Happy Thanksgiving! We are so thankful for you, our readers, and for our shared enthusiasm for this wonderful city of ours! You are what makes Austin great and what keeps us coming back to write for you every day!
We hope you have a wonderful holiday and, if you plan to do any shopping this weekend, scroll down for a list of some great ways to shop local and support Small Business Saturday. Happy eating, happy shopping, and happy weekend!
Weekend Top 10 FREE Events:
- Mozart’s Annual Light Show
Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 6 p.m. | Mozart’s Coffee Roasters, 3825 Lake Austin Blvd., Austin
Starting 6 p.m. each evening, and replaying at the top of every hour until closing, enjoy dazzling lights set to music! The 12-minute lights show will happen every night, excluding Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Don’t miss out on all the holiday fun! FREE!
- Holiday Model Train Show
Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 12-5 p.m. | 231 E Main St, Round Rock
The trains are coming back to ArtSpace! Last year, more than 7,000 people came to the gallery in downtown Round Rock to see the model train show and the exhibition of local artwork. The train display is designed and operated by the Tinplate Trackers. FREE, but donations will be accepted.
- Exploration Station: Black Friday at the Bullock
Friday from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. | Bullock Texas State History Museum, 1800 N Congress Ave, Austin
Escape the crowds for a fun family holiday visit to the Bullock Museum. Explore the Story of Texas with FREE activities and art projects in the lobby. Take a break from the hustle and bustle and bustle and drop in to make holiday ornaments and souvenirs. (All activities will take place in the First Floor Lobby. Exhibit admission is not included.)
- Annual Lighting of the Georgetown Square
Friday at 5:30 p.m. | Georgetown Square, 710 S. Main Street, Georgetown
Kick off the holiday season with Georgetown’s annual Lighting of the Square! Sing along with The Austin Carolers and warm your tummy with hot chocolate and cookies. Stay for pictures with Santa. Plan to get in some shopping, too, as merchants will stay open late. FREE!
- Chuy’s Children Giving to Children Parade
Saturday from 11 a.m. – noon | Congress Avenue, Austin
Giant inflatable balloons, festive holiday floats, famous children’s characters, spectacular marching bands, cool classic cars and Santa! Bring a toy to donate to Operation Blue Santa during the parade. Starts at the State Capitol at 11th and Congress, moving south on Congress all the way to Cesar Chavez, ending just north of the bridge. Click here for a parade map. FREE!
- The EmilyAnn Theatre & Gardens Trail of Lights
Saturday, and Sunday | Emily Ann Theatre and Gardens, 1101 FM 2325, Wimberley
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. Opening ceremonies will take place on Saturday at 5 p.m. and the trail will be open until 10 p.m. On Sunday, the trail will be open from 6-9 p.m. FREE!
- Christmas Tree Lighting in Hutto
Saturday from 6-8 p.m. | Hutto Co-Op Gin, 420 U.S. 79, Hutto
Join Mayor Holland and friends as she calls upon Santa’s magic to help light the Christmas Tree in Downtown Hutto. Local organizations and churches will be at the event singing, playing music, serving hot cocoa, and decorating Christmas cookies. FREE!
- Southpark After Dark Concert Series: Vallejo
Saturday from 7-10 p.m. | Southpark Meadows, 9300 S IH 35 Frontage Rd, Austin
This concert in The Grove will be fun for the entire family. Visit Facebook for weather updates. FREE!
- Photos with Santa by the “I Love You So Much” Mural
Sunday from 12-5 p.m. | Jo’s Hot Coffee Good Food, 1300 S Congress Avenue, Austin
The holiday spirit will be alive and well during the Jo’s Sinner Sunday Holiday Extravaganza on Sunday. Guests can enjoy live music from the Jo’s House Band while shopping the merchandise from many local vendors showcasing their newest wares. Santa will be on hand to pose for pictures in front of the “I love you so much” wall. In support of Operation Blue Santa, bring an unwrapped toy to receive a FREE coffee.
- Zilker Tree Lighting
Sunday at 6 p.m. | Zilker Park, 2100 Barton Springs Rd, Austin
Each year, the Austin community eagerly awaits the lighting of the 155-foot tall Zilker Tree as a symbol of the upcoming holiday season. The tree lighting ceremony at 6 p.m. will feature local entertainment, food, novelties and live music. Prelude Music by the Austin Civic Wind Ensemble, Robert Laguna, Conductor. Additional event music by the Barton Hills Choir, Gavin Tabone, Director, Kati Achtermann, Principal. (Please note that the Trail of Lights will not yet be open.) FREE!
- Blue Genie Art Bazaar
Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. | Marchesa Hall & Theatre, 6226 Middle Fiskville Rd., Austin
The Blue Genie Art Bazaar is a unique holiday art show, open again for its 15th year. The Bazaar features handmade artwork and gifts from more than 200 local and regional artists, with a portion of proceeds going to Make-A-Wish® Foundation. Parking and admission are FREE! Full bar with snacks. Cash and cards accepted. There will be a FREE kick-off party on Friday, from 6-9 p.m.
- Bright Friday: A Black Friday Alternative Market
Friday from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. | Vuka Event Space, 411 Monroe St, Austin
This family-friendly event presents the opportunity for Austinites to gather and support local, fair, and direct trade artisans the day after Thanksgiving. Vendors at Bright Friday share a commitment to ethical practices, environmental responsibility and hand crafted quality products including local, handmade, direct trade, and fair trade gifts. Instead of spending Black Friday waiting in lines, enjoy this FREE community shopping event where you’ll find unique crafts, gifts, and treasures from some of Austin’s most talented artisans.
- Renegade Craft Fair’s Austin Holiday Market
Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. | Fair Market, 1100 East 5th St., Austin
This event features a thoughtfully curated selection of the finest indie-craft goods, perfect for all of your holiday gift-giving needs. Attendees will enjoy a weekend of shopping handmade, participating in DIY workshops, and joining in on the festive holiday vibes. FREE!
- Shop Small with The Art Garage and Biz Park 290
Saturday from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. | The Art Garage, 11190 Circle Dr, Ste 202, Austin
The first 100 customers will get a swag bag full of area coupons, local made treats from Bearded Brothers, and more! Starting at 10 a.m., enjoy FREE cupcakes! There will also be a character meet and greet with Ballet Southwest Academy’s cast from The Nutcracker from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
- Bazaar Brunch Small Business Edition
Sunday from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. | Bouldin Creek Cafe, 1900 S 1st St, Austin
Stop by the monthly Handcrafted and Vintage Market on the lawn at Bouldin Creek Cafe. Enjoy a lovely brunch and maybe even sip on a mimosa. This event is FREE, family friendly and of course dogs are welcome. Support Local Art!
Nearly free fun beyond Austin:
- Lockhart Turkey Trot
Saturday at 9 a.m. | Lockhart State Park, 2012 State Park Road, Lockhart
Ready, Set…Gobble! Head out to Lockhart for a 5K fun run/walk to celebrate fall in the park! The Turkey Trot will be a fun 5K (3.1 mile) walk/run on park trails. This program is open to runners and walkers of all speeds, along with their canine companions (on a leash, please). Prizes will be awarded to the first finishers. Registration not required. This event is rain or shine! Enjoy the beautiful trails in a new way during this fun athletic event! The race will start in the day use area at 9 a.m. sharp! Dress appropriately for your level of physical activity. Layers and sturdy athletic shoes are recommended. If it rains, please be aware that there may be muddy and/or rugged areas on the course. Meet in the day use area. If driving from park HQ, pass the pool, take your first right-hand turn, and park in the parking lot near the playground. Overflow parking is located at the headquarters building. Regular park entrance fees apply ($3/adult; free for children 12 & under). There are no additional fees, and registration is not required!