Light up your December with some fun, FREE events in Austin! Enjoy live music, outdoor holiday movies, free trees for your yard, and more. Check out our calendar for even more FREE fun.
Thank you to our sponsor, Tekton Research! This Austin-based medical research facility helps match participants with studies that help to put cash in their pocket and potentially life saving medicines into the world. Their current trials include those for Dengue Fever, migraines, eczema, and acne (acne studies are open to ages 9+, while all other studies require age 18+). Participants can earn up to $1,000 for their help, which usually involves making a few office visits for checkups. Learn more about Tekton Research and their current studies here.
Weekend Top 10 FREE Events: December 15-17, 2017
- Little Seedlings Storytime: Human Rights
Friday, Dec. 15 | at 10 a.m. | Asian American Resource Center, 8401 Cameron Rd
Travel the world with the AARC and explore Asian and Asian American culture through the magic of storytelling. Each month will feature a different theme with 2-3 stories followed by a fun activity/craft for you to take home. This week, listen to the stories about Asian and Asian American activism and create your own cape afterwards to be the change of the world. You will be reading Grandfather Gandhi by Arun Gandhi, Malala Yousafzai: Warrior with Words by Karen Leggett Abouraya and L. C. Wheatley, and Tea Cup by Rebecca Young. RSVP is recommended for this event. All ages welcome. FREE!
- Christmas in the Community with the Austin Symphony Orchestra
Fri. & Sun., Dec. 15 & 17 | various times | various locations
The Austin Symphony is once again bringing FREE music to all Austinites this holiday season. Christmas in the Community is a series of concerts held throughout the city of Austin featuring different ensembles of the orchestra playing familiar holiday music.
- Community Cinema: Elf
Friday, Dec. 15 | at 6:30 p.m. | Community First! Village, 9301 Hog Eye Rd
Grab chairs and a blanket, bring family and friends, and enjoy a special screening of Elf. Come as early as 6:30 p.m. to explore Community First! Village, pick your spot, and enjoy your favorite movie snacks. Burgers, Hot dogs, milkshakes, popcorn, candy and drinks will be available for purchase (cash and cards accepted). Concession sales and tips help Community First! friends who will be serving you to earn a modest living income. Plus, stop by the Community Market to check out all the beautiful art and handcrafted products that Community First! residents make in the various micro-enterprise programs at the Village. Movie begins at approximately 7:30 p.m. Rated PG. Reserve your FREE tickets here. A donation of $5 is greatly appreciated.
- Holiday Family Movie Night: The Polar Express
Friday, Dec. 15 | at 6:30 p.m. | The Arboretum at Great Hills, 10000 Research Blvd
Enjoy a holiday movie night under the stars at The Arboretum. For three Friday nights in December, bring your blankets and pillows and grab some ice cream from Amy’s Ice Creams and catch a movie by the fireplace! The movie starts at 6:30 p.m. This week: The Polar Express. FREE!
- Free Trees for Your Yard!
Saturday, Dec. 16| from 9 a.m. to noon | H-E-B Plus, 2508 East Riverside Drive
TreeFolks, in partnership with H-E-B, will give away 200 trees at the H-E-B Plus! store on Riverside Drive and Pleasant Valley Road on Saturday, December 16, as part of TreeFolks’ NeighborWoods program. The trees are native to Central Texas and include several varieties of fruit, nut, and shade trees. This event is FREE and open to the public.
- Storybook Dance Making @ in.gredients
Saturday, Dec. 16 | at 10 a.m. | in.gredients, 2610 Manor Rd
Dance with your family to live music, play games, and enjoy a storybook reading. Storybook Dance Making classes include a warmup, check in activity, game, storybook reading, dance making activity. Each lesson is aligned with the National Core Standards for Dance Education and taught by a Dance Waterloo artist. This class is best for families with children ages 4-7. FREE! Stick around afterwards to snack, sip or shop at in.gredients!
- Heroes of the Galaxy Party
Saturday, December 16 | at noon | Barrel O’ Fun, 1911 Aldrich St, Ste 120
Come for a celebration of favorite heroes (and villians) from a galaxy far, far away. You’ll do themed crafts and activities, and welcome some special quests. Come in costume and you can practice your galaxy-saving skills. This family-friendly event is FREE!
- Athleta Girls Gratitude Grafitti
Sunday, Dec. 17 | from noon to 3 p.m. | Athleta, 11601 Century Oaks Terrace
In partnership with partner Kazoo, a girl’s empowerment magazine, learn how to make graffiti bubble letters to bring their gratitude to life in an artful way. Writing down what you’re grateful for is a powerful act. They’ll include all the supplies and a practice page for graffiti art lettering. There will also be a “wall of thanks” page for girls to create their final piece. Showcasing Girls Rock Austin, empowering girls and women through music, education, & performance. Raffles & refreshments, too! Reserve your space here to be entered into the drawing. Admission is FREE!
- 4th Annual Honky-Tonk Christmas Bazaar
Sunday, Dec. 17 | from 1 to 6 p.m. | Donn’s Depot, 1600 W 5th St
Head over to Donn’s Depot for the 4th Annual Honky-Tonk Christmas Bazaar! Looking for Christmas gifts? Want to take the kids to see Santa? Hankering for some honky-tonk on a Sunday Afternoon?! Look no further! Bring your family up for festive cocktails (or hot chocolate!) and support local artists at your favorite Old West Austin original. Music by Frank Cavitt! All ages, admission is FREE!
- Light Up the Night @ McKinney Falls
Sunday, Dec. 17 | from 6 to 8 p.m. | McKinney Falls State Park, 5808 McKinney Falls Pkwy
Come for Christmas carols, hot chocolate, and a photo shoot with Santa. Then come and vote for the best decorated campsite or decorate your own campsite to win a free, future camping certificate. There will be a prize for the best one. Vote at the Dining Hall. FREE entry to the park for this event (6pm to 8pm)!
Bonus Event Across Austin:
- Heartsong Music Demo Classes
Friday & Saturday, Dec. 15 & 16 | various times | various locations
Heartsong Music is having an Open House and offering FREE demo classes December 11-21, 2017. This is a chance for families to experience Music Together® and learn more about this local business that has been serving families in Austin for over 12 years. Learn more about the classes, locations, and times here.
- Blue Genie Art Bazaar 2017
Friday-Sunday, Dec. 15-17 | from 10 a.m to 10 p.m. | Blue Genie Art Bazaar, 6100 Airport Blvd.
The Blue Genie Art Bazaar is a fixture of the Austin holiday shopping season, open every year from Black Friday to Christmas Eve. The Bazaar features unique work from over 200 local and regional artists – with a portion of proceeds going to Make-A-Wish®. Parking and admission are always FREE of charge.
Bonus Nearly FREE Fun:
- Austin Trail of Lights ($3)
Friday-Sunday, Dec. 15-17 | from 7 to 10 p.m. | Zilker Park, Austin
What began as a small gathering in 1965 known as the “Yule Fest,” a gift to the city of Austin from Austin Parks and Recreation Department, has now grown to be a community-wide celebration of the unique spirit and people that make Austin the place we love to call home. In the 52 years since the first Yule Log was lit, the Trail of Lights has expanded to more than 40 displays, 2 million lights and holiday activities that create countless memories. Each new display, community performance and lighted tunnel has added a new layer to the holiday tradition and brought us together more as a community. Today, the Trail of Lights is one of the three largest events in Austin and receives national accolades while remaining a deeply cherished local tradition. Admission this weekend is only $3, with children under 12 FREE! ZIP Fast Pass tickets and parking passes available to purchase. Note: Onsite parking must be purchased in advance.
Bonus FREE Fun Near Austin:
- 5th Annual Holiday Model Train Show (Round Rock)
Friday-Sunday, Dec. 15-17 | hours vary | ArtSpace, 231 E Main St, Round Rock
Visit a dynamic train display replete with a Harry Potter scene, a 1950s city with a trolley weaving through its downtown that is filled with vintage cars, a farm, amusement park, mountain range where Boy Scouts are on an outing, an old train depot, and even a water tower, just like Round Rock! For a donation to the Tinplate Trackers, you can be a “junior engineer” and operate the train controls, many of which have different speeds and audio components (bells, engineer’s commands, etc). Additionally, raffle tickets are available for purchase to enter to win a Thomas the Train set. To add an interactive component for children and families, they are also offering “ArtSpace Activity Booklets,” containing the ever popular scavenger hunt. FREE!
- Williamson County Symphony Concert (Cedar Park)
Friday, Dec. 15 | at 7:30 p.m. | St Margaret Mary Catholic Church, 1101 W New Hope Dr, Cedar Park
Come for a family-friendly evening of beautiful Christmas music! All concerts are FREE, with no RSVP or tickets needed. The program includes a mix of holiday and classic songs.