Gingerbread houses, gifts that give back, and festive fun… bring on the holiday cheer! Whether you need a gift idea or plans for the day, we’ve got you covered with our Merry and Bright Guide.
The Merry and Bright Guide: Holiday Happenings
Mark your calendars! Here are a few events happening in Austin this holiday season.
Austin Trail of Lights
Now – December 23
The 58th Annual Trail of Lights is part of the essential Austin experience, lighting up the season with a celebration of community, memories, and fun. This year, the spectacular trail will return as a drive-thru event.
Ballet Austin’s “The Nutcracker”
Now – December 23
Ballet Austin will again host its beloved holiday tradition with the 60th annual performance of The Nutcracker at the Long Center. The ballet production also includes music by the Austin Symphony Orchestra.
Now – December 30
Peppermint Parkway is a magical experience at Austin’s Circuit of The Americas. This year, the holiday spectacular will be transformed into a one-mile driving attraction that immerses visitors in millions of holiday lights synchronized to joyful holiday classics.
Field of Lights | Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Now – December 31
Debuting at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Bruce Munro’s Field of Light is an immersive exhibition that explores the intersection of art, technology, and nature.
Mozart’s Coffee, Holiday Light Show
Now – January 6
Mozart’s Christmas Light Show is back! Celebrate the season with magical lights, delicious hot chocolate, tasty treats, and a wonderful time for the whole family. Reserved tables are also back, to get your spot visit here.
Ice Rodeo | Four Seasons Hotel
Now – January 8
Skate beneath the stars – and overlooking Lady Bird Lake – at Austin’s premier ice skating rink and winter experience. Ice Rodeo features an outdoor ice rink, firepits to roast gourmet s’mores, and cozy “cabins” where you can gather with friends and family over festive food and drinks.
The Merry and Bright Guide: Festive Activites
From creating gingerbread houses to holiday barhopping, celebrate the holidays in Austin with some seasonal activities.
Holiday Stage Classics
Get all the holiday feels at ZACH Theatre’s most popular show, A Christmas Carol, along with Ventana Ballet’s “The Watchmaker’s Song”, an immersive dance-theatre production based on The Nutcracker.
Order A Holiday Kit
From holiday wreath-making kits at The Flower Social to festive DIY cookie decorating kits from Mindy’s Bakeshop or a floral mailbox kit from Gracious Garlands, enjoy one (or all three!) of these local holiday kits.
Build A Gingerbread House
Explore your creative side by building a gingerbread house at home. The Thinkery offers various Gingerbread House kits and workshops, perfect for creative little builders of all ages. Or skip to the fun part of decorating with one of Central Market’s preassembled gingerbread houses.
See The Lights
Light up the season with The Trail of Lights, returning as a walk-thru event this year. For a festive light display, enjoy Johnson City’s Lights Spectular where over a million twinkling lights cover the town square, or head to Mozart’s Coffee Roster’s for hot chocolate and their annual light show.
Go Ice Skating
Spend an afternoon on the rink at the Whole Foods flagship store on North Lamar and then head inside for a cup of cocoa and live music on the weekends! Or take it indoors at Chaparral Ice in north Austin.
From the holiday pop-up bar Miracle on 5th Street to Lala’s Little Nugget where Christmas is celebrated all year long to Gibson Street Bar’s Winter Wonderland, cheers the season by visiting a few of Austin’s holiday-themed bars.
The Merry and Bright Guide: Gifts That Give Back
Gifts that give back are basically twofers: a gift and a donation in one, so we’ve rounded up some of our favorites below.
Give the gift of art with a one-of-a-kind piece from Art From the Streets, a non-profit offering Austin homeless or at-risk a nurturing and safe place to create art and generate income through sales.
Socks, gloves, beanies, and more! For each piece purchased, this Austin-based company sends an equal piece to someone in need locally. They are also providing work opportunities to those transitioning from homelessness.
The Noonday Collection includes jewelry, accessories, and handbags created by over 4,000 artisans in 12 countries. By purchasing part of this collection you are helping artisan entrepreneurs in vulnerable areas throughout the developing world.
This is not only a store – it’s a community. Ten Thousand Villages sources products from artisans who receive a fair price for their work. Here you will find unique handicrafts for the home, as well as jewelry and clothing.
Warm and cozy through lazy mornings, movie nights, and post-holiday party lounging. TOMS invests ⅓ of its profits in grassroots efforts, organizations creating change at the local level, and driving progress from the ground up.
Jazz up their eyewear with a pair of stylish, modern-designed, and durable sunglasses! With their Buy A Pair, Give A Pair program, Warby Parker has distributed over ten million pairs of glasses to those in need.