- December 8, 2014

Celebrate the Holidays with Parks & Recreation


Every year, Austinites look forward to traditions that make the holidays special, while new residents in the city create new memories with their loved ones. Austin Parks and Recreation centers give people the choice of a multitude of events and programs to enjoy during the month of December. Whether you want to go to a special event or take the opportunity to keep the kids busy during winter break, below is a list of some of the best things that the Austin Parks and Recreation department has to offer. Enjoy, and have a wonderful holiday season!

48th Annual Zilker Tree 

The Zilker Holiday Tree stands 155 feet tall and is composed of 39 streamers, each holding 81 multicolored, 25-watt bulbs – totaling 3,309 lights. At the top of the tree, a double star measures 10 feet from point to point. This unique spiral pattern of lights was created by City of Austin electricians and at its circumference, the tree measures 380 feet with the diameter at 120 feet. The base of the tree is arranged in a circle around the Moonlight Tower. FREE. The tree will be lit every night throughout December.

Zilker Park Trail of Lights

The 2014 Trail of Lights is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year. Having started in 1964 as “Yule Fest”, this wonderful Austin tradition has grown while creating treasured memories for Austinites, their families and holiday visitors to our great city. The Trail of Lights is Austin’s most celebrated event of the Christmas season, thanks to the Trail of Lights Foundation, H-E-B and other generous sponsors. Starting with the lighting of the Zilker Christmas Tree, the “flipping of the switch” puts thousands of people in Central Texas into the holiday spirit. What would Christmas in Austin be without a visit to Zilker Park’s Trail of Lights during the holidays? This fabulous family tradition runs every evening through December 21st. Find ticket and parking information here.

Austin Symphony’s Christmas in the Community

Austin Parks and Recreation is excited to be a part of the Austin Symphony Orchestra’s brand new program this holiday season, that will bring free music to all Austinites. Five of Austin’s Recreation/Cultural Centers will be hosting free Christmas concerts brought to you by the Austin Symphony’s Christmas in the Community concert series. 

These performances are all free and open to the public with no tickets required. For performance times, dates and locations, please visit the Austin Symphony Orchestra’s website.

Polar Bear Swim 2015 – New Year’s Day

Photo courtesy of Save our Springs Alliance (SOS)

Start the new year off with a tradition that has been called weird, wacky and just plain cold (but is also rumored to bring you luck). The Save our Springs Alliance (SOS) sponsors the Polar Bear Swim at Barton Springs Pool each New Year’s Day. Central Texans have been swimming in Barton Springs year-round for hundreds of years. The annual Polar Bear Swim on January 1st is a growing tradition that unites Austinites of all ages for a fun, festive way to ring in the New Year! The official plunge is at 10am and hot coffee and donuts will be served starting at 9:30am. The locker rooms and showers will be available for after your swim, and don’t forget your Polar Bear Splash t-shirt for just $15! We hope to see you there for the first splash of the new year into the Soul of our City—Barton Springs Pool! Stay tuned for updates here.

Shelley Parks has been in the PR field for more than 16 years and has experience in the non-profit, corporate and government relations arenas. She currently works for the City of Austin’s Parks & Recreation Department where her goal is to get Austinites passionate about the beautiful Parks, Cultural Centers and Recreation Centers that are found throughout our great city. Recently married and now a mother to three incredible teenagers, Shelley finds relaxation through her passion in helping others, reading, writing, shopping and spending quality time with friends and family.