- Live Nativity Celebration – Friday, December 12 – Saturday, December 13, from 6-8 p.m. Travel back in time to that night 2000 years ago when a tiny baby was born in a manger. Sit back with hot cocoa and witness the scripture story brought to life by Bethany families. There will be six continuous 20-minute presentations each night. A goat petting area will be available for you and your children to enjoy. Bring a non-perishable food or toiletry offering for Hill Country Community Ministries. FREE! Bethany United Methodist Church, 10010 Anderson Mill Rd, Austin.
- Breakfast with Santa – Saturday, December 13, from 9 a.m. – noon. Enjoy breakfast, live music, character appearances, holiday games (with prizes!), letters to Santa, face painting, balloon twisting and more! The Arboretum at Great Hills, Courtyard near Blue Baker, 10000 Research Blvd, Austin.
- Cherrywood Art Fair – Saturday, December 13 and Sunday, December 14 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. This art-filled two-day event showcases local artists, live music, kids activities, and great food–all benefitting the Little Artist BIG ARTIST arts mentoring program. Since its 2002 inception, the Fair has served as a destination for discerning holiday shoppers seeking unique and artful items from Texas artists and makers. FREE! Maplewood Elementary, E. 38 1/2 St. & 3808 Maplewood Ave, Austin.
- Family Gingerbread Workshop at South Austin Recreation Center – Saturday, December 13 from 10 a.m. to noon. Bring the family for the 2014 Family Gingerbread Workshop at the South Austin Recreation Center! Decorate gingerbread men cookies, make holiday crafts, and enjoy light refreshments with your family and friends. FREE. South Austin Recreation Center, 1100 Cumberland Rd., Austin.
- Home Slice Carnival O’ Pizza – Saturday, December 13, from 12-7 p.m. The carnival is at once a celebration of the art of hand tossed pizza, a 9th birthday party for the restaurant and a charitable endeavor intended to give back to the neighborhood and the community that has made Home Slice one of Austin’s favorite eateries. All proceeds benefit this year’s non-profit recipient: Austin Bat Cave. The Carnival O’ Pizza promises fun for all ages with: carnival-style games, kid themed offerings, a huge raffle, entertainment including marching bands, fortune tellers, dancers, mustache painting, hairstyling and more, concessions including beer, Italian wines, beverages and of course pizza! Admission is FREE; carnival game tickets can be purchased onsite. Home Slice patio and parking lot, 1415 and 1421 S. Congress Ave, Austin.
- 3rd Annual Festival of Carols – Saturday, December 13, from 1-5 p.m. The holidays are here! Celebrate at the museum with an afternoon of music, crafts, and activities. Admission is FREE! Some crafts and activities may require the purchase of tickets. Concessions will be available. Bring chairs or blankets and enjoy the holiday festivities! French Legation Museum, 802 San Marcos Street, Austin.
- Downtown Posada – Saturday, December 13 at 6 p.m. St. David’s Episcopal Church will host the 4th Annual Downtown Posada. The Posada commemorates Joseph and Mary’s journey to Bethlehem in search of shelter prior to the birth of Jesus. The Posada will include a procession led by children, followed by adults, and Mariachi Relampago. The procession will make its way through St. David’s Church, ending at Bethell Hall. Everyone is welcome to then feast on food and refreshment, sing Christmas carols, and join in traditional activities such as the breaking of the piñata for treats. This event is FREE with FREE parking in the St. David’s garage. St. David’s Episcopal Church, 301 East 8th St., Austin.
- Luminations at Wildflower Center – Saturday, December 13 and Sunday, December 14, from 6-9 p.m. Enjoy Luminations, a Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center holiday tradition. Make plans to visit the lighted gardens, filled with thousands of luminarias and twinkle lights. Admission is FREE with two canned food items for the Capital Area Food Bank. In addition to the beautiful holiday lighting, there will be hot chocolate and food for sale, plus children’s activities and musical acts throughout both evenings. Kids can get a hug from Frosty the Snowman and make crafts in the Visitors Gallery. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, 4801 La Crosse Avenue, Austin.
- Austin Civic Wind Ensemble Concert – Saturday, December 13 at 7:30 p.m. FREE Christmas concert. St. Louis Catholic Church, 7601 Burnet Rd, Austin.
- Chanukah in the Hood – Sunday, December 14, from 12-3:30 p.m. Celebrate Chanukah at Central Market North with a dreidel spinning contest, arts and crafts, face painting and more. The Yiddish Cowboys will play festive music from noon until 2 p.m., and performances by the Temple Beth Shalom Kids’ Choir, Dell Tones, Austin Jewish Academy and the JCC DanStarz will take place from 2 until 3:30 p.m. Latkes with all the fixings and sufganiot (jelly donuts), a traditional Chanukah treat in Israel, will be available for purchase. Central Market North, 4001 N. Lamar, Austin.
Bonus fun in the ‘burbs:
- Trail of Lights (Buda) – Friday, December 12 and Saturday, December 13 (and December 18 – 21) from 6-10 p.m. Get in the holiday mood by strolling through the park and enjoying the lights! FREE shuttle parking is available at Cabela’s. No parking is permitted in the park. The trail is approximately 1/2 mile long. Hot beverages and concessions will be available for purchase. FREE. For more information, please call the Parks Department at 512-295-7170. Historic Stagecoach Park, 880 Main Street, Buda.
- Christmas Dreams & Snowy Things (Round Rock) – Saturday, December 13 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. There will be real snow activities as part of the fanfare for the Nyle Maxwell Family of Dealerships Christmas Dreams & Snowy Things event. This event will feature snow-filled activities (truckloads of snow are being delivered on-site) as well as giant slides, paintball, tango tower & zip line, horse-drawn wagon rides, Blue Santa donation station, train rides, interactive holiday booths (including decorating your own stockings, Santa hats and cookies, writing letters to Santa), inflatables and rides, concessions, live music (with choirs from eight area elementary schools) and appearances by Santa himself. See photos from last year’s event here. Watch the video promo for this year’s event here. Admission is FREE! Boles Family Sports Complex, 1605 N Mays St, Round Rock.
- Movie in the Park: Frozen (Hutto) – Friday, December 12, from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Arts & crafts, train rides and choir performances will take place from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. A special screening of Disney’s Frozen will begin at 6:30 p.m. Remember to bring your blankets and chairs for the movie! Popcorn and hot cocoa will be provided by the Hutto Lutheran Church & Lions Club. FREE! Rain date is December 13. (Also on Saturday, the Downtown Christmas Fair will feature real snow!) Fritz Park, 306 E. Live Oak Street, Hutto.
- Free Photos with Santa at Cabela’s (Buda) – Saturday, December 13 and Sunday, December 14, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be visiting Cabela’s and you have a chance to share your Christmas wish lists with them and take a commemorative photograph of the occasion. You’ll get a FREE 4×6 Cabela’s keepsake frame and photograph with Santa. FREE hot chocolate and cookies will be served and there will be a coloring station to keep everyone in line entertained. Cabela’s, 15570 S IH-35, Buda.
- Christmas Market Winter Fest (Kyle) – Saturday, December 13, from 2-8 p.m. Join Cross Plants and Produce for an old fashioned Christmas with hot cocoa, carolers, ornament crafts, face painting, snacks, shopping, and photo areas. The Christmas spirit will fill the air when Santa arrives to meet children from 3 to 4 p.m. and your family finds the perfect Christmas tree for your home! FREE. Cross Plants and Produce, 705 N. Old Highway 81, Kyle.
- Christmas Parade and Pfestival of Lights (Pflugerville) – Saturday, December 13, starting at 5:30 p.m. Activities until 8 p.m. The city’s Parks & Recreation Department joins forces with the Knights of Columbus this year and adds activities to the annual Christmas Parade. Blending the two events makes a larger, more fun holiday celebration for the community. The city will bring a stage with live performances from local elementary schools and dancers on the stage at 200 W. Main Street. There will be FREE arts and crafts activities for children, a bonfire, the traditional tree lighting, and photos with Santa Claus at the end of the parade. Donations for the Blue Santa program welcome. For information, call 512-990-6113. FREE. The parade starts at Pfennig Lane, travels south on Railroad Ave., then heads west on Main Street. Activities will take place on Main Street. (Parade route map)
- Pilgrimage to Bethlehem (Taylor) – Saturday, December 13 – Sunday, December 14, from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Live nativity with FREE tours every 20 minutes. Immanuel Lutheran Church, 411 CR 401, Taylor.
- A Night in Bethlehem (Kyle) – Saturday, December 13 – Sunday, December 14 from 6-8:30 p.m. After your walk through Jesus’ Bethlehem, visit “modern” Bethlehem to make a craft, drink hot chocolate, and eat cookies as you enjoy live Christmas music and performances. FREE! Fellowship Church at Plum Creek, 160 Grace St, Kyle.
- Lighted Parade (Bastrop) – Saturday, December 13 at 6 p.m. Bastrop’s annual lighted Christmas parade brings a festival of lights, music, and cheer, including lovingly constructed and decorated floats, fire engines, marching bands, horses and riders, and, of course, Santa Claus and his helpers. Produced by the Downtown Business Alliance, this joyful Bastrop tradition literally lights up the Bastrop Christmas festivities. Main Street, Bastrop. (Parade route map)
- Hill Country Galleria Snow Days (Bee Cave) – Sunday, December 14 (and Saturday, December 20) from 12-4 p.m. Real snow will be delivered to the Hill Country Galleria! Toss a snowball, build a snowman, make a snow angel, and take fun family photos. Enjoy live holiday music, holiday carolers, and more every day that it snows. FREE!
Hill Country Galleria, located right outside the Bee Cave Library, 12700 Hill Country Blvd, Bee Cave.This event has been canceled due to the possibility of thunderstorms in the area on Sunday.
Bonus budget friendly fun:
- Trail of Lights – Daily through Sunday, December 21 from 7-10 p.m. The Austin holiday tradition returns for its 50th year. Gate tickets are FREE Monday-Thursday; $3 Friday-Sunday for ages 12 and up. Find parking and shuttle information here (note that weekend shuttle tickets include gate admission). Read pro tips for planning your trip here. Zilker Park, 2100 Barton Springs Rd, Austin.
- Santa in the Garden – Saturday, December 13, from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. The Austin Area Garden Center presents Santa In The Garden 2014 at the Zilker Botanical Garden. There will be yummy treats, Christmas storytelling, and crafts for all to enjoy. Be sure to bring your own camera and Christmas list for your visit with Santa. Mom and Dads can get their last minute shopping done in the Chrysalis gift shop which will be offering a 15% discount on the entire store. Admission is $1 – $3. Zilker Botanical Garden, 2220 Barton Springs Road, Austin.
- Second Saturdays Are for Families: Gingerbread Villas – Saturday, December 13, from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Be the ART-chitect of your very own candy home! Your child can whip up edible houses like you’ve never seen before, inspired by the architecture of the Driscoll Villa at Laguna Gloria. Second Saturdays are recommended for ages 2-11. Admission is $10 per family ($5 for member families). Laguna Gloria, 3809 W. 35th Street, Austin.
For even more free fun check out:
- Holiday Happenings this Week
- Free Date Nights in Austin
- Central Texas Holiday Light Displays
- Where to Find Snow and Ice Skating
- Living Nativity Presentations
- Free Fun Calendar
And don’t forget to enter our giveaways: