday, October 27

Lone Star Court presents Howl-O-Ween
Enjoy the moonlight and have a howling good time with your four-legged companion in tow at Lone Star Court. Pet guests will receive treats in the courtyard while their human companions sip wine samplings from Wander + Ivy. The best dressed pups will also be entered into the costume contest, which includes take-home prizes for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place. Howl-O-Ween admission is free and open to the public.

Wax Myrtle Halloween Pop-Up Bar
One of the city’s most beloved cocktail bars undergoes the pop-up treatment just in time for the most terrifying time of the year. Pop-up attendees can expect a curated cocktail list, spooky decor, and tarot card readings when they enter the House of Wax, located in the Muleshoe Room. Guests can also get lost in the macabre when they experience the TV wall installation playing old horror films on VHS. House of Wax will be open through Monday, October 31. Pop-up entry is free.

Friday, October 28

Ventana Ballet’s UNDEAD
Immerse yourself in a different kind of haunted experience, complete with masterful ballet skills and chilling choreography. Spider House Ballroom will transform into a dynamic, adults-only Halloween show featuring artists from Ventana Ballet performing in multiple dance disciplines. Upon arrival, guests will gather at the bar for pre-show hauntings and spirits of the alcoholic persuasion. Performances in the theatre will follow twice each night. The bar will remain open throughout the evening to fuel the fun. Performances are scheduled for Friday and Saturday. Get tickets here.

Saturday, October 29

Trick or Treat Extravaganza at Music Lane
South Congress hotspot Music Lane is starting the Halloween weekend on a frighteningly good note. Attendees can stock up on sweet treats from participating area shops, explore the pumpkin patch at the Plaza, participate in costume contests, and try their luck at winning giveaway prizes. Parents can bring their kiddos and fur babies to the party for complimentary pet portrait sessions with renowned local photographer, Taylor Starcher. Extravaganza co-host Austin Human Society will also be offering on-site puppy and dog adoptions for those looking to expand their family with a new four-legged member. Entry is free and open to the public.

5th Annual Boo & Brew
Venture out to The Arboretum to experience a variety of thrills and chills throughout the North Austin shopping district during the return of Boo & Brew. Highlights of the afternoon event include live music by Matt Creaton, a DJ set, face painting, balloon art, raffle prizes, vendor booths, shopping specials, and more. Kiddos can enjoy a candy crawl from participating Arboretum retailers while adults sip on specialty cocktail samplings from Estancia Brazilian Steakhouse, Juliet Italian Kitchen, and The Cheesecake Factory. Guests are encouraged to don their Halloween costumes to get into the spooky spirit, and swag bags will be available to take home after the fun ends. Admission to this family-friendly event is free and open to the public.

ZaZa Halloween Bash 2022
Go down the rabbit hole at Hotel ZaZa Austin’s most fabulous Halloween fête. This year’s theme is Alice in Wonderland and guests are highly encouraged to dress the part. Your ticket includes party admission, a complimentary welcome cocktail, valet parking for one vehicle, and access to pop-up activations and snacks all night long. Bottle service and table service offerings are available upon request. This party is for adults 21 and over only. Get tickets here.

W Hotel presents Haunted Hotel
Party into the witching hour at the W Austin’s Red Room. Pick your poison from a selection of specialty Halloween-themed cocktails while you dance the night away to the live set of a DJ. At 11pm, guests can try their luck at winning the costume contest, which promises a bottle on the house for the winner. Additional highlights include complimentary tarot readings and Ouija boards. Admission is free with reservation. Save your spot here.

Sunday, October 30

Neill-Cochran House Museum presents Halloween Carnival
Round up the entire family for a day of not-so-spooky celebration at Neill-Cochran House Museum. Kid-friendly activities include scavenger hunts, a bouncy house, trunk-or-treating, and a variety of crafts and games inspired by the season. Visit the museum website for additional information. Admission is free and open to the public.

Fareground Screen on the Green Fall Feature
Celebrate All Hallow’s Eve with a free, outdoor screening of the cult-favorite film, Hocus Pocus at the Fareground plaza. Seasonal concession specials like happy hour drinks, cotton candy, and popcorn will be available for purchase in addition to the Fareground’s several restaurant counters. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own blankets and arrive ahead of the 8pm showtime to select their ideal viewing spot on the green. Screening tickets are free with a reservation. Click here to save your spot.

Monday, October 31

Haunted Halloween at the Estate
The Commodore Perry Estate welcomes families to its historic grounds to celebrate Halloween in all its autumn splendor. Tiny ghosts and goblins are encouraged to wear their costumes while they explore the Mansion Inn, the Sunken Gardens, and more haunted hideaways throughout the property. Activities like trick-or-treating at Lutie’s, pumpkin painting, and pastry decorating are on the agenda for both children and grownups to enjoy. Palm reading sessions, a larder and cheese spread by Chef Susana Querejazu, and adult beverages will also be available for a well-rounded night of thrills.

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Mobile vet company brings its no-rush, stress-free services to Austin homes

Home Is Where the Vet Is

Austin, one of the largest no-kill shelter cities in the United States, already knows a lot about adopting instead of shopping. A puppy is a wonderful addition to the family, but senior dogs need love (and are loved), too. As many have learned firsthand, taking care of a senior pet can be challenging — with higher medical bills, potentially heavy lifting as joints stiffen, and tough decisions to make about what kind of care is necessary — but also incredibly rewarding.

November is National Senior Pet Health Month, calling for awareness about an older pet’s needs, and providing opportunities to celebrate wins all over local news. In Austin, one of those wins came in scrubs. The Vets, a mobile veterinary service that makes house calls, expanded into Austin in 2022 (after launching the year prior), eventually bringing the national count to 16 locations including Houston and Dallas. Texas and California are tied for the most locations, at three each.

“Among the top reasons that pet owners avoid or postpone their visit to the vet clinic include the stress of transporting their pet, restrictive pet carriers, and crowded waiting rooms,” explained a statement from the company. “Our no-rush visits give your pet the time to bond with our vet and you the opportunity to ask questions. And you always have the option to rebook the same vet to help grow that special relationship over time.”

This team provides care for every stage in a pet’s life, and most of their needs, too; that’s everything from routine wellness exams, microchipping, nutrition consulting, and even emergency services including those with specialized equipment like ultrasound machines. When the time comes to ease a pet’s end-of-life transition, the team also offers at-home euthanasia, dramatically reducing stress for both pets and people who don’t want a sterile environment or a tearful drive home.

The American Veterinary Medical Association lists many needs for senior pets, including increased medical care, vaccinations, and pet parents that are observant about environmental concerns like house structure and stimulation. With a home vet, pet owners might consider asking for opinions on how to streamline some of these interactions, without having to worry about having to write notes, try to remember potential issues in the space, or miss any important details a professional would see right away.

A good vet can make animals comfortable no matter what, but The Vets emphasizes the stronger relationships that its team can build in a comfortable, stress-free environment. In addition to a more convenient and comfortable experience, this can also mean better care for a pet that doesn’t have an entire puppyhood to adjust.

More information about The Vets, including scheduling, is available at thevets.com.

Austin-area pig rescue wins Airbnb contest to build one-of-a-kind pig-themed guest house

This Place is a Pigsty

KVUE — From tens of thousands of entries from around the world, 100 aspiring designers, architects, DIYers, and makers from more than 20 countries and regions have been chosen to bring their unique space ideas to life as part of the $10,000,000 Airbnb OMG! Fund.

One of those winners is Tracey Stabile, director of the Central Texas Pig Rescue (CTPR) in Austin. Tracey and Dan Illescas, founders of Central Texas Pig Rescue, will receive up to $100,000 to create a one-of-a-kind pig-shaped guest space. Over the course of the next 10 months, they will design, construct, and outfit the space to be guest-ready by summer 2023.

"Basically the OMG! Fund contest was a way for people to be really playful and kind of invent a really cool dwelling that would be something that's totally notable to people and be a destination," said Stabile.

Stabile said Airbnb left all of the freedom of creativity up to them. They went through several rounds of design and planning and review.

"Each step of the way, we were like, 'We're one step closer.' It was very exciting. Just getting those emails at each milestone and seeing that we were actually contenders in this contest. Then the fact that we, of course, won and now we're going to be able to build this amazing thing that we absolutely never would have been able to build under other circumstances. It's just an amazing opportunity," stated Stabile.

Stabile said she wanted to build something that was a little bit unpredictable and wanted to avoid some of the shapes that people might expect. The current pig sanctuary in Smithville, about 45 minutes outside of Austin, is home to over 200 pigs that were saved from abandonment. The sanctuary houses a mix of all different types of pigs, mostly potbellied pigs, and is 100 percent volunteer run and 100 percent donation based.

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Read the full story and watch the video at KVUE.com.

Texas state parks beckon this holiday season with festive events and peaceful escapes

Silent nights

If roasting s'mores and hiking in the great outdoors sounds fun, pack up your family and visit one of Texas’ state parks this holiday season.

Texas state parks and historic sites are ringing in the holidays with a number of festive events. There are drive-thru light tours, special holiday hikes, arts and crafts for the kiddos, and more.

Reservations fill up quickly, so be sure to visit an individual park's website before you head out. And check the Holidays in the Parks page for many more fun options, pricing information, and more information.

Austin/San Antonio-area parks

Bastrop State Park
Follow ornaments with clues through the park every day in December during the annual Fa La La Through The Forest Scavenger Hunt. Enjoy the Lost Pines Christmas Parade, a collaborative event with Bastrop and Buescher Parks, at 6 pm December 10. Tour the inside of the historic Refectory and see how the Civilian Conservation Corps celebrated Christmas away from home during A Lost Pines CCC Christmas 9 am-12 pm December 17.

Lyndon B. Johnson State Park & Historic Site
Visit the popular attraction during December to learn how the farm staff get ready for das Weihnachten (Christmas). Return to the park at 5:30 pm December 18 for the 53rd Annual Tree Lighting, a holiday tradition started by President and Mrs. Johnson.

Garner State Park
Join the Buffalo Soldiers program and friends as they stop into Garner State Park before leaving for Christmas break during the Marching Towards Christmas event 10 am-2 pm December 10. Christmas activities will include hand-dipped candles, frontier Christmas painting, Christmas-themed hard tack in Dutch ovens, and stories of the Buffalo Soldiers.

Buescher State Park
On the Fa La La in the Forest Scavenger Hunt, you can follow ornaments with clues through the park to secure a prize at the end, December 1 to January 1. Enjoy the Smithville Festival of Lights and Lighted Parade, a collaborative effort between Buescher and Bastrop parks, on December 3.

Hill Country State Natural Area
See how art, history and state parks are connected; learn some basic watercolor techniques and paint a card or two to take home during the Watercolor Christmas Cards event 2:30-4 pm December 3. Come back for Horses in History & Ornament Craft from 2:30-4 pm December 22 and learn how horses played important roles in the lives of vaqueros, native people, ranchers and more. Then, play a round of horseshoes and paint a horse ornament to take with you.

South Llano River State Park
At Christmas at the Ranch, 2-5 pm December 3, guests can warm up with hot chocolate and cider, listen to live entertainment, enjoy crafts and cookie decorating, and anticipate Santa's visit while taking in the twinkling lights and Christmas decorations at the historic Ranch House that now serves as Park Headquarters.

Dallas-Fort Worth-area parks

Tyler State Park
Enjoy Reading Ranger Campfire Stories around a cozy campfire at 3 pm December 3. Head back December 9-10 for A Pineywoods Christmas, when you can stroll or drive through the Lakeview and Big Pine campgrounds to take in campers' elaborately decorated sites and take a Winter Wonderland Hike.

Lake Tawakoni State Park
Drive through or stay at the park and decorate your campsite with your favorite Christmas decorations to receive your second night of camping free during your stay. There will be a decorating contest, complete with awards, as well as a reading of The Night before Christmas — all part of Twinkle Tour 2022, 5-8 pm December 3.

Daingerfield State Park
Drive through the park lit up like Santa Land during the 10th annual Christmas in the Park drive thru lights tour December 14-17 (times vary). Marvel at the decorated campsites and lights, and enjoy hot chocolate and cookies while waiting for a chance to visit with Santa.

Eisenhower State Park
Help those in need and spread holiday cheer — and as a bonus, get free entry to the park — by bringing one unwrapped donation item to the park’s Holiday Donation Drive through December 19. Visit December 9-10 to visit the Light Up the Park drive-thru lights event, featuring milk and cookies with Santa. This year, the park is taking unwrapped toys to donate instead of collecting entrance fees for the event.

Cleburne State Park
Enjoy Pancakes With Santa and make pinecone bird feeders 9-11 am December 10.

Cedar Hill State Park
Search for birds taking their winter break at the park during their Winter Birding Walk, which takes place 7:30-8:30 am December 13. Explore Christmas on Penn Farm on December 17: Learn about the history and pioneers of the Penn Family and the farm they built 150 years ago.

Lake Mineral Wells State Park
Experience Christmas, cowboy style, at Cross Timbers Cowboy Christmas, December 3. Park ranger and cowboy poet David Owens will gather guests around a campfire at the Lone Star Amphitheater for an evening of cowboy culture through songs, stories and poems.

Dinosaur Valley State Park
In partnership with Toys for Tots, the park is hosting Christmas in the Valley, a full day of ranger-led events, programs, family friendly activities, arts and crafts, food and more. Bring a new and unwrapped toy for free admission for the whole family. The event takes place 1-4 pm December 17.

Houston and Gulf Coast-area parks

Brazos Bend State Park
Holiday in the Park is an all-day affair on December 10. Events include a self-guided "Elf Hike," Christmas crafts, "Pup Parade," s'mores, and more.

Goose Island State Park
See the park in lights, enjoy holiday activities, and camp for free when you decorate your campsite during Christmas in the Park on December 17. Guests are invited to "Santa's Village" at the CCC Recreation Hall for holiday crafts, games, hot chocolate around the campfire, and to drop off letters to Santa in the North Pole Mailbox.

Lake Corpus Christi State Park
Get in the holiday spirit with the second annual Holiday Light Drive Thru, 6-9 pm December 10. Visitors can enter the park for a drive through the lighted areas of Javelina and Opossum Bend camping loops, plus the Old Pavilion.

West Texas and the Panhandle-area parks

Franklin Mountains State Park
On December 3, make ornaments and holiday cards with recycled materials as part of the Art in the Parks series. During Cookies and Cocoa, you can decorate and take home your own Christmas treat while sipping on a cup of hot chocolate 2-4 pm December 23. Come back on Christmas Eve for a guided, two-mile Santa Hike at 11 am.

Hueco Tanks State Park & Historic Site
Bring your family out for Home for the Holidays guided family hike on December 10 and moderate hike on December 17.

San Angelo State Park
Enjoy a drive-thru tour of lights and optional pictures with Santa and Smokey Bear during Holly-Days in the Park, 6-8 pm December 10.