It’s almost time to wish you a happy 2016! By any chance, is your New Year’s resolution to go out more? There’s always something fun to do in Austin, so we’ve rounded up the best FREE events coming up in January!
First Day Hikes
January 1 | Texas State Parks
Kick off the new year outdoors on a FREE First Day Hike! Participating state parks include LBJ State Park, Enchanted Rock, Lockhart State Park, Bastrop State Park (plus a special trek for toddlers), and McKinney Falls State Park. Please note that while the hikes are free, regular park admission applies.
Black Eyed Pea Run
January 1 at 8:30 a.m. | Rogue Running, 410 Pressler St, Austin
Kick off the new year the right way with this updated edition of the annual Black Eyed Pea Run! New, iconic Austin course including route options from 4 miles to 20 miles (and every even-numbered distance in between). They will have maps with turn by turn directions and supported water stops on course with the traditional black eyed peas and mimosas as your reward at the finish. FREE and open to anyone who wants to join the fun!
Barton Springs Polar Bear Splash
January 1 from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. | Barton Springs Pool, Zilker Park, Austin
Save Our Springs (SOS) Alliance hosts this annual event at Barton Springs Pool. Hot coffee and donuts will be served and 2016 commemorative Polar Bear Splash t-shirts will be available for purchase. Everyone is welcome to come, jump, and go throughout the day. Don’t forget your warm clothes for when you get out. FREE!
Pfreeze Pflop (Pflugerville)
January 1 at 10 a.m. | Scott Mentzer Pool, 901 Old Austin Hutto Rd, Pflugerville
Are you brave enough to slide into the pfrigid water at Scott Mentzer Pool to kick off your new year? The event lasts until the last brave soul goes down the slide! No, the pool isn’t heated. Admission is FREE with donation of a canned food item to benefit local food banks.
New Year’s Day Celebration at Yoga Yoga Westgate
January 1 at 12 p.m. | Yoga Yoga Westgate, WestGate Shopping Center, 4477 S Lamar Blvd #420, Austin
Celebrate 2016 with 108 sun salutations at noon and Kundalini meditation at 3 p.m. FREE!
Polar Bear Splash (Kyle)
January 1 at 1 p.m. | Kyle Pool, Gregg-Clarke Park, 1100 W Center St, Kyle
Take part in the Kyle tradition and make a splash at the Kyle Pool. FREE! Light snacks and drinks available.
New Year’s Day Parade with Minor Mishap Marching Band
January 1 at 2:30 p.m. | Doug Sahm Hill, Butler Park, 1000 Barton Springs Rd, Austin
Start your year off with nature, fresh air, and a brass band! FREE!
January 1-10 | Locations vary
Enjoy FREE live music at Mohawk (912 Red River), The Sidewinder (715 Red River), and The New Movement (616 Lavaca Street). No cover for 21+; minors $5 (minors may not be allowed at all events – see the schedule for details).
Mozart’s Annual Light Show
January 1-3 from 6-11 p.m. | Mozart’s Coffee Roasters, 3825 Lake Austin Blvd., Austin
Starting 6 p.m. each evening, and replaying at the top of every hour until closing (last show at 11 p.m.), enjoy dazzling lights set to music! FREE!
Walkway of Lights (Marble Falls)
January 1-3, weather permitting | Lakeside Park, Buena Vista Dr, Marble Falls
If there is a chance of rain, please call 1-844-635-4448 for weather updates. Walkway cannot be turned on when the ground is wet. FREE!
Lost Pines Christmas River of Lights (Bastrop)
January 1 | Fisherman’s Park, 1200 Willow St., Bastrop
Take in the River of Lights, 120 lighted displays in a variety of seasonal themes lining Bastrop’s scenic Colorado River Walk and enhanced by music. To access this one-half mile promenade, come down the stairs west of the intersection of Main and Pine Streets or select the fully accessible entrance at Fisherman’s Park on Farm Street. The Bastrop Chamber of Commerce and community organizations and individuals generously provide this traditional treat enjoyed by all ages and by visitors and locals alike. January 1 is the last night to visit. FREE!
Free Kids’ Music at Strange Brew
Saturdays in January from 10-11 a.m. | Strange Brew, Lounge Side, 5326 Manchaca Rd, Austin
Staci Gray (January 2), Groundwork Music (January 9), The Que Pastas (January 16), and Big Don (January 23) will be performing FREE all ages shows. Doors open at 9:30 a.m.
Holiday Model Train Show (Round Rock)
January 2 from 12-5 p.m. | ArtSpace, 231 E Main St, Round Rock
This is the last day to visit the model train show. The train display is designed and operated by the Tinplate Trackers. FREE, but donations will be accepted.
Hot Rod Night at Top Notch Hamburgers
January 2 at 6 p.m. | Top Notch Hamburgers, 7525 Burnet Rd, Austin
Bundle up and head to Top Notch to see old cars and trucks. FREE!
Free First Sunday at the Bullock Museum
January 3 from 12-5 p.m. | Bullock Texas State History Museum, 1800 Congress Ave., Austin
Enjoy FREE exhibit admission all day during Free First Sundays, held the first Sunday of every month, and family activities from 12 p.m. – 3 p.m. At January’s Free First Sunday, learn more about why ranching has played such a big role in Texas.
African Children’s Choir Performance
January 3 at 10:30 a.m. | Bailey Middle School, 4020 Lost Oasis Hollow, Austin
18 children from Uganda will be performing an incredible concert of familiar songs as well as traditional African song and dance. You will be amazed by their harmonies, dancing, and beautiful smiles. The concert is FREE and open to all. A free-will offering will be taken at the performance to support the African Children’s Choir program in education and relief and development. For more Austin concert dates, click here.
Shakespeare in Print and Performance
Daily, hours vary | Harry Ransom Center, 300 W 21st St, Austin
Explore the legacy of William Shakespeare at the Ransom Center. The Elizabethan world of Shakespeare and his contemporaries is presented through early printed books documenting his contemporary reputation, his textual sources, and his plays, all drawn from the Ransom Center’s holdings. Costume and set designs and promptbooks showcase the variety of ways artists have translated his plays into performance. Admission is FREE; your donation supports the Ransom Center’s exhibitions and public programs. Open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with extended Thursday evening hours to 7 p.m. Open Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Free public tours every day at noon, Thursdays at 6 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. Take note of holiday hours (closed on January 1).
Hands On History (Georgetown)
January 9 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. | Williamson Museum, 716 S Austin Ave, Georgetown
The second Saturday of each month, the museum hosts an interactive activity where children can get up close and personal with the history of the county, learning something new and creating their own artifact. On January 9, celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day at the Museum! FREE for children of all ages.
Second Saturdays are for Families: Home Tweet Home
January 9 from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. | 3809 West 35th St., Austin
Every second Saturday of the month, The Contemporary Austin offers hands-on art-making workshops at Laguna Gloria, inspired by the exhibitions on view. See family-friendly performances, meet local artists, and make art to take home. Recommended for ages 2–11. Drop in and create for FREE! Be a good neighbor by designing a modern birdhouse to keep your feathered friends warm this winter. Feeling hospitable? Add more houses to create a whole bird neighborhood.
Cars and Coffee
January 10 from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. | The Oasis on Lake Travis, 6550 Comanche Trail, Austin
Enjoy a low-key display of classic cars. FREE!
Umlauf Family Day
January 10 from 12-4 p.m. | 605 Robert E. Lee Road | Austin
Family Days offer special, hands-on programs designed for families with children, ages four to ten years old. Families have the opportunity to explore the UMLAUF while engaging in creative activities. Listen to stories, do yoga in the garden, watch sculpture demos, enjoy live music and more. FREE and open to the public.
Free Day of Fitness and Pilates at Ballet Austin
January 10 from 1-5 p.m. | Ballet Austin, 501 W 3rd St, Austin
This is your opportunity to sample conditioning and fitness classes, try Pilates reformers, learn more about living healthy, and have fun! FREE classes. FREE Pilates reformers. BeWell Talks, fitness demos, free health screenings, and healthy food samples. Register to win grand prizes or spin the wheel where everyone wins. Classes are 20 minutes in length and begin on the half hour. Sample as many as your body can take. See the schedule.
Snow Day at Highland Park Baptist Church
January 17 from 1:30-3:30 p.m. | Highland Park Baptist Church, 5206 Balcones Drive, Austin
On Sunday, January 17, the weather forecast is 100% chance of snow! That’s right, it’s the return of Highland Park’s spectacular Snow Day! Join in the wintery fun from 1:30-3:30 p.m., right in front of HPBC’s Teague Chapel. Wear your winter gear and get ready for sledding, snowballs, and snow angels! FREE!
Free Admission to the LBJ Presidential Library
January 18 from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. | LBJ Library, 2313 Red River St., Austin
Enjoy FREE admission for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
MLK March and Festival
January 18 at 9 a.m. | The University of Texas at Austin, 305 E 23rd St, Austin
The Annual Community March celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy while uplifting diversity and multi-culturalism in our city. The MLK Community March kicks off with a short program at the MLK Statue on the University of Texas campus. The march will continue to the south steps of the State Capitol for a short program and marchers will continue on to the historic Huston-Tillotson University, where exciting activities are planned. All businesses, non-profit organizations and individuals are invited to march and celebrate Dr. King’s legacy. The MLK Community Festival kicks off as soon the march arrives on location and will last until 3 p.m.; it will include all types of vendors and local musical artists to make this year’s celebration the best ever! For questions and information, please contact Carol Wright at (512) 657-3064. This year, marchers are asked to help by donating can goods or non-perishable food items, which will be donated to the Capital Area Food Bank.
Third Thursdays at the Blanton
January 21 from 12-9 p.m. | Blanton Museum of Art, 200 E Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Austin
Every third Thursday, the Blanton has a FREE themed event that features extended hours, multiple programs including Yoga in the Galleries, tours, and other offerings. See the schedule. Thursdays are always FREE at The Blanton.
Summer Camp Fair
January 23 from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. | Palmer Events Center, 900 Barton Springs Rd., Austin
Opportunity for families to come visit with various camps both local and overnight camps. There will be entertainment, as well as camp giveaways. This event is lots of fun, and opportunity to find out what is out there for spring break and summer camps. FREE!
January 24 from 2-5 p.m. | Puerto Rican Folkloric Dance & Cultural Center, 701 Tillery Street, Austin
Los Reyes Magos (The Three Kings) are coming to Austin to celebrate Octavitas! Come sing aguinaldos one last time and enjoy PRFDance performances! Bring the kids; the Reyes always bring gifts! Entrance is in the back of the building, steps away from free parking. FREE!
Clear Your Clutter Day
January 30 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. | Bethany United Methodist Church, 10010 Anderson Mill Rd., Austin
American Textile Recycling Service (ATRS) will accept old, stained, ripped fabric or clothing in any condition, unraveled sweaters, shabby coats, old blue jeans, shoes (even single shoes), stuffed animals with stuffing coming out, soft toys, old pillows and blankets, small rugs, etc. Austin Diaper Bank will accept unused diapers for children or adults. New packages not necessary; they will accept partial packages too. BookSpring will accept new or gently used books. While they prefer children’s books, they will accept other types of books as well. AGE of Central TX will accept mobility assistance devices for their Health Equipment Lending Program, including wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, shower chairs, etc. Balcones Shred will take your paper (up to five boxes) to be shredded ON SITE (no need to remove staples or clips). Dress For Success will accept professional interview-ready clothing in good condition, including suits, blouses, dresses, handbags and dress shoes. Habitat for Humanity ReStore will accept home remodeling/repair items such as working appliances, plumbing and lighting fixtures, tile, flooring, bricks and clean lumber. M & K Recovery Group will take used and broken computer parts, components, and other electronics to be recycled in an environmentally sustainable manner. Settlement Home will accept usable unwanted items including furniture, art, books, clothes, home decor and holiday decorations, sporting goods, kitchen items, and small working appliances. Square Cow Movers will take flattened moving boxes. Austin Cleanup & Container will take the rest of your non-usable unwanted items (aka junk), including mattresses!
Free Day of Dance
January 30 | Locations vary
There will be more than 180 FREE dance classes offered all over the Austin area: Country, Swing, Salsa, Ballroom, Tango and more! How many styles of dance will you try? See the schedule.