Bring on the holly, jolly fun! From twinkling lights to parades, gingerbread houses, live music, theatre, ice skating and more — the holidays in Austin are full of wonderful family events to celebrate the season! Here’s our roundup of favorites guaranteed to make special memories with the kids, presented by the Thinkery.
Best Holiday Family Events in Austin:
— ZACH Theatre’s A Christmas Carol
A Christmas Carol runs through Dec. 31, evening shows at 7:30 p.m., weekend matinees at 2:30 p.m.
Get all the holiday feels at ZACH Theatre’s popular annual shows. In their upbeat version of Charles Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol, you’ll see the traditional Victorian costumes and setting combined with modern music, re-imagined carols and the vocal talents of very soulful ghosts of Christmas past, present and future. Tickets are $30 & up, which you can purchase online here.
— Zilker Holiday Tree
Tree on Display through Dec. 31, 6 p.m. – 12 midnight
Take a spin under this holiday tree and enjoy hot drinks and snacks from food vendors on-site. It’s an Austin tradition!
— Ice Skating on the Plaza
Through Jan. 7, 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.
A must-do for locals and visitors alike, Ice Skating on the Plaza at the Whole Foods Downtown location has become one of Austin’s most anticipated events of the holiday season! The ice rink is open to the public on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays but you will need to call ahead or check their online schedule about weekday hours, as the rink gets booked for private events. Cost is $10 per person and includes use of skates.
— Winter Wonderland at Circuit of the Americas
Through Dec. 30; 6-10 p.m. Sunday – Thursday, 6-11 p.m. on Fridays & Saturdays
New this year, millions of lights will illuminate a magical world of holiday amusement at Circuit of The Americas, including a Skating Rink, Human Snow Globe, Singing Trees, Petting Zoo, Camel Rides, Santa’s Workshop, Carnival Rides, Hot Air Balloon Float, Merry Movies on The Lawn, Delectable Food, Shopping Galore and the soon to be world famous Tunnel of Lights and much more. Admission is $16 which you can get online here, and kids 5 and under are free. Before you go, read all about it here.
— Ballet Austin’s The Nutcracker
Through Dec. 23, evenings at 7 p.m., matinees at 2 p.m.
This seasonal tradition returns to the Long Center for its 55th year with all the colorful characters, pomp and pageantry you adore. Journey with young Clara Silberhaus from her family’s holiday party to the confection-filled Court of the Sugar Plum Fairy, where sweets of all kinds come to life. Ballet Austin’s production features hundreds of dancers, lavish sets and costumes, and the Austin Symphony Orchestra playing Tchaikovsky’s beloved score. Tickets range from $15 – $89, and can be purchased online here.
— Thinkery’s Gingerbread Workshops
Through Dec. 24, various times
Creative families build with fresh gingerbread and sweet treats in a fun and festive atmosphere. Each Gingerbread House Kit includes all your supplies—fresh gingerbread, an assortment of candies and plenty of icing. From traditional houses to toddler designers and Candy Chemistry to Gingerbread Art & Architecture, there is a workshop for every family. After the workshop, all participants are welcome to explore Thinkery while their house dries in the Gingerbread Village. Click here to view all of the various workshops available for a variety of ages and reserve your spot. *Scroll below to enter to win a workshop!
— Trail of Lights
Through Dec. 23, general admission 7 p.m., ZiP Fast Pass 6 p.m.
Every holiday season, Zilker Park is transformed into the Trail of Lights with over two million lights, 40 displays, 20+ food trucks, two stages, 30 private holiday parties and interactive experiences throughout the trail. There will be a general admission fee on seven of the 14 nights of the event. Early entry ZiP Fast Pass, VIP Platinum, parking and shuttle passes are also available for purchase on select nights. For tickets and full details, visit AustinTrailofLights.org.
— Christmas Towne at Old Settler’s Association (Round Rock)
Christmas Towne features amazing light displays including a walking tunnel of lights, full-scale carnival rides, holiday food and more. Admission is free, but tickets are needed for the rides. Click here for a coupon for a carnival wristband. Hours vary by day, but the schedule can be found here.
— The Mutt-Cracker (Sweet!)
Dec. 21 – Jan. 7, 4:30 p.m. & 6:30 p.m.
Kids of all ages can enjoy this fun Nutcracker-inspired show at The Vortex from Circus Chickendog. This year’s production stars five brilliant and talented rescue dogs with a talking scarlet macaw, plus juggling and unicycling. Tickets are $15 and up which you can purchase online here.
— Austin’s New Year 2018
Dec. 31, 3 – 10:30 p.m.
Bring in the New Year with a free, fun and family-friendly celebration at Vic Mathias Shores with four stages, 22 local and regional bands, food trucks, kid’s activities and multiple art installations. The New Year’s Eve event, hosted by the City of Austin, kicks off at 3 p.m. culminating with a fireworks extravaganza at 10 p.m.
— Thinkery’s Noon Year’s Eve Balloon Drop & Bubble Wrap
Dec. 31, balloon drops at 12 p.m. & 2 p.m.
On New Year’s Eve, head to Thinkery for the second annual Noon Year’s Eve Balloon Drop & Bubble Wrap Stomp! Ring in 2018 a wee bit early with winter crafts, “snowball” fights, special performances and TWO separate balloon drops (12 p.m. and 2 p.m.). Why wait until midnight? The countdown to noon is on! Additional details and tickets at thinkeryaustin.org/special-
Of course, there’s so much more Holiday Family Fun in store this season in Austin and the surrounding area! Keep updated by checking our listings of Holiday Events as well as our roundup of Christmas Lights!