12 Festive Activities To Enjoy In Austin On Christmas Eve

things to do in austin on christmas eve

As the holiday season approaches, it's time to start planning for a festive and fun-filled Christmas Eve in Austin. From sparkling lights to live performances, the vibrant city has plenty of celebrations to offer. Whether you're looking for family-friendly activities or romantic date ideas, we've rounded up twelve of the most exciting Christmas Eve festivities in Austin that will surely make your night magical and unforgettable. So grab your reindeer antlers, bundle up, and get ready to experience the joy and cheer of the season!

Activity Description
Christmas Caroling Join a group of carolers and sing your heart out to classic holiday tunes
Ice Skating Check out one of the many outdoor ice skating rinks in Austin
Zilker Tree Lighting Watch the lighting of the 155-foot-tall tree at Zilker Park
Holiday Lights Tour Take a drive around the city to see the beautiful holiday light displays
Visit Santa Stop by a local mall or shopping center to take a photo with Santa
Christmas Eve Mass Attend a service at one of Austin's many churches and cathedrals
Relax at Home Stay in and enjoy some hot cocoa and classic holiday movies with loved ones


Trail of Lights at Zilker Park

Source: Visit Austin

Christmas Eve in Austin means one thing: Trail of Lights at Zilker Park. This is a favorite holiday tradition for families, couples, and friends. It’s a magical holiday experience that transforms the park into a wonderland of lights and festive cheer.

The Trail of Lights began in 1965 as a simple string of lights placed around a Yule Log in Zilker Park. Over the years, it has grown into an awe-inspiring display of over two million lights and hundreds of lighted sculptures that represent the holiday season.

The tradition of visiting the Trail of Lights begins with the excursion to the park- make sure to dress warmly as it is usually chilly. Visitors will find free parking at the old Austin High lot, with shuttles that transport you to and from the main entrance. As you enter, you’ll be greeted with a wonderland of sparkling lights and festive music.

One highlight of the Trail of Lights is the human-sized gingerbread house, made completely out of real gingerbread and decorated with frosting and candy in every color. Another focus is the 65-foot-tall Christmas tree, which is loaded with thousands of lights and ornaments.

The beautiful light sculptures include iconic structures of Austin like the Frost Bank Tower and the Austin City limits skyline, as well as traditional holiday scenes like Santa's Workshop and the Nutcracker.

Zilker Park also has plenty of refreshments available to keep everyone warm and festive, including hot chocolate, coffee, cookies, and holiday favorites like funnel cakes and warm spiced cider.

With this enchanting light show, holiday enthusiasts can stroll at their own leisure through the walkthrough trail of holiday lighting on one of the most beautiful nights in Austin. It is the perfect way to spend the evening with family and friends, and a festive way to celebrate the magic of Christmas Eve in Austin.

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Ice Skating at Whole Foods

Source: The Bridge | Austin

Austin on Christmas Eve is a magical time filled with holiday cheer and festivities. One of the most popular activities to enjoy during this time is ice skating at Whole Foods.

Whole Foods, located in the heart of downtown Austin, transforms into a winter wonderland during the holiday season. As soon as you step inside, you are greeted by festive decorations and the sweet smell of holiday treats.

The ice rink, located on the roof of the store, is the highlight of the event. The rink is surrounded by twinkling lights and a stunning view of the city skyline. You can rent ice skates on-site for a reasonable price, making it possible for anyone to enjoy the fun.

Skating on the rooftop of Whole Foods is an unforgettable experience, especially on Christmas Eve. The air is filled with excitement and joy, and families gather together to skate, laugh, and create unforgettable memories.

The ice skating rink is open late on Christmas Eve, allowing families to skate while they wait for Santa to arrive. You can enjoy a cup of hot chocolate or cider while watching the night sky for a glimpse of his sleigh.

The holiday season in Austin is unlike any other, and ice skating at Whole Foods is a cherished tradition for many families. Whether you're a seasoned skater or a beginner, this is an experience that you won't want to miss.

In conclusion, ice skating at Whole Foods in Austin is the perfect way to spend Christmas Eve. It's a fun-filled activity that brings families together and creates memories that last a lifetime. Don't miss out on this amazing opportunity to celebrate the holiday season in Austin. Whether you're a local or just visiting, the ice skating rink at Whole Foods is a must-see attraction during the most wonderful time of the year.


Christmas at the Cinema at the Paramount Theatre

Source: Tripadvisor

As the holiday season approaches, it's time to start planning how to spend Christmas Eve in Austin. If you're looking for a festive and unique experience, the Christmas at the Cinema event at the Paramount Theatre is a must-see.

The beautifully restored Paramount Theatre, located in the heart of downtown Austin, is a beloved landmark that has been entertaining people for over a century. The annual Christmas at the Cinema event is one of the theater's biggest draws, and it's not hard to see why. Featuring a lineup of classic holiday movies and live performances, it's the perfect way to celebrate the season in style.

The event kicks off with a live performance by the Paramount's resident organist, who plays Christmas carols and other holiday favorites on the theater's 80-year-old Wurlitzer organ. The organist is joined by a choir of local children, who add their sweet voices to the mix.

Once the performance is finished, the lights go down and the movies begin. The lineup includes classic films like "It's a Wonderful Life," "A Christmas Carol," and "Miracle on 34th Street," as well as more recent favorites like "Elf" and "The Polar Express." Each movie is introduced by a member of the theater's staff, who provides interesting background information and trivia about the film.

If you're feeling hungry, there's no need to leave the theater in search of food. The Paramount offers a concession stand with popcorn, candy, and soft drinks, as well as hot cocoa and warm apple cider to help you get in the holiday spirit.

Overall, Christmas at the Cinema at the Paramount Theatre is a special event that captures the warmth and magic of the holiday season. Whether you're with family, friends, or on your own, it's the perfect way to spend Christmas Eve in Austin. So why not start a new holiday tradition this year and join in the fun at the Paramount?


Christmas Eve service at St. Mary's Cathedral

Source: TripAdvisor

The Christmas Eve service at St. Marys Cathedral is a must-attend event for many Austinites every holiday season. This festive service offers an opportunity for worshippers to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas while experiencing the warmth of community and fellowship.

The day starts early for most Christmas Eve worshippers as they prepare themselves for the traditional midnight mass at the Cathedral. Many families choose to attend this service as they come together to participate in the holy celebration. Children are often seen in their holiday best, excited to witness the traditional candlelight ceremony as the clock strikes midnight.

The service is typically held inside the majestic St. Marys Cathedral, which boasts stunning Gothic architecture that stretches high into the sky. The soaring stained-glass windows and rich tapestries set the tone for an unforgettable Christmas Eve experience.

The atmosphere inside the church is certainly one of pure joy and excitement, as priest and congregation gather together to sing carols and hear the traditional readings from the Bible. Attendees are treated to inspirational homilies delivered from the pulpit, imparting the message of love, forgiveness, and hope that Christmas represents.

Perhaps the most impressive and emotional moment of the service is the candlelight ceremony. Worshippers are given candles to hold as they sing Christmas Carols, creating a beautiful festive glow that fills the church. The glow of the candles represent the light of Christ coming into the world, and it is a moment that never fails to awe people of all ages.

As the service comes to a close, many families take the opportunity to capture moments of the special evening with photographs outside the Cathedral. Some may make their way home for a festive and celebratory meal, while others might choose to continue the joyous mood by visiting a local bar, restaurant or ice-skating rink.

In conclusion, attending a Christmas Eve service at St. Marys Cathedral in Austin is a special and memorable experience for anyone looking to connect with their faith, and be part of a larger celebration. This annual event offers a unique opportunity to come together with your loved ones in the spirit of the holiday season, and to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

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Christmas sing-along at the Austin Symphony

Source: Austin Symphony Orchestra

Christmas in Austin is an enchanting time of year, full of festive cheer and joyful celebrations. On Christmas Eve, one of the most exciting events is the Christmas sing-along at the Austin Symphony Orchestra. It's an occasion when the community comes together to enjoy a heartwarming and delightful holiday musical experience.

The Christmas sing-along at the Austin Symphony is an annual tradition that has been held for over 25 years. It is typically held at the Long Center for the Performing Arts in Downtown Austin, with thousands of people attending each year. The ambiance of the venue is warm and inviting, with sparkling Christmas lights and decorations, cozy fireplaces, and comfortable seating arrangements.

The performance consists of a program of traditional Christmas carols, which the Austin Symphony Orchestra plays while the audience sings along. The audience is also treated to a variety of festive musical performances, including guest soloists, choral groups, and instrumental ensembles. The atmosphere is electric, and everyone sings and sways to the music with great enthusiasm.

The sing-along program is specifically designed to be family-friendly, and children are encouraged to participate. The children get an opportunity to meet Santa Claus, who makes a special guest appearance during the event, and they also receive a special gift from the orchestra. There are several interactive activities that kids can engage in, such as face painting, ornament making, and storytelling.

One of the highlights of the Christmas sing-along at the Austin Symphony is the performance of Handel's Messiah. The audience is invited to join the symphony in singing the Hallelujah Chorus, which is a momentous occasion that leaves everyone feeling uplifted and inspired.

In conclusion, the Christmas sing-along at the Austin Symphony is an extraordinary event that brings people together to celebrate the joy of the season. It's a fantastic opportunity to experience the magic of Christmas and create cherished memories with friends and family. If you're in Austin on Christmas Eve, don't miss this extraordinary spectacle. So, book your tickets in advance and get ready for a joyous evening filled with beautiful music, festive traditions, and most importantly, lots of singing and merriment!

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Christmas Eve dinner at the Driskill Hotel

Source: KXAN

The Driskill Hotel's restaurant, the Driskill Grill, is renowned for serving high-end cuisine in an elegant atmosphere. On Christmas Eve, the restaurant pulls out all the stops, offering a special holiday-themed menu to celebrate the occasion.

The restaurant is open for dinner from 5 pm to 9 pm, and reservations are highly recommended. The Christmas Eve prix-fixe menu features a range of delicious dishes, including roasted duck, prime rib, and lobster ravioli. To complete the meal, the restaurant's pastry chef creates a selection of festive desserts, such as eggnog crème brûlée and chocolate peppermint mousse cake.

The ambiance of the Driskill Grill is perfect for creating a warm and joyful atmosphere that truly captures the essence of Christmas. The restaurant's décor features elegant chandeliers, plush velvet seating, and a grand fireplace that creates a cozy and inviting atmosphere. Patrons can enjoy the sounds of live music, ranging from classical to jazz, and spend time with their loved ones while indulging in delicious food and drinks.

Apart from the restaurant, the Driskill Hotel offers a range of activities and services to make Christmas Eve memorable for its guests. From holiday-inspired cocktails and live music events to festive decorations and room service, the hotel goes above and beyond to provide an exceptional experience for everyone.

In conclusion, spending Christmas Eve dinner at the Driskill Hotel in Austin is truly an unforgettable experience. From the delicious cuisine to the stunning ambiance, the hotel offers a unique atmosphere that captures the spirit of the season. It's a perfect way to create memories, celebrate family and friends, and make fond holiday memories that will last a lifetime.

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Holiday lights tour with Austin Detours

Source: Patch

Austin is a beautiful city throughout the year, but when it comes to the festive season, it transforms into a winter wonderland with magical holiday lights illuminating the city's streets. One of the best ways to experience the holiday spirit in Austin is by embarking on a holiday lights tour with Austin Detours on Christmas Eve.

The holiday lights tour with Austin Detours is a three-hour adventure that takes you through Austin's most decorated neighborhoods, landmarks, and parks. The tour takes place on a luxury Mercedes Benz van that is spacious, comfortable, and equipped with large windows that offer an unobstructed view of the city. You can sit back and enjoy the holiday music while sipping a cup of hot chocolate, beer, or wine provided on the tour.

The tour starts with a visit to the Zilker Park's Trail of Lights, a stunning display of over two million lights that weave around the park's trees. You'll walk through the glittering tunnels, bright displays, and interactive light shows that make for unforgettable photo opportunities.

Next, you'll stop by the historic Clarksville neighborhood and the Austin downtown district, home to some of the oldest and most beautiful houses in Austin. The houses are covered with colorful lights, giant snowmen, and other holiday decorations, making them a sight to behold.

The tour also takes you to the Mueller neighborhood, a vibrant and modern community that comes to life during the holidays. The place is full of energy, and the decorations are on point, making it a must-stop destination on the tour.

Apart from the stunning view, the tour includes fascinating stories and facts about Austin's history and culture, giving you a sense of the city's heritage.

Overall, the holiday lights tour with Austin Detours is an exciting and enjoyable experience where you get to explore Austin's vibrant holiday spirit. Remember to wear comfortable shoes, bring a camera, and dress warmly for the tour. It's an excellent way to make the most of your Christmas Eve in Austin and create unforgettable memories with your loved ones.


Christmas Eve brunch at Four Seasons Hotel

Source: Eater Austin

Are you looking for the perfect holiday brunch spot in Austin? Look no further than the Four Seasons Hotel!

Located in the heart of downtown Austin, the Four Seasons offers a luxurious and festive atmosphere for Christmas Eve brunch. With a delectable menu featuring both traditional favorites and unique, seasonal dishes, you won’t want to miss this culinary adventure.

Start your meal off with a warm cup of cocoa or a festive holiday cocktail. Then move on to the main event – the delicious brunch offerings. Highlights include a carving station featuring succulent ham and roast beef, mouthwatering seafood options like shrimp and crab claws, and an array of fresh pastries and breads.

Impress your family and friends with the show-stopping dessert station. With everything from apple pie to gingerbread cookies, there’s something for everyone. And don’t forget to sample the handmade chocolates and truffles – they’re a real treat!

The Four Seasons' attention to detail doesn't stop at the food; the restaurants are also decked out in festive decorations, with twinkling lights and elegant holiday decor throughout. Add in the top-notch service and stunning ambiance, and you’ve got the recipe for the perfect Christmas Eve brunch.

Don’t miss out on this holiday tradition – make your reservations now for Christmas Eve brunch at the Four Seasons Hotel in Austin. We guarantee it will be a meal to remember!


Rudolph's Underdog Express at the Austin Steam Train

For families searching for a unique and exciting way to celebrate the holidays, look no further than the Rudolphs Underdog Express at the Austin Steam Train. This popular annual event takes place on Christmas Eve and offers a festive experience that is perfect for all ages.

The Austin Steam Train is a classic locomotive that provides scenic tours of the area throughout the year. During the holiday season, the train is transformed into a magical winter wonderland with various activities and decorations. The highlight of this event, however, is the Rudolphs Underdog Express.

This particular train ride is a journey through the countryside that is narrated by Santa Claus himself. Guests are encouraged to dress in their festive best and enjoy hot cocoa and other holiday treats as they listen to Christmas carols and take in the stunning winter scenery.

Children will be especially delighted by the special guest appearance of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and his friends. The lovable Underdog Express characters will be on hand to lead passengers in singing and dancing as they travel to the North Pole.

Decked out in twinkling lights and garlands, the Austin Steam Train provides a cozy and classic holiday experience that is sure to become a treasured family tradition. So gather your loved ones and hop aboard the Rudolphs Underdog Express this Christmas Eve for a magical journey that will leave you feeling full of holiday cheer.


Merry and Bright Holiday Bazaar at the Domain

Source: Austin360

The city of Austin is known for its vibrant and energetic atmosphere, and during Christmastime, the city becomes even more alive with the Merry and Bright Holiday Bazaar at the Domain. This annual event has become a tradition for many Austinites and draws in visitors from all over Texas.

The Merry and Bright Holiday Bazaar at the Domain takes place on Christmas Eve, making it the perfect way to spend the day before the big holiday. Hosted at one of Austin's premier shopping destinations, the Domain, the event brings together local vendors and artisans to showcase their wares.

Visitors can expect to see a vast collection of handmade goods from crafters and artists. From jewelry and pottery to paintings and home decor, there is something for everyone at this bazaar. The vendors are carefully curated to ensure that visitors get to see the best of Austin's local talent.

Besides shopping, attendees can also enjoy holiday music and festive food and drinks, making it a full-on holiday celebration. For children, there will be a special visit from Santa Claus and other fun activities such as cookie making and face painting.

The Merry and Bright Holiday Bazaar at the Domain is a perfect example of the Christmas spirit in Austin. The event offers a unique shopping experience for those that want to avoid traditional commercial stores and support local artisans instead. It also brings people together to share in the joy and goodwill that comes with the holiday season.

Overall, spending Christmas Eve at the Merry and Bright Holiday Bazaar at the Domain is an excellent way to celebrate the season and explore what Austin has to offer. Whether you are looking for handmade gifts, festive food, or just a fun day out with friends and family, this holiday bazaar is the perfect destination.


Christmas Eve swim at Barton Springs Pool

Source: CBS Austin

Christmas Eve is a one-of-a-kind celebration for all of Austin, Texas. The city buzzes with excitement as families gather together in festive spirit, carolers sing their melodies, houses and streets are transformed with glittering lights, and Christmas trees adorned with elaborately wrapped presents fill the living rooms. Among all the revelries, one of the most exhilarating experiences you can enjoy on Christmas Eve in Austin is a swim at Barton Springs Pool.

Barton Springs Pool is a world-famous, natural spring-fed pool located in Zilker Park. It is cherished by locals and tourists alike for its lush green surroundings, crystal-clear water, and excellent cold temperature – which average around 68 degrees all year round. But what makes Barton Springs Pool even more special on Christmas Eve is the festive spirit that envelopes this scenic spot.

As the sun sets behind the rolling hills of the city skyline, visitors begin to gather in their holiday attire to engage in the beloved tradition of swimming at Barton Springs Pool. In true Austin fashion, swimmers come dressed in Santa hats, reindeer antlers, and elf ears. Friends and families exchange warm hugs and cheerful greetings while sharing the joyous moments of the season.

The Christmas Eve swim at Barton Springs Pool is a tradition that has been taking place for many years, where people can gather together to celebrate the festive season in a unique way. It is a time to forget about the worries of daily life and enjoy the moment with those around you. The atmosphere by the poolside is lively and energetic, and the water is cold enough to lift your spirits up from the Texas heat.

If you are ever in Austin on Christmas Eve, be sure to make it down to Barton Springs Pool and join in on the fun. The swim starts around 9 pm and lasts until midnight. It is an unforgettable way to celebrate the festive season in Austin, and a great way to create memories that will last a lifetime. So dive into the cold pool, share the holiday cheer, and soak up the festive atmosphere at Barton Springs Pool.

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Christmas Eve tradition of watching Elf at home with loved ones

Source: The Daily Beast

As the holiday season approaches, it's time to start thinking about how you and your loved ones will celebrate Christmas Eve. One popular tradition in Austin is gathering at home to watch the holiday classic, Elf.

Elf is a heartwarming tale about a man named Buddy, who was raised by elves at the North Pole and travels to New York City to find his real father. Along the way, he learns about the spirit of Christmas and the importance of family and friends.

Watching Elf at home has become a beloved Christmas Eve tradition in Austin for many families. There's nothing quite like snuggling up on the couch with loved ones, sipping on hot cocoa, and watching Buddy's antics on screen. The movie's catchy soundtrack, featuring songs like "Jingle Bell Rock" and "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," adds to the festive atmosphere.

What makes watching Elf at home so special is the traditions and memories that families create together. Whether it's making homemade pizza, decorating gingerbread houses or wearing matching Christmas pajamas, families can make their viewing experience as unique as they want.

For those who haven't watched Elf before, it's not too late to start a new tradition. The movie is widely available and can be streamed on most popular platforms like Netflix, Hulu or Amazon. You can prepare by setting up a cozy viewing area, inviting family and friends over, and making some festive snacks.

So, if you're looking for a fun and heart-warming way to spend Christmas Eve in Austin, grab your loved ones, put on some Christmas pajamas, and settle in for a memorable evening watching Elf. It's a tradition you won't regret starting!

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Frequently asked questions

Yes, there are several Christmas light displays to see in Austin on Christmas Eve, including the Trail of Lights, the Austin Motel Christmas Display, and the Zilker Park Holiday Tree.

Yes, there are several Christmas Eve concerts and performances in Austin, including the Austin Symphony's annual "Handel's Messiah" concert and the Ballet Austin's production of "The Nutcracker".

Some family-friendly activities to do in Austin on Christmas Eve include ice skating at the Whole Foods flagship store's rooftop rink, visiting Santa at the Barton Creek Mall or the Capitol Christmas Tree lighting ceremony.

Yes, there are several cultural activities to explore in Austin on Christmas Eve, including the Austin Trail of Lights, the Mexic-Arte Museum's traditional La Posada procession, and the annual German Christmas Market at the German Free School of Austin.

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Mohamad Edwards

Last Christmas Eve in Austin, I decided to go on a holiday lights tour and it was such a memorable experience. There are several companies that offer guided tours around the city to see the best Christmas light displays. I hopped on a cozy tour bus and was taken to various neighborhoods to admire the beautifully decorated homes. Some houses were truly jaw-dropping, with elaborate light displays synchronized to music. It was like stepping into a winter wonderland! The tour also included hot chocolate and snacks, which made the evening even more enjoyable. I highly recommend this activity if you're looking for a festive and relaxing way to spend Christmas Eve in Austin!
Thank you for sharing your wonderful experience of going on a holiday lights tour in Austin on Christmas Eve. It sounds like you had a magical and memorable night! I love the idea of hopping on a cozy tour bus and getting driven around the city to see the best Christmas light displays. It must have been so special to see the beautifully decorated homes and jaw-dropping light displays synchronized to music. The fact that the tour also included hot chocolate and snacks sounds like the perfect way to make the evening even more enjoyable. I will definitely keep this activity in mind for my next Christmas Eve in Austin.

Dorothy Holman

If you're looking for a unique way to spend Christmas Eve in Austin, I highly recommend checking out the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar. It's a lively art and music festival held at the Palmer Events Center. There's a great mix of local artisans selling their handmade crafts, along with live music performances from talented local musicians. It's the perfect place to find one-of-a-kind gifts for your loved ones while supporting the local Austin arts scene. I had a blast browsing the booths, listening to live music, and enjoying the festive atmosphere!

Jak Knox

I spent Christmas Eve in Austin last year and it was absolutely magical! One of the best things to do was to visit the Trail of Lights at Zilker Park. The park was filled with beautiful light displays, live music, and even a carousel. It really put me in the holiday spirit! Afterwards, I went downtown to experience the Christmas-themed bar crawl. It was so much fun hopping from one festive bar to another, enjoying holiday drinks and live music. Austin has so much to offer on Christmas Eve, I can't wait to go back this year!

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