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Trail of Lights Austin | © Steve/Flickr
Trail of Lights Austin | © Steve/Flickr
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How To Celebrate Christmas In Austin

Picture of Aubrey Cofield
Updated: 12 November 2016
Christmas in Austin isn’t quite the winter wonderland portrayed in most holiday movies, but the city makes up for it with plenty of holiday merriment. From tree lightings to plays, there are countless opportunities to celebrate Christmas. Here are a few ways you can enjoy the season while in Austin.

Go Ice Skating on the Plaza

With the lack of freezing weather in Austin, it’s nearly impossible to find a frozen pond or lake to enjoy a pleasant holiday skate. Thankfully, Whole Foods in downtown Austin hosts a rooftop ice skating rink called Ice Skating on the Plaza, complete with Christmas music and hot cocoa. The rink opens on November 29th and stays open until the new year.

Whole Foods Market, 525 N Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX, USA, +1 512 476 1206

Whole Foods Market
Whole Foods Market | © That Other Paper/Flickr

Watch the Zilker Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony

It wouldn’t be Christmas without a proper tree lighting ceremony, and Austin’s Zilker Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony takes place this year on November 27th. Watch the 155-foot tree adorned with around 3,300 lights and a ten-foot star light up the night. This year is the 50th annual tree lighting – the first one took place on December 10, 1967. There will also be live music, food, and hot drinks.

Zilker Park, 2100 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX, USA

Under the Zilker Holiday Tree
Under the Zilker Holiday Tree | © That Other Paper/Flickr

See the Trail of Lights

One of the most popular celebrations Austin hosts during the holidays is the Trail of Lights. This community celebration features around two million lights in over 40 displays, which vary each year, providing the community with new feelings of enchantment. There’s also a free Ferris wheel, carousal, and car show. It does get crowded, so consider parking at a shuttle stop or arriving early in the day.

Zilker Park, 2100 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX, USA

Trail of Lights
Trail of Lights | © MarkScottAustinTX/Flickr

Visit a Christmas Tree Farm

Head to an actual Christmas tree farm and cut down your own tree. There are various places to go throughout Austin, but one of the more popular spots is Elgin Christmas Tree Farm. On top of picking and cutting down your own tree, there are homemade wreaths, hayrides, animals, a maze, and a playground. Their tasty sausage is also available on weekends, and don’t forget to recycle your tree when the holidays are over.

Elgin Christmas Tree Farm, 120 Natures Way, Elgin, TX, USA, +1 512 281 5016

Cutting Down the Tree
Cutting Down the Tree | © George Coller/Flickr

Watch the Tree Lighting at The Texas Capitol

Another tree lighting takes place on December 3rd in front of The Texas Capitol. The entire street is alive with lights, Christmas carols, food, and shops. The sing-alongs start at 6:00 pm, and the actual lighting of the tree takes place at 7:00 pm, followed by a very merry downtown stroll.

The Texas Capitol, 1100 Congress Ave, Austin, TX, USA

Texas Capitol Tree Lighting
Texas Capitol Tree Lighting | © Earl McGehee/Flickr

See a Christmas Show

One of the most entertaining activities to enjoy during the holidays is going to see a Christmas show. Austin’s Zach Theatre is putting on a couple of classic and fun holiday performances: showing now through December 27th is the classic A Christmas Carol, and The Nutcracker is on through December 23rd. They will also present The Santaland Diaries through December 27th; the play is a hilarious take on one man’s account of his days as a Macy’s Christmas elf.

Zach Theatre, 1510 Toomey Rd, Austin, TX, USA, +1 512 476 0541