Written by Bonnie McLaughlin for IVitamin


Well…it’s about that time y’all. In the hopes of helping you get your holiday calendar in order, we have gone through and picked out our favorite holiday events here in Austin plus all of the necessary details to save you the last minute panic of seeing something on your Facebook feed that you missed. There is no #JOMO during the holidays.

A Christmas Affair @ Palmer Events Center

November 20-24

Market Day Pass $15

A five-day holiday market with over 200 retail merchants from across the country allows you to do most, if not all, of your holiday shopping in one spot. Pro-tip: go during the week if possible to avoid the massive crowds this event garners, last years count was a around 25,000 people over the entire week. 

I want to note that the Junior League of Austin uses the funds raised at A Christmas Affair to provide essential funding and volunteer hours to programs such as Coats for Kids, FIT-Food In Tummies and over 30 local community non-profits. So shop and give back to our amazing Austin community! Talk about a win-win. 

Decorate a Gingerbread House: Cooking Class @ Central Market N. Lamar

November 29 & 30

Cost: $65/adults, $45/kids, $65/team

I have always wanted to do this on my own but didn’t want to spend hours on it only for it to end up a massive pile of gingerbread goo that has me crying in the corner so this is definitely going on my calendar. This 2-hour class has everything you need to decorate a FABULOUS gingerbread house plus wine and a box to take it all home in (the house, not the wine). The Saturday night class is adults only, the Saturday morning class is for parents and kiddos, and the Friday class is kiddos only.  So pick your poison and post photos, we can’t wait to see your Food Network-worthy gingerbread palaces. 

Holiday Gifts Baking Class (Eggnog Theme) @ Make it Sweet

November 30, December 5 & 17

Cost: $69 (all supplies included)

If you haven’t checked out this little shop for all of your baking supply needs, get there immediately. But also check them out for a slew of classes, including this one that is eggnog-themed (this is so polarizing I know, but I’m going with it). Make a cake, cookies, and candy plus learn how to package everything up beautifully as gifts for the holiday! They also offer a gingerbread class if the one above fills up and they just added some seasonal cake decorating classes so grab your fanciest apron and book a fun night for the holidays.

Zilker Holiday Tree Lighting @ Zilker Park

December 1


If you haven’t attended this at least once, can you even call yourself an Austinite? Come out to Zilker for the tree lighting and the official kickoff to the holidays in Austin. And if you miss the lighting, don’t worry you can visit the tree until January 1st. Pro-tip: Uber/Lyft/etc. to Zilker for this one…parking can be kind of a challenge. 

Charlie Brown Christmas @ The Paramount Theatre

December 7 (Shows at 5:00 & 8:00pm)

Tickets $22-37

Well, this one is getting added to my calendar. From the website: Join the Austin Chamber Music Center for a live concert of all of your favorite tunes from the holiday classic! Celebrate the season with the original Charlie Brown music of Vince Guaraldi featuring pianist Michelle Schumann, bassist Utah Hamrick, drummer Scott Laningham, and special guests—plus, the chance to meet Snoopy in the lobby! Bring your family to this Austin tradition and get in the holiday spirit!

Ballet Austin’s The Nutcracker @ the Long Center

December 7-23 (15 performances)

Tickets start at $29

This is an absolute holiday must for me. Get dressed up, take a million pictures in the lobby (they always have the cutest props and photo backdrops), grab some champagne (don’t forget to preorder for intermission to skip the lines), and kick off the holiday season the way Stephen Mills and Tchaikovsky intended. Family friendly and if you don’t dance your way out dreaming of sugar plum fairies….I don’t know what to tell you. 

Austin Trail of Lights @ Zilker Park

December 10-23

Tickets vary, check the calendar for which nights require tickets (some don’t)

2 million lights, more than 60 displays, food trucks, holiday activities, and SANTA!! Come take one of the most beautiful walks ever with friends and family and don’t forget to snap pics along the way. Pro-tip: there is a shuttle that runs from Tony Burger Stadium and Republic Square. Tickets for the shuttle are only $7 and include GA to the Trail of Lights so park somewhere convenient and let someone else drive you to the holiday fun!

And for all of our active readers, the Austin Trail of Lights Fun Run is December 7th from 6-10pm and you can register now for around $40 at the link above. This is actually a great one for the novice jogger because it is only 2.1 miles and untimed so the pressure is off! Enjoy being one of the first people to experience the Trail of Lights, get a free picture with SANTA, and enjoy a beer or cocoa after the race!!

Armadillo Christmas Bazaar @Palmer Events Center

December 13-24

Day pass $8

Another shopping staple, the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar features nearly 200 curated local and touring artists and makers to shop from, live music and local food. I like this one because I feel like there is a wide range of prices for gifts and a ton of local artists you can meet and support. Think Pecan Street Festival vibe but all in one spot. In addition, there is a music lineup with 36 bands “ranging from breakout musicians, touring singer-songwriters and Austin legends over 12 days.” So go grab a margarita and knock out your holiday shopping to the tune of local bands.

Ahhhhh Austin, how we love you. 

Drag Queen Christmas @ ACL Live at The Moody Theater

December 19

Tickets $35-50

From the website: A Drag Queen Christmas – The Naughty Tour. It’s a magical (and hilarious) evening of holiday performances featuring contestants from the reality television show on VH1. Here come the queens in their biggest holiday costumes with back-up dancers and a full stage production. All ages welcome. Warning – adult content (because they’re drag queens).

Sign. Me. Up.

Lala’s Little Nugget

Weekdays 4pm-2am, Weekends 11am-2am

Cost depends on your tolerance and whether or not you have the Uber app

Ok fine, this isn’t a holiday “event” per se, but this is one of my favorite places to go because the Christmas decorations are up year-round and well…it’s just so fun. Come check out this Christmas-themed bar that has been an Austin staple since 1972. There’s also a BBQ truck close by for you to run out to when the mood hits ya. Keep an eye on the website, they throw a Christmas party or two around the holidays that look like an absolute blast. 

Other notables:

Ice Skating on the Plaza

Whole Foods downtown has ice skating on their roof that generally opens around Thanksgiving and stays open until late January so keep an eye on their website for this year’s dates. Last year admission was around $10 and included your skate rental.

Alamo Drafthouse Holiday Shows

As expected, the new Star Wars is bogarting the December calendar right now but Alamo is awesome about fun holiday movie events so check the link above as we get closer to December. Last year I went to a Sunday morning breakfast viewing of Elf where everyone wore pajamas and I have never been so happy in my life. Don’t forget the pocket maple syrup.



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