Austin Wonderland: Winter Activities to do Around Town

Winter in Austin can be hard transition for locals. Suddenly, the familiar Texas heat is gone and all the typical outdoor activities are no longer an option. Luckily, Austin has a multitude of activities exclusively made for winter. Here are eight ideas for what to do to make this winter season magical.


Ballet Austin’s The Nutcracker

Where? The Long Center

When? December 7-23

Cost? Tickets range from $35 to $99 depending on seat location

This is Ballet Austin’s 57th annual Nutcracker show. This event includes vibrant sets and costumes, over 200 dancers and talent, both young and old. Along with the captivating show are  seasonal treats, beverages, and photo opportunities in front of the Austin skyline. Viewing The Nutcracker is one of the best ways to get into the holiday spirit. 


Mozart’s Annual Christmas Light Show

Where? Motzart’s Coffee House

When?  November 21-January 5

Cost?    Free!

Every night, starting the 21st of November, Motzart’s Coffee House hosts a Christmas light show on their outdoor patio from 6:00 pm- 11:00 pm. This event has no assigned seating so you can bring as many people as you like! Be prepared for a potential wait to get in, as this event can get crowded. Enjoy being fully immersed in the sparking lights while you sip on a hot chocolate or coffee! 



Ice Skating on the Plaza

Where? Whole Foods Market on Lamar

When?  November 23-January 21 

Cost?    $10 per person

This annual event at the Whole Foods on Lamar provides a special opportunity to ice skate while looking out on the Austin skyline. The rink is open from 9:00 AM – 10:00 PM.  Skate around with your friends then head down to get a snack at the grocery store! Be sure to look ahead before deciding on a specific date, as this rink is sometimes booked for private events. 


Alamo Movie Specials

Where? Any Alamo Drafthouse Location

When?  Depends on Show and Location

Cost?    Prices Ranging from $8-$14

Alamo Drafthouse is a perfect winter location. Nothing is better than getting lost in a film on a cold day. The Alamo has many movie shows and parties for this holiday season. Some of the movie parties being hosted are an Elf sing-along, The Polar Express movie and activity, A Christmas Story, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and so much more! Pick a day and head over to the Alamo Drafthouse app or website and find a showing of a holiday classic, or even catch the latest holiday movie, Last Christmas (2019).


Trail of lights

Where? Zilker Park

When?  December 10 – December 23

Cost?   $0 – $5

This year will be Austin’s 55th Annual Trail of Lights event. Zilker Park becomes transformed into a winter wonderland each night as every inch is covered in elaborate and intricate light formations. Along with 2 million lights, the Trail of Lights includes tons of local food trucks, activities, and live entertainment.This event costs $5 for general admission, however there are many nights when general admission is free. Get a hot chocolate and enjoy the magical creations including the giant Zilker Holiday Tree.  


Zilker Holiday Tree Ceremony

Where?  Zilker Park

When?   December 1 – January 1

Cost?     Free!

Zilker’s Holiday Tree lighting ceremony has the largest manmade tree made up of over 3,000 lights and standing at 155 feet tall. December 1 starting at around 5:30 PM, the tree will be lit for the first time this year. This event is seperate from the Trail of Lights but it is encouraged to attend both. Enjoy standing under the enormous tree and spinning till you drop!


Free Week

Where? Red River

When?  January 1 – January 6

Cost?    Free!

The annual Austin Free Week, hosted by Red River Cultural District, is exactly what it sounds like, a week of free shows. Hundreds of artists participate in performing in all of the local Red River live music venues. Check out places like The Mohawk, The Parish, Barracuda, and so many more to support Austin’s local artists! 


Luminations at the Wildflower Center

Where? Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

When?  December 5 – December 15, 6:00 PM  – 10:00 PM 

Cost?  Youth 0-4: Free, 5+: $18

This annual event is an extraordinary display and experience, filled with thousands of lights and lanterns all along the paths in the gardens. In addition, the center is filled with live music, food trucks and activities.