Armadillo Christmas Bazaar
Web Site: Armadillo Christmas Bazaar
900 Barton Springs Road
Austin, Texas 78704
Austin’s New Year
Web Site: Austin’s New Year
950 West Riverside Drive
Austin, Texas 78704
Phone: (512) 974-7700
Every year the City of Austin hosts a free new year’s eve event in front of the Long Center at Auditorium Shores. Austin’s New Year (ANY) is a family friendly, alcohol free event that features local music, dance, film, art and food with a fireworks finale at 10 PM. Parking is NOT available onsite at Auditorium Shores, but there are several pay-to-park garages nearby, including Austin City Hall (301 W. 2nd St, enter on Lavaca Street) and One Texas Center.
Austin Trail of Lights
Web Site: Austin Trail of Lights
2201 Barton Springs Road
Austin, Texas 78746
Since 1965, December has brought the annual Austin Trail of Lights to Zilker Park. More than one million light bulbs spread over 1.25 miles illuminate the Trail of Lights for two weeks in December. The Austin Trail of Lights features more than fifty displays and exhibits including more than 100 trees wrapped in lights and three lighted tunnels. The Trail of Lights features live music from local, regional and national headliners, performances from local community groups and schools, North Pole area featuring Santa’s House, food courts, food trailers and lots of great iconic photo opportunities throughout the Trail. Capital Metro bus service as well as shuttle service from three locations around Austin is available. A limited number of parking passes are available online at the Trail of Lights website. Gates open at 7 PM nightly. Presented by the City of Austin Parks Department, the Trail of Lights was a free event for many years, but the City of Austin now charges admission on weekend nights.
Barton Springs Polar Bear Plunge
Web Site: New Years Day Polar Bear Plunge At Barton Springs
2101 Barton Springs Road
Austin, Texas 78704
Phone: (512) 476-9044
The New Year in Austin kicks off every January 1st at Barton Springs Pool with the annual Barton Springs Polar Bear Plunge. Jumping into Barton Springs on New Year’s Day is considered good luck and has been one of the traditional best Austin events for more than 30 years. The free Barton Springs Polar Bear Plunge is sponsored by the Save Our Springs Alliance (SOS). Founded in 1990, The Save Our Springs Alliance works to protect the Edwards Aquifer with special emphasis on Barton Springs. SOS provides hot coffee and donuts between 9 AM and 2 PM. Commemorative t-shirts for the Barton Springs Polar Bear Plunge are also available at the splash from SOS. The official plunge is at 10 AM. Barton Springs pool stays between 68 and 70 degrees year round. The closer the water temperature is to the air temperature, the warmer Barton Springs feels. If the temperature on New Year’s is around 70 degrees, you shouldn’t feel anything when you jump in at all! In any case, if you take the Polar Bear Plunge, be sure to bring warm clothes for when you get out of the water.
Blue Genie Art Bazaar
Web Site: Blue Genie Art Bazaar
6226 Middle Fiskville Road
Austin, Texas 78752
The Blue Genie Art Bazaar was started over ten years ago by Blue Genie Art Industries, a nationally recognized firm specializing in large-scale commercial fabrication of creative projects including museum exhibits, sculptures and specialty signs. The first Bazaar consisted mostly of items made by Blue Genie Art employee’s, but the Bazaar has come to feature unique gifts and artwork from over 130 artists selected through a jury process from a large pool of applicants every year. The items available at this family friendly event range from fun and kitschy to serious art and include paintings, sculptures, jewelry, clothing, accessories, glassworks, ceramics, prints, photography and plenty of weird and quirky gifts you won’t find anywhere else. The Blue Genie Art Bazaar is organized more like a gallery or retail store than a traditional holiday market in that each artists creates their own display, but there are central cashier stations manned by Blue Genie staff members and artists are not required to be present at the show. In addition to shopping, there are special art and music events throughout the nearly four-week show. Refreshments and a full bar are also available. Admission to the Blue Genie Art Bazaar is free and free parking is available.
Cherrywood Art Fair
Web Site: Cherrywood Art Fair
3808 Maplewood Avenue
Austin, Texas 78722
Cherrywood Art Fair is an annual two day Christmas holiday shopping event in December showcasing over 100 artists along with food, live music and fun stuff for kids to do in a family friendly environment. All items sold at the Cherrywood Art Fair must be original artwork and artist vendors are selected through a juried process. The Cherrywood Art Fair takes place at Maplewood Elementary School in the Delwood neighborhood of Austin and there is always a silent auction to raise money for the school. Admission to the Cherrywood Art Fair holiday shopping event is free.
Chuy’s Children Giving To Children Christmas Parade
Web Site: Chuy’s Children Giving To Children Christmas Parade
900 Congress Avenue
Austin, Texas 78701
Every November on the Saturday after Thanksgiving is the Chuy’s Children Giving to Children Parade down Congress Avenue. Chuy’s Children Giving To Children Christmas Parade is an annual Austin holiday toy drive. The inspiration of Chuy’s Mexican Food restaurant co-owner Mike Young, the first Chuy’s Children Giving To Children Christmas Parade took place in 1989 with Chuy’s friends and employees riding alongside Austin musician Marcia Ball on a flat bed trailer and has grown into an yearly Austin family tradition. The Chuy’s Children Giving To Children Christmas Parade benefits Operation Blue Santa, a non-profit organized by the Austin Police Department with support from the Texas National Guard, the Austin Fire Department, the Austin Parks and Recreation Department and Austin Energy to provide needy Austin families with a full holiday meal and wrapped Christmas gifts for each child under age 14. The parade begins at 11 AM and lasts for approximately an hour and a half beginning at the south side of the State Captiol, proceeding south down Congress Avenue and ending at the Congress bridge. The parade features giant inflatable balloons, festive holiday floats, famous children’s characters, live music and dancing, marching bands, classic cars and of course a real Santa Claus. At a designated time during the parade procession, all units stop to collect unwrapped toys brought to the parade by the parade spectators. The Chuy’s Children Giving To Children Christmas Parade is a free event although spectators are encouraged to bring an unwrapped toy for the toy drive.
Zilker Holiday Tree
Web Site: Zilker Holiday Tree
2201 Barton Springs Road
Austin, TX 78746
Spinning under the Zilker Park Christmas Tree is one of the best fun, free things to do during the holiday season. The Zilker Tree is 155 feet tall with 39 streamers of multicolored lights arranged in a spiral pattern around the Zilker Park Moontower. The Moontower at Zilker Park is one of the original Moontowers placed around Austin in the 1800’s as a system of artificial street lighting. The moontower at Zilker Park was moved to it’s current location from Emma Long Metropolitan Park, replacing the replica tower that was originally used for the Zilker Park Christmas Tree starting in 1967. The Zilker Park Christmas Tree is the largest man-made, free-standing holiday tree in the world. On the opposite side of Barton Springs Road from the Trail of Lights, the Zilker Christmas Tree features food venders and entertainment nightly from 6 PM to midnight. Free onsite parking will be available at the Zilker Christmas Tree only on nights that do not have activities related to the Trail of Lights. There will be pre-permited parking only at Zilker Park during the Trail of Lights nights.