35+ FREE Don’t-Miss Austin Events This December

There’s no shortage of fun things to do in December. We’ve rounded up all the festivals, events, and more so you can start planning your month. Check out these FREE “Don’t Miss” events in and around Austin this December!

Blue Genie Art Bazaar 2017
Daily, ending December 24| from 10 a.m to 10 p.m. | Blue Genie Art Bazaar, 6100 Airport Blvd.
The Blue Genie Art Bazaar is a fixture of the Austin holiday shopping season, open every year from Black Friday to Christmas Eve. The Bazaar features unique work from over 200 local and regional artists – with a portion of proceeds going to Make-A-Wish®. Parking and admission are always FREE of charge.

5th Annual Holiday Model Train Show (Round Rock)
Wednesdays through Sundays in December | hours vary  | ArtSpace, 231 E Main St, Round Rock
Visit a dynamic train display replete with a Harry Potter scene, a 1950s city with a trolley weaving through its downtown that is filled with vintage cars, a farm, amusement park, mountain range where Boy Scouts are on an outing, an old train depot, and even a water tower, just like Round Rock! For a donation to the Tinplate Trackers, you can be a “junior engineer” and operate the train controls, many of which have different speeds and audio components (bells, engineer’s commands, etc). Additionally, raffle tickets are available for purchase to enter to win a Thomas the Train set. To add an interactive component for children and families, they are also offering “ArtSpace Activity Booklets,” containing the ever popular scavenger hunt. FREE!

Santa’s Wonderland at Bass Pro Shops (Round Rock)
December 1 – December 24 | hours vary | Bass Pro Shops, 200 Bass Pro Drive, Round Rock
Get a FREE photo with Santa (additional photos available to purchase), photo frame, crafts, activities and more! FREE!

Ice Skating on the Rooftop Plaza ($10)
Daily in December | 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. | Whole Foods Lamar, 525 N Lamar Blvd.
A must-do Austin holiday tradition, Ice Skating on the Plaza returns to Whole Foods Market’s flagship store in downtown Austin. The ice rink draws more than 16,000 attendees each year to Whole Foods Market Lamar’s rooftop plaza. Hot chocolate, coffee, beer, and snacks will be available for purchase.

Friday Family Movies @ Ski Shores Cafe
Fridays in December | at 5:30 p.m. | Ski Shores Cafe, 2905 Pearce Rd
Bring the clan and head over to Ski Shores Cafe for Friday Family Movie nights! We’ll start films at dusk and have FREE s’mores by the fire for kids. What better way to celebrate the end of your work week than an evening by the lake with loved ones, movies, food and beverages? 12/1: How To Train Your Dragon
12/8: Mighty Ducks 3, 12/15: Cats and Dogs, 12/22: Flubber, 12/29: RV. *Note: Ski Shores will be open on days when it is above 60 degrees and dry (closed otherwise).

Holiday Family Movie Nights
Fridays in December | at 6:30 p.m. | The Arboretum at Great Hills, 10000 Research Blvd
Enjoy a holiday movie night under the stars at The Arboretum. For three Friday nights in December, bring your blankets and pillows and grab some ice cream from Amy’s Ice Creams and catch a movie by the fireplace! Movie starts at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 1: Frozen; Dec. 8: Elf; Dec. 15: The Polar Express. FREE!

People of Color Christmas
December 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, and 16 | at 8 p.m. | Locations vary
The City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department, Museums and Cultural Programs Division is proud to present People of Color Christmas, an original, comedic, contemporary Austin Holiday play written by award-winning Vietnamese American playwright Christine Hoang, Color Arc Productions. Set at an annual white elephant gift exchange party, POC Christmas is a comedy that universal audiences will find fun, hilarious, and engaging. Through catchy a cappella tunes and tacky Christmas sweaters, discover the heartfelt stories these friends reveal and the white elephant re-gifts they will steal. Reserve your FREE ticket here!

First Friday Block Party @ in.gredients
Friday, December 1 | from 6 to 9 p.m. | in.gredients, 2610 Manor Rd
It’s going to be a hoot and a hoof (or eight) at the in.gredients December First Friday Block Party. We have an awesome musical lineup with crowd favorites Batty Jr. and local legend Ethan Azarian keepin’ it lively all night. Plus, Dear Run Longhorn is bringing two friendly heifers to join the fun – come pet a longhorn! FREE!

Holiday Tree Lighting and Santa’s Workshop (Cedar Park)
Friday, December 1 | from 6:30 to 9 p.m. | Heritage Oak Park, 875 Quest Parkway, Cedar Park
The Tree Lighting and Santa’s Workshop will feature live music, carriage rides, games and prizes, inflatables, photos with Santa (bring your own camera), and arts & crafts projects. Admission is FREE!

Christmas Family Night 2017 (Round Rock)
Friday, December 1 | at 6:30 p.m. | Downtown Main St., Round Rock
During Christmas Family Night, Main Street is decorated with small wooden houses which host various games and activities. The event kicks off with a welcome from Mayor Craig Morgan, followed by the illumination of the all NEW Hometown Holiday lights. Then Santa makes his grand entrance! This FREE event includes activities for the entire family including live music, dancers, candle making, game booths, Frosty the Snowman, Santa Claus and more. Children should bring their “wish lists” for Santa Claus 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.

Christmas Stroll (Georgetown)
Friday, December 1 from 5 to 9 p.m. and Saturday, December 2 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. | Downtown Georgetown (map)
Visit a Bethlehem village, enjoy live entertainment, have cookies with the Grinch and watch an outdoor movie, get a photo with Santa, do some holiday shopping, and more! FREE!

Christmas in the Community with Austin Symphony Orchestra
December 2 – 23 | times vary | various Austin locations
The Austin Symphony is once again bringing FREE music to all Austinites this holiday season. “Christmas in the Community” is a series of concerts held throughout the city of Austin featuring different ensembles of the orchestra playing familiar holiday music. The program kicks off on December 2 at the Macy’s at Barton Creek Mall and concludes December 23 with big band music by members of the orchestra at Symphony Square. All dates, times, and locations are listed here.

Old Town Christmas Festival (Leander)
December 2 | from noon to 8 p.m. | 100 N. Brushy Street, Leander
Old Town Leander comes alive to spread Christmas joy throughout the community. This event includes the Leander in Lights Parade, an ice skating rink, activities for the kids, pictures with Santa, local school performances and entertainment, food court, local vendors, and more. Admission is FREE!

Breakfast with Santa at Dittmar Recreation Center
December 2 | from 9 to11 a.m. |  Dittmar Recreation Center, 1009 W. Dittmar Rd, Austin
Come for a light breakfast, sing-a-long songs, crafts, and of course bring your camera for pictures with Santa! FREE!

Central Texas Teen Comic Con & Kids’ Con (Round Rock)
Saturday, Dec. 2 | from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. | Round Rock High School, 201 Deep Wood Drive, Round Rock
This is a graphic novel and comic convention aimed at offering teens, kids, and educators the chance to interact with popular authors and illustrators, participate in workshops, and showcase their creativity. Reserve your FREE ticket here.

DeSTEMber Fest
Saturday, Dec. 2 | from 9:30 a.m. to noon | Girlstart STEM Center, 1400 W Anderson Ln
Join Girlstart for a frosty DeSTEMber Fest Extravaganza at the Girlstart STEM Center! Enjoy star shows in our mini planetarium, design avalanche rescue equipment to attach to a robot, and make a solar oven to roast your own s’mores at home. The whole family will discover the science behind this magical time of year with marshmallow slingshots, reindeer antlers, fluffy snow and more hands-on fun! Come and go anytime between 9:30 a.m. to noon. Reserve your FREE spot here!

The Price of Liberty Monument Unveiling and Dedication Ceremony
Saturday, Dec. 2 | at 10 a.m. | Texas State Capitol, East Lawn, 12th & San Jacinto
The Dedication and unveiling of the “Price of Liberty” Monument to honor all Texas Global War on Terror service members, Veterans, and their Families is at the Capitol, 12th Street and San Jacinto, in Austin, TX. After the dedication, there will be an opportunity to see the Texas Wall of Remembrance and tour the Capitol. Gold Star Families, Wounded Warriors, service members, Veterans, families (including children), and the public are welcome. FREE!

Santa in the Garden ($2)
Saturday, Dec. 2 | from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. | Zilker Botanical Garden, 2220 Barton Springs Rd
Come to the Austin Area Garden Center for Santa in the Garden 2017. Skip the lines at the mall and bring the family to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus. Event is FREE with normal Botanical Garden admission ($3.00 per non-resident; Austin residents are $2.00 per adult, children (ages 3-12) and seniors ages 62 and older are $1.00)! Enjoy shopping in our Chrysalis Gift Shop and enjoy 20% off the entire store during the event. Bring your own camera to capture this special event! Tasty treats and fun crafts.

Hello Kitty Cafe Truck Comes to Austin
Saturday, Dec. 2 | from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. | Barton Creek Square, 2901 S Capital of TX Hwy
Hello Austin! The Hello Kitty Cafe Truck is returning to Barton Creek Square! Come say hello by Men’s Wearhouse between 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and purchase some super cute treats, while supplies last!

German Christmas Market
Saturday, December 2 | from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. | German Free School of Austin, 507 E 10th St, Austin
Come for the food and entertainment, stay for a unique shopping experience. We will have authentic German, handcrafted Christmas ornaments, nutcrackers, Schwiebogen, smokers, and decor. Enjoy some Gluehwein (hot spiced wine), Christmas Stollen made by The New World Bakery. Ever heard a real Alpenhorn player play his Alpen Horn? It’s our first time too. Admission is FREE!

Santa Lounge at 3TEN ACL Live
December 2 | from noon to 5 p.m. | 3TEN ACL Live, 310 W Willie Nelson Blvd, Ste 1A
The 2nd Street District’s Santa Lounge will take over 3TEN ACL Live. Guests will have the opportunity to take home professional prints with Santa Claus for $5. In addition, kids can enjoy Toy Joy’s “Kid Zone” with baked goods provided by downtown’s go-to gluten-free candy spot, Yummi Joy, with more baked delicacies and coffee by Jo’s Coffee Downtown. Included at the event will be a range of pop-up shops from the District offering holiday specials, including Saint Bernards, League of Rebels, Sikara Jewelry, Rocket Electrics, and Eliza Page. Shoppers are encouraged to come early, as the FIRST 50 ATTENDEES WILL RECEIVE DRINK TICKETS provided by ACL Live.

Holiday in the Park and Craft Fair  (Round Rock)
December 2 | from noon to 3 p.m. | Cat Hollow Park, 8600 O’Connor Dr., Round Rock
Come enjoy a FREE fun-filled Family Holiday Festival and Craft Fair.  There will be tons of fun and activities for all ages.

Snow Day (Bastrop)
December 2 | from 1 to 7 p.m. | Fisherman’s Park, 1200 Willow St., Bastrop
Come for the snow slide and stay to watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas! FREE!

2017 LT Lighted Water Parade
December 2 | at 6 p.m. | Crosswater Yacht Club, 1505 Hurst Creek Rd., Austin
Parade viewing is FREE but you can bring an unwrapped toy to donate to the Travis County Sheriff’s Brown Santa Program inside the marine center.

Pfestival of Lights and Christmas Parade (Pflugerville)
December 2 | from 5 to 8 p.m. | Railroad Avenue and Main Street, Downtown Pflugerville
There will be the tree lighting, photos with Santa, concerts, cookies and cocoa, and more! FREE!

Holiday Sing-Along & Downtown Stroll
December 2 | from 5 to 9 p.m. | Congress Ave., from 9th – 11th, Downtown Austin
The annual Holiday Sing-Along & Downtown Stroll is a FREE, family-friendly event that celebrates the arrival of the holiday season and the joy it brings. Come early for live music, shopping at a special nighttime holiday market, brought to you by the Sustainable Food Center, and photos with Santa at the Vannagram & Co. Photobooth starting at 5 p.m. The fun starts with live music on two stages on Congress Avenue followed by a Sing-along at 6 p.m. on the south steps of the Capitol featuring songs of the season with KUTX 98.9 music hosts John Aielli and Elizabeth McQueen. As the clock strikes 7 p.m., the countdown to the lighting of the Capitol tree begins, featuring a programmed light show at the top and bottom of every hour, set to holiday songs of local Austin musicians. From 5 to 9 p.m. Congress Avenue will be abuzz with holiday cheer during the Downtown Stroll. Join us to hear live music and enjoy fun family-friendly activities! Shops, restaurants, galleries, and museums will also be open late and will feature special activities and offers.

Sparkle & Song Party: Winter Wonderland
Sunday, December 3 | at noon | Barrel O’ Fun, 1911 Aldrich St, Ste 120
Get crafty and a little sparkly at our monthly Sparkle & Song Party just in time for the holidays! We’ll dance to some movie musical favorites, create some bright and shiny crafts and let ourselves glow. It’s fun for all ages and FREE to attend!

H-E-B Free First Sunday
Sunday, December 3 | from noon to 5 p.m. | Bullock Texas State History Museum, 1800 Congress Ave, Austin
Enjoy FREE exhibition admission all day during H-E-B Free First Sundays, held the first Sunday of every month. Button up your coat, slip on your mittens, and join us for some frosted festivities. Stay snug as you create, play and learn all about winter wonders. Families can explore the Story of Texas through three floors of exhibitions that showcase artifacts from around the state.

Sunday Funday: A Historic Holiday: Pomanders, Putz Houses, and Historic Board Games
Sunday, December 3 from 1 to 4 p.m. | Neill-Cochran House Museum, 2310 San Gabriel St, Austin
Turn off all your screens (except the one you’re reading this on)! Look to the past and discover that fun activities can also be productive activities! Pomanders, while decorative, were also useful in repelling insects, freshening rooms and clothing, and preventing mold and mildew. Christmas putz played an important part in families’ holiday celebrations (sometimes even surpassing the Christmas tree in popularity) and could be saved and reused for several years. But not everything had to be productive! The history of game play pre-dates the Neill-Cochran House by thousands of years. Did you know that hopscotch dates to 500 BC, knucklebones (aka jacks) might be much, much older, early variants of chess appeared beginning in 400 AD, and that the game we know as Monopoly was actually copied from the Landlord’s Game, a game meant to teach about the perils of allowing wealth and land ownership to be concentrated in the hands of a small part of the population? Learn more at this month’s History Lab! Entry to the museum is FREE for all visitors to Sunday Fundays and includes access to the exhibits on display in the historic house, annex, and grounds. Parking is available free of charge behind the museum.

Westlake Wonderfest
Sunday, Dec. 3 | from 2 to 4 p.m. | Westlake High School, 4100 Westbank Dr
Wonderfest is an annual community Christmas event for families, with food and game booths, a visit from Santa on the fire truck, concerts, entertainment and more! Everything at Wonderfest is FREE for the community to enjoy.

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Gingerbread Village Open House
December 4 and 5 | from 5 to 6 p.m. | Four Seasons, 98 San Jacinto Blvd, Austin
A beloved tradition, the Open Houses invite locals and visitors to ooh and ahh over the Gingerbread Village in the Lobby, all while enjoying complimentary hot apple cider and festive cookies. The talented pastry chefs behind this year’s Monopoly-inspired Village – along with special guest, Santa – will also be on hand for photo opportunities and to answer questions about the houses. FREE!

Mueller Tower Lighting
Tuesday, December 5 | from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. | John Gaines Park, 2708 Sorin St., Austin
Come for one of Mueller’s most beloved traditions, the 12th Annual Tower Lighting! This FREE, family-friendly event will feature music from the Reagan High School Drumline and Boss Street Band, train rides, S’mores, hot chocolate, coffee and more! Event is FREE! In addition, food trucks will be on-site with food available to purchase during the event.

Krispy Kreme Family Night
Wednesday, December 6 | from 6-8 p.m. | Krispy Kreme Austin Locations
There will be doughnut decorating, arts and crafts, and it is FREE!

Starry Nights: Inuit Star Lore
Thursday, Dec. 7 | from 5:30 to 7 p.m. | Girlstart STEM Center, 1400 W Anderson Ln. Austin
Girlstart’s STEM Studio and Mini-Planetarium is a unique space for families to explore astronomy. Starry Nights are held the 1st Thursday of every month (except January, June, July, and August), with each month featuring a new astronomy experience and related hands-on activities. This month, you can engineer mini marshmallow igloo structures, make Inuit snow goggles, explore polar bear adaptations, and design and decorate your own unique snowflake! All ages are welcome to stop by any time between 5:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. RSVP is recommended but not required to attend. FREE!

Austin Trail of Lights
December 8-23 | from 7 to 10 p.m. |  Zilker Park, Austin
FREE from December 9-14, 18, and 19. From December 15 – 17 and 20 – 263, general admission is $3 for guests age 12 and up. Tickets available here (click the date you want to purchase). Children 11 and under are free every night! It all kicks off with the preview night on December 8. Those tickets can be purchased here.

Movie Moxie for Kids! Family Trivia Event
Saturday, Dec. 9 | from 3 to 5 p.m. | Barrel O’ Fun, 1911 Aldrich St, Ste 120, Austin
Bring the whole family and test your cinema knowledge. This trivia game designed by the folks at MOVIE MOXIE Game Show is a free, all-ages show for teams of 2-4.
First, teams will face a variety of motion picture questions. Then, members of the top-scoring teams will be invited onstage to participate in the Audio/Videodrome round! Fun will be had, new film facts will be learned, and there’ll be prizes for those who can prove their Movie Moxie™. FREE!

Georgetown Parks & Recreation Fishing Derby! (Georgetown) ($3)
Saturday, December 9 | at 10 a.m. | San Gabriel Park, 445 E Morrow St, Georgetown
Catch a fish and win a prize! This family-friendly derby is a fun way to enjoy the great outdoors. We stock San Gabriel Park with rainbow trout, so bundle up and enjoy some fishing! Registration begins at 7:00 a.m. Admission into the derby is $3. Spectators are invited to watch at no charge. Limit one pole per person, please. A fishing permit is required for participants aged 17 and older. Permits will not be sold at the park.

Breakfast with Santa at Gus Garcia Recreation Center
Saturday, December 9 | at 10 a.m. | Gus Garcia Recreation Center, 1201 E. Rundberg Ln., Austin
Free!

Second Saturdays are for Families: Gingerbread Villas
Saturday, December 9 | 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. | The Contemporary Austin at Laguna Gloria, 3809 W 35th St
Be the art-chitect of your very own candy home! We’re whipping up edible houses like you’ve never seen before, inspired by the architecture of the Driscoll Villa at Laguna Gloria. Recommended for ages 2–11. Reservations are requested for family art-making workshops; please reserve your spot here beginning the 1st of each month. FREE!

Christmas Dream and Snowy Things (Round Rock)
Sunday, Dec. 10 | from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. | Chasco Family YMCA, 1812 N Mays St., Round Rock
Real snow activities, giant slides, train rides, interactive holiday booths, Blue Santa donation station, live music, inflatables, rides, concessions, appearance by SANTA CLAUS! FREE!

UMLAUF Family Day
Sunday, Dec. 10 | from noon to 4 p.m. | UMLAUF Sculpture Garden and Museum, 605 Robert E. Lee Road, Austin
Monthly Family Days are designed for families and friends to explore and create. On the second Sunday of each month, we feature a line-up of activities including Sculpture Safaris, children’s art activities, family tours, yoga in the Garden, story time, music and dance performances. FREE!

Science Under the Stars: Ligers and Tigons and Pizzly Bears, Oh My!
Thursday, December 14 | from 6-8 p.m. | Brackenridge Field Laboratory, 2907 Lake Austin Blvd
There will be plant and animal displays, guided tours, kids activities, food and more! Science Under the Stars is a FREE public outreach lecture series. Hybrids between different species are more common than you may believe. Blending two species can create some really amazing animals and plants, but it also has consequences to their evolutionary fitness. Come out to Science Under the Stars this December to learn more from IB graduate student Andrius Dagilis about why hybrids are important to both biology and society!

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Heroes of the Galaxy Party
Saturday, December 16 | at noon | Barrel O’ Fun, 1911 Aldrich St, Ste 120
Join us for a celebration of our favorite heroes (and villians) from a galaxy far, far away. We’ll do themed crafts and activities, and welcome some special quests. Come in costume and we’ll practice our galaxy-saving skills. This family-friendly event is FREE!

Movie Night at the Trail of Lights
Saturday, December 19 | at 7 p.m. | Austin’s Trail of Lights, Zilker Park, 2400 Barton Springs Rd
Grab a bag of kettle corn, bring a blanket, and enjoy holiday movies under the stars and lights in Austin’s beloved Zilker Park! Prep & Landing – 7 p.m. and ELF – 8 p.m. This night’s general admission is FREE and open to the public, but you may also purchase ZIP Fast Passes or Platinum Passes for a premium Movie Night experience. Don’t forget to purchase limited nearby parking early or shuttle passes.

Kwanzaa Celebration of Ujamaa with Elizabeth Kahura
Friday, Dec. 29 | at 6:30 p.m. | George Washington Carver Museum, Cultural and Genealogy Center 1165 Angelina St
Attend a Kwanzaa Celebration of Ujamaa with Elizabeth Kahura. The Kwanzaa Principal of Ujamaa is Cooperative Economics. FREE!

Bring the Sing Karaoke
Saturday, Dec. 30 | at 1 p.m. | Barrel O’ Fun, 1911 Aldrich St, Ste 120
Calling all future Bellas and their embarrassing parents! Join us for a free all-ages karaoke party on the last Sunday of every month. You take over the Barrel O’ Fun for onstage karaoke with a full catalog of songs. There will be props to take it to the next level and onstage challenges for the very brave of heart. If you’ve dreamed of being in Pitch Perfect or killing it at the school talent show, this party is for you. Kids 13 and under must be accompanied by a parent but teens are welcome to come solo. FREE event!

Austin’s New Year
December 31 | time TBA   |   Auditorium Shores, 800 W Riverside Dr, Austin
This annual event takes place on Auditorium Shores on New Year’s Eve. The alcohol-free, family-friendly event celebrates the diversity and creativity of the city with visual art installations, festive performances, live music on three stages, and a fireworks finale. FREE!

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About the Author

Jaelyn Penner
Jaelyn was born and raised in Kansas, but she got to Texas as soon as she could! After a few years of youthful fun in Dallas, Jaelyn decided to make her passion her career and headed to west Texas to make it happen. There, she honed her musical chops while studying Commercial Music, and then headed straight for Austin to help keep it weird. Once here, she unexpectedly found her soul mate, and loves that her husband and two boys are now her biggest fans! Besides being a musician, Jaelyn also works as a corporate event planner, is a self-proclaimed “celebratory expert” and a long-time foodie. She doesn’t feel complete unless she is keeping up with all the cool stuff Austin has to offer.
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