There’s festive fun happening all over town this weekend, including one of our holiday favorites, the Austin Trail of Lights! Admission to the walk-through lights trail in Zilker Park will be FREE all weekend long! For help planning your adventure, be sure to read our Guide to Navigating the 2015 Trail of Lights. **UPDATE: The Trail of Lights will not open on Sunday, December 13 due to standing water in Zilker Park. More info here.
Weekend Top 10 Free Events:
- Austin Trail of Lights
Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 7-10 p.m. | Zilker Park, Austin (Update: Canceled for Sunday)
Visit the North Pole at the Trail of Lights to share your holiday wish list with Santa at Santa’s House, pick up a free book from the H-E-B Read 3 Book Train, visit Candyland for free candy, and stop in Santa’s Workshop for a free photo and a variety of interactive experiences. Entry to the Trail of Lights is FREE from December 8-15. From December 16-22, general admission is $3 for guests age 12 and up, online or at H-E-B stores. Children 11 and under are FREE every night! Parking passes and shuttle tickets are also available online.
- Holiday Tours at the Capitol
Friday, Saturday, and Sunday; times vary | Texas Capitol, 1100 Congress Ave., Austin
The Capitol is offering a special Holiday Tour the first three weeks of December. Holiday tours are offered Friday at 10:45 a.m. and 1:45 p.m., Saturday at 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. and Sundays at 1:00 p.m. During the Holiday Tours, guides will discuss the different ethnic groups which settled in Texas, the traditions they brought to our state and the architecture of the building which inspired this year’s Capitol Ornament. FREE!
- The Invincible Czars at Central Market North
Friday from 6:30-9 p.m. | Central Market, 4001 N Lamar Blvd, Austin
FREE eclectic Christmas show.
- Breakfast with Santa at the Arboretum
Saturday from 9 a.m. – noon | 10000 Research Blvd, Austin
Join Santa for a light breakfast and enjoy holiday music, games and other festive activities, including a special visit by the Peppermint Princess! The event is FREE and open to the general public. It takes place outdoors, so please check the Facebook event page for weather updates.
- Victorian Christmas Open House at the North-Evans Chateau
Saturday from 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. | 708 San Antonio St, Austin
Step back in time and enjoy the the spirit of a traditional Victorian Christmas one would have experience in the 1890’s. The North-Evans Chateau will be decorated for the holidays in Victorian style for this family friendly event. Refreshments will be served in the downstairs dining room. Sorry, but the house cannot accommodate strollers. The event is FREE and open to the public.
- Family Gingerbread Workshop
Saturday from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. | South Austin Recreation Center, 1100 Cumberland Rd., Austin
Decorate gingerbread men, make ornaments, and have some photo booth fun! FREE!
- Second Saturdays are for Families: Gingerbread Villas
Saturday from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. | The Contemporary Austin – Laguna Gloria, 3809 W 35th St, Austin
Be the Art-chitect of your very own candy home! The Contemporary Austin will be whipping up edible abodes like you’ve never seen before, inspired by the architecture of the Driscoll Villa at Laguna Gloria. Recommended for ages 2 – 11. FREE!
- Capitol Christmas Concert and Community Sing Along
Saturday at 12 p.m. | Texas State Capitol, 1100 Congress Ave, Austin
Ring in the Christmas holiday season with A Cappella Texas at the State Capitol Rotunda. Gather all your family and friends, and especially the children, for an afternoon of great singing and Christmas cheer. Join A Cappella Texas, Austin’s premier men’s chorus, for a delightful, FREE all-ages concert and community sing-along in beautiful four part Barbershop Harmony.
- Cinematic Symphony, Star Wars: the Music Awakens
Saturday at 7 p.m. (Doors open at 6:45) | Bethany Lutheran Church, 3701 W Slaughter Ln Austin
By popular demand, Cinematic Symphony performs, live in concert, John Williams’s stellar music from all six Star Wars episode movies. Costumes welcome and encouraged for all ages. Photo ops, trivia, and prizes. This is a FREE concert. May the force be with you!
- Light the Night – A Glow in the Dark Chanukkah Celebration
Sunday, December 13 from 4:30-7:30 p.m. | The Hebrew Preparatory School, 2127 West Parmer Ln, Austin
Join The Hebrew Preparatory School for a Chanukkah celebration complete with a giant ice menorah to be carved on site, fire jugglers, glow in the dark activities, food, and more. FREE!
More free fun in the ‘burbs:
- Old Town Christmas in Fritz Park (Hutto)
Friday at 5:30-8:30 p.m. | 401 W Front St, Hutto
This event is FREE and features caroling, letters to Santa, arts & crafts, hot chocolate, cookies, popcorn and train rides through the park! Buddy the Elf will also make a special guest appearance! A screening of the movie Elf will begin at 6:30 p.m. Please bring chairs and blankets.
- Breakfast with Santa at Lakeline Mall (Cedar Park)
Saturday from 8:30-10 a.m. | Dillard’s Women’s Court, 11200 Lakeline Mall Dr, Cedar Park
Enjoy a FREE breakfast with Santa. Photo packages available for purchase.
- Snow Day at Hill Country Galleria (Bee Cave)
Sunday from 12-4 p.m. | Hill Country Galleria, 4000 Galleria Parkway, Bee Cave
Enjoy a family fun day with real snow! Toss a snowball, build a snow man, make a snow angel, and take fun family photos! Enjoy live holiday music, holiday carolers, and more from noon-4 p.m. FREE!
Just-for-Fun Photo Opp:
- Free Photo Inside a Snow Globe
Friday and Saturday; times vary | Austin Fiber Space & The Domain Austin
Sign up for FREE photos inside the #FiberSnowGlobe!
Nearly Free Fun:
Saturday and Sunday from 6-9 p.m. | Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Austin
Thousands of luminaries and twinkling lights turn the center into a holiday wonderland during Luminations, an Austin holiday tradition. Visit with Frosty the Snowman, enjoy children’s activities, kettle corn and hot beverages. Admission is $3-5; children 4 and under are FREE. Guests are asked to bring a food donation for the Capital Area Food Bank.
- Children in History: Celebrating the Holidays in the 1800s
Sunday from 1-4 p.m. | Zilker Botanical Garden, 2220 Barton Springs Rd., Austin
Drop in anytime between 1 and 4 to make crafts. FREE with admission to Zilker Botanical Garden ($1 – $3).
- Dashing Through the Snow Holiday Market (Dripping Springs)
Friday and Sunday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.; Saturday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. | 29401 Ranch Road 12, Dripping Springs
Listed as one of Country Livings “Top 7 Don’t Miss” barn sales for 2015. Vintage Market Days is an upscale vintage-inspired indoor/outdoor market featuring original art, antiques, clothing, jewelry, handmade treasures, home décor, outdoor furnishings, consumable yummies, seasonal plantings and a little more. Map and directions. Cost: $10 on Friday; $5 Saturday and Sunday; kids 12 and under are free.
- Blanco Market Day Christmas Market (Blanco)
Saturday from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. | Old Blanco County Courthouse, 300 Main St., Blanco
Don’t miss this special Christmas Market Day! FREE!
- Downtown Christmas Fair (Hutto)
Saturday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. | Downtown Hutto
Shop the stores, enjoy a meal at the downtown restaurants, shop vendors featuring: handmade items, unique gifts, home decor, jewelry, toys and delicious fair food and drinks! The YMCA Children’s Area will include crafts, games, inflatables, train rides and… SNOW!!! Admission to Children’s Area is $5 per child and includes all activities!
- Cherrywood Art Fair
Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. | Maplewood Elementary, E. 38 1/2 St. & Maplewood Ave., Austin
Cherrywood Art Fair is an art filled two-day event showcasing local artists, live music, kids activities and great food in a free, family-friendly environment. More than 8,000 visitors stroll through the fairgrounds looking at art, listening to beautiful music and sampling some of Austin’s finest food trailer cuisine. 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. Check out the facebook pagefor updates.
- Christmas Market Winter Fest (Kyle)
Saturday from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. | Cross Plants and Produce, 705 North Old Highway 81, Kyle
Get in the Christmas spirit at Cross Plants and Produce. Bring your family and friends to this fun, Christmas event. Admission is FREE. Fees apply to some activities. Christmas Market Select the perfect Christmas tree for your home or business, Photos with Santa from 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. Do some shopping with local vendor booths, have your picture taken with Santa, hot cocoa, snacks, face painting, free Christmas photo areas, Farmer’s Market, etc.
- Austin’s Cultural Campus Holiday Shopping Crawl
Saturday | 5 Downtown Museum Gift Shops
’Tis the season to shop local! Join Austin’s Cultural Campus for a holiday shopping crawl featuring artful treasures from the Blanton Museum, Bullock Museum, Harry Ransom Center, LBJ Library and Museum, and Texas Memorial Museum. Mention Austin’s Cultural Campus for a 20% discount at each institution. Please note that admission to each institution is not included.
- Multicultural Holiday Bazaar
Sunday from 12-10 p.m. | Esquina Tango, 209 Pedernales St, Austin
Celebrate cultures and explore world markets. Do your holiday shopping and enjoy music and dance from all over the world!
You may also be interested in:
- Free Museums in Austin
- Free Photos with Santa in Austin
- Free Hanukkah Celebrations in Austin
- Free Date Nights in Austin
- 20+ Free Holiday Events in Downtown Austin
- Central Texas Holiday Light Displays
- Live Nativity Presentations
- Navigating the 2015 Austin Trail of Lights
- Wimberley Trail of Lights
- Main Street Bethlehem in Burnet
- Where to Find Snow and Ice Skating in Austin
- Where to Cut Your Own Christmas Tree Near Austin
- Shop Local: Holiday Gift Guide
- … and more on our Free Fun Calendar!