What’s Up? Weekly: December 18-22, 2017

Looking for things to do in Austin this week? What’s Up Weekly highlights some of the exciting Austin events featured on our Free Fun Calendar! Have an event to add to the calendar? Submit it here.

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.

Thanks to this week’s sponsor, Heartsong Music. Heartsong Music is having an Open House and offering FREE demo classes December 11-21, 2017. This is a chance for families to experience Music Together® and learn more about this local business that has been serving families in Austin for over 12 years. Get the remaining schedule and find out more here


Happening All Week

Austin Trail of Lights
Mon-Fri, Dec. 18-22 | from 7 to 10 p.m. | Zilker Park, 2400 Barton Springs Rd
FREE on Monday and Tuesday. The rest of the week, general admission is $3 for guests age 12 and up. ZiP Passes are also available to purchase, which include early entry time and additional amenities. Tickets available here (click the date you want to purchase). Children 11 and under are FREE every night!

Mozart’s Christmas Light Show
Mon-Fri, Dec. 18-22 | from 6 to 10 p.m. | Mozart’s Coffee Roasters, 3825 Lake Austin Blvd
Thousands of dazzling lights have been sculpted into giant iconic objects, custom-made in Greece, that evoke Austin’s culture and the Christmas season, including a dozen guitars, the State Capitol, and a tree filled with presents, plus, an audio-activated wall of lights. Thousands of other lights will be imaginatively strung in the trees, facades, and rooflines. All will be placed around Mozart’s lakeside deck. For refreshment, Mozart’s acclaimed coffee and hot chocolate can be purchased inside the coffee house and at kiosks outdoors. Special holiday goodies from Mozart’s bakery will also be available. High Points of the Show/Timing: The exhilarating high points of the show, super light-ups and live choral singing, will be spaced throughout the entire evening. Families can relax and arrive at any time to get their over-the-top dose of Christmas magic. Show is FREE!

Santa’s Wonderland at Bass Pro Shop (Round Rock)
Mon-Fri, Dec. 18-22 | from 5 to 8 p.m. | Bass Pro Shop, 200 Bass Pro Drive, Round Rock
Get a FREE photo with Santa (additional photos available to purchase), photo frame, crafts, activities and more! FREE!

Blue Genie Art Bazaar 2017
Mon-Fri, Dec. 18-22 | 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 & 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)
Wed-Fri, Dec. 20-22 | from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. | 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!


Storytime with Mrs. Claus
Monday, Dec. 18 | at 10 a.m. | The The Arboretum at Great Hills, 10000 Research Blvd
Welcome Mrs. Claus from the North Pole to The Arboretum for a morning kid-friendly storytime near the fireplace! FREE!

Bow Wow Readers (Cedar Park)
Monday, Dec. 18 | at 4:30 p.m. | Cedar Park Public Library, 550 Discovery Blvd, Cedar Park
Kids in grades K-3 are invited to read to a certified Bow Wow Reading Dog. Practice your reading skills with Tex and read to him for 10-15 minutes. Registration starts at 3:30 p.m. on the day of the program. FREE!

Hit ‘next’ for more Austin events!


Whole Foods Kids Club
Tuesday, Dec. 19 | at 9:30 a.m. | Whole Foods Domain, 11920 Domain Dr
Kids ages 2-5 will enjoy snacks and a special storytime. Parental supervision is requested. FREE!

Free Admission to Laguna Gloria
Tuesday, Dec. 19 | from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. | The Contemporary Austin, Laguna Gloria, 3809 W 35th St
Visit this gorgeous historic estate and its art collection, part of The Contemporary Austin. Learn more about the site’s history and legacy here. Today, you can enjoy the museum and grounds for FREE!

Armstrong Community Music School Storytime
Tuesday, Dec. 19 | at 10:30 a.m. | Book People, 603 N Lamar Blvd
Welcome the wonderful Armstrong Community Music School to storytime! One of their talented Early Childhood Development faculty members will engage your young reader with music and movement. Plus, they’ll share some of their favorite stories! This is perfect for kids up to 6 years old– don’t miss it. FREE!

Carriage Rides at The Arboretum
Tuesday, December 19 | from 5 to 9 p.m. | The Arboretum at Great Hills, 10000 Research Blvd
Enjoy a FREE carriage ride around The Arboretum and take in the holiday sights and sounds! Rides will be available every Tuesday and Thursday in December from 5 to 9 p.m. Rides start near Amy’s Ice Creams and last around 10 minutes.

Movie Night at the Trail of Lights RESCHEDULED to Dec. 23
Tuesday, December 19 | at 7 p.m. | 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., 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.

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Winter Break Kick-Off Party
Wednesday, Dec. 20 | at 9 a.m. | TownLake YMCA, 1100 W Cesar Chavez St
Ho-ho-HOORAY! The TownLake Winter Break Kickoff is coming! Enjoy photos with Santa, a craft table for making holiday cards, cocoa with your Y staff, artwork and gifts for sale from YMCA member artisans. Come and invite your friends! It’ll be a great way to entertain kids on their first day off from school! FREE!

Kids Club
Wednesday, Dec. 20 | at 9:30 a.m. | Whole Foods, 525 N Lamar Blvd
Kids of all ages will enjoy snacks, storytime, crafts, and more. Parental supervision is requested. FREE!

How the Grinch Stole Storytime!
Wednesday, Dec. 20 | at 10:30 a.m. | Book People, 603 N Lamar Blvd
It’s almost Christmas – get excited for hot chocolate, presents, and warm fuzzy socks! But WAIT— we spy a Grinch ‘round the corner, looking to stir up some trouble. Come to storytime and help save Christmas!  FREE!

Family Movie: A Muppet Christmas Carol
Wednesday, Dec. 20 at 10:30 a.m. | APL – Twin Oaks Branch, 1800 S. 5th St.
The classic Christmas tale by Charles Dickens gets a slightly skewed and humorous treatment when it is retold by the Muppets. FREE!

Community Night at The Thinkery
Wednesday, Dec. 20 | from 4 to 8 p.m. | The Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave
Make and do together at Community Night. Every Wednesday, The Thinkery stays open late for families to discover new ideas and learn together. Enjoy the exhibits and educational programs facilitated by staff. Cost: Admission is by donation only, with a suggested $1 donation.

Throwback Movie Night: The Nightmare Before Christmas
Wednesday, Dec. 20 | at 6:30 p.m.| APL – Pleasant Hill Branch, 211 E. William Cannon Dr.
Join the library for a movie night! FREE!

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Third Thursday at The Blanton
Thursday, Dec. 21 | from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. | Blanton Museum of Art, 200 E Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Austin
There will be an eclectic mix of art-fueled activities for December’s Third Thursday. Come for a day filled with fun events — from live music to tours.  Admission is FREE all day!

¡Hola, Hola! Spanish Camp
Thursday, Dec. 21 | at 10:30 a.m. | Westbank Library, 1309 Westbank Dr
¡Hola, Hola! Spanish Camp for All Ages is designed to empower parents to read simple Spanish books at home and foster a love of Spanish language and Hispanic culture through singing, traditional circle games, rhythm instruments, puppets, and stories. You do not need to have any Spanish language skills to participate. All skill levels are welcome. Arrive early or stay after class to enjoy the beautiful playground and picnic area just outside the door and make new amigos. FREE!

Free Noon Concert
Thursday, Dec. 21 | at noon | Central Presbyterian Church, 200 E 8th St
Take a 30-minute lunchtime break to hear live music. This week: Pinnacle Brass! FREE!

Christmas in the Community with the Austin Symphony Orchestra (Cedar Park)
Thursday, Dec. 21 | at 1:30 p.m. | Macy’s at Lakeline Mall,11200 Lakeline Mall Dr, Cedar Park
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 all month long at various locations around town!

Carriage Rides at The Arboretum
Thursday, Dec. 21 | from 5 to 9 p.m. | The Arboretum at Great Hills, 10000 Research Blvd
Enjoy a FREE carriage ride around The Arboretum and take in the holiday sights and sounds! Rides will be available every Tuesday and Thursday in December from 5-9pm. Rides start near Amy’s Ice Creams and last around 10 minutes.

Windsor Park Night Crafters
Thursday, Dec. 21 | at 6:30 p.m. | APL – Windsor Park Branch, 5833 Westminster Dr
Manipulate and experiment with color, shapes, and text in a hybrid collage-mosaic that you can rearrange daily! All materials will be provided. FREE!

Reading the Stars: A Family Astronomy Event
Thursday, Dec. 21 | at 6:30 p.m. | APL – Hampton Branch, 5125 Convict Hill Rd
Join the Hampton Branch at Oak Hill for an evening of astronomy on the longest night of the year! Starting at 6:30 p.m., come experience the solar system in the Austin Nature and Science Center’s Mobil Planetarium, listen to a stellar storytime (and get your book signed) and make cosmic crafts with local author Amy Jackson and her book Cassandra and the Night Sky. Then, step outside and join the Austin Astronomical Society for an awesome glimpse of the universe through several different types of telescopes. Lay out your blankets on the library lawn, drink hot chocolate, eat celestial cookies, learn the constellations of the Texas winter sky and try your hand at the Galileoscopes to see how the first astronomers saw the night sky! FREE!

Hit ‘next’ for more Austin events!


Storytime with Santa ($2)
Friday, December 22 | at 10:30 a.m. | Northwest Rec Center, 2913 Northland Dr
It’s that time of year again! Put on your favorite holiday pajamas and come visit Santa and Mrs. Claus at the Northwest Recreation Center for a special reading of The Polar Express. There will be a hot cocoa bar, cookie decorating station, and a chance to send your Christmas list to the North Pole! Admission is $2.00 per child. Don’t forget your cameras to get a picture with Santa!

Cocoa with Santa
Friday, Dec. 22 | from 1 to 3 p.m. | Southeast Health and Wellness Center, 2901 Montopolis
Come to the Central Health Southeast Health and Wellness Center for free cookies, hot cocoa, apple cider, crafts, raffles, and photos with a bilingual (English/Spanish) Santa. For more information call 512.978.9807. FREE!

Friday Family Movies @ Ski Shores Cafe
Friday, December 22 | 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! The film will start at dusk and you can have FREE s’mores by the fire! What better way to celebrate the end of your work week than an evening by the lake with loved ones, movies, food and beverages? This week: Flubber. *Note: Ski Shores will be open on days when it is above 60 degrees and dry (closed otherwise).

Check out the Free Fun Calendar for even more ways to fill your week with fun Austin events.



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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