Weekend Top 10 FREE Events: December 1-3, 2017

We bring you a festive, fun, and FREE weekend ahead! Get in the spirit of the season with one the many holiday events to choose from, get your STEM on with a fun family event, teach your kids what people did for fun BEFORE electronics, learn how to keep your feline friends happy and safe, visit the Hello Kitty Cafe Truck as it makes a stop in Austin, and more! Plus, you have a chance to honor those that fight for our country at a monument unveiling at the Capitol. With perfect weather expected and so many incredible events to choose from, you won’t doubt that it’s the most wonderful time of the year in Austin! Don’t forget to check out our calendar for even more FREE fun!

Thank you to our sponsor, Austin’s 2nd St. District!  Don’t miss their Santa Lounge this Saturday, from noon to 5 p.m. Bring the kids for fun and photos with Santa! Click here for complete details.

Weekend Top 10 FREE Events: December 1-3, 2017

  1. Community First! Village of Lights and Outdoor Movie: It’s a Wonderful Life
    Friday, December 1 | from 5 to 9 p.m. | Community First! Village, 9301 Hog Eye Rd
    With more than 200,000 lights choreographed to holiday music, the Community First! Village of Lights is one of the biggest Christmas light displays in Central Texas! Be sure to include a stop at the Advent Market to shop for unique, handcrafted gifts made by formerly homeless craftsmen and artisans who live at the Village. Your purchase of gifts and concessions during the event helps Community First! neighbors earn a dignified income. The event is FREE! Choose your date and RSVP here. Donations are always accepted and appreciated.
  2. Breakfast with Santa at Dittmar Recreation Center
    December 2 | from 9 to 11 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!
  3. 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 the 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!
  4. 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!
  5. Austin Catio Tour
    Saturday, Dec. 2 | from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. | various locations in Austin
    Don’t miss this very Austin, one-of-a-kind event! Austin’s first ever Catio Tour will showcase a dozen outdoor cat enclosures! A cat patio or “Catio” lets frisky felines exercise, play out hunting instincts and snooze in the sun safely. They can’t kill birds, and cats are protected from dogs, cars, coyotes, and other outdoor hazards. Hosted by Travis Audubon, Austin’s premier wildlife conservation organization, the self-guided tour seeks to inspire cat owners to build or buy their own outdoor cat enclosure so their feline friends can enjoy safe outdoor time. The tour features backyard enclosures from DIY to designer.The screened spaces can be elaborate, freestanding structures outfitted with sunbathing perches, ramps and spiral staircases or a series of inexpensive wood and wire cubes. The goal of this unique event is to spread the word about the many benefits of catios, and to inspire cat guardians to build one of their own or have one built! By providing a safe and secure environment, catios protect birds and provide cat guardians with peace of mind. Admission is FREE, but if you would like to support this cause, they suggest a donation of $10 per person. You can register or donate here.
  6. 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. Admission is FREE, goods and treats available to purchase. Shoppers are encouraged to come early, as the first 50 attendees will receive complimentary drink tickets provided by ACL Live!
  7. 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. Come 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.
  8. 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 head out 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

Bonus Shopportunity:

  • 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. There will be 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? Now you can! Admission is FREE!
  • Blue Genie Art Bazaar 2017
    Friday-Sunday | 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.

Bonus Nearly FREE Fun:

  • 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 the 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.

Bonus FREE Fun Near Austin:

  • 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!
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • 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!
  • 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!

Love These Free Austin Events? You May Also Be Interested In:

Fan of the theater? We’re also giving away a pair of tickets to The King and I!

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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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