This weekend is packed full of free holiday fun and good cheer! Plus, there are plenty of festive markets and fairs where you can shop for all the good girls and boys on your list. Ho, ho, ho, y’all!
Weekend Top 10 FREE Events:
- Polar Express Pajama Party
Friday at 7 p.m. | Barnes & Noble Arboretum, 10000 Research Blvd #158, Austin
All aboard! In celebration of the 30th anniversary of the beloved classic The Polar Express, the Paramount Theatre will present a special storytime at Barnes & Noble. There will be crafts and tons of fun! FREE!
- Candle Light Trail
Friday and Saturday from 6-9 p.m. | Hancock Recreation Center, 811 E 41st St, Austin
Come walk the Candle Light Trail, take pictures with Santa, and enjoy holiday refreshments and entertainment at this fun, FREE family event.
- Home Depot Kids Workshop: Holiday Stacking Blocks
Saturday from 9 a.m. – noon | Home Depot Stores
Join a FREE hands-on workshop and build fun holiday stacking blocks. Then, decorate your project with fun stickers and different paint colors. All kids get to keep their craft, receive a FREE certificate of achievement, a Workshop Apron, and a commemorative pin, while supplies last.
- Breakfast with Santa at Dittmar
Saturday from 9-11 a.m. | Dittmar Recreation Center, 1009 W Dittmar Rd, Austin
Enjoy a FREE breakfast with Santa! It may be chilly outside, but the weather is always warm and welcoming at Dittmar Recreation Center! Stop by for some warm breakfast, sing-alongs, crafts, and don’t forget to bring your cameras for pictures with Santa!
- Breakfast with Santa at The Domain
Saturday from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. | The Domain II, between Dillards and Dick’s Sporting Goods, 3225 Amy Donovan Plaza, Austin
Enjoy FREE breakfast, live music, character appearances, games, crafts and a (brief) visit from Santa! FREE, but if you’d like to visit with Santa you should make an appointment. Breakfast is first come, first served.
- Holiday Sing-Along & Downtown Stroll
Saturday from 6-9 p.m. | Capitol & Congress Ave., Austin
The annual Holiday Sing-Along & Downtown Stroll is a FREE, family-friendly event that celebrates the arrival of the holiday season and the joy it brings. The evening starts at 6 p.m. when crowds gather on the south steps of the Capitol to sing the songs of the season during KUTX 98.9 “Eklektikos” host John Aielli’s Holiday Sing-Along. As the clock strikes 7 p.m., the countdown to the lighting of the Capitol tree begins, featuring a programmed light show at the top and bottom of every hour, set to holiday songs of local Austin musicians. From 7 to 9 p.m., Congress Avenue will be abuzz with holiday cheer during the Downtown Stroll. Shops, restaurants, galleries and museums will be open late and will feature special activities and offers. Additional Stroll activities include classic holiday cartoons, photos with Santa, live music, a special holiday Farmers’ Market with Sustainable Food Center, and much more. Support fellow members of the community by bringing non-perishable food or cash donations to the Capitol Christmas tree for the Capital Area Food Bank. The Holiday Sing-Along & Downtown Stroll attracts more than 20,000 attendees each year, so guests are encouraged to bike or use public transportation. FREE!
- Free First Sunday at the Bullock Museum: deSTEMber Fest
Sunday from 12-3 p.m. | Bullock Texas State History Museum, 1800 Congress Avenue, Austin
Enjoy FREE exhibit admission from noon to 5 p.m. during Free First Sundays, held the first Sunday of every month. Families can explore the Story of Texas through three floors of exhibits that showcase artifacts from around the state. Special family programs from 12-3 p.m. combine art creation, presentations by partner organizations, and gallery activities. At December’s Free First Sunday, families with kids ages five and up will discover the mysteries behind this magical time of year with snowflake chemistry, train construction, fluffy snow and more hands-on fun! Families with kids six and under can attend a winter-themed story time at 2 p.m. FREE!
- Latkepalooza & Into the Future
Sunday from 12-3 p.m. | Dell Jewish Community Campus, 7300 Hart Lane, Austin
Enjoy a FREE community Chanukah celebration with celebrity chefs, activities, and entertainment for all ages.
- Family Day at UMLAUF Sculpture Garden
Sunday from 12-4 p.m. | 605 Robert E. Lee Road, Austin
Sing holiday songs with Armstrong Community Music School and make clay creations and sock snowmen! FREE!
- Free Family Day Piñata Workshop
Sunday from 1-4 p.m. | Mexic-Arte Museum, 419 Congress Ave, Austin
This workshop features artist Monica Lejarazu. Participants will learn how to make paper piñatas without using paper–mache. The event also includes craft projects for smaller children. The workshop is completely FREE and includes admission to Mexic–Arte’s Mix ‘n’ Mash and Nacimiento exhibitions. There is no need to pre-register; the only requirement is that participants sign in when they arrive at the museum.
Free holiday meal:
- Holiday Celebration at Montopolis
Saturday from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. | Montopolis Recreation Center, 1200 Montopolis Dr, Austin
Enjoy a FREE hot delicious meal, while supplies last, at this holiday celebration! The Austin Symphony Brass ensemble will perform at noon as part of the Christmas in the Community series of FREE concerts.
More free fun beyond Austin:
- Christmas Stroll (Georgetown)
Friday from 5-9 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. | Downtown Georgetown (map)
The Georgetown Square will be transformed into a genuine Christmas card come to life; a magical setting of trees outlined with twinkling white lights, old fashioned lamp poles, and Santa in the Christmas tree farm (8th & Church Street). It’s the place to journey back in time as you wonder through Bethlehem Village. You can also find the Grinch and his characters in Whoo-Village. FREE!
- Christmas Family Night (Round Rock)
Friday at 6:30 p.m. | Dell Diamond Parking Lot and Old Settlers Association, 3300 E. Palm Valley Blvd., Round Rock (map)
During Christmas Family Night, the Old Settlers Association is decorated with small wooden houses which host various games and activities. The event kicks off with a welcome from Round Rock Mayor Alan McGraw, followed by the illumination of holiday lights. Then Santa makes his grand entrance. Enjoy many FREE activities for the entire family including live music, dancers, candle making, game booths, Frosty the Snowman, FREE photos with Santa Claus (bring your own camera) and more. Plus, enjoy FREE hot dogs, popcorn, hot chocolate, and more!
- Holiday Tree Lighting and Santa’s Workshop (Cedar Park)
Friday from 6:30-9 p.m. | Heritage Oak Park, 875 Quest Parkway, Cedar Park
On this magical night, join in the tradition of lighting the tree. More than 65,000 lights illuminate the largest Live Oak Tree in Cedar Park. Santa’s Workshop will kick off immediately following the tree lighting ceremony. Enjoy live music, carriage rides, games and prizes, inflatables, FREE photos with Santa (bring your own camera), and arts & crafts projects. Bring the whole family for what promises to be a festive evening. FREE admission.
- Lost Pines Christmas River of Lights (Bastrop)
Friday, Saturday, and Sunday | Fisherman’s Park, 1200 Willow St., Bastrop
Take in the River of Lights, 120 lighted displays in a variety of seasonal themes lining Bastrop’s scenic Colorado River Walk and enhanced by music. To access this one-half mile promenade, come down the stairs west of the intersection of Main and Pine Streets or select the fully accessible entrance at Fisherman’s Park on Farm Street. The Bastrop Chamber of Commerce and community organizations and individuals generously provide this traditional treat enjoyed by all ages and by visitors and locals alike. FREE!
- Walk Through Bethlehem (Round Rock)
Saturday from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. | First United Methodist Church, 1004 North Mays St, Round Rock
Witness the Christmas story unfold at Round Rock First United Methodist Church’s Walk Through Bethlehem. Visitors will be met by Roman soldiers to be counted in the census and pay their taxes. Once past the soldiers and the census taker, guests will find themselves among traditional characters, activities and crafts in the town’s bustling stalls. After passing through the city, visitors will find a living nativity complete with camels, donkeys, sheep and other animals to help bring the story of Jesus to life this holiday season. This FREE event is a gift from First United Methodist Church to the community.
- Christmas on Mercer Street (Dripping Springs)
Saturday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. | Mercer Street, Dripping Springs
Hosted by the City of Dripping Springs and Dripping Springs Lions Club, the Christmas on Mercer Street festivities will feature an old-fashioned holiday celebration on Mercer Street with live music and entertainment, arts and crafts booths, kid’s games and activities, a trackless train and pony rides, photos with Santa Claus, and a festive selection of food and drinks. Admission is FREE to the public. The annual Lighting of the Tree will be held at the Triangle at 6:15 p.m. Christmas carolers representing local churches and schools will serenade with heart-warming, traditional Christmas Carols at the tree lighting ceremony.
- Snow Day at Hill Country Galleria (Bee Cave)
Saturday from 12-4 p.m. | Hill Country Galleria, 4000 Galleria Parkway, Bee Cave
It snows every weekend in December at the Hill Country Galleria! 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! FREE!
- Storytime with Santa (Round Rock)
Saturday from 3-4 p.m. | Round Rock Premium Outlets Food Court, 4401 Interstate 35 Frontage Rd, Round Rock
Children listen to Santa read a special holiday story aloud while they snack on FREE milk and cookies.
- Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting (Leander)
Saturday at 5 p.m. | City Hall, 200 West Willis Street, Leander
Celebrate the season with The City of Leander! The Christmas Parade will begin at 5 p.m. with the Tree Lighting to follow. Pictures with Santa, Holiday Hayrides, Yule Fire, Choral Performances, and a variety of vendors. FREE!
- Holiday Celebration at Wolf Ranch (Georgetown)
Saturday from 5-8 p.m. | Wolf Ranch Town Center, 1015 W University Ave, Georgetown
Enjoy a fun, family evening celebrating the holiday season with FREE hot cocoa, cookies, complimentary carriage rides, local school music performances and a special sing-along with two very famous Princess Sisters. FREE! Also, don’t forget to take your photo with Santa (all proceeds benefit Brown Santa of Williamson County).
- Pfestival of Lights and Christmas Parade (Pflugerville)
Saturday from 5-8:30 p.m. | Railroad Avenue to Main Street, Pflugerville
Pfree arts and crafts projects to take home, Pfree hot chocolate and apple cider, Pfree cookies, and a bonfire to warm up! Pfree photos with Santa Claus (bring your own camera), Pfree glowsticks and glow-in-the-dark necklaces. Also, Pflugerville Animal Trailer will be on site – apply to give a pet a Pforever home for the holidays! FREE!
Nearly Free Fun:
- Santa in the Garden
Saturday from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. | Zilker Botanical Garden, 2220 Barton Springs Rd, Austin
Join the Austin Area Garden Center as they present Santa In The Garden 2015. Skip the long lines at the mall and bring the entire family to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus. There will be plenty of goodies to eat, fun crafts to make, and Christmas Story telling, all within the beautiful setting of Zilker Botanical Garden. Mom and Dad can do some shopping in the Chrysalis Gift Shop and enjoy 20% off the entire store. FREE with Garden admission, which is $1-3 (for ages 3+).
- Haute Finds ATX Holiday Pop Up Shops at Revival
Saturday from 1-6 p.m. | 13308 W Highway 71, Bee Cave
This Pop Up Shop event features haute partners, favorite local artisans, live music, and sips just in time for holiday shopping! Admission is FREE!
- Allies Against Slavery Christmas Market
Saturday from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. | For the City Center, 500 E Saint John’s Ave, Austin
The Sixth Annual Christmas Market is a venue for patrons to shop responsibly this holiday season, while supporting local, socially conscious vendors. Hosted by Allies Against Slavery, the Market features 25+ fair trade, direct trade, and social enterprise merchants who use their businesses to promote employment and well-being for people in Austin and around the world. This FREE event for the public will include art, jewelry, music, clothing, purses/bags, toys, cosmetics, coffee, paper goods, housewares, photo prints, and much more.
- Violet Crown Arts Festival
Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. | Brentwood Elementary School, 6700 Arroyo Seco, Austin
Annual fall arts festival featuring music, artists, and plenty of holiday shopping. Expect to find unique artwork from talented sculptors, potters, and fiber artists, painters, jewelers, glass artists, woodworkers and metal smiths. Shop for hand made gifts and great quality art, and support local cottage businesses. It’s always FREE admission for the whole family! Visit the Facebook page for updates.
- Budafest (Buda)
Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. – dusk (5:30 p.m.) | City Park, 204 San Antonio St, Buda
Budafest features more than 125 craft vendors, antiques, a wide selection of locally prepared food, and a parade at 10 a.m. on Saturday, plus live music both days, and appearances by Santa and Mrs. Claus. FREE!
- German Christmas Market
Saturday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. | German Free School of Austin, 507 E 10th St, Austin
The German-Texan Heritage Society offers shoppers hand-made, imported crafts including plenty of Christmas themed decorations such as nutcrackers and ornaments. It is a festival atmosphere with traditional German Christmas music, tables full of handcrafted items direct from the Erzgebirge region of Germany, a visit by both our historic American Santa Claus and the traditional German Sankt Nikolas with gifts for the children, a hospitality serving of Glühwein (hot spiced wine), coffee, apple cider/juice and gingerbread cookies and plenty of German style baked goodies for purchase. All purchases are Sales Tax Free on this special day. FREE!
- Austin Flea
Saturday from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. | The Highball, 1120 S. Lamar, Austin
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!
- Holiday in the Park and Craft Fair
Saturday from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. | Cat Hollow Park, 8600 O’Connor Dr., Round Rock
Come enjoy a FREE fun-filled Family Holiday Festival and Craft Fair. There will be tons of fun and activities for all ages. Craft Vendor Shopping, Activities, and Live Music and Dance Performances. At noon Santa Arrives on a Firetruck. Bring your camera for picture opportunities with Santa and Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer!
- NW ATX Artists Market
Sunday from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. | Opal Divine’s Marina, 12709 N Mo Pac Expy, Austin
The NW ATX Artists Market is not your ordinary outdoor market. It’s bringing the “Keep Austin Weird” vibe up north! Vendors will be selling high quality vintage, handmade, artisan, and craft goods with a unique Austin feel suitable for giving and/or wearing in the (sorta cold) months to come. Shoppers can also enter to win prizes in our raffle while enjoying brunch and beverages from one of North Austin’s finest establishments.
You may also be interested in:
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- Main Street Bethlehem in Burnet
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- 2015 Santa Sightings in Austin
- Where to Find Snow and Ice Skating in Austin
- Where to Cut Your Own Christmas Tree Near Austin
- 80+ Holiday Events in Austin and Beyond
- Shop Local: Holiday Gift Guide
- Holiday Bazaars, Markets & Craft Shows
- … and more on our Free Fun Calendar!