- Mozart’s Holiday Lights Show – Daily through January 4, 2015 (excluding Christmas Eve and Christmas Day), from 6 p.m. to midnight. Mozart’s hosts a FREE 15-minute light show at the top of each hour, starting at 6 p.m. 3825 Lake Austin Blvd., Austin.
- HIStory – Thursday, December 18 – Sunday, December 21 at 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. His-Story is a live presentation that tells the full story of the life and purpose of Christ. A cast of local volunteers, live animals, and multimedia come together to create a powerful message that considers what Christmas is really about. FREE! Mission: Possible! Community Center, 1190 Chicon, Austin.
- Live Nativity and Petting Zoo – Friday, December 19 from 6-8 p.m. Narrations at 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. Cookies, hot chocolate, and refreshments. FREE! Mount Olive Lutheran Church, 10408 Hwy 290 West, Austin.
- Trail of Life Gospel Presentation – Friday, December 19 – Sunday, December 21 from 7-9 p.m. Tours start every 20 minutes. Visitors follow a tour guide through a beautifully lit, outdoor trail where they will see and hear actors “living” out important scenes from the life of Christ: his birth, death, and resurrection. Golf cart available for those with limited mobility. FREE! Texas Oaks Baptist Church, 9910 Bilbrook Pl, Austin.
- The Scrooge Live Presentation – Friday, December 19 and Saturday, December 20 at 7:30 p.m. The Potter’s House gladly presents a live theater presentation of the classic tale “The Scrooge” – a story of forgiveness and redemption! Entry is FREE and snacks and refreshments will follow, immediately after the presentation. Toy and cash donations will be accepted, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting Blue Santa. Potter’s House Christian Church, 13461 Pond Springs Rd, Austin.
- Austin Civic Wind Ensemble Holiday Concert – Friday, December 19 at 7:30 p.m. Hear your favorite holiday tunes. FREE! Covenant United Methodist Church, 4410 Duval Rd, Austin.
- Holiday Celebration at Ruiz Branch – Saturday, December 20 from 2:30-4:30 p.m. This event, which takes place at the Ruiz Branch of the Austin Public Library, will feature a visit from Santa Claus and a Ballet Folklorico dance performance. Light refreshments and a holiday themed craft will also be offered. FREE. Ruiz Branch, 1600 Grove Blvd., Austin.
- Living Nativity and Petting Zoo – Saturday, December 20 from 5-8 p.m. A replica of the stable and animals surround the Holy family. The Sanctuary will be open for all to enjoy its historic splendor. Refreshments will be served. FREE! Decker United Methodist Church, 8304 Decker Ln, Austin.
- Dreidel Tournament – Sunday, December 21 at 1 p.m. Come participate in the second annual dreidel tournament! Players of all ages are welcome to participate. There will also be a craft station available where you can make your own repurposed dreidel out of an egg carton. Recycled Reads Bookstore, 5335 Burnet Rd., Austin.
- Winter Solstice Lantern Parade – Sunday, December 21 at 6 p.m. Gather at 5:30 for the parade, which will begin at 6 p.m. Minor Mishap Marching Band invites you to join them under the dark Solstice sky in a PARADE OF LIGHT! Gather on the shortest day of the year to celebrate light, darkness, music, community, nature and each other. Please make lanterns! You are the main source of beauty and creativity for this event. Due to the drought, there is a burn ban in effect, so make beautiful diffusers for flashlights! It’s safer, easy, and kid friendly. FREE! Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail. Park on S. Lakeshore Blvd. to begin at the eastern-most part of the new Boardwalk. (Directions)
Bonus fun in the ‘burbs:
- The EmilyAnn Theatre & Gardens Trail of Lights (Wimberley) – Daily through December 31, from 6–9 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, and from 6-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Stroll a walking path with more than 100 lighted exhibits created by local businesses, churches, organizations and families. Roast a marshmallow at the yule log and listen to live entertainment on most nights. See the schedule of when Santa will be in his house. Read why Heather loves this trail here. Check the Facebook page for updates. FREE! EmilyAnn Theatre & Gardens, 1101 FM 2325, Wimberley. (Park at Wimberley High School)
- Trail of Lights (Buda) – Thursday, December 18 – Sunday, December 21 from 6-10 p.m. Get in the holiday mood by strolling through the park and enjoying the lights. The trail is approximately 1/2 mile long. Free shuttle parking is available at Cabela’s; no parking is permitted in the park. Walk-in visitors are welcome. Hot beverages and concessions will be available for purchase. Check the City of Buda Facebook page for weather updates. FREE! Historic Stagecoach Park, 880 Main St, Buda.
- Williamson County Symphony Orchestra Concert (Cedar Park) – Friday, December 19 at 7:30. FREE! St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church, 1101 W New Hope Dr, Cedar Park.
- Hill Country Galleria Snow Day (Bee Cave) – 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. Check the Facebook page for weather updates. FREE! Hill Country Galleria, located right outside the Bee Cave Library, 12700 Hill Country Blvd, Bee Cave.
- Williamson County Orchestra Concert (Georgetown) – Saturday, December 20 at 7:30 p.m. This Christmas concert is family friendly and FREE! Celebration Church, 1202 Rabbit Hill Road, Georgetown.
Bonus budget friendly fun:
- Austin Trail of Lights – Saturday, December 20 – Sunday, December 21 from 7-10:00 p.m. (The Trail is canceled on Friday, December 19 due to rain.) This is the final weekend of the Trail of Lights. Gate tickets are $3 Friday – Sunday for ages 12 and up; FREE for children under 12. Find parking and shuttle information here (note that weekend shuttle tickets include gate admission). Read pro tips for planning your trip here. Check the Facebook page for weather updates. Zilker Park, 2100 Barton Springs Rd, Austin.
- Alamo Kids Camp – Friday, December 19 – Wednesday, December 31. Families can enjoy $1 movies at Alamo Drafthouse Village, Alamo Drafthouse Lakeline, Alamo Slaughter Lane, and Alamo South Lamar. Movies will include Arthur Christmas, Muppet Christmas Carol, Ernest Saves Christmas, and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Your $1 admission will be donated to local nonprofits that provide basic needs like safe shelter and a warm meal. Admission is still on a first come, first served basis and tickets must be purchased at the box office the day of the event. Only children age 3 and up will be allowed in the theater (except on Baby Day, which is every Tuesday). For showtimes, visit the Alamo Drafthouse website.
Some last-minute shopportunities:
- Austin Flea – Saturday, December 20 from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. The Flea features all local handmade items and vintage wares from some of Austin’s most amazing and talented vendors. Find one-of-a-kind gifts for the holidays or any occasion including jewelry, glasswork, clothing, artwork, paper goods, textiles and so much more. Family friendly and FREE! The Highball, 1120 S Lamar Blvd, Austin.
- Fifth Annual Vortex Yule Bazaar – Saturday, December 20 and Sunday, December 21, from 12-5 p.m. Perfect for last-minute holiday shopping with a uniquely Austin flare, the East Austin Handmade Arts Market is this Saturday and Sunday. There will be more than 25 artists with live music and DJ Baron Mind spinning Christmas tunes both days. The event is FREE, pets are welcome, and there’s plenty of parking. The Vortex, 2307 Manor Road, Austin.
- TOMS Holiday Market – Saturday, December 20 from 1-5 p.m. TOMS is teaming up with ATX’s Maker Co-op Shop so you can browse for last minute one-of-a-kind holiday gifts made by talented local artists. Enjoy poptails by Dripping Springs Vodka and Good Pop, live music and pictures with Texas Santa! Admission is FREE! TOMS, 1401 South Congress, Austin.
- Blue Genie Art Bazaar – Daily through Wednesday, December 24 from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. (closing at 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve). The annual four-week holiday shopping extravaganza returns for its 14th year. Featuring more than 200 Texas artists, the bazaar offers FREE admission and a hassle-free shopping environment. All items featured at the bazaar must be handmade and include paintings, photography, prints, sculptures, jewelry, clothing, glassworks, and more. It is one of the best places to find unique gifts with a local touch. Marchesa Hall, 6226 Middle Fiskville Rd, Austin.
- Armadillo Christmas Bazaar – Thursday, December 18 – Wednesday, December 24 from 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. The ACB is actually two events in one: an art fair and music festival with a vibrant community-driven vibe. Visitors can explore an amazing array of handmade items from 160+ artists while enjoying live local music and sips from a full bar. Cost: Adults $7; kids 12 & under are FREE! Palmer Events Center, 900 Barton Springs Rd, Austin.
You may also be interested in a day trip:
- What’s Growing and Thriving in Bastrop State Park
- Scenic Hikes and Easy Strolls in Austin
- Day Trip to LBJ Ranch
- Enchanted Rock: A Budget-Friendly Day Trip in the Hill Country
- Central Texas Holiday Lights
Or a local adventure: