Weekend Top 10 FREE Events (Nov 21-23, 2014)

 Thursday, November 20, 2014

  1. Hot Science – Cool Talks – Friday, November 21 at 5:45 p.m. Drones have been all over the media as well as our imaginations. What’s real and what’s possible for these remarkable flying machines? Assistant Professor of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics Todd Humphreys will consider the ways drones can be used in the future versus what is portrayed in the movies. He will also show us how his team was the first to successfully demonstrate that drones could be commandeered by GPS hacking. Interactive Fair from 5:45-7:00 p.m.; Main presentation begins at 7:00 p.m. Read more about Hot Science - Cool Talks hereFREE! UT Campus, Welch Hall Auditorium (directions), 105 E 24th St, Austin.
  2. Mozart's Light Show - Friday, November 21 - Sunday, January 4, from 6 p.m. - midnight. The 15-minute light show will start at 6 p.m. and then repeat every hour on the hour until midnight. The FREE light show will be bigger and better than all past years!  Hot beverages will be available for purchase. Check the Facebook page for weather updates. Mozart's Coffee Roasters, 3825 Lake Austin Blvd, Austin.
  3. Kids Shows at Cherrywood Coffeehouse - Saturday, November 22 and Sunday, November 23 at 10 a.m. On Saturday, enjoy a show by AndyRoo & the AndyRooniverse. On Sunday, sing along with Mr. Will DupuyFREE! Cherrywood Coffeehouse, 1400 East 38 1/2 Street, Austin.
  4. Discovery Weekend at Barnes & Noble - Saturday, November 22 and Sunday, November 23. Enjoy a weekend of FREE fun at local Barnes & Noble stores: ArboretumSunset Valley, The Homestead, Hill Country Galleria, and Round Rock. The schedule of events includes:
    • Create With ArtFolds - Saturday at 10 a.m. Customers are invited to transform a book or card into a piece of art using the ArtFolds technique. Customers are encouraged to arrive early, as space and supplies are limited. Recommended for ages 13 and up. 
    • Learn to Draw Like Mo Willems - Saturday at 11 a.m. Children will enjoy a reading of Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, then learning how to draw the beloved Pigeon with instructions created by the award-winning author and illustrator. Recommended for children ages 4 and up. 
    • Puppet Making and Holiday Sing-Along - Saturday at 1 p.m. Young ones are invited to create a puppet and sing with their newfound puppet friends. Customers are encouraged to arrive early, as space and supplies are limited. Recommended for children ages 4 and up. 
    • Holiday Fluxx Game Night - Saturday at 7 p.m. Get introduced to this unexpected holiday card game with ever-changing rules – even the object of the game changes as often as players draw a card or say “Go”! Recommended for ages 12 and up. 
    • Snowmen at Night - Sunday at 1 p.m. Storytime, crafts and activities. Kids will enjoy a reading of this winter tale that follows the secret life of snowmen at night, then create one to bring home. Recommended for ages 4 and up. 
  5. East Austin Studio Tour (E.A.S.T.) - Saturday, November 22 and Sunday, November 23, from 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. EAST is a FREE, annual, self-guided art event providing the public with an opportunity to meet the makers: the local artists and artisans who leave a lasting imprint on Austin’s vibrant, dynamic culture. Tour-goers are invited to discover new artistic talent, see working studios, learn about artists’ tools, techniques, and inspirations, and explore unique exhibition spaces and local businesses. Visit the website for information on participating artists and studiosexhibitions, and happenings. For the scoop on how to enjoy EAST with kids in tow, head over here. You can also watch a short video about EAST here. East of IH-35, west of 183, south of 290, and north of Lady Bird Lake, Austin.
  6. The Domain's Lighting of the Great Tree - Sunday, November 23 at 6 p.m. (This event was originally scheduled for Saturday but moved due to heavy rain in the forecast.) Starting at noon in Domain II, guests can enjoy FREE holiday entertainment, performances by area schools, special in-store events, craft activities, face painting, caricature drawings, balloon twisting stations and more.  The lighting of The Domain's 40-foot holiday tree will start at 6 p.m. in Domain I. The 30-minute show will feature dynamic musical performances, culminating with the lighting of the tree by Santa himself! Following the show, enjoy performances by The Invincible Czars and Beto y Los Fairlanes. Check the Facebook event page for weather updates. FREE! The Domain, 11410 Century Oaks Terrace, Austin.
  7. ImprovEd Shakespeare presents Henry IV (Part 1) - Saturday, November 22, from 3-4 p.m. Frustrated with your parents? So was Prince Harry. Only his dad was the king. Join a troupe of youth players as they share the story of Henry before he became Henry V. Filled with breathless stage fights, clown-like antics and one irate kid. FREE! Austin Public Library - Carver Branch, 1161 Angelina St., Austin.
  8. Danger Derby - Sunday, November 23, from 5-10 p.m. (originally scheduled for Saturday, this event moved to Sunday due to rain in the forecast) and Junior Danger Derby - Sunday, November 23, from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. East Austin Studio Tour's most outlandish party, the Blue Genie Danger Derby, is back for a third year of destruction at the Blue Genie Headquarters! This annual pinewood derby race features "art cars" battling for victory by racing down a two-story hazard course. The track is 20’ tall, 100’ long, runs alongside the Blue Genie Headquarters and is peppered with a myriad of extreme dangers (fire included!). The first car to make it out ahead after surviving the numerous hazards wins bragging rights on the East Side and one sweet trophy. This year will feature new, top-secret hazards to add to the destruction! Admission is FREE. It is FREE for kids age 3-12 to participate in the Junior Danger Derby on Sunday, but registration is required. Blue Genie Headquarters, 916 Springdale Rd., Bldg. 4, Austin.
  9. Kol Halev Winter Bazaar - Sunday, November 23, from 12-5 p.m. With more than 30 vendors and family-focused entertainment, there is something for everyone at this holiday bazaar. There will be a huge variety of products from local artists and artisans: Hannukah gifts and Christmas decorations, Mexican crafts, jewelry, clothing and even bedding! Entertainment starts with a puppet show and sing-along at noon, continues with local musicians and singers, and closes with the Kol Halev Band. There will be healthy snacks and quiet places to eat and converse. FREE Admission. Jewish Community Center, 7300 Hart Ln., Austin.
  10. Austin Family Classical Concerts - Sunday, November 23 at 5 p.m. Austin Family Classical Concerts is a concert series featuring local professional classical musicians performing some of their favorite music together. Concerts are open to everyone, including children of all ages. In fact, it is the perfect first classical music concert experience for young children! This month's concert will feature music for strings and flute. After the performance, the audience is welcome to come up to the stage and look at the instruments and talk with the performers. Admission is FREE, but donations will be accepted to offset the costs of production. Hyde Park Presbyterian Church, 3913 Ave B, Austin.
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Where to Take Out of Town Guests to Experience Austin This Holiday Season


As I prepare for our first visitors of the holiday season, ideas pop into my head of all the things we can do while they are in town. Where would they like to eat? What would they like to do? Which holiday events are crowd-pleasers? What activities don’t require as much walking, so grandparents can still join in? 


Here are our picks for the holiday season of ways you can show your guests our town and have fun doing it:


See the Mozart’s Christmas Light Show

Starting on Friday, November 21st at 6:00pm, Mozart’s annual lights display takes place every hour on the hour until midnight. The show lasts fifteen minutes, but there is plenty of time before and afterwards to enjoy a hot chocolate or something from the dessert case. Here is a video from last year, although the display changes from year to year. Mozart’s does get crowded, so plan to get there in advance, and consider dropping guests off since the parking lot fills up quickly (there is additional parking across the street). It’s also a lovely, centrally-located spot to enjoy the lakeside view and look for ducks.


Visit the Broken Spoke

The first time my then-boyfriend, now-husband visited Austin, I took him to the Broken Spoke. A lot has changed since then, but you will be hard pressed to find a more fitting symbol of Austin than this honky-tonk, which is celebrating 50 years in operation this year. Nestled in between new construction, the Spoke retains its old Austin charm, from its chicken fried steak to its largely-untouched dance floor to its “museum” filled with photos of the owner, James White, with the biggest names in country music. Although it’s best to go at night when a band is playing (free dance lessons are from 8-9pm most nights, y’all!), you can still get a taste of this Austin institution if you visit during the daytime hours.

Tour the Capitol

We Texans sure do love to brag about being the best, and that bravado is on full display at our state Capitol building downtown. For the first time this year, the Capitol will offer a special Holiday Tour, which will take place starting on December 8th through the 23rd. Holiday tours are free and are offered weekdays at 10:45am and 1:45pm, Saturdays at 11:00am and 1:00pm and Sundays at 1:00pm. During the Holiday Tours, the guides will discuss the different ethnic groups which settled in Texas, the traditions they brought to our state and the architecture of the building which inspired this year’s Capitol Ornament. The tours are generally 30-40 minutes in length, so it’s usually short enough for even the more fidgety kids — and there is plenty to do if you need to break off from the group (rolling down the hill on the lawn, for example). If you miss a Holiday Tour, regular tours take place from 8:30am-4:30pm Monday through Friday, 9:30am-3:30pm on Saturdays and noon until 3:30pm on Sundays.

Catch a Holiday Performance

Whether it’s a holiday-themed play, musical, concert or other performance, why not take your out of town guests along? Check out our massive list of Holiday Happenings for ideas. Maybe this is the year you attempt The Nutcracker, or perhaps something more low-key at ZACH is more your speed. If you are trying to reduce the amount of items entering your house during the holiday season, you can also request any generous out-of-town guests (hint: grandparents) purchase the tickets as a gift. Many of these events are nicer for out of towners who don’t want to stand in line, be outside for long periods of time or walk a long way. Some can even become annual traditions.

Get Outside

You never know what the weather will be like this time of year, but chances are that it’s nicer than folks who are coming from colder climates are used to. If the weather cooperates, you can try feeding the ducks at Lou Neff Point (where the photo above was snapped) while you stroll off your holiday indulgences, scaling the stairs at Mount Bonnell to see the Austin skyline or checking out the fall foliage at McKinney Falls State Park. If you visit Zilker Park during the day, you can see the Trail of Lights from the relative comfort of the Zilker Zephyr, the park’s own miniature train. Also, you can take a spin under the Zilker Tree without worrying about the crowds of the Trail of Lights by visiting before December 6th, or from December 22nd until New Year’s Eve. Another place you can explore is the new Family Garden at the Wildflower Center or take a short walk to the Texas Arboretum to swing on the swings in the Cathedral of Oaks.

Eat, Drink and Be Merry

A trip to Austin isn’t complete without trying all the local specialties, and what better excuse do you need to break out of your regular restaurant routine? The Driskill has a long and interesting history and is exquisitely decorated for the season, with events taking place throughout the holidays. The 1886 Cafe & Bakery offers hot chocolate and a case stocked with baked goods to fortify you for seasonal excursions. A trip to the Salt Lick is a great way to check barbeque off the list and get in a little drive out to the “country”. Your guests can choose from a variety of culinary options at the Whole Foods flagship store on Lamar, eat and play on the rooftop and even skate on the small ice rink from 11am-9pm (oh, and while you are there you can get some grocery shopping done, too). A trip to Austin isn’t complete without breakfast tacos, and by all accounts Veracruz All Natural has some of the best around. For a bricks-and-mortar Mexican restaurant that’s casual and family-friendly, try Zocalo in Clarksville (if you can time it right, save room for a banana split across the street at the retro Nau's soda fountain, which is open 7:30am-4:15pm Monday through Friday, 8:00am-4:15pm on Saturdays and 10:30am-3:30pm on Sundays).

What else is on your must-do list for when you have friends and family in town during the holidays?



A recovering workaholic, Nicole Basham now spends her time rediscovering Austin through her 8-year-old son's eyes. A soccer-playing mom, Nicole also enjoys tickling too close to bedtime, taking in some live music and being silly. 

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10 Free Events to Enjoy Thanksgiving Week (Nov 21-30, 2014)

Mozart's Light Show
  1. Mozart's Christmas Light Show - Friday, November 21 - Sunday, January 4, from 6 p.m. - midnight. The 15-minute show will start at 6 p.m. and then repeat every hour on the hour until midnight. The FREE light show will be bigger and better than all past years!  Hot beverages will be available for purchase. Mozart's Coffee Roasters, 3825 Lake Austin Blvd, Austin.
  2. Christmas Light Up Parade and Walkway of Lights (Marble Falls) - Friday, November 21 at 6 p.m. People come far and wide to see the two million lights reflecting off Lake Marble Falls during the world-famous Walkway of Lights. Walkway will open on November 21st after the Christmas Light-Up Parade!  Please check the website before heading out for weather updates. The lights cannot be turned on if the ground is wet. Starting this weekend, the Walkway will be open every evening that it is dry, from 6-10 p.m., until January 1. FREE! Lakeside Park, 307 Buena Vista, Marble Falls.
  3. East Austin Studio Tour (E.A.S.T.) - Saturday, November 22 and Sunday, November 23, from 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. EAST is a FREE, annual, self-guided art event providing the public with an opportunity to meet the makers: the local artists and artisans who leave a lasting imprint on Austin’s vibrant, dynamic culture. Tour-goers are invited to discover new artistic talent, see working studios, learn about artists’ tools, techniques, and inspirations, and explore unique exhibition spaces and local businesses. Visit the website for information on participating artists and studios, exhibitions, and happenings. For the scoop on how to enjoy EAST with kids in tow, head over here. You can also watch a short video about EAST here. East of IH-35, west of 183, south of 290, and north of Lady Bird Lake, Austin.
  4. The Great Tree Lighting – Sunday, November 23 at 6 p.m. (This event was moved from Saturday due to rain in the forecast). The Domain will kick off the holiday season by lighting its 40-foot holiday tree – featuring 6,000 twinkling lights, 400 ornaments and a 5-foot star topper. The 30-minute tree-lighting show, starting at 6 p.m., will feature dynamic musical performances, culminating with the lighting of the tree by Santa himself. The Great Tree is located in front of Macy's in Domain I. Earlier in the day, starting at noon in the Domain II, guests can enjoy free holiday entertainment, performances by area schools, special in-store events, craft activities, face painting, caricature drawings, balloon twisting stations and more. Check the Facebook event page for updates. FREE! The Domain, 11410 Century Oaks Terrace, Austin.
  5. Santa on the Terrace - Friday, November 28, from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Santa Claus is coming to the Long Center! Take a break from the mall madness and experience Santa on the Terrace this Black Friday. Bring the kids for a FREE photo with Santa overlooking the best view in Austin! Sip hot chocolate, enjoy some of Austin’s favorite food trucks, and kick off the holiday season in the greatest winter wonderland in town. The Long Center, 701 W Riverside, Austin.
  6. Blue Genie Art Bazaar – November 28 - December 24, from 10 a.m. - 10 p.m. daily. The Blue Genie Art Bazaar is a fixture of the Austin holiday shopping season. The Bazaar features unique work from more than 200 local and regional artists, with a portion of proceeds going to Make-A-Wish®. Parking and admission are always FREE of charge. Marchesa Hall & Theatre, 6226 Middle Fiskville Rd., Austin.
  7. The EmilyAnn Theatre & Gardens Trail of Lights (Wimberley) - November 28 - December 31, times vary. Stroll a walking path with more than 100 lighted exhibits created by local businesses, churches, organizations and families. Roast a marshmallow at the yule log and listen to live entertainment on most nights.The trail will be open from 6–9 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, and 6-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. See the schedule of when Santa will be in his house. FREE! EmilyAnn Theatre & Gardens, 1101 FM 2325, Wimberley.
  8. Chuy’s Children Giving to Children Parade - Saturday, November 29, starts at 11 a.m. The parade starts at 11 a.m. at the Capitol and moves south on Congress, all the way to Cesar Chavez, ending just north of the bridge. The hour-long procession features giant inflatable balloons, festive holiday floats, marching bands, cool classic cars and Santa! At a designated time towards the end of the parade, Santa’s Helpers will line the parade route and help spectators donate new, unwrapped toys to Operation Blue Santa, which brings Christmas magic to children under 15 years old that otherwise might not receive any gifts. FREE! Congress Avenue, Austin. 
  9. Renegade Craft Fair's Austin Holiday Market - Saturday, November 29 and Sunday, November 30. This FREE-to-attend event will be open 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. each day and will feature a curated selection of today’s finest independent Makers along with workshops, food and drinks, music, and more. Give the gift of handmade this holiday season and support Small Business Saturday. Shoppers will find an array of outstanding handmade goods at the Fair, ranging from holiday inspired stationery and gift wrap, unique and one-of-a-kind jewelry, children's toys, apparel and shoes, to natural healthy and beauty products, repurposed lighting and furniture, housewares and much more. Preview this year's line up of 100+ talented makers, food and drink, and workshops here. Admission is FREE. Parking at Palmer Events Center is $7. Palmer Events Center, 900 Barton Springs Road, Austin.
  10. Zilker Holiday Tree Lighting - Sunday, November 30 at 6 p.m. The Zilker Tree has been lighting the Austin skies during the holiday season since 1967. The tree, which is located in Zilker Park, will be lit for the first time this year by the winners of a citywide coloring contest. The ceremony begins at 6 p.m. and features local entertainment, food, novelties and live music. (Please bring cash if you’d like to patronize the vendors.) Performers include the Austin Civic Wind Ensemble and the Barton Hills Choir. After November 30, the tree will be on display nightly from approximately 5:30 p.m. until midnight. FREE! Zilker Park, 2100 Barton Springs Road, Austin.
For even more ideas, be sure to check our Free Fun Calendar!

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Giveaway: Choose-n-Cut Christmas Tree


Starting the day after Thanksgiving, Elgin Christmas Tree Farm will be open for business! Trees of all shapes and sizes - up to 12 feet tall - will be ready for you to choose and cut.  Just hop aboard a hayride tour of the farm, borrow a saw, and pick the perfect tree for your home or business. 

Christmas tree sales open on Friday, November 28, 2014 with the following hours of operation:
  • Monday - Saturday, 10 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, 12-5:30 p.m. Guests are welcome to attend Church on the Farm at 11 a.m. Tree sales begin after church.
Choose and cut tree prices range from $27 to $131. Pre-cut Fraser Fir trees are also available, priced by the tree. While at the farm, stop by the Christmas Cottage for a great selection of reasonably priced ornaments, fresh-made wreaths, and tree stands. 

There is plenty of free fun on offer at Elgin Christmas Tree Farm, starting with admission and parking!  Also free are the scenic hayrides, two mazes, train rides, visits with farm animals, the playground, rubber duck races, and the hay bale mountain!  

Be sure to join the Farm Family eclub to receive Elgin Christmas Tree Farm updates and coupons!


Free Fun in Austin has a $40 gift certificate for Elgin Christmas Tree Farm to give away!  This amount will cover most 6' trees, or the winner can use the certificate as credit towards a larger tree.  

For your chance to win, simply fill out the form below. By submitting the form, you are agreeing to the Sweepstakes Official Rules.  The winner will be selected on Sunday, November 23, 2014 using random.org and will be notified by email.

If you cannot see the form below, please visit the original post to enter






Elgin Christmas Tree Farm
120 Nature's Way, off Roy Davis Rd
Elgin, Texas
512-281-5016

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Free Date Nights in Austin (Nov 20-23, 2014)

 Wednesday, November 19, 2014


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Con' Olio 5 Year Anniversary Happy Hour


To celebrate their 5th anniversary, Con' Olio is hosting a special Happy Hour from 4-7pm at each of their three locations with complimentary small bites, wine, and specialty cocktails created in-house using a variety of olive oils and vinegars. Customers will also have the opportunity to win a weekend pass to the 2015 Austin Food & Wine Festival. (Con’ Olio, 215 Lavaca St. in the Second Street District, at 10000 Research Blvd., Suite 130 in the Arboretum and at 12918 Shops Parkway, Suite 550 at The Shops at the Galleria, Austin)

Jo's Movember Movie Night

Enjoy FREE mustache-centric movies every Thursday in November at Jo's on South Congress. This week's pick is Anchorman with Will Ferrell. Bring a chair and take advantage of beer specials and FREE popcorn. Jo's will donate 20% of the sales from their "Stache Menu", consisting of Pulled Pork Tacos, Frito Pies and Shiner Beer. (Jo's Coffee, 1300 South Congress Ave, Austin)

Hill Country Galleria Tree Lighting, Santa's Arrival, and Fireworks

Enjoy a FREE holiday concert by The Vintage 15 and holiday carolers as the Hill Country Galleria celebrates their 8th annual tree lighting. The fun starts at 6pm, then Santa will arrive at 7pm escorted by the Lake Travis High School Cavalettes. Stick around after the tree lighting for a FREE fireworks show. The CW Star, Annaka Chesnut, will be on hand to welcome Santa. (Hill Country Galleria, 12700 Hill Country Blvd, Bee Cave)

The Contemporary Austin: Art Lecture by Sarah Schultz

A lecture for those of us who love living in a vibrant city full of personality and creative expression. Sarah Schultz, formerly Curator of Public Practice and Director of Education at the Walker Art Center, will talk at 7pm about the Walker’s Open Field and its model of what it means to be public. A great lecture for art-lovers who wonder about the "how" and "why" of public works. (Jones Center, 700 Congress Avenue, Austin)

Mrs. Glass is still rocking their residency at the Blackheart every Thursday by serving up lots of booty-shaking and feel good soul. This week's special guest will be The Lochness Mobster's. These acts are high energy and never disappoint. Show starts at 9:30pm. FREE! (The Blackheart, 86 Rainey, Austin)

Third Thursday at The Blanton Museum of Art

Enjoy the Blanton Museum of Art for FREE this Thursday as part of their third Thursday celebration. Starting at 5:30pm local “southern-fried vintage jazz” musician Datri Bean will discuss how music compositions that she’s chosen connect to paintings, drawings, and sculptures on display. At 6:30pm watch art and science meet face to face when internationally acclaimed artist James Drake sits down with renowned physicist David Krakauer to discuss how artists and scientists envision the future. (Blanton Museum of Art, 200 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, Austin)


Friday, November 21, 2014

Jack Allen's Book Signing and Tasting at Book People

Jack Gilmore, owner of the popular Austin-area Jack Allen’s Kitchen restaurants, will be at BookPeople to share his latest book, Jack Allen's Kitchen: Celebrating the Tastes of Texas. This FREE event is curated by Edible Austin magazine, who along with Jack Allen will be providing Turkey and Dressing Meatballs with Giblet Gravy (recipe in the cookbook) for folks to sample, as well as serving Tito's Vodka Sage & Grapefruit Splash cocktails and Flat Creek's Super Texan Wine. Beverages will also be provided courtesy of Saint Arnold Brewing Company. Event starts at 7pm. Books for signing MUST be purchased at Book People. (BookPeople, 603 N Lamar Blvd, Austin)

Alvvays FREE In-Store at Waterloo Records

Described as, "two women, three men, a crate of C-86 tapes and a love of jingle-jangle" this Toronto group's eclectic sound is a flood of creative expression. They will be playing a show at Red 7 later that night, but you can catch them for FREE at Waterloo at 5pm as part of their album release presented by Shiner. (Waterloo Records, 600 N Lamar, Austin)


Head for the Hill's FREE Music Fridays

FREE music Fridays are back at Hill's Cafe. This week features Mayeaux and Broussard from 7-9pm. This country, blues, and Americana band is one of Austin's own and frequently opens for the great Ray Benson. Don't let the weather scare you, if it's too chilly the show will be moved inside. (Hill's Cafe, 4700 South Congress, Austin) 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Great Tree Lighting at The Domain

The Domain kicks off the holiday season with the lighting of its 40-foot "Great Tree" featuring 6,000 lights, 400 ornaments and five-foot star topper. The night includes musical performances by Sunny Sweeney and the Outside Voices youth choir, culminating with the lighting of the tree by Santa himself at 6pm. FREE! (The Domain, 11410 Century Oaks Terrace, Austin)

Home Slice Carnival-O-Pizza 2014 - This event date has changed to Saturday, December 13 due to rain in the forecast.


To celebrate Home Slice's ninth year and to give back to the neighborhood and community that has made them famous, they have planned an afternoon of pizza-themed craziness from 12-7pm. There will be live music, marching bands, pizza eating contests, speed tossing contests, and plenty of impromptu entertainment. The fun includes food and drink specials with all the proceeds benefiting the Austin Bat Cave. For a complete line-up, visit here. Admission is FREE! (Home Slice, 1415 South Congress Ave, Austin)

East Austin Studio Tour (EAST)

EAST is a FREE self-guided art event occurring this weekend and next, providing the public with an opportunity to meet the makers: the local artists and artisans who leave a lasting imprint on Austin’s vibrant, dynamic culture. Tour-goers are invited to discover new artistic talent, see working studios, learn about artists’ tools, techniques, and inspirations, and explore unique exhibition spaces and local businesses. Happenings are also FREE, occurring with varying hours. Visit the website for the lineup of exhibitions as well as the schedule of happenings and select events.


SURE THING Comedy Show

SURE THING comedy show at the original Austin Java, 8pm. Headliners include performers seen on Comedy Central, Last Comic Standing, Letterman, and more, as well as the city's best comics on the rise, plus special out-of-town guests. Hosted by Duncan Carson and Brendan K. O'Grady. These events have been filling up quickly so be sure to get there early! Doors open at 7:30pm. FREE! (Austin Java Parkway, 1206 Parkway, Austin)

Sunday, November 23, 2014



SouthPOP’s exhibition, Austin Graffiti Art: Celebrating Austin’s Street Art and Featuring the “Hope” Gallery on Lamar Boulevard, showcases the photography of Bob Simmons. The goal of SouthPop is to present some of the most visually interesting street art works as pop culture art rather than a public nuisance. Admission to the museum is FREE during regular hours (Thursday-Sunday from 1pm-6pm) through December 20. (SouthPOP, 1516-B South Lamar Blvd, Austin)

Old School Sunday Funday at Kung Fu Saloon

Starting at 11am, Kung Fu Saloon is putting the FUN in Sunday Funday with all day FREE game play and $1 mimosas. The Saloon has 16 Vintage Arcade Games and tons of other fun activities like FREE Skee Ball, Giant Jenga, Shuffleboard, Foosball and your favorite board games. (Kung Fu Saloon, 510 Rio Grande, Austin)



Heather Schuck is the CEO of the children's lifestyle brand, Glamajama. When she's not scheming "glama" world domination or mentoring young designers, you can find her in her front yard chasing her three children with a garden hose. Connect with her at glamaLIFE or on Facebook.

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Lighting of The Great Tree at The Domain (And More Free Holiday Fun!)

The holidays come but once a year, so let’s get together to spread some cheer as The Domain hosts its 8th Annual Lighting of The Great Tree on Sunday, November 23, 2014! (The event date has changed from Saturday due to rain in the forecast.)

The Domain’s Lighting of The Great Tree is a day packed with free holiday entertainment beginning at noon on the new lawn area in The Domain II Plaza. Family-friendly activities will include children’s holiday music, face painting, caricature drawings, balloon twisting and holiday crafts. Many stores will also offer special in-store events and discounts throughout the day.

The 40-foot tree, located in front of Macy's in Domain I, will light up the shopping center during the annual tree-lighting show at 6 p.m. The holiday event will feature a dynamic performance by ACM singer and songwriter, Sunny Sweeney, and Outside Voices, a local children’s choir. The evening will culminate with an onstage greeting from Santa, the lighting of the tree, and a fireworks show.

Following the tree lighting, local musical artists will perform on the stage near Starbucks. Strolling carolers and larger-than-life stilt walking toy soldiers will change the sights and sounds of The Domain and spread holiday cheer around the center. Attendees are also invited to enjoy marshmallow roasting in The Park.

The Domain Lighting of The Great Tree is free and open to the public. 



But that's not all!  The Domain has holiday fun planned for weeks to come!

Santa Photo Experience
November 14 - December 24, 2014 

Domain II, across from iPic Theaters, next to Bath & Body Works

Enjoy holiday crafts and lounge seating while you wait to see the big guy! Or, make an appointment online at www.Simon.NoerrSanta.com. Packages are available for purchase.

Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides
Fridays & Saturdays, November 29 – December 20, 5–9 p.m.

Enjoy complimentary horse-drawn carriage rides each Friday and Saturday night between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Pick-up locations are near Santa's Workshop in Domain II and at the Macy's north entrance by California Pizza Kitchen in Domain I.

Holiday Light Shows
November 22 - December 31, 2014
Hourly between 5 and 9 p.m. 

Watch the holidays come to life with hourly lights show in Domain II. More than 82,000 lights and 2,200 strobes will dance to holiday music for the first 15 minutes of each hour.

Holiday Entertainment
Century Oaks Park (Domain I, near Starbucks) and Domain II events lawn
Fridays, 6-9 p.m. 
Saturdays, 2-5 p.m. & 6-9 p.m. 
Sundays, 2-5 p.m. 

Enjoy live music each weekend, with feature performances on the lawn in Domain II each Saturday afternoon.

Strolling Carolers
Saturdays, 6-8 p.m. 

The sounds of the season will drift through Domain I each Saturday night as strolling carolers roam the sidewalks!

Breakfast with Santa
Saturday, December 6, 2014, 9 a.m. - noon

Enjoy breakfast, live music, character appearances, games, crafts and a visit from Santa in Domain II.

For more information, please call (512) 873-8099 or visit www.TheDomainInAustin.com

Stay up to date on upcoming holiday events by following The Domain on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

The Domain
11410 Century Oaks Terrace
Austin, Texas 78758 

This post was sponsored by The Domain. 

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5 Ways to Put the Giving in Thanksgiving


Need a new project to occupy the kids while instilling some good values? The following opportunities require no cash, and you’ll feel great in return. Make each activity a treasure hunt, or a contest for the kids, to up the fun factor.

5 Ways to Put the Giving in Thanksgiving Without Spending a Dime:

1. Donate Old Electronics to Safe Place- Dig out those old iPods, cell phones and tablets and get rid of them for a good cause. It doesn’t even matter what condition the items are in and your donation is tax-deductible. SafePlace recycles these relics for revenue that goes towards their programs.

2. Give Toiletries and Blankets to Foundation for the Homeless- Foundation for the Homeless is always in need of travel-size toiletries, so clear out that stash you’ve been hoarding from your hotel visits and put them to good use. Gently used blankets are important coming into the winter months so make some room in your linen closet while helping others.

3. Recycle Clothes and Household Items for The Arc of the Capital Area- We can all de-clutter a bit and not miss a thing. Arc will send out those orange postcards when they are about to come to your neighborhood but if you have a lot to donate all at once, you can arrange a pick-up time. These items are sold in a thrift store and the proceeds help the Arc centers in Texas. Also tax-deductible.

4. Give Old Books to Austin Public Library- As you your children grow older and have less need for Curious George or Goodnight Moon, you can give your books to any branch location or to the Recycled Reads store. Proceeds then benefit the libraries themselves.

5. Donate Unneeded Diapers and Used Baby Food Pouches to Austin Diaper Bank- The diapers your little one has outgrown can be passed on to those in need. But baby food pouches? Keep them out the landfill and provide some revenue to purchase even more diapers for Central Texas babies and toddlers. Eight drop-off locations around town make it an easy win for all.

You may also be interested in 5 Fun Ways to Volunteer with Kids in Austin.




Instead of administering university programs, Beverly Hamilton now spends her days finding puzzle pieces under the couch and convincing her toddler, Barrett, that eating really is good for him. Since 2013, her other gig has been working as the founder and executive director of Austin Diaper Bank. A recovering Ph.D., she’d rather write grants and blog posts than grade papers any day.

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Where to Find Snow & Ice Skating in Austin

 Tuesday, November 18, 2014


Austin doesn't get snow and ice very often. When you have the chance to play in real snow or skate around on ice, we say take it! Bundle up, remind the kids to tuck their fingers in if they fall on the ice to prevent any unfortunate accidents, and ball up some snow for a wintery good time! 

Snow:


Hill Country Galleria Snow Days (Bee Cave) - Saturday, December 6; Sunday, December 14; and Saturday, December 20 from Noon to 4:00 p.m. Real snow will be delivered to the Hill Country Galleria! Toss a snowball, build a snowman, make a snow angel, and take fun family photos. Enjoy live holiday music, holiday carolers, and more every day that it snows. FREE! Hill Country Galleria, located right outside the Bee Cave Library, 12700 Hill Country Blvd, Bee Cave.

Battle for a Cure Foundation Presents: A Snow Spectacular (Cedar Park) - Saturday, December 6 from 4-8:00 p.m. This event is going to be one of a kind with 30,000 pounds of REAL SNOW blown over a 1,300 square foot area for the kids to play in! There will be light snacks, a visit from Santa, hayrides, hot chocolate/coffee bar, cash bar for adults, live music, a silent auction and more. Proceeds benefit children fighting cancer and their families. Cost: $20 adult, $10 child. Purchase tickets online here. Twin Creeks Country Club, 3201 Twin Creeks Club Dr, Cedar Park.


Snow Hill in Fisherman's Park (Bastrop) - Saturday, December 6 at 3 p.m. 

Come join the City of Bastrop Parks and Recreation Department for an afternoon of fun at Fisherman's Park on December 6th, with festivities starting at 3 p.m. Help turn on the Trail of Lights, play on a snow covered hill, enjoy a cup of hot chocolate while roasting marshmallows, and watching Arthur Christmas under snow flakes. For more information contact the Parks and Rec Department at 512-332-8920. Fisherman's Park, 1200 Willow St, Bastrop.

Christmas Dreams & Snowy Things (Round Rock) - Saturday, December 13 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. There will be real snow activities as part of the fanfare for the Nyle Maxwell Family of Dealerships Christmas Dreams & Snowy Things event. This event will feature snow-filled activities (truckloads of snow are being delivered on-site) as well as giant slides, paintball, tango tower & zip line, horse-drawn wagon rides, Blue Santa donation station, train rides, interactive holiday booths (including decorating your own stockings, Santa hats and cookies, writing letters to Santa), inflatables and rides, concessions, live music (with choirs from eight area elementary schools) and appearances by Santa himself. (See photos from last year's event here.) FREE! Boles Family Sports Complex, 1605 N Mays St, Round Rock.


Ice Skating:

Chaparral Ice - Public skating times are available year-round but Chaparral hosts four special events throughout the holiday season:

  • Christmas Kickoff - Friday, November 28 and Saturday, November 29 from 6:30-9:30 p.m. Evening skating Thanksgiving weekend only. Skate by the glow of twinkle lights!
  • Christmas in Austin - Sunday, December 7 from 6:30-8:00 p.m. Figure skaters, singers, and dancers "Keep Christmas Weird" by performing Austin's unique holiday traditions on ice. (FREE standing-room admission with canned good donation.)
  • Santa Skate and Ugly Sweater Party - Sunday, December 14 from 1-4:00 p.m. This event features free photos with Santa (bring your own camera), Christmas-themed skating exhibitions, holiday tunes, a hot cocoa bar, and festive treats.
Cost: Admission is $6 and skate rental is $4 for children and adults. Kids 5 years of age and under skate for only $5 on Saturday and Sunday, including skate rental. Kids 5 and under skate for FREE Monday-Friday with paid adult admission. Chaparral Ice, located inside Northcross Mall, 2525 W Anderson Ln, Austin.

Eisbahn Fredericksburg (Fredericksburg) - Friday, November 28 - Sunday, January 4. Hours vary. Eisbahn (“ice rink” in German) returns to Marktplatz in downtown Fredericksburg for its tenth consecutive year. Open daily (except for Christmas), you and your family can enjoy outdoor ice skating on real ice in the Texas Hill Country. Special refrigeration units keep the ice frozen even when the weather is warm outside. Cost: Enjoy a come-and-go all-day pass for only $10, including skates. 
Marktplatz, Downtown Fredericksburg.

Whole Foods Downtown - Saturday, November 29 - Sunday, January 11 from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Skate on top of the world...well, at least on top of Whole Foods downtown. Cost: $10 per person, includes skate rental. 525 N Lamar, Austin.

Sights & Sounds of Christmas (San Marcos) - Wednesday, December 3 - Saturday, December 6 from 5-11:00 p.m. Experience four full nights of family fun during the Sights and Sounds of Christmas. Enjoy skating round and round the large, simulated ice skating rink with family and friends while surrounded by millions of Christmas lights and holiday music. Other attractions include a carnival, FREE photos with Santa, live music, arts and crafts, FREE petting zoo, Town of Bethlehem exhibit, and more. View full entertainment schedule hereAdmission: $5 per person; kids 12 and under are free. Additional cost to skate: $5 per person for a 20-minute session. San Marcos Plaza Park, 401 E Hopkins St, San Marcos.

Winter Wonderland Ice Skating Rink (Bastrop) - Friday, December 12 - Sunday, December 14. Hours vary. Feel the holiday spirit as you visit with Santa Claus and whirl around on the rink! Brought to you by Frontier Bank, a synthetic ice skating rink will be set up in the Marketplace for all to enjoy. Cost: Individual Skater $8/20 minutes; Family of Three $20/20 minutes; Family of Four $25/20 minutes. Main Street Marketplace, 921 Main St, Bastrop.

Holiday Lights and Ice at Omni Barton Creek Resort and Spa - Friday, December 19 - Sunday, January 4. Hours vary. Get in the holiday spirit with s'mores, games, twinkling lights, and so much more. This year, Austin's largest outdoor ice rink is twinkling even brighter. The 4,100 square foot ice rink will be accompanied by a display of over 200,000 twinkling lights and festive activities for the whole family to enjoy. A portion of proceeds will be donated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation® of Central & South Texas, benefitting local children in need. Guests can enjoy the skating rink with individual skate session tickets or season passes. Open to the public. Cost: $25 adult, $20 child; Season Pass, $150 adult/child. Barton Creek Resort and Spa, 8212 Barton Club Dr, Austin.





In her life before kids, Emily held jobs as a zookeeper, a middle school teacher, and a tour bus driver in the wilds of Montana--not one of which prepared her for the adventures of motherhood. Now she’s living the good life in Austin with her husband, two sons and a Great Dane. When she’s not off gallivanting with her boys, you might find Emily baking up a mean batch of cupcakes, recalling obscure 80s song lyrics, or dreaming of peace and quiet.

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Austin's Park n Pizza is Giving Away Another Birthday Party!


Austin's Park n Pizza had so much fun with their last giveaway, they're doing it again!

You could win a birthday party for eight, valued at up to $300!  

To enter, head over to the Austin's Park Facebook page and write a birthday-themed poem in the comments section of this Facebook post.  The author of the most creative poem will win!


Which birthday party package can you choose from if you win?

MEGA BLAST (a $199.95 value)
  • Unlimited Buffet & Drinks
  • Unlimited Attractions: go-karts, bumper boats,lazer tag, mini-golf, rock climbing walls and the little shot gravity drop.
  • $5 FunCard for each child
  • Private Room for 60 mins
  • Private Host while in room
  • Festive Tableware, Balloons, Tablecloth
  • Gift for the Birthday Honoree
Xtreme Glow (a $229.95 value)
  • Unlimited Buffet & Drinks
  • Unlimited Attractions: go-karts, bumper boats,lazer tag, mini-golf, rock climbing walls and the little shot gravity drop.
  • $10 FunCard for each guest
  • Private GLOW Room for 90 mins
  • Private GLOW Party Host
  • GLOW take home party supplies for each guest
  • Gift for the Birthday Honoree
Super Fly Tie Dye (a $259.95 value)
  • Unlimited Buffet & Drinks
  • Unlimited Attractions: go-karts, bumper boats, lazer tag, mini-golf, rock climbing walls and the little shot gravity drop.
  • $10 FunCard for each child
  • Private party room for 90 mins
  • Festive Cups, Napkins,Tableware, & Tablecloth
  • Party Host - Tie Dye Extraordinaire
  • Take Home Tie Dye T-Shirt
  • Tie Dye T-Shirt Making Experience
  • Special Gifts for the Birthday Honoree
Tween Xtreme (a $199.95 value)
  • Unlimited Buffet & Drinks
  • Unlimited Attractions: go-karts, bumper boats, lazer tag, mini-golf, rock climbing walls and the little shot gravity drop.
  • $10 FunCard for each child
  • Reserved Table for 60 mins
  • Gift for the Birthday Honoree
Also, don't forget that Austin's Park n Pizza is offering a special deal just for Free Fun in Austin readers!

Visit the Austin's Park website and enter the promo code ffafree to get a FREE $20 Fun Card with every purchase of a Full Park Pass! 


Fun Cards can be used for games in the 16,000-square-foot arcade and for the batting cages. 

For more information on this promotion, head over here.

Austin's Park n Pizza
16231 North IH-35
Pflugerville, TX 78660

This post was sponsored by Mind Ecology.

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Torchy's Coming to Mueller: Free Breakfast Tacos on Opening Day

Torchy’s Tacos is set to open a 27th location on Thursday, November 20, 2014. The new store is located at 1801 E. 51st, near Berkman Drive, in the Mueller District. 

Torchy’s fans can look forward to enjoying the location on Wednesday, November 19th with free tacos and libations. Between 6-9 p.m., each guest may enjoy two complimentary tacos and two drinks of choice. Torchy’s full bar will offer wine, rotating draft beer, and signature cocktails.

For grand opening day on Thursday, November 20th, Torchy’s will be offering free breakfast tacos. Beginning at 7 a.m. through 10 a.m., visitors can receive one free breakfast item of their choice as either a dine-in or to-go meal.

For more information regarding the new Austin location, please visit Torchy’s website at www.torchystacos.com


Check the Grand Opening Party Facebook event page for updates.

Torchy's Tacos
1801 E. 51st
Austin, Texas

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2014 Holiday Happenings in Austin

 Monday, November 17, 2014



Holidays at The Domain



Annual Holiday Tree Lighting – Sunday, November 23 (The event date has changed from Saturday due to rain in the forecast.)

The Domain will kick off the holiday season with the lighting of its 40-foot Christmas tree – featuring 6,000 twinkling lights, 400 ornaments and a 5-foot star topper – during the eighth annual lighting of The Great Tree. The 30-minute tree-lighting show will feature dynamic musical performances, culminating with the lighting of the tree by Santa himself at 6 p.m. Starting at noon in the Domain II, guests can enjoy free holiday entertainment, performances by area schools, special in-store events, craft activities, face painting, caricature drawings, balloon twisting stations and more. FREE! 

Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides at The Domain Fridays & Saturday, November 29 – December 24, 5–9 p.m. 

Enjoy complimentary horse-drawn carriage rides each Friday and Saturday night between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Pickup locations near Santa's Workshop and at the Macy's north entrance by California Pizza Kitchen. The Domain, 11410 Century Oaks Terrace.

Breakfast with Santa at The Domain – Saturday, December 6, 9 a.m.–noon 

Don't miss The Domain's annual Breakfast with Santa in its biggest and best year yet! Enjoy breakfast, live music, character appearances, holiday games (with prizes!), letters to Santa, face painting, balloon twisting and more fun! FREE! Domain II, 11410 Century Oaks Terrace.


Featured Event




Austin


Christmas in the Community – November 22- December 22, various times 

The Austin Symphony is excited to announce a brand new program this holiday season that will bring FREE music to all Austinites. Christmas in the Community is a series of twelve concerts held throughout the city of Austin featuring different ensembles of the orchestra playing familiar holiday music. The program kicks off on November 22nd at the Domain with their annual tree lighting ceremony and concludes December 22nd with a performance at the State Capitol. All twelve dates, times, and locations are listed on the website. Christmas in the Community is proudly sponsored by Macy’s. 

2ND Street District's 4th Annual Holiday Window Walk - Starting November 23 

The 2SD Holiday Window Walk is an annual competition open to local theatrical design students, where 2SD businesses let their storefront windows become the students’ canvases for an opportunity to win collegiate scholarships. On Saturday, December 6, the winning window design, chosen from a theme of lyrics from holiday songs and Christmas carols and lines from classic holiday stories and films, will be announced during the “Deck the District” event from 1-6 p.m., where window walkers can stroll the 2ND Street District, enjoy carolers and an appearance by the one and only Santa Claus, and take advantage of the in-store specials at 2ND Street District shops.


Blue Genie Art BazaarNovember 28 – December 24, 10 a.m.–10 p.m. daily 

 The Blue Genie Art Bazaar is a fixture of the Austin holiday shopping season. The Bazaar features unique work from more than 200 local and regional artists – with a portion of proceeds going to Make-A-Wish®. Parking and admission are always FREE of charge. Marchesa Hall & Theatre, 6226 Middle Fiskville Rd. 

A Christmas Carol at ZACH Theatre November 26 – December 28, various times 

Spectacular holiday carols and surprising time-bending classics whisk your family on a captivating ride with the three soulful, rockin’ ghosts in Scrooge’s transformative dream. This inspiring, original adaptation of Charles Dickens’ beloved holiday classic features a traditional Victorian setting and gorgeous period costumes, but with a musical score that spans genres and eras, from rousing gospel to rock-n-soul favorites, and from nostalgic harmony classics to contemporary hits. Just like the music in the films Moulin Rouge, Scrooged and The Great Gatsby, ZACH’s A Christmas Carol is infused with a playful, joyous and heartfelt celebration of the season. Tickets start at $50. ZACH Theatre, 1510 Toomey Rd. 

Elf: The MusicalFriday, November 28 – Sunday, November 30, various times 

Elf is the tale of Buddy, a young orphan child who mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is transported back to the North Pole. Unaware that he is actually human, Buddy’s enormous size and poor toy-making abilities cause him to face the truth. With Santa’s permission, Buddy embarks on a journey to New York City to find his birth father, discover his true identity, and help New York remember the true meaning of Christmas. The musical takes place at The Long Center. Tickets start at $29 ($5 “eyeGO to the Arts” tickets are available for high school students). Long Center for Performing Arts, 701 W. Riverside Dr.

Chuy’s Children Giving to Children ParadeSaturday, November 29, starts at 11 a.m. 

This parade starts at 11 a.m. at the Texas Capitol and moves south on Congress, all the way to Cesar Chavez, ending just north of the bridge. The hour-long procession features giant inflatable balloons, festive holiday floats, marching bands, cool classic cars and Santa! At a designated time towards the end of the parade, Santa’s Helpers will line the parade route and help spectators donate new, unwrapped toys to Operation Blue Santa, which brings Christmas magic to children under 15 years old that otherwise might not receive any gifts. FREE! Congress Ave. 

Zilker Holiday Tree LightingSunday, November 30, 6 p.m. 

The Zilker Tree has been lighting the Austin skies during the holiday season since 1967. The tree, which is located in Zilker Park, will be lit for the first time this year by the winners of a citywide coloring contest. The ceremony begins at 6 p.m. and features local entertainment, food, novelties and live music. (Please bring cash if you’d like to patronize the vendors.) Performers include the Austin Civic Wind Ensemble and the Barton Hills Choir. FREE! Zilker Park. 

Snow Day – Saturdays & Sundays in December, noon–4 p.m. 

It snows every weekend in December before Christmas at the Hill Country Galleria! Enjoy a family fun day with real snow at the Hill Country Galleria! Toss a snowball, build a snow man, make a snow angel, and take fun family photos! Enjoy live holiday music, holiday carolers, and more from noon-4 p.m. every day that it snows! Rain or shine. FREE! Hill Country Galleria, 12700 Hill Country Blvd., Bee Cave. 

Handel's "Messiah"Tuesday, December 2, 8 p.m. 

The Austin Symphony once again presents its Christmas tradition, Handel’s "Messiah", accompanied by Chorus Austin for you and your family in its NEW location. This night of musical magic will comfort you through its familiarity and fill you with the joy of rediscovery. Begin your winter celebrations with a performance full of rejoicing! Tickets start at $15. Hyde Park Baptist Church, 3901 Speedway. 

Four Seasons' Gingerbread Open House Tuesday, December 2 & Wednesday, December 3, 5-6 p.m. 

Get a closer look at the amazing gingerbread houses at a FREE open house with complimentary hot apple cider, Candy Land-themed treats, photos with Santa and the opportunity to meet Javier and the other talented pastry chefs behind the Village. Lobby of the Four Seasons Hotel, 98 San Jacinto Blvd. 

Mueller Tower Lighting – Tuesday, December 2, 68 p.m. 

Join Mueller for the ninth annual Tower Lighting. Attendees will enjoy live music from the Reagan High School band drumline, crafts, delicious holiday treats and activities for the entire family. Texas State Representative Dawnna Dukes will help usher in the holiday season by turning on the NOEL lights atop the historic control tower. FREE! Mueller Tower. 

Seventh Annual Lights of Love 5K – Friday, December 5, 5:308:30 p.m.  

Kick off your holiday season at the Ronald McDonald House Lights of Love 5K. Run, walk or jog the 5K, stroll in the family fun run, take pictures with Santa Claus and Ronald McDonald, and enjoy food, kids’ crafts, music and enough holiday spirit to last through the entire season! Registration is $25 - $45. Ronald McDonald House, 1315 Barbara Jordan Pkwy. 

Ebenezer's Journey: A Dickens' Christmas Story – December 5, 6, 13 & 14, 710 p.m. 

This special interactive program based on Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol will recreate various scenes of Dickens' classic 1843 tale on four nights in December. Bring the family to Pioneer Farms this holiday season for a most unusual event, Ebenezer's Journey. Watch the village come to life with carolers and colorful characters that step out of history. Then experience the classic Dickens tale like never before, as our actors take you into the story with an interactive theatrical presentation staged in the historic old buildings at Pioneer Farms. Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim and the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future will come to life as you witness the joys the sorrows and the chills of the unforgettable experience. Of course, you have an important role to play as well, for you are Ebenezer Scrooge! Cost: $12 per person. Pioneer Farms, 10621 Pioneer Farms Dr. 

The Nutcracker: Suite Dreams – Friday, December 5, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, December 6, 2:30 & 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, December 7, 2:30 p.m. 

Come see what has made this ballet a family favorite, but with a new twist on the story. Clara will travel through a second dream before returning to reality, and along the way will meet new characters that will dance their way into your hearts. Keeping in the spirit of Austin Metamorphosis Dance Ensemble (AMDE) tradition, the audience will enjoy many genres of dance as they make their way through these dreamscapes. Featuring the masterfully trained artists of AMDE, The Nutcracker: Suite Dreams is a must-see for the entire family. The Suite Dreams wine reception, sponsored by Whole Foods, will be held prior to the evening production on Saturday, Dec. 6. We invite you to come enjoy delicious food and wine in the lower lobby of the theater from 67 p.m. that evening, and those in attendance will have priority seating for the 7:30 p.m. performance. Tickets start at $15. George W. Carver Museum Theater, 1165 Angelina St. 

Breakfast with Santa at The Domain Saturday, December 6, 9 a.m.–noon 

Don't miss The Domain's annual Breakfast with Santa in its biggest and best year yet! Enjoy breakfast, live music, character appearances, holiday games (with prizes!), letters to Santa, face painting, balloon twisting and more fun! FREE! Domain II, 11410 Century Oaks Terrace. 

German Christmas Market – Saturday, December 6, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. 

The German-Texan Heritage Society offers shoppers handmade, imported crafts including plenty of Christmas-themed decorations such as nutcrackers and ornaments. It is a festival atmosphere with traditional German Christmas music, tables full of handcrafted items direct from the Erzgebirge region of Germany, a visit by both our historic American Santa Claus and the traditional German Sankt Nikolas with gifts for the children, a hospitality serving of Gl├╝hwein (hot spiced wine), coffee, apple cider/juice and gingerbread cookies and plenty of German style baked goodies for purchase. All purchases are Sales Tax Free on this special day. FREE admission. German Free School, 507 E. 10th St. 

A Charlie Brown Christmas: The Music of Vince Guaraldi – Saturday, December 6, 3:30 p.m. 

This is the perfect holiday tradition, with all the music from the original TV holiday classic performed LIVE! Featuring Michelle Schumann, piano, Utah Hamrick, bass, and David Sierra, drums, and presented by Austin Chamber Music Center. Tickets starting at $20. The Paramount Theatre, 713 Congress Ave. 

Holiday Sing-Along and Downtown Holiday Stroll Saturday, December 6, 6 p.m. 

The annual Holiday Sing-Along and Downtown Stroll is a FREE, family-friendly event that celebrates the arrival of the holiday season and the joy it brings. The evening starts at 6 p.m. when crowds gather on the south steps of the Capitol to sing the songs of the season during KUTX 98.9 “Eklektikos” host John Aielli’s Holiday Sing-Along. As the clock strikes 7 p.m., the countdown to the lighting of the Capitol Christmas tree begins, featuring a programmed light show at the top and bottom of every hour, set to holiday songs of local Austin musicians. From 7 to 9 p.m., Congress Ave. will be abuzz with holiday cheer during the Downtown Stroll. Shops, restaurants, galleries and museums will be open late and will feature special activities and offers. Additional Stroll activities include classic holiday cartoons, photos with Santa, live music, a special holiday Farmers’ Market with the Sustainable Food Center, and much more. Support fellow members of the community by bringing non-perishable food or cash donations to the Capitol Christmas tree for the Capital Area Food Bank. 

Tex-Arts' The Nutcracker – Saturday, December 6, 2 & 6 p.m.; Sunday, December 7, 2 p.m. 

Bring the whole family and be swept off your feet as this holiday favorite comes to life on stage! Come join a festive party, fight off the Mouse King, see the Land of Snow and watch in wonder as the Sugar Plum Fairy hosts a dazzling array of dances! Don't miss out on this once-a-year opportunity. It's the perfect holiday treat! Tickets start at $15. St. Michaels Catholic Academy, 3000 Barton Creek Blvd. 

Violet Crown Arts Festival – Saturday, December 6 & Sunday, December 7, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. 

Expect to find unique artwork from talented sculptors, potters, and fiber artists, painters, jewelers, glass artists, woodworkers and metal smiths. Shop for handmade gifts and great quality art, and support local cottage businesses. It's always FREE admission for the whole family! Live music and food vendors will also be onsite. Brentwood Elementary School, 6700 Arroyo Seco. 

Ballet Austin's The Nutcraker December 6, 12, 13, 18, 19, 20 at 7:30 p.m. & December 7, 13, 14, 20, 21, 22, 23 at 2 p.m. 

An army of mischievous mice, a bevy of bon-bons, a sprinkle of sparkling snowflakes, and one jovial Mother Ginger ... plus the Austin Symphony Orchestra! With an enchanting new production, featuring the set design by the extraordinary artistry of Holly Highfill and exquisite costumes by internationally renowned designer Judanna Lynn, the 2013 premiere thrilled record audiences with new magical moments. This 52nd annual production will bring a fresh new experience to Austin's beloved holiday tradition. Tickets start at $15. Long Center for Performing Arts, 701 W. Riverside Dr. 

Trail of Lights Fun Run December 6, 7-10 p.m.

Get active and get a sneak peek at Austin's favorite holiday celebration. The two-mile run will start at the historic Zilker Tree and end within the Trail of Lights. This is a unique opportunity to see the Trail of Lights before it opens to the general public. The Zilker Park route is family-friendly, all speeds are welcome and tots in strollers ride for free. Costumes are highly encouraged. Register by November 25 for $30 for adults, $20 for children 12 and under. Zilker Park.

Zilker Trail of LightsDecember 7–21, 7-10 p.m.

Visit the Trail of Lights and take a spin under the Zilker Tree! It's the 50th year and all of the stops have been pulled. Kids will enjoy an interactive kids' area, photo opportunities, visit with Santa, delicious food and more. Zilker Tree on display nightly. With the purchase of a ZiP Pass, trailgoers can enter the trail at 6:15 p.m. Be sure to check the Insider's Guide for tips on getting there and parking. (Note: December 6, 5K Fun Run.) Cost: FREE Monday–Thursday; $3 Friday, Saturday & Sunday. Zilker Park. 

African Children's Choir with Sara Hickman – Sunday, December 7 at 6:30 p.m. 

The African Children's Choir returns to Saint John's for a concert celebrating the release of the group's new CD collaboration with Austin musician Sara Hickman. The CD, “Love is a Journey”, will be released in December. The African Children's Choir is composed of children ages 7 to 10. Many have lost one or both parents through the devastation of war, famine and disease. They represent all the children of the continent and demonstrate the potential of African children to become strong leaders for a better future in their land. Over the past 20 years, the children have appeared in thousands of concerts around the world. FREE! St. John's United Methodist Church, 2140 Allandale Rd. 

Delysia Chocolate Event Sunday, December 7, 2–5 p.m. 

Children will have the opportunity to make their own chocolate bar at the chocolate culinary center and visit with Santa Claus. There will also be a screening of a children's holiday classic to commemorate the festive season. FREE! Delysia Chocolatier, 2000 Windy Terrace, Ste. 2C. 

Christmas in Austin Holiday Ice Show – Sunday, December 7, 6:30–8 p.m. 

Figure skaters, singers and dancers perform Austin's unique holiday traditions on ice! General admission (standing room only) FREE with canned good donation. VIP on-ice seating ($20) and assigned barstool seating ($15) available now for purchase. Chaparral Ice, 2525 W. Anderson Ln.  

14th Annual Austin Children's Nutcracker – December 12–14 & 19–21, various times 

Share Clara's adventures she as she battles a giant Rat King and transforms her Nutcracker doll into a Prince. Together, Clara and the Prince visit the magical Land of Snow and travel to the Kingdom of Sweets in an enchanted sleigh. First-timers and seasoned fans alike will be delighted by the magic of our 13th annual production of this timeless classic. $15 for children 3–11 years old; $25 for ages 12 and up. Dougherty Arts Center, 1110 Barton Springs Rd.  

Follow the Elves: Grand Finale Saturday, December 13, 2–4 p.m. 

Watch all four episodes of Austin Public Library's puppet web series of the Shoemaker & the Elves and craft your heart out! FREE! Austin Public Library, Manchaca Branch, 5500 Manchaca Rd. 

Holiday Heroes Saturday, December 13 & Saturday, December 20, starts at 10 a.m. 

Now in its 15th year! In this hilariously fun holiday sing-along, students get into the holiday spirit with Ernie and Rufus. Celebrate the season with singing, laughter and holiday cheer for all. Tickets start at $20. ZACH Theatre, Topfer, 202 S. Lamar Blvd. 

Cherrywood Art Fair – Saturday, December 13 & Sunday, December 14, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. 

Shop for one-of-a-kind gifts ranging from jewelry to ceramics and more. There's even live music, an art corner for the kids and more! Visit LiveMom on Sunday, December 14, in the art corner! FREE! Maplewood Elementary School, 38 1/2 St. & Maplewood. 

Luminations – Saturday, December 13 & Sunday, December 14, 6–9 p.m. 

Thousands of luminaries and twinkling lights turn the center into a holiday wonderland during Luminations, an Austin holiday tradition. Admission is FREE with two canned food items for the Capital Area Food Bank. (Find their most requested items here.) Activities include live music, children's activities, a visit with Frosty the Snowman and more! Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, 4801 La Crosse Ave. 

Tex-Arts Holiday Extravaganza – Saturday, December 13 & Sunday, December 14, starts at 2 & 6 p.m. 

The Fourth Annual TexARTS Holiday Extravaganza will put the sparkle in your holiday season! Bring the whole family to experience this holiday spectacular starring the TexARTS Broadway Company. This holiday revue features Rockette-style numbers, classic and current holiday hits, and a special appearance by Santa Claus! This showcase is sure to put the happy in your holidays! Tickets start at $15. TexARTS, Kam & James Morris Theatre, 2300 Lohman's Spur. 

Austin Children's Choir Concert – Tuesday, December 16, starts at 6:30 p.m 

The performance, entitled Postcards: Stories of the Season, will feature holiday and winter music from around the world in five different languages. The suggested donation is $10, and door prizes will be raffled ($2/ticket; 3 tickets/$5) to help fund scholarships and operating costs for the spring. First Presbyterian Church, 8001 Mesa Dr. 

Trans-Siberian Orchestra – Thursday, December 18, starts at 7:30 p.m.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra (TSO) will wrap up the year by performing their rock opera, The Christmas Attic, live for the first time in arenas across the nation on their Winter Tour 2014. Stone City Attractions is proud to welcome TSO when they return to Austin! This year will be TSO’s 12th consecutive year to perform in Austin. As in all previous years, TSO and Stone City Attractions will donate a portion of all ticket sales to a local charity. Contributions to date are more than $11 million. Tickets start at $42. The Frank Erwin Center, 1701 Red River St.

Fifth Annual Holiday Lights & Ice – December 19 – January 5, 9 a.m.–10:30 p.m. daily 

Get in the holiday spirit with ice skating, s’mores, twinkling lights and more. Lace up your skates, the rink is just steps away with a breathtaking Hill Country backdrop. Tickets and passes are sold in the lobby Coffee Market Shop. Omni Barton Creek Resort and Spa, 8212 Barton Club Dr. 

Austin Roller Rink Winter Lock In Friday, December 19, 11:30 p.m.–8 a.m. 

Drop the kids off for skating, movies, games and much more! Early purchase $25/child; $30 at the door. Pizza, drinks and breakfast included. Austin Roller Rink, 11600 Manchaca Rd., Ste. 101. 

Tuba Christmas – Monday, December 22, starts at noon 

2014 is the 41st anniversary for TUBACHRISTMAS concerts/events, which are presented throughout the world. Watch a special tuba concert on the south steps of the Texas State Capitol Building. FREE!


Bastrop


Breakfast with SantaSaturday, November 29, 9 a.m.–noon 

Kids can have breakfast with Santa at the Hyatt Lost Pines Resort & Spa! After indulging in a wonderful breakfast spread, all will join Santa and Mrs. Claus for a meet-and-greet as well as photographs. While folks visit with jolly ole St. Nick, they can enjoy holiday-themed activities and arts and crafts, a jump house and more – including a holiday sing-a-long with the K.R. Wood Camp Cookie Duo. $32 for adults; $15 for ages 6–12; complimentary for ages 5 & under. The event is open to guests as well as the general public; reservations are required (and can be made by calling (512) 308-4860). Hyatt Lost Pines Resort & Spa.

Bastrop Lighted Parade – Saturday, December 13, starts at 6 p.m. 

Join the city of Bastrop for the “Winter Wonderland” Lighted Christmas Parade! Of course, Christmas needs a dragon and a merry band of Sherwood marketers! A festival of lights, music and cheer, including decorated floats, fire engines, marching bands, horses and riders, and, of course, Santa Claus and his helpers. Produced by the Downtown Business Alliance, the parade makes its way down Main Street about 6 p.m. FREE!


Cedar Park


Holiday Tree Lighting & Santa’s Workshop Friday, December 5, 6:30–9 p.m. 

The Parks & Recreation Department in Cedar Park hosts an annual coloring contest for kindergartners and first graders. At 6:30 p.m., the winner will flip the switch to light more than 60,000 lights on the largest live oak tree at Heritage Oak Park. Santa's Workshop will open immediately following the tree-lighting ceremony. Enjoy live music, carriage rides, games and prizes, inflatables, photos with Santa (bring your own camera), and arts and crafts projects. Bring the whole family for what promises to be a festive evening. FREE! 

Snow Spectacular – Saturday, December 6, 4–8 p.m.

30,000 pounds of REAL SNOW will be blown over a 1,230-square-foot area for the kids to play in! Enjoy light hors d'oeuvres, a hot chocolate/coffee bar, a visit from Santa, a hay ride, a silent auction and so much more! $10 per child; $20 per adult. This event is benefiting children fighting cancer and their families. Twin Creeks Country Club, 3201 Twin Creeks Club Dr.

Little Elves Craft Day – Friday, December 19, 3–5 p.m. 

Get some holiday shopping done without the kids! Drop your child off at the Rec Center for a fun afternoon full of holiday themed crafts, games, story time and snacks/drinks. $25 per child, ages 3–10 (must be potty trained). Register at www.cpparks.net or by calling (512) 401-5500. Community Rooms in the Cedar Park Recreation Center, 1435 Main St.


Georgetown


34th Annual Christmas Stroll – Friday, December 5, 5–9 p.m. & Saturday, December 6, 9 a.m.–8 p.m. 

Re-capture the magic of memories at the 34th annual Christmas Stroll. Visit Georgetown's picturesque downtown square when it transforms into a genuine Christmas card come to life. It’s a magical setting of a multitude of trees outlined with twinkling white lights, old fashioned lamp poles, wandering minstrels and carolers, and a myriad of visitors sharing holiday cheer and good tidings. Your journey begins Friday night with the sounds of children serenading with sweet Christmas songs. Saturday, welcome Santa to the square, listen to classic holiday carolers, stroll along magical main street with sparkling lights and jolly window displays, munch on wonderful holiday treats at the bakery and candy store, tease the Grinch in Whoo-Village, lunch on some festival foods, and enjoy shopping in every nook and cranny with our 125-plus vendors. In addition, visit the square’s diverse shops and delectable restaurants. Click the link above for a complete schedule, including parade start time.


Leander


Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting Saturday, December 6, starts at 5 p.m. 

Enjoy pictures with Santa, holiday hayrides, a yule fire, choral performances, a Christmas parade, and the annual Christmas tree lighting.City Hall, 200 West Willis St.


Pflugerville


Drive-thru Luminary - December 6 & 7, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. 

Drive-thru Luminary with live scenes depicting the Christmas story. FREE! Immanuel Lutheran Church Pflugerville, 500 Immanuel Dr. 

Christmas Parade & Pfestival of LightsSaturday, December 13, 5:30–8 p.m.

The city of Pflugerville's Parks & Recreation Department will be merging its annual Holidays at Heritage Park event with the annual Knights of Columbus Christmas Parade. Blending the two events will make a larger, more fun holiday celebration for the community. The city will have a stage with live performances from local elementary schools and dancers from the Recreation Center. There will be arts and crafts activities for children, a bonfire for roasting marshmallows, the traditional tree lighting, and FREE photos with Santa Claus at the end of the parade. FREE! For information, call (512) 990-6113.

Round Rock


Rock 'N Lights – December 1–30, times vary 

Come and experience the second annual Rock’N Lights Holiday Light Tour and the new Pioneer Christmas Village at the Old Settlers Association. Rock’N Lights is a drive-thru light show that features thousands of sparkling lights through Old Settlers Park. Christmas Towne opens Saturday, Dec. 6. Times: Dec. 1–17: 6–9 p.m. Sunday – Thursday, and 6–10 p.m. Friday & Saturday; Dec. 18–24: 6–10 p.m.; Dec. 25–30: 6–9 p.m. $15 per car. Old Settlers Park, 3300 Palm Valley Blvd. 

Christmas Family Night – Friday, December 5, starts at 6:30 p.m.

The event kicks off with a welcome from Round Rock Mayor Alan McGraw, followed by the illumination of the street and water tower with holiday lights, and then Santa makes his grand entrance. During Christmas Family Night, downtown historic Round Rock is decorated with small wooden houses that each host various games and activities. This FREE event includes activities for the entire family including live music, dancers, candle making, carriage rides, game booths, Frosty the Snowman, Santa Claus and more. Main Street, Downtown Round Rock.

San Marcos


Sights and Sounds of Christmas – December 3–6, 5–11 p.m. 

Enjoy live performances, pony rides, a carnival, delicious food, an ice skating rink, FREE photos with Santa, a gift shop, arts and crafts for the kids, a petting zoo and more! Nightly admission: $5; pre-sale four-day wristband: $7 (available for purchase at the San Marcos Activity Center or the Parks and Rec Center office), online purchase four-day wristband: $10; kids 12 & under: FREE. San Marcos Plaza Park, 401 E. Hopkins St.


Wimberley


The EmilyAnn Theatre & Gardens Trail of LightsNovember 28 – December 31, times vary 

Stroll a walking path with more than 100 lighted exhibits created by local businesses, churches, organizations and families. Roast a marshmallow at the yule log and listen to live entertainment on most nights.The trail will be open from 6–9 p.m. Sunday – Thursday, and 6–10 p.m. Friday & Saturday. FREE!




Catherine Prystup is mama to three kiddos ranging in age from 2 to 15. Looking for more wisdom on how to spend your days? Head on over to LiveMom.com, a resource website for Austin-area moms (and dads, too!) where you will find more of her awesome wisdom.

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