Are you looking for a truly local taste of holiday glee?
Here are five festive favorite activities that no self-respecting Austinite would miss.
5. Do some one-stop local shopping.
Keep Austin weird by patronizing two holiday shopping favorites: Armadillo Christmas Bazaar and Blue Genie Art Bazaar.
You’ve got to purchase a ticket for the downtown’s Armadillo Christmas Bazaar, which includes shopping booths, multiple live music performances every day (check out the Spotify playlist), and two full bars. It’s as much an experience as expo.
Since 2001, Blue Genie Art Bazaar has provided a free, unique gathering of Austin-y gifts. You’ll find one-of-a-kind artisanal creations (preview 200 local and regional vendors on the website) conveniently located near central Austin’s Highland Mall.
4. Catch a show.
Austin loves a good performance. Many make Zachary Scott Theatre’s productions of the classic A Christmas Carol and iconic Texas send-up A Tuna Christmas seasonal must-see events.
Ring in the new year with Austin’s signature clubs (downtown’s Antone’s Nightclub and the Continental Club on SoCo have New Year’s Eve shows) or take the family to Alamo Drafthouse’s special December showings (yep; this revolutionary movie theatre started here).
3. See all of the lights.
Stop by Mozart’s Coffee Roasters to score a warm snack and soak up a breathtaking light display. Stroll down 37th St. east of Guadalupe to see whether it’s a good year for the block’s traditionally quirky home installations. And brave crowds and buy tickets for Austin’s longstanding tradition, the Trail of Lights. Believe it or not, this 52-year tradition was once a drive-through activity. Suitable for the whole family, Austin’s Trail of Lights includes food trucks, Santa’s Workshop, nightly entertainment, and some 1.24 miles full of 40 light displays (about 2 million lights!).
2. Find a workout.
No matter the season, Austin loves to get physical. For many, no holiday is complete without a polar bear dip into Barton Springs Pool. Thanks to its approximately 68 degrees temperature, some start the day with a morning visit to this spring-fed pool year ‘round (no entrance fee before 8 a.m.).
Swimming not your thing? Work up a sweat and get a group hug with November Project Austin. This nationally-certified, #weatherproof, free workout (M/W/F, from 6–7 a.m.; more details at website) features cardio- and body weight-based group exercise.
1. Twirl under the Zilker Holiday Tree.
Every Austinite–no matter how big or how small–will stand under these spiraling Christmas lights, look up, and twirl. The City of Austin first lit the 155-foot Zilker Holiday Tree in 1967 and it’s brought unbridled joy and general dizziness ever since. (Tip: Due to Zilker Park road closures, combine your tree twirl with a Trail of Lights trip.)
If you’d rather skip the 300,000+ crowd driving to Zilker Park, drop in at Austin’s new Central Library (710 W. Cesar Chavez St.). The rooftop deck provides a spectacular view across Lady Bird Lake. Can you spot that shining 10-foot point-to-point double star atop the Zilker tree?
Happy holidays, y’all!