10 must-do holiday activities in and around Austin
'Tis finally the season, meaning it's time to partake in local holiday traditions. Here are some ideas to get you started.
1. Walk the Trail of Lights
The magical favorite returns to Zilker Park Dec. 8 and runs through Dec. 23.
- Cost: General admission tickets range from $0-$5, depending on the night. Buy them online.
- Details: Kids ages 11 and under are free to enter with a ticketed adult.
- Pro tip: For $20-$25, consider purchasing the ZIP pass, which gets you in early and is a popular option for people with young kids.
2. Explore Peppermint Parkway
Corral a group and enjoy the drive-thru spectacular at Circuit of the Americas through Dec. 30.
- Cost: Admission is sold by the vehicle and starts at $40. Get tickets online.
- Details: The parkway is open 6:30-9pm. Organizers suggest arriving after 8:30pm to avoid the rush.
3. See "The Nutcracker"
One of the most iconic holiday traditions, Ballet Austin's annual production of "The Nutcracker," runs through Dec. 23.
- Details: Watch hundreds of dancers perform choreography by Stephen Mills, with live accompaniment from Austin Symphony Orchestra.
- Cost: Single tickets range from $15-$125. Buy them online.
- If you go: Here's what you need to know about parking at the Long Center.
4. Enjoy a festive drink
Get in the holiday spirit with a drink (or two) at one of these cheery spots.
🕎 Kitty Cohen's annual Hanukkah pop-up bar is back through Dec. 30.
- We recommend getting a Latke Punch or a Mezcal Mitzvah at the East Austin patio.
🌺 Sip tropical drinks with Santa at dive bar Nickel City on East 11th Street.
🎄 The North Pole meets Central Texas at Lala's Little Nugget, off Burnet Road, which celebrates Christmas year-round.
- You need tickets to get in this year, with general admission passes starting at $5. Reserve your spot online. Open through Dec. 27.
5. Go ice skating
Whether you're a beginner or an aspiring Olympian, sharpen your skills at Chaparral Ice.
- Details: The facility at 2525 W. Anderson Lane offers public skating daily. Register online for a session.
- Cost: Standard admission is $12 and skate rental is $6 for children and adults.
6. Catch a family-friendly musical
For a fresh take on a classic, check out ZACH Theatre's adaption of "A Christmas Carol" through Dec. 31.
- Details: Performances run through Dec. 31.
- Cost: Tickets range from $25-$160. Get them online.
7. Shop local for everyone on your list
There's no shortage of Austin-area businesses offering the perfect gifts for your loved ones. Here's a sampling.
🧀 For the one who loves to host: Cheese and charcuterie trays, plus classes and tastings at Antonelli's Cheese Shop.
☕️ For the coffee fiend: A bag of a favorite blend or classes covering latte art, cupping and more at Greater Goods Coffee Co.
🪞 For the one who appreciates the finer things: A ceramic oil dispenser, porcelain mug or other elevated home goods item at Take Heart boutique.
8. Visit Santa's Ranch
Head to New Braunfels and drive through more than a mile of gleaming country roads.
- Cost: Admission is $35 for a single vehicle. Tickets are valid for any night of the event, which runs through Jan. 1, 2023. Get them online.
- Details: Ranch hours are Sunday-Thursday 6-10pm; and Friday-Saturday 6-11pm.
9. Peruse a market for festive finds
Spend a lovely afternoon shopping from vendors at a couple of local marketplaces.
- The Front Market showcases women and LGBTQ+ creatives, makers and artists from Texas. Admission is donation-based to the event Dec. 3-4 and Dec. 10 at Ani’s Day and Night.
- Blue Genie Art Bazaar is open through Dec. 24 and offers shopping in-person and online, with options to pick up your items in-store or ship them anywhere in the U.S.
10. Cozy up at Mozart's
Sip lattes and stay for the iconic light show at Mozart's Coffee Roasters on Lake Austin.
What's your favorite Austin holiday tradition? Email us at [email protected], and we may feature your idea in an upcoming newsletter.
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