A Merry Austinite Christmas

Alex Watson, Photo Editor

Now that winter has officially begun, it’s time to lace up your skates and spread some holiday cheer! Although there likely won’t be much snow in Austin, you can do just about everything else to celebrate this magical time of year. The city has many time-honored traditions to explore, from ice skating at Whole Foods to The Nutcracker ballet, and Austin has something for everything this holiday season.

Every year, Mozart’s Coffee puts on a spectacular light show on the edge of Lake Austin. Store staff string their entire deck with millions of sparkling lights, and visitors can appreciate the sights with a steaming cup of hot cocoa in hand and Christmas carols tinkling in the background. The event lasts until January, so you can draw out the holiday season as long as possible. The best part is that attendance is completely free, which means you can bring as many people as you want.

If you want even more lights, you can head down to Zilker Park on the other side of the lake. There you can find the Austin Trail of Lights, the city’s largest holiday tradition. The trail invites 400,000 people to join in the festivities every year. The centerpiece of the event is an impressive 380 foot tree constructed from thousands of colorful bulbs, and the Trail of Lights begins with a ceremonial tree lighting on the first of December. Throughout the month, you can walk the dazzling trail, dine at the food trucks, and ride the merry-go-round. They also host a Fun Run through the trail, and participants can stay afterwards and enjoy the lights for free.

For a more upscale holiday experience, you can watch Ballet Austin’s performance of The Nutcracker at the Long Center. You can dress up in a fancy outfit, settle down on a plush velvet seat, and enjoy the timeless Christmas tale of Clara and her beloved nutcracker toy. The performance features colorful, twirling dancers dressed up as delicious sweets and the always entertaining sight of local celebrities playing Mother Ginger. Past appearances include former NFL quarterback Vince Young and news anchor Kevin Conner.

Although Whole Foods has hundreds of locations around the world, it is considered an important part of Austin’s individual identity. Their flagship store is right here in the heart of the city, and the store promotes healthy lifestyle practices that Austinites embrace. However, Whole Foods becomes even more special during the holiday season when they set up their annual ice skating rink. The event is held on the roof of their downtown location and offers a lovely view of the city. You pay $10 at the door for admission and skates, and then you’re free to slide on the ice to your heart’s content.

Austin may not have access to traditional winter activities like skiing and snowball fights, but the city more than makes up for it with these magical events. They mirror the uniqueness of Austin itself and showcase the city’s strong sense of community, which is the most important part of the holiday season.