Events to bring holiday cheer

The Armadillo Christmas Bazaar features the works of over 160 artists that can be purchased as gifts for friends and family. (Photo courtesy of Armadillo Christmas)

With December seemingly approaching faster every year, the winter season is already upon us. Every year, we await the arrival of cold weather to put on those chunky sweaters and boots, but usually, we end up disappointed. The cold is a little too cold, rain never helps and Starbucks just loses its excitement after the third cup.

Thankfully, classic and quirky decorations and celebrations serve to keep up the buzz around the holiday season. There are plenty of events going on in Austin this year, but here are some that you definitely don’t want to miss!

The classic Trail of Lights located in Zilker Park spans approximately 1.25 miles, and many of the decorations have been updated for 2013, so even experienced Austinites should head out.

 “I’ve never been to Zilker Park for the Trail of Lights but I’ve heard a lot about it,” Sajid Leelani, a second year Human Biology major said. “I would definitely be interested in going this year.”

You can get a preview of the decorations on Dec. 6 from 7 to 10 p.m. for $62.50 per person. Though it’s a bit pricey, the experience will be worth every penny with live music from Ray Benson, Marcia Ball and the Whiskey Sisters and food trailers such as Chi’Lantro BBQ, Tapas Bravas and Heros Gyros.

Rush into the holiday spirit and register for the Trail of Lights 5K on Dec. 7 to run alongside Santa and his reindeers. If running is not your cup of tea, volunteer at the event and cheer on the runners while enjoying the festivities. Remember to stop and admire the enormous holiday tree in the park; it’s been standing 155 feet tall since 1967, and with over 3,000 light bulbs, the tree is sure to brighten your day.

After you’ve reveled in the beauty of all the decorations, head over to the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar at the Palmer Events Center, open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and find some quirky gifts to stuff those stockings. Over 160 local artists will be on display, and you are sure to find a unique gift for a special someone or even yourself. The event also boasts live music and a full bar, so you definitely don’t want to miss the eight-day show from Dec. 17 to 24. Admission is $7 per person, and kids under 12 are free, so you can stay out of the cold with the family at this event.

If you are willing to brave the biting winds, adventure out on Dec. 7 and visit the Holiday Stroll and Sing Along at the Capitol Grounds and Congress Avenue. This free event is sure to get you pumped for the holidays, because what sings Christmas better than some good old carols? The event will culminate in the lighting of the Capitol Christmas Tree. Shops, restaurants and museums will be open extra-late that night with special offers, so swing by between 6 and 9 p.m. 

If you just want to stay cozy in the comfort of your car, drive around town to look at Christmas lights. 

“I think driving around and seeing all the Christmas lights is a beautiful, precious experience,” Jake Barnett, a second year plan II, history and Arabic major said.

The best neighborhoods to hit are the 37th street area, which boasts the “Keep Austin Weird” vibe with random, decorated objects such as motorcycles and lawnmowers, and in Hyde Park, 8304 Roan Lane has also become famous for their winter lighting, which they use to raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Last year, they raised $1,200 for the inspirational organization. Then, head home after an evening of lights and enjoy a wonderful cup of hot chocolate with the family!