15.) Show off your ice skating moves at Whole Foods Downtown
Whole Foods’ ice skating rink in 2013. Video: YouTube user Adrian Moseley.
You might not get to do much “real” outdoor ice skating in Austin, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have any opportunities to lace up your skates and harness your inner Michelle Kwan. Chapparal Ice, for one, is a great year-round ice skating destination, and the temporary holiday setup at Hyatt Lost Pines is quite impressive, to say the least — but without a doubt, the most “Austin” ice skating opportunity is found at Whole Foods’ flagship store on Lamar. Grab hot food or drinks on the lower level and then head on up to the rooftop plaza to enjoy holiday music and some good old-fashioned wintry fun with neighbors.
525 N Lamar Blvd. 512-542-2209. Tickets $10, skates included. Open daily November 27 through January 9, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Website.
14.) Buy locally-made treasures at the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar
The 2011 Armadillo Christmas Bazaar. Video: YouTube User Brandon Fuller.
Starting mid-December, head down to the Palmer Events Center for the shopping extravaganza of your life: the Annual Armadillo Christmas Bazaar. Featuring more than 160 fine art and artisan vendors, the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar basically ensures that you’ll find epic (if not quirky) holiday gifts for friends and family members — and all while savoring cold beer and great food. Expect to hear a heck of a lot of live music too; each year’s Bazaar hosts a slew of bands and musicians.
13.) Lovingly decorate a cedar tree on Loop 360
Austinites start decorating the trees in November. Video: YouTube user KXAN.
Let’s admit it: we Austinites get a little crazy with our holiday decorating. Take the 37th Street Christmas spectacle for example, our 1.25-mile Trail of Lights in Zilker Park, or Mozart Coffee Roasters‘ 15-minute synchronized lights display. Well, for years, we’ve been channeling our powers of festivity into decorating the cedar trees that line the northwesterly section of Loop 360. If you haven’t ever participated, this is the year for you to discover your inner elf! Pack a box full of ornaments, garland, and an especially weird object or two and head out to Loop 360 to take part in this vibrant Austin tradition.
There’s only one catch. After New Years, you’d better come back and un-decorate or someone else will have to!
12.) Ooh and ahh over the biggest Christmas tree in town
Speaking of Christmas trees, spinning around beneath the 155-foot Zilker Holiday Tree while looking up is a sacred Austin tradition that you shouldn’t skip this season. Located at the Moonlight Tower in Zilker Park, this massive tree is a whopping 380 feet wide, and it’s the biggest one in town, so plenty of folks can perform their annual spins at once, with lots of space to fall down in the dizzying aftermath. The Zilker tree sports no less than 3,309 lights and a gigantic star that measures 10 feet between all of its points, so trust us — it’s definitely a sight worth seeing!
2100 Barton Springs Rd. 512-970-8891. Open daily 24/7 starting November 26. Website.
11.) Drink your weight in hot chocolate
Apple cider and eggnog are entirely different, but they do have two things in common. First, they’re both Christmastime beverages, bringing on the holiday cheer with every sip. And second, both of them pale in comparison to hot chocolate in terms of glorious deliciousness. Admittedly, that last statement is biased. But seriously, you can find some killer hot cocoa in Austin and December is the perfect time to guzzle gallons of it!
Expert tip: Here’s where to find the best hot cocoa in town.
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