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.
Holiday fun starts at Thinkery with the return of their popular Gingerbread Workshops and ends with a festive way to ring in 2019 with the 3rd Annual Noon Year’s Eve Balloon Drop & Bubble Wrap Stomp. Read on for details…
Best Holiday Family Events in Austin:
— ZACH Theatre’s A Christmas Carol
November 21–December 30
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 Nov. 25 – Dec. 31, 6 p.m. – 12 midnight
Take a spin under the holiday tree and enjoy hot drinks and snacks from food vendors on-site. It’s an Austin tradition!
— Ice Skating on the Plaza
Nov. 23 – Jan. 21, 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
Nov. 23 – Dec. 30; 6-10 p.m. Sunday – Thursday, 6-11 p.m. on Fridays & Saturdays
Millions of lights will illuminate a magical world of holiday amusement that includes a Tunnel of Lights, Carnival Rides, Camel Rides, Singing Trees, a Petting Zoo, Santa’s Workshop, a Live Music Stage, and new this year — a Chinese Lantern Festival. Admission is $16 which you can get online here, and kids 5 and under are free.
— Ballet Austin’s The Nutcracker
Dec. 7- 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.
— Trail of Lights
Dec. 10 – 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)
Dates to be announced soon
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.
— 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 bands, food trucks, kid’s activities all culminating with a fireworks extravaganza at 10 p.m. Details of this year’s event still to come, but you can keep up-to-date here.
— Thinkery’s Noon Year’s Eve Balloon Drop & Bubble Wrap
Dec. 31, two sessions: 9 a.m.-12 p.m. & 1-4 p.m.
On New Year’s Eve, head to Thinkery for the 3rd annual Noon Year’s Eve Balloon Drop & Bubble Wrap Stomp! They will be hosting two different celebration times for you and your family to ring in the New Year; 9am-noon (drop & stomp at 11 am) and 1-4pm (drop & stomp at 3 pm). Each limited capacity. All party-goers can enjoy music, winter crafts, engineer your own noisemakers, enter the Texas “snowball” arena, and experience special performances during each 3-hour celebration. Additional details and tickets ($18 for Members; $20 for Non-Members) 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!