He’s making a list. He’s checking it twice. Now, the big question — naughty or nice?
Santa is one busy man this holiday season. If you want to snag a date with the jolly old fellow, here’s an insider’s peek into his calendar from now until the big day.
Free Fun In Austin continues to highlight Austin area locations and activities that may not be available at this time. We encourage you to take all safety measures to keep yourself and your neighbors safe. It is our hope that the stories and features on this site will help inform your plans in the future.
Meet Santa at the Hill Country Galleria and tell him what you want for the holidays! Kids of all ages are welcome, and pets are welcome, too! Bring your own camera and take fun holiday photos! Photos with Santa are FREE (no professional photographer onsite).
Visit Santa in his new workshop, located in Domain II across from iPic Theaters. Enjoy holiday crafts and lounge seating while you wait to see the big guy. You can schedule your Santa photos here.
The Domain Lighting of the Great Tree – On Sunday, November 23 (changed from Saturday due to rain in the forecast), The Domain will kick off the holiday season with the lighting of its 40-foot tree, featuring 6,000 twinkling lights, 400 ornaments and five-foot star topper, during the 8th Annual Lighting of The Great Tree. The 30-minute tree-lighting show will feature dynamic musical performances, culminating with the lighting of the tree by Santa himself. Throughout the day, guests can enjoy free holiday entertainment, performances by area schools, special in-store events, craft activities, face painting, caricature drawings, balloon twisting stations and more. The tree lighting begins at 6:00 p.m. and the daytime activities start at noon. FREE.
On Saturday, December 6, bring the kids to The Domain for Breakfast with Santa! Enjoy breakfast, live music, character appearances, holiday games (with prizes!), letters to Santa, face painting, balloon twisting and more fun! Breakfast with Santa takes place at The Plaza in the Domain II from 9:00 a.m. until noon. FREE!
Amy Donovan Plaza
Make a Date with Santa at Barton Creek Mall – Thursday, November 6 – Wednesday, December 24
Make an appointment to visit the big man in red at Barton Creek Mall here.Photo packages available for purchase.
Pet Photos with Santa – Sunday, November 23 & Sunday, December 7
Bring your furry friends to Barton Creek Mall from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. for their photos with Santa! Please keep all pets on leashes or in crates for everyone’s safety.Photo packages available for purchase.
Santa on the Terrace – Friday, November 28
Sip delicious hot chocolate on the Long Center Terrace while enjoying some of Austin’s most delicious food trucks, and kick off the holiday season in the greatest winter wonderland in town. Taking place at the Long Center from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m., kids can get a free photo with Santa overlooking the best view in town, and you can take advantage of the lowest discounts in town for future Long Center programming. FREE.
Hot Rod Santa 2014 – Saturday, November 29
Join Murpho’s Rods and Customs and CherryBones Photography November 29th from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. for the 3rd annual Hot Rod Santa Photo Shoot! Pictures are $10 and proceeds benefit the Austin Children’s Shelter. Donations are also accepted for the teens at the Shelter.
Chuy’s Children Giving to Children Parade – Saturday, November 29
This parade starts at 11:00 a.m. at the Texas Capitol and moves south on Congress, all the way to Cesar Chavez, ending just north of the bridge. The hour-long procession features giant inflatable balloons, festive holiday floats, marching bands, cool classic cars and Santa! At a designated time towards the end of the parade, Santa’s Helpers will line the parade route and help spectators donate new, unwrapped toys to Operation Blue Santa, which brings Christmas magic to children under 15 years old that otherwise might not receive any gifts. FREE.
Photos with Santa at the Omni Barton Creek – Saturday, November 29
Enjoy photos with Santa during Barton Creek’s Fall Fest from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. in the Canyons Room. For more details, contact the Concierge at (512) 329-4539.
Gingerbread Village Open Houses – Tuesday, December 2 & Wednesday, December 3
Enjoy complimentary hot apple cider and festive cookies in the Four Seasons Lobby from 5:00 – 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, December 2nd and Wednesday, December 3rd as you ooh-and-aah over the details of our “Candy Land”-themed Gingerbread Village in the Lobby. The hotel’s talented pastry chefs — along with special guest, Santa — will also be on hand for photo opportunities and to answer questions about the houses, which will be on display from November 25 through December 31, 2014. FREE.
Santa at Jo’s I Love You So Much Mural – Thursday, December 4
From 5:00 – 7:00 p.m., Santa will be at Jo’s iconic South Congress mural. Sit on his lap and tell him what you want this year, and maybe snap a photo, too! Vendors will be set up for a First Thursday Pop Up Party and the Texas Tycoons will play from 7:00 – 10:00 p.m.
Candle Light Trail at Hancock Recreation Center – Friday, December 5 & Saturday, December 6
Come walk the Candle Light Trail, meet Santa and enjoy holiday refreshments and entertainment at this fun free family event. FREE.
Breakfast with Santa – Saturday, December 6
From 9:00 a.m. until noon at the Domain II, have fruit, muffins and juice with Santa himself while you enjoy entertainment, including a juggling stilt walker, ZACH Theater performers, DJ Mixer Rogers, Joe McDermott and special character appearances. Parents can enter a prize giveaway, and kids can enjoy activities writing letters to Santa, face painting, caricature artists, balloon twisters, reindeer games and a cookie walk. FREE!
Annual German Christmas Market 2014 – Saturday, December 6
The German-Texan Heritage Society offers shoppers hand-made, imported crafts including plenty of Christmas themed decorations such as nutcrackers and ornaments. It is a festival atmosphere with traditional German Christmas music, tables full of handcrafted items direct from the Erzgebirge region of Germany, a visit by both our historic American Santa Claus and the traditional German Sankt Nikolas with gifts for the children, a hospitality serving of Glühwein (hot spiced wine), coffee, apple cider/juice and gingerbread cookies and plenty of German style baked goodies for purchase.
2ND Street District’s 4th Annual “Deck the District” – Saturday, December 6
The 2SD Holiday Window Walk is an annual competition open to local theatrical design students, where 2SD businesses let their storefront windows become the students’ canvases for an opportunity to win collegiate scholarships. On Saturday, December 6, the winning window design, chosen from a theme of lyrics from holiday songs and Christmas carols and lines from classic holiday stories and films, will be announced during the “Deck the District” event from 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., where window walkers can stroll the 2ND Street District, enjoy carolers and an appearance by the one and only Santa Claus, and take advantage of the in-store specials at 2ND Street District shops.
3rd Annual Santa’s Workshop – Saturday, December 6 – Sunday, December 21 (weekends); Monday, December 22 & Tuesday, December 23rd
Santa is coming from the North Pole to Millie & Mox from 11:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. on the weekends from Saturday, December 6 – Sunday, December 21 and on Monday December 22nd and Tuesday, December 23rd. Tickets are $10 per photo and sold at Millie & Mox. One photo per ticket, please. No outside cameras.
Breakfast with Santa – Saturday, December 6 & 13
Photos with Santa at Petco – Saturday, December 6 & 13
Spread holiday joy and help animals in need by participating in Petco’s annual Photos with Santa event, held two Saturdays in December from 1-4pm. Pose with or without your pet next to Santa and bring home at 4”x6” photo in a keepsake frame. The Petco Foundation will receive 100% of your $9.95 donation to benefit homeless pets. Contact your nearest Petco location for more information.
Trail of Lights – Sunday, December 7 – Sunday, December 21
Visit the North Pole at the Trail of Lights to share your holiday wish list with Santa at Santa’s House, pick up a free book from the H-E-B Read 3 Book Train and stop in Santa’s Workshop for a photo and a variety of interactive experiences. Entry to the Trail of Lights is free from Mondays to Thursdays; on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays tickets are $3 each online or at H-E-B stores. Parking passes and shuttle tickets are also available online.
Santa is Coming to Big Frog – Sunday, December 7
Santa is coming to Big Frog of South Austin from 1-4 p.m. to help celebrate the company’s 3rd Anniversary Party. Have your picture taken with Santa in-store and get your photo printed on a free white t-shirt while you enjoy free food and holiday music from a saxophone quartet.
Visit With Santa/Visita con Santa Claus – Tuesday, December 9
Bring your camera to the Southeast Branch of the Austin Public Library from 5:30-7:30 p.m. for a photo-op with Santa, and enjoy candy canes and holiday crafts. FREE. 5803 Nuckols Crossing Rd.
Come celebrate at the Little Walnut Creek Branch of the Austin Public Library at 3:30 p.m. with holiday stories, songs and crafts. Say hello and take a picture with Santa Claus. FREE. 835 Rundberg Ln.
Holiday Party/Fiesta de Navidad – Thursday, December 11
Head to the Cepeda Branch of the Austin Public Library from 6-7:30 p.m. for crafts, music, stories and snacks! Bring your cell phone to take a selfie with Santa. We will feature books and stories by special guest author Tim Tingle. FREE. 651 N. Pleasant Valley Rd.
The Austin Area Garden Center presents Santa In The Garden 2014 at the Zilker Botanical Garden. There will be yummy treats, Christmas storytelling, and crafts for all to enjoy. Be sure to bring your own camera and Christmas list for your visit with Santa. Mom and Dads can get their last minute shopping done in the Chrysalis gift shop which will be offering a 15% discount on the entire store.
Special appearance by Santa at the Pleasant Hill Branch of the Austin Public Library from 1-3 p.m. Music, snacks and children’s activities. Bring your cell phone for a selfie with Santa! FREE. 211 E. William Cannon Dr.
Santa Skate and Ugly Sweater Party – Sunday, December 14
Want to get in the Christmas spirit? Look no further! Head to Chaparral Ice from 1-4 p.m. for ice skating, Santa, and ugly sweaters! This event features FREE photos with Santa (bring your own camera), Christmas-themed skating exhibitions, a hot cocoa bar and festive treats from Spice Girls Kitchen (Ice Girls Cafe), and holiday tunes! Regular admission for ice skate rental applies.
Story Time with Santa at Northwest Recreation Center – Friday, December 19, 10:30 a.m. – noon
Wear your favorite pajamas and enjoy a snack of mils and cookies while listening to a winter classic. Don’t forget your camera to take pictures with Santa. This event is designed for walking toddlers to children 5 years of age. $2.50 per child.
The North Village librarians will be presenting a special seasonal story time, fun wintertime crafts, live music throughout the day (10:30 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.), snacks and beverages to fill and warm your tummy, and a sing-a-long screening of Frozen for the young and young at heart alike. Please feel free to attend in festive attire or costume. There may even be sightings of the Jolly Old Elf Himself, Santa Claus! FREE. 2505 Steck Ave.
Participants will make Christmas crafts, cooking making, caroling and take a picture with Santa Claus. Virginia L. Brown Recreation Center, 7500 Blessing Ave.
Santa Special at the Carver Museum & Cultural Center – Saturday, December 20, 1-3 p.m.
Come take pictures with Santa. Call (512) 974-4926 for reservations by Monday, December 15th at 6pm.
This event, which takes place from 2:30-4:30 p.m. at the Ruiz Branch of the Austin Public Library, will feature a visit from Santa Claus and a Ballet Folklorico dance performance. Light refreshments and a holiday themed craft will also be offered. FREE. 1600 Grove Blvd.
Kids can have breakfast with Santa at the Hyatt Lost Pines Resort & Spa from 9:00 a.m. until noon. After indulging in a wonderful breakfast spread, all will join Santa and Mrs. Claus for a meet-and-greet as well as photographs. While folks visit with jolly ole St. Nick, they can enjoy holiday-themed activities and arts and crafts, a jump house and more – including a holiday sing-a-long with the K.R. Wood Camp Cookie Duo. The cost is $32 for adults, $15 for ages 6-12 and complimentary for ages 5 and under. The event is open to guests as well as the general public; reservations are required (and can be made by calling 512-308-4860).
Santa Claus will be visiting Cabela’s from 11:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 6 and Sunday, December 7 in Santa’s Village. Have your picture taken with Santa for free and receive a free 4×6 Cabela’s keepsake frame! Free hot chocolate and cookies will also be served and there will be fun activities to keep everyone in line entertained. FREE.
Make an appointment to visit the big man in red at Lakeline Mall online here. Photo packages available for purchase.
Kidgits Club Holiday Celebration – Saturday, November 15
From 8:00 a.m. until 10:00 a.m., enjoy family-friendly holiday crafts and a special story read by Father Christmas at Lakeline Mall. After meeting everyone on the nice list, Santa will return to his throne in Winter Wonderland, where he will continue to pose for photos and listen to holiday wishes through Christmas Eve. Free for Kidgits Club members, only $5 to become a member.
Bring your furry friends to Lakeline Mall from 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. for their photos with Santa! Please keep all pets on leashes or in crates for everyone’s safety. Photo packages available for purchase.
The Parks & Recreation Department in Cedar Park hosts an annual coloring contest for kindergartners and first graders. The winner will flip the switch to light over 60,000 lights on the largest live oak tree at Heritage Oak Park. The tree lighting takes place from 6:30 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. Santa’s Workshop will open immediately following the tree lighting ceremony. Enjoy live music, carriage rides, games & prizes, inflatables, photos with Santa (bring your own camera), and arts & crafts projects. Bring the whole family for what promises to be a festive evening. FREE.
Breakfast with Santa and Craft Fair – Saturday, December 6
Take FREE photos with Santa and enjoy a $1 pancake breakfast at Little Acorn Academy. Stroll through the craft booths for candles, jewelry, Christmas decors and so much more from our local vendors!
Children with special needs and their families are invited to a special photo session with Caring Santa from 9:30-11:30 a.m. in an environment set up to support the sensory, physical and other development needs of kids with all abilities. Families are asked to use the Food Court entrance and take the escalators or elevator downstairs to the Santa Set. RSVP online.
Get a photo with Santa for a donation to Without Regrets, a charity which provides gravely ill parents and their minor children with memorable family experiences. Bring your own camera and take as many shots as you want. This event takes place at The Barber Shop in Dripping Springs from 2:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m.
Visit Santa at Wolf Ranch Town Center – Saturday, November 29; Saturday, December 6, 20; Sunday, December 7, 14, 21
Wolf Ranch Town Center will be partnering with Operation Brown Santa and will have Santa available to the public on December 6th (11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.), 7th (1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.), 14th (1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.), 20th (11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.) and 21st (1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.). Wolf Ranch will also have a special event to welcome Santa on November 29th from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. near the fireplace.
Help support the Hays County Food Bank this holiday season by donating any non-perishable food item and take a picture with Santa at Kyle United Methodist Church from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m.! Bring your own camera or access your photo through the church’s Flickr account. Enjoy free hot cocoa and Christmas treats.
Santa at Cross Plants and Produce – Saturdays, November 29, December 6, and December 13
JoinCross Plants and Produce for one or all of their three Christmas Market Winter Fests, on Saturdays, November 29, December 6, and December 13 from 2 to 8 p.m. Enjoy an old fashioned Christmas with hot cocoa, carolers, ornament crafts, face painting, snacks, shopping, photo areas (FREE and mini-photo sessions). The Christmas spirit will fill the air when Santa arrives to meet children from 3 to 4 p.m. and your family finds the perfect Christmas tree for your home! Photos with Santa are FREE.
Downtown Holiday Lighting & Santa’s Arrival – November 21
At 6:00 p.m. in the Main Plaza of downtown New Braunfels, celebrate the spirit of the season with the lighting of the tree and a visit with Santa. FREE.
Painting with Santa – November 22 & December 5
From 10:30 a.m. until noon on November 22nd and 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. on December 5th, paint your handprint on a plate with the jolly man and Mrs. Claus at Clay Casa. Take your photos with Santa while you are there. $30 per person. Call (830) 629-5475 to reserve your spot.
The Hendrickson High School senior class is hosting a Breakfast with Santa and Holiday Craft Extravaganza to raise funds for their Senior Celebration. From 8:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m., kids can enjoy a pancake breakfast, pictures with Santa and crafts in the Hendrickson High School Cafeteria. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door. Admission to the Holiday Craft Extravaganza is free, and kids can enjoy games and activities at the Kid’s Corner.
Breakfast with Santa – Saturday, December 6 & 13
Christmas Parade and Pfestival of Lights – Saturday, December 13
Meet and Take Photos with Santa – Friday, November 21 – Wednesday, December 24 (Closed on Thanksgiving Day)
Santa is located inside the Food Court at the Round Rock Premium Outlets. Photos available for purchase.
The City of Round Rock rings in the season with the annual Christmas Family Night celebration on Friday, Dec. 5, starting at 6:30 p.m. on Main Street in historic downtown.
The event kicks off with a welcome from Round Rock Mayor Alan McGraw, followed by the illumination of the street and water tower with holiday lights. Then Santa makes his grand entrance. This free event includes activities for the entire family including live music, dancers, candle making, carriage rides, game booths, Frosty the Snowman, Santa Claus and more. Children should bring their “wish lists” for Santa Claus (pictures are a nominal fee) and parents are encouraged to bring their own cameras for pictures with Santa. Plus, enjoy free hot dogs, popcorn, hot chocolate, and other refreshments, activities and snacks. The Round Rock Public Library hosts a puppet show and has Christmas ornament crafts, letters to Santa and a craft sale. FREE.
Gather the kids, grab the camera and head on down to Kaleidoscope Toys to meet Santa Claus. He will be hearing the little ones’ wishes and taking pictures. This event takes place from 11:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. and reservations are required. To make a reservation online, click here. Admission is one non-perishable food item per person for the Round Rock Serving Center. Donations will also be accepted.
Caring Santa – Sunday, December 7
Caring Santa is a FREE private photo event for special needs children and their families at the Round Rock Premium Outlets. Santa is located inside the Food Court. RSVP here.
From 6:30 – 7:30 p.m., Mrs. Claus arrives to spend an evening at Kaleidoscope Toys to read some of your favorite Christmas stories. The North Pole Bakery has also sent along some treats to share. Don’t forget your camera to capture this special event! Reserve the total number of children and adults attending through Eventbrite. Admission is one non-perishable food item per person for the Round Rock Serving Center. Donations will also be accepted.
Breakfast with Santa – Saturday, December 13
Gattis Elementary School hosts a Breakfast with Santa on Saturday, December 13th from 8:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. Enjoy seeing Santa, crafts, activities, a silent auction, breakfast tacos, donuts, coffee, milk, juice and more. Tickets can be purchased online.
Breakfast with Santa – Saturday, December 13
Children are invited to have breakfast with Santa from 9:00 a.m. until 10:00 a.m. at the Round Rock Premium Outlets and create cards for kids spending the holidays in the hospital. Santa is located inside the Food Court. Photo packages available for purchase. Sponsored by Seton Medical Center Williamson. RSVP here. FREE.
Pet Photos with Santa – Sunday, December 14
Make it a family affair with Fido during the Premium Outlets’ pet photo night. Fluffy is sure to appreciate our real bearded Santa. Santa is located inside the Food Court. Photo packages available for purchase.
A recovering workaholic, Nicole Basham now spends her time rediscovering Austin through her 8-year-old son’s eyes. A soccer-playing mom, Nicole also enjoys tickling too close to bedtime, taking in some live music and being silly. You can also find her writing at LiveMom, Savvy Source for Parents and CultureMap.