Round out your year and ring in the holidays with these events in and around town in December.
Holiday Sing-Along and Downtown Stroll. November 18, 2013 - January 1, 2014, downtown - Sponsored by the Downtown Austin Alliance since 1993, this six-week extravaganza transforms the downtown area into a holiday wonderland. Events in early December include a Christmas sing-along, photo booth with Santa, cake decorating, live music, and of course, the lighting of the Capitol Christmas Tree. Holiday Sing-Along and Downtown Stroll
Operation Blue Santa. November 20 - December 14, 2013, east - Sponsored by the Austin Police Dept. since 1972, Operation Blue Santa receives donations and provides food and toys to needy children and families in Austin. Events include a breakfast auction, Christmas film screenings, automobile VIN etching, and a donations to the east Austin warehouse, culminating with delivery day and a thank-you BBQ for volunteers. Operation Blue Santa
Blue Genie Art Bazaar. November 29 - December 24, 2013, north - Over 130 local artisans display their inventory just in time for the holiday shopping season. A good way to pick up one-of-a-kind, uniquely Austin artwork while supporting local artists. All participating artists undergo a rigorous application and selection process. Blue Genie Art Bazaar
Watch a video tour of the Blue Genie Art Bazaar in 2012:
Renegade Craft Fair. November 30 - December 1, 2013, central - This event brings talented artisans and craftspeople for a display and sale of handmade jewelry, furniture, lighting displays, bath and beauty products, screen-printed art, paper products, and more. There are also hands-on workshops, a photobooth, and specialty food and drinks. The event originated in Chicago in 2003 and is now held in several cities in the U.S. and Europe. Renegade Craft Fair
Zilker Tree Lighting Ceremony. December 1, 2013, southwest - Annual lighting of the 155-foot Holiday Tree at Zilker Park. Held the first Sunday in December at 6:00 pm. Includes food and live music. Zilker Tree Lighting Ceremony
$1 Burger Tuesdays at Bar Louie. December 3 - 31, 2013, downtown - Every Tuesday, Bar Louie on 6th Street serves up $1 burgers from the menu, or make your own for an additional charge.
Lights of Love 5K. December 6, 2013, east - 5K run/walk and family fun run, with prizes for all finishers, hot chocolate, live music, festive lights display, and children's activities. Benefits Ronald McDonald House Charities. Lights of Love 5K
Wild Ideas at the Wildflower Center. December 6 - 8, 2013, southwest - Get substantial discounts on merchandise at the Wildflower Center gift shop and shop offerings from selected local artists and vendors. Wild Ideas at the Wildflower Center
Main Street Bethlehem. December 6 - 8, 13 - 15, 2013, Burnet, TX - Although it's actually northwest of Austin, we'd be remiss in not mentioning one of our favorite holiday traditions. Sponsored by the First Baptist Church in Burnet, Main Street Bethlehem features a life-size recreation of Bethlehem at the time of Jesus's birth, complete with live animals, street vendors, a synagogue, a stable, a manger, and Roman soldiers. Coffee, hot cocoa, and cookies served at the exit. Donations accepted. Held two weekends in December. Come either Friday or Sunday, and either early or late; otherwise be prepared to wait 60-90 minutes to get in. Check the local weather and dress appropriately. Main Street Bethlehem
View some video of Main Street Bethlehem:
Weihnachtsmarkt, a German Christmas Market. December 7, 2013, central - Sponsored by the Austin German Texan Heritage Society, this festival includes German Christmas music, baked goods, hot spiced wine, coffee, and apple juice, handcrafted items imported from Germany for sale, and a visit by both Santa Claus and the traditional German Sankt Nikolas with gifts for the children. Weihnachtsmarkt, a German Christmas Market
Luminations at the Wildflower Center. December 7 - 8, 2013, southwest - Donation of two canned food items (for the Capital Area Food Bank) gets you entry to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center's gardens adorned with thousands of twinkling lights and luminarias. Holiday music, hot chocolate and food and drinks for sale, musical performances by local artists and school groups, and children's activities. Luminations at the Wildflower Center
Watch a short video slideshow of Luminations in 2010:
Cherrywood Art Fair. December 7 - 8, 2013, central - East Austin's longest-running art fair features artists, craftspeople, musicians, performers, and food vendors to help you find a unique Christmas gift. Cherrywood Art Fair
Violet Crown Art Festival. December 7 - 8, 2013, north - Another art festival with painters, sculptors, potters, and other artisans to help you start your Christmas shopping while supporting Austin's local art community. Free admission. Violet Crown Art Festival
Decker Challenge Half Marathon. December 8, 2013, east - 13.1 mile course over rolling hills. 5K and kids' K are also available. Decker Challenge Half Marathon
Christmas Sing-A-Long with the Austin Symphony. December 10, 2013, west - Sing along to all your favorite Christmas songs with members of the Austin Symphony Orchestra and Austin Youth Orchestra, and the Riverbend Church choir. Also storybook readings and appearances by Santa Claus, Rudolph, and others. Event is free, but you must obtain tickets ahead of time. Christmas Sing-A-Long with the Austin Symphony
Trail of Lights. December 16 - 24, 2013, southwest - After a short hiatus, the traditional Holiday Trail of Lights has returned to Zilker Park. Includes lighted Christmas displays, Santa's House and village, food vendors, and live music. Trail of Lights
View video of the 2012 Trail of Lights
Armadillo Christmas Bazaar. December 17 - 24, 2013, downtown - A combination art show and music festival. Shop for Christmas gifts from a wide range of homemade crafts and fine art while enjoying live musical entertainment. Armadillo Christmas Bazaar
Watch a video of the 2011 Armadillo Christmas Bazaar
Austin's New Year. December 31, 2013, downtown - Over 20,000 gather along the lake to welcome the New Year. A family-friendly, alcohol-free event with live music, arts, film, and fireworks display. Austin's New Year
Where to See Christmas Lights
In addition to the aforementioned Trail of Lights, Main Street Bethlehem, and Downtown Stroll, Austin and Central Texas boast a number of great Christmas displays. Here are a few.
Austin's 37th Street Christmas Displays
Started in 1980, the 37th Street Christmas displays have become an Austin tradition. Houses on several blocks around 37th and Guadalupe St., near the University of Texas, go all out in transforming their houses and yards into holiday lighting wonderlands. The often quirky displays have been featured on Good Morning America and many national newspapers and magazines. Miracle on 37th Street
Rock ’N Lights Holiday Light Tour in Round Rock
Started in 2012. A 1.5 mile driving tour featuring Christmas displays and a light tunnel. Also a Christmas Towne with historic displays, pony rides, petting zoo, food, and more. At Old Settlers Park in Round Rock, just northeast of Austin. Rock ’N Lights Holiday Light Tour
Marble Falls Holiday Walkway of Lights
A self-guided walking tour of lights featuring over two million shimmering lights and 150 light sculptures. The walkway of lights is held at Lakeside Park on the Colorado River in Marble Falls, 45 miles west of Austin. Free admission.