Austin Holiday Hot Spots

Donn’s Depot

This West Fifth Street staple does the holiday season right, decking the halls (and the dance floor) with ornaments, twinkle lights and tinsel aplenty. Swing by on Tuesdays and Fridays to hear bar namesake Donn and the Station Masters belt out country tunes, or check the website for a full schedule of entertainment.

Loop 360 Capital of Texas Highway Christmas Trees

If you have to sit in traffic, you may as well get some holiday cheer out of it, right? Well, the lush landscape along Capital of Texas Highway is chock full of Christmas-y trees just ripe for the trimming. Local families and businesses band together to deck the halls, brightening your holiday commute in the process.

37th Street Christmas LightS

While Austin’s biggest light show may be at Zilker Park, locals also flock to this Hyde Park neighborhood for some truly funky holiday flair. Neighbors on the eastern block of 37th Street from Guadalupe Street erect eclectic holiday displays to the joy of passersby who stream up and down the street. While cars are welcome, walking is recommended to achieve the full festive effect.

Armadillo Christmas Bazaar & Blue Genie Art Bazaar

Running from December 15-24, Austin’s holiday tradition of holiday shopping, music and fun celebrates its 40th year as one of the city’s premier destinations for unique gifts and lively local flair. Guests can sample local fare while browsing curios from over 160 artisans and enjoying live music from acts like Shinyribs, Suzanna Choffel and more.

Beginning on Black Friday, the 15th annual Blue Genie Art Bazaar returns to the Marchesa Hall. The festive bazaar features over 200 participating artists and a portion of the proceeds go to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

ZACH Theatre & The Long Center

This December, ZACH’s Topfer theatre brings back their most popular show in history with A Christmas Carol, while longtime favorite Martin Burke returns with his take on David Sedaris’ The Santaland Diaries on the smaller Kleberg stage. Down the street at The Long Center, those hoping for more traditional fare can enjoy two different takes on Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker – one ballet and one jazz.

Mozart’s Coffee Roasters Light Show

One of Austin’s most picturesque places to get a cup of coffee goes all out for the holiday season, stringing lights galore all along the café’s façade. Every hour on the hour, patrons can enjoy a lavish light show along with their latte, accompanied by music from Trans Siberian Orchestra and the like.

Alamo Drafthouse

Our favorite local movie house is a go-to for cinephiles looking to get in the spirit of the season. From Elf quote-alongs to Girlie Night screenings of Love Actually, and Home Alone pizza parties, there’s pretty much something to please every moviegoer at each Austin location. If classics are more your thing, the Austin-bred chain hosts frequent screenings of It’s A Wonderful Life and White Christmas.

Whole Foods Market Lamar

While we may not hail from a land of four seasons, Austinites can get a taste of the tundra with this offering from the flagship Whole Foods Market. Each winter, the plaza level transforms into a winter wonderland, courtesy of an ice-skating rink that’s just begging for some apple cider and a couples’ skate.

Cherrywood Art Fair

Over in East Austin, swing by the city’s longest-running not for profit art fair – a destination for unique artisan items since 2002. Running December 12-13, the fair features a free kid and craft area, live music all weekend and fare from local restaurants. As a philanthropic plus, all proceeds benefit the Little Artist BIG ARTIST arts mentoring program that pairs East Austin elementary school students with professional artists.

The Lobby at The Four Seasons Hotel

With a plethora of Christmas trees and whole team assigned to trim them, it’s no wonder that the Four Seasons Austin lobby is a seasonal sight to behold. Each year, the hotel transforms into a gingerbread wonderland with a different theme, with houses auctioned off to benefit various local charities. Other festivities include a traditional tea service, kids tea with Santa, and a not-to-be-missed Christmas Day Brunch.

The Driskill Hotel

There is a magical quality to The Driskill Hotel, the “grand dame” of downtown Austin. Grab a sweet treat from the 1886 Cafe & Bakery and take a spin through the lobby where the halls are decked in opulent gold, red and white decorations. Enjoy a holiday libation at The Driskill Bar or opt for a meal at the recently revamped Driskill Grill.


Illustration by Kelti Smith

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As the warm weather begins to set in and patio parties hit our calendars, we can’t help but embrace that summertime has returned to Austin. If you’re anything like us, you’ll be celebrating the return of the season with decadent ice cream, healthy smoothies and icy cocktails from your favorite local spots.

For those days when it’s too hot to venture out, we went to Austin’s sweet treat professionals and compiled the ultimate collection of DIY recipes to make from your home. Click through the galleries below to learn how to make everything icy and sweet, from poptails for date night to ice cream sandwiches for a dinner party.


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