Weekend Top 10 FREE Events (Dec 5-7, 2014)

  1. Candle Light Trail at Hancock Recreation Center – Friday, December 5 and Saturday, December 6, from 6-9:30 p.m. Grab your friends and family and join your neighbors to walk trails displaying thousands of luminaries on and around Hancock Recreation Center and Golf Course. Enjoy a radiantly lit Christmas tree, hot chocolate, holiday carols, and a visit from a special guest (hint… big guy with a white beard and he wears red!). FREE. Hancock Recreation Center, 811 E. 41st Street, Austin.
  2. Texas Memorial Museum’s Holiday Event – Saturday, December 6, from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Get into the holiday groove with FREE admission to the museum and 20% off all purchases in The Museum Store. Enjoy FREE kid-friendly seasonal activities hosted by science educators from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.(see the schedule here). Texas Memorial Museum, 2400 Trinity St, Austin.
  3. Breakfast with Santa at The Domain – Saturday, December 6, from 9 a.m. – noon. Enjoy a FREE breakfast of juice, fruit and muffins, entertainment from a juggling stilt walker, DJ Mixer Rogers, and Joe McDermott, plus character appearances, reindeer games, prize giveaways, letters to Santa, face painting, balloon twisting and more! FREE! No RSVP required. Domain IIanchored by Dillard’s and Dick’s Sporting Goods., Amy Donovan Plaza, Austin.
  4. Breakfast with Santa at Barton Creek Square – Saturday, December 6, from 9-10 a.m. Santa is back and he wants to meet you! There will be complimentary breakfast, goodie bags, and more! Please RSVP. Breakfast and goody bags will be provided on a first come, first serve basis regardless of RSVP status. If you have any questions, please call the Barton Creek Management Office at 512-327-7041. Barton Creek Square, 2901 S Capital of Texas Hwy, Austin.
  5. Snow Days – Saturday, December 6, from 12–4 p.m. (and again on Sunday, December 14 and Saturday, December 20). This annual event with real snow is extremely popular, so go prepared for a crowd. There will be live holiday music, holiday carolers, and more. Rain or shine. Please call Guest Services at 512-263-0001 for more information and directions. FREE! Hill Country Galleria, on the street between the Amphitheater and the Bee Cave Public Library, Hill Country Blvd., Bee Cave. 
  6. Annual Holiday Tree Lighting at The Triangle – Saturday, December 6, from 4-6 p.m. Enjoy performances by The Austin Carolers, Tarrytown Dance, the Reilly Elementary School Choir and the Lamar Middle School Jazz Band while you watch the holiday tree lighting at the Triangle. Train rides, balloon twisters, face painting, cookie decorating, photos with Santa and ornament decorating with also be available. Admission is FREE. Salsa under the Stars will follow the Tree Lighting Event, from 7-10 p.m. The Triangle between Lamar and Guadalupe at 46th Street, Austin.
  7. Holiday Sing-Along and Downtown Holiday Stroll – Saturday, December 6, from 6-9 p.m. The annual Holiday Sing-Along and Downtown Stroll is a FREE, family-friendly event that celebrates the arrival of the holiday season and the joy it brings. The evening starts at 6 p.m. when crowds gather on the south steps of the Capitol to sing the songs of the season during KUTX 98.9 “Eklektikos” host John Aielli’s Holiday Sing-Along. As the clock strikes 7 p.m., the countdown to the lighting of the Capitol Christmas tree begins, featuring a programmed light show at the top and bottom of every hour, set to holiday songs of local Austin musicians. From 7 to 9 p.m., Congress Ave. will be abuzz with holiday cheer during the Downtown Stroll. Shops, restaurants, galleries and museums will be open late and will feature special activities and offers. Additional Stroll activities include classic holiday cartoons, photos with Santa, live music, a special holiday Farmers’ Market with the Sustainable Food Center, and more. See the schedule here. Support fellow members of the community by bringing non-perishable food or cash donations to the Capitol Christmas tree for the Capital Area Food Bank. Texas State Capitol & Congress Avenue (parking info here), Austin.
  8. DeSTEMber at the Bullock Museum – Sunday, December 7, from 12-5 p.m. Enjoy FREE exhibit admission all day, with special STEM programming from 12-3 p.m. How do whales stay warm in the cold ocean? Where does snow come from? Explore the cool side of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math through hands-on activities and experiments presented by Girlstart, a nonprofit dedicated to empowering girls in STEM. All families with kids ages five and up can participate in these winter-related science stations, and families with kids six and under can attend a winter-themed story time at 2 p.m. Bullock Texas State History Museum, 1800 Congress Ave, Austin.
  9. African Children’s Choir with Sara Hickman – Sunday, December 7 at 6:30 p.m. The African Children’s Choir returns to Saint John’s for a concert celebrating the release of the group’s new CD collaboration with Austin musician Sara Hickman. The CD, “Love is a Journey”, will be released in December. The African Children’s Choir is composed of children ages 7 to 10. Many have lost one or both parents through the devastation of war, famine and disease. They represent all the children of the continent and demonstrate the potential of African children to become strong leaders for a better future in their land. Over the past 20 years, the children have appeared in thousands of concerts around the world. FREE, but a love offering will be collected. St. John’s United Methodist Church, 2140 Allandale Rd., Austin.
  10. Austin Trail of Lights – Sunday, December 7 – Sunday, December 21, from 7-10 p.m. The 50th anniversary of the Trail of Lights kicks off this Sunday with photo opportunities, visits with Santa, crafts for kids, free books from H-E-B and plenty of lights. The official grand opening ceremony for this 1.25-mile walk-through trail will be on December 7 at 6 p.m. and is FREE for guests of all ages (the gates will open at 7 p.m.). Beyond opening night, the Trail remains FREE Monday through Thursday evenings. Friday, Saturday and Sunday will require a weekend gate fee of $3 for individuals 12 and older. Be sure to check the Insider’s Guide for more information, including how to pay for parking in advance. Zilker Park (shuttle and parking info here), Austin.  
Bonus fun in the ‘burbs:
  1. Christmas Stroll (Georgetown) – Friday, December 5, from 5-9 p.m. and Saturday, December 6, from 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. Bring the family and walk through the many wonders of Whoo-Village, enjoy live entertainment, a special kids activity area, treats in the food court and browse more than 250 arts and crafts booths. Children will love the various FREE activities and rides and visiting with Santa. There’s even a parade on Saturday morning at 10 a.m. If you can’t visit during the stroll, stop by any evening to see the Downtown Square lit up for the season. FREE. Read about all the Stroll has to offer here. See the website for parking and street closure information. (Map of the Stroll)
  2. Main Street Bethlehem (Burnet) – Friday, December 5 – Sunday, December 7, from 6-9 p.m. (Also happening December 12-14.) Main Street Bethlehem is a unique, interactive, outdoor production that will immerse visitors to Burnet in small town Bethlehem life, as it was at the time of Jesus’ birth. Guests will also receive complimentary hot chocolate, coffee, and cookies at the exit. FREE but donations are accepted. Bethlehem will close if it is raining. First Baptist Church, 108 S Vanderveer St, Burnet.
  3. One Starry Night (Leander) – Friday, December 5, from 6-8 p.m. and Saturday, December 6, from 10 a.m. – noon. Check Facebook for showtimes. This is an exciting, multi-sensory event for children and their families that will take them back into time to the first Christmas. See Bethlehem for yourself and experience the miracle of Jesus birth. Kids interact with shepherds, townspeople, and others as they make Christmas related crafts and participate in other activities. FREE! Life Church, 1393 E Woodview Dr, Leander.
  4. Holiday Tree Lighting & Santa’s Workshop (Cedar Park) – Friday, December 5 from 6:30-9 p.m. On this magical night, join in the tradition of lighting the Heritage Oak tree. Over 60,000 lights illuminate the largest Live Oak Tree in Cedar Park. Santa’s Workshop will kick off 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! Heritage Oak Park, 875 Quest Pkwy, Cedar Park.
  5. Christmas Family Night (Round Rock) – Friday, December 5, from 6:30-9 p.m. Watch as Main Street gets illuminated and Santa arrives in his sleigh. 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. During Christmas Family Night, downtown is decorated with small wooden houses which host various games and activities. This FREE event offers activities for the whole family including live music, dancers, candle making, carriage rides, game booths, Frosty the Snowman, Santa Claus and more. Plus, Round Rock Public Library hosts a puppet show and has Christmas ornament crafts, letters to Santa and a craft sale. The event will happen rain or shine, unless there are severe showers at 6 p.m. See the website for parking information. Main St, Downtown Round Rock.
  6. Follow The Star (Cedar Park) – Friday, December 5 and Saturday, December 6, from 6:30-9 p.m. Follow The Star is a living outdoor pageant featuring ten elaborate scenes recounting the life of Jesus. Visitors are invited to stroll along a walkway or stay in their cars to drive through this spectacular musical and visual production. Admission is FREE, but please bring a donation of nonperishable food items to help those in need. Visit the Facebook page for weather updates. Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 700 W Whitestone Blvd, Cedar Park.
  7. Lighted Christmas Parade and A Dickens’ Christmas (Lockhart) – Friday, December 5 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, December 6, from 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. The annual Lighted Christmas Parade is a fantastic display of lights that travels around the Courthouse Square. For information about the parade, download the Parade Route or call the Lockhart Chamber at 512-398-2818. Following the parade on Friday night, and all day on Saturday, the holiday celebration continues with A Dickens’ Christmas in Lockhart. The Friends of the Dr. Eugene Clark Library host this festival located on S. Main in front of the Library and Market Street on the south side of the square. This unique community event features authentic Victorian decorations, choirs, jugglers, bagpipers, carriage rides, and the culmination on Saturday evening… the lighting of the Yule Log at 7 p.m. Once lit, the Lord High Mayor announces the proclamation that Christmas has come to light. Then, the library and the historic downtown are lit with thousands of lights. For a full schedule of activities and times click here. S. Main, Lockhart.
  8. Christmas on Mercer Street (Dripping Springs) – Saturday, December 6, from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. The public is invited to attend a day-long festival on Mercer Street, hosted by the City of Dripping Springs and the Dripping Springs Lions Club. Admission is FREE to the public for this fun-filled day the whole family will enjoy. The charming downtown setting of Mercer Street will be transformed into a winter wonderland, complete with lights, holiday decorations, festive music, fire pits for warmth and plenty of holiday cheer. Photos with Santa, train rides, pony rides and a variety of arts, crafts and specialty food and drink booths will be in full swing. The highlight of the evening will be the annual lighting of the Christmas Tree at the Triangle, located at Hwy. 290 and RR 12. At sunset, attendees are invited to gather for the illumination of the tree, showing off its twinkling lights, and joining in festive songs. This year features a special High Steppers performance, in addition to multiple choirs from local Dripping Springs churches and schools. Hot chocolate and coffee will be available for all to enjoy. Mercer Street, Downtown Dripping Springs.
  9. Budafest (Buda) – Saturday, December 6 and Sunday, December 7, from 10 a.m. to dusk. Budafest features over 125 craft vendors, antiques, a wide selection of locally prepared food, a parade at 10 a.m. Saturday, live music both days, and appearances by Santa and Mrs. Claus. FREE! City Park, 204 San Antonio St (map), Buda.
  10. Santa at Cross Plants and Produce (Kyle) – Saturday, December 6, from 2-8 p.m. (and again on Saturday, December 13). Join Cross Plants and Produce for one of their Christmas Market Winter Fests! Enjoy an old fashioned Christmas with hot cocoa, carolers, ornament crafts, face painting, snacks, shopping, and photo areas. 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! FREE. Cross Plants and Produce, 705 N. Old Highway 81, Kyle.
  11. Lighting of the River of Lights (Bastrop) – Saturday, December 6; activities starting at 3 p.m. The River of Lights features 120 lighted displays and music. The trail continues all the way down the Lower Colorado River to Ferry Park, about a half mile. Head over here for details on the lighting on the trail. FREE. Fisherman’s Park, 1200 Willow St, Bastrop.
  12. Tree Lighting and Christmas Parade (Leander) – Saturday, December 6 at 5 p.m. Pictures with Santa, Holiday Hayrides, Yule Fire, Choral Performances, Christmas Parade, and Tree Lighting. FREE.  City Hall, 200 West Willis St, Leander.
  13. Live Nativity (Elgin) – Saturday, December 6 at approximately 6:30 p.m. Performed by St. Peter’s Lutheran Church as party of Elgin’s Holiday by the Tracks celebration. Follows the Holiday Lighted Parade, which starts at dusk. FREE! Veterans Memorial Park, 109 Depot St, Elgin.
  14. Luminary (Pflugerville) – Saturday, December 6 and Saturday, December 7, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. FREE drive-through nativity. Check Facebook for weather updates. Immanuel Lutheran Church, 500 Immanuel Rd, Pflugerville.
Bonus shopportunities:

  1. Market Days (Wimberley) – Saturday, December 6 from 7 a.m. – 4 p.m. Wimberley hosts the oldest outdoor market in the Texas Hill Country and the second-largest in the state. The market features over 475 booths of everything you can’t live without. Stroll the tree-shaded paths, listen to live music, and shop to your heart’s content. FREE! 601 FM 2325 (directions), Wimberley.
  2. Market Days (Round Rock) – Saturday, December 6 from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Market Days features farmers market items, unique arts and crafts, jewelry, home decor, food vendors, and live music all day. FREE! Centennial Plaza, 301 W Bagdad, Round Rock.
  3. Violet Crown Arts Festival – Saturday, December 6 and Sunday, December 7, from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Expect to find unique artwork from talented sculptors, potters, fiber artists, painters, jewelers, glass artists, woodworkers and metal smiths. Shop for handmade gifts and great quality art, and support local cottage businesses. Live music and food vendors will also be onsite. FREE admission for the whole family! Brentwood Elementary School, 6700 Arroyo Seco, Austin.
  4. German Christmas Market – Saturday, December 6, from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. The German-Texan Heritage Society offers shoppers handmade, 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 the 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. All purchases are Sales Tax Free on this special day. FREE admission. German Free School, 507 E. 10th St, Austin.
  5. Blue Genie Art Bazaar – Daily through December 24, from 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. (Closes at 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve.) This four-week holiday shopping extravaganza returns for its 14th year. Featuring more than 200 Texas artists, the bazaar offers FREE admission and a hassle-free shopping environment. All items featured at the bazaar must be handmade and include paintings, photography, prints, sculptures, jewelry, clothing, glassworks and more. It is one of the best places to find unique gifts with a local touch. Marchesa Hall, 6226 Middle Fiskville Rd, Austin.
  6. Austin Flea – Saturday, December 6 and Sunday, December 7, from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. The Flea features all local handmade items and vintage wares from some of Austin’s most amazing and talented vendors. Find one-of-a-kind gifts for the holidays or any occasion including jewelry, glasswork, clothing, artwork, paper goods, textiles, and so much more. Family friendly and FREE! Opal Divine’s Penn Field, 3601 S Congress Ave, Austin.
  7. Art From the Streets Show & Sale – Saturday, December 6 and Sunday, December 7, from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. For the past 22 years, homeless or formerly homeless individuals from around Austin have found their way to free, twice-weekly open studio sessions hosted by Art From the Streets. In addition to providing a safe and supportive environment for creativity, Art From the Streets gives these artists the opportunity to sell their work. This year’s annual exhibition will feature more than 2,000 new pieces for sale, including paintings and drawings, photography, jewelry, and pottery. Admission is a $5 suggested donation at the door to help fund the program year-round. Austin Convention Center, 500 E Cesar Chavez St, Austin.
  8. South American Holiday Bazaar – Saturday, December 6 from 12-4 p.m. Buenos Aires Cafe is excited to host the South American Holiday Bazaar in coordination with Clayworks Studio, featuring South American art imports from Corocoro, imported Brazilian fashion from Lure, and authentic South American food from Buenos Aires Cafe, Patakon Columbian, and Llamas Peruvian Creole. A raffle for door prizes will benefit the Sustainable Food Center. Family-friendly and FREE! Clayworks Studio, 1209 E 6th St, Austin.
  9. The Gift Giver’s Social – Sunday, December 7 from 3-7 p.m. Enjoy an afternoon of holiday shopping with complimentary sips and eats. Find gifts just as unique as the loved ones you are gifting. Booths will be filled to the brim with both handmade and quality products alike–clothing, jewelry, home decor and much more. Silent auction proceeds benefit Verge Dance Company. FREE! Alisa’s Dance Academy, 3267 Bee Caves Rd, Austin.

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