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8 Christmas & Winter Activities in Austin You Can’t Miss

Austin, with its many lakes and water activities, may feel like a summer city, but you’ll find it easy to stay entertained even in the wintertime. The city’s temperate weather and tons of fun activities make it easy to find things to do all year-round. Austin’s average temperatures in the winter are in the mid 50s and 60s.

While you can still enjoy your favorite warm-weather activities like hiking and biking, embrace the Christmas spirit in Austin and indulge in a holiday cocktail, see Christmas lights, or go ice skating! Here are 10 winter activities and things to do for Christmas in Austin.

Journey Along the Trail of Lights

It wouldn’t be Christmas in Austin without a visit to Austin’s Trail of Lights, an incredible drive-thru Christmas lights display of over 2 million twinkling lights, holiday trees, sparkling tunnels, and various Christmas displays. Pack the whole family into the car and listen to holiday tunes as you drive under the incredible light displays at Zilker Park. You can also experience the magic on foot.

Tune into local station 87.9 to hear holiday music as well as highlights of the event, which is now celebrating its 57th year. You don’t want to miss this Austin Christmas tradition and the best Christmas lights display in the city!

For a great bite to eat before or after the drive, head over to nearby Barton Spring Road to eat at The Picnic, the area’s biggest food truck park!

Go Ice Skating Downtown

Texas certainly isn’t known for its snowy weather, but that doesn’t stop locals from enjoying a traditional winter activity like ice skating! There are several indoor and outdoor rinks around the city where you can lace up your skates and hit the ice with friends and family.

Chaparral Ice Center offers indoor public skating and the downtown Whole Foods rooftop has become a popular spot for skating in recent years. For a short trip from Austin, you can also visit Eisbahn in downtown Fredericksburg or Lakeside Park in Marble Falls for a festive ice skating experience. 

Run the Austin Marathon

Need a fun way to work off all that heavy holiday food? If mashed potatoes and Christmas cookies set you over your goal weight this year, sign up to run the annual Austin Marathon, Half Marathon or 5K in February 2022. Run through the streets of Austin and past landmarks like Lady Bird Lake before crossing the finish line. 

Even if you’re not a runner yourself, head outside and grab a spot along the route to cheer on your friends and neighbors. There’s even live music and a beer garden at the finish line to enjoy. 

Enjoy a Seasonal Libation (or Two!)

If Christmas makes you think of eggnog, you’ll definitely want to get your hands on Austin’s favorite boozy winter treats at some of the city’s popular bars. While you’ll likely find hot toddies and spiked hot chocolate throughout the city, the really creative concoctions can be found at holiday pop-up bars like the always popular Miracle on 5th Street. 

Festive cocktails and holiday cheer go hand in hand at elaborate pop-up bars that are known for embracing the holiday spirit in unique ways. Nickel City transforms its retro space in East Austin into a tiki spinoff known as Sippin’ Santa. Other must-visit spots include The Cavalier’s Nostalgic Noel pop-up with drinks featuring peppermint oat milk and fire bitters, and the Webberville Bar, known for its Hanukkah pop-up with latke punch. 

Swing Your Partner Round and Round

Nothing says holiday romance like a night of drinks and dancing at Broken Spoke on South Lamar Boulevard. Grab your partner or a friend and go two-stepping at this vintage dance hall that has a distinct honky tonk feel.

Shop at the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar

If gift-giving (and wrapping!) is your favorite part of the Christmas season, Austin’s Armadillo Christmas Bazaar has you covered. Holiday shopping with a local twist is the name of the game here, where you can find local art, Christmas trinkets, and even enjoy entertainment and dining options.

Watch Fireworks over Lady Bird Lake

Ring in the New Year with an extravagant fireworks display over Lady Bird Lake! The annual New Year’s Eve event features bands, fire dancers, performers, and the amazing fireworks display. This fun free event takes place at Auditorium Shores right on the lake.

See A Christmas Carol

Nobody likes a Scrooge, so you’d better book your tickets to this holiday classic early! The ZACH Theatre is the longest continuously running theater company in Texas, performing shows like A Christmas Carol during the holiday season.

Austin is a unique place to visit during the winter season, with holiday charm at Christmastime and plenty of things to do throughout the winter. Start planning your holiday trip today!