‘Tis the season! Now that the holidays are in full swing you might be looking for festive things to do with the family. Fortunately there’s no shortage of seasonal activities in the Lake Travis area. Here are five family-friendly ways to get in the holiday spirit this year.
1). Holiday Lights & Ice at Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa
The 4th annual “Holiday Lights & Ice” is back and bigger than ever. The largest outdoor ice rink in Austin boasts over 200,000 lights and is open to local residents and hotel guests through Monday, January 6th. Individual sessions or season passes are available. After you’ve had your fill of twirling (or, in my case, falling) warm up with a treat from the hot chocolate bar located in the Coffee Market inside the main lobby. One dollar from every skating session ticket sold will be donated to Make-A-Wish of Central & South Texas.
The resort offers other holiday events as well, such as the Gingerbread House competition and Tree Lighting ceremony on Wednesday, Dec. 4th. Visit the website for a complete schedule.
2) City of Lakeway’s “Lights On!” Holiday Celebration and Trail of Lights
The City of Lakeway hosts its annual “Lights On!” celebration Friday, December 6th at 6:30pm. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be on hand as the Trail of Lights is lit for the season. There will be food and hot chocolate available for purchase. Activities include cookie decorating, marshmallow roasting and more. This year’s celebration will also include the dedication of the historic Liebelt Cabin.
“Lights On!” Holiday Celebration and Trail of Lights
- December 6th @ 6:30pm
- City Hall Parking Lot, 1102 Lohmans Crossing Road
- Parking is available behind the Activity Center (105 Cross Creek) or at the Village Plaza parking lot at the corner of Porpoise and Lakeway Drive
- Bring a canned good to donate to the local food pantry
- Please note dogs are not allowed at this event
Lakeway Trail of Lights
- Located behind Lakeway City Hall
- Open 6:30 – midnight through the end of December
3). Meet and Greet with Santa @ Hill Country Galleria
Bring your kids (or dog!) to visit and take pictures with Santa. There is not a professional photographer on site, but you are welcome and encouraged to bring your own camera to capture your kids’ jolly (or terrified) faces. Priceless either way. Check out the events calendar for Meet and Greet times.
This one is a little drive, but absolutely worth it. During the month of December this charming town absolutely glows. Southern Living magazine described it as “the twinkliest drive in Texas,” while Travel & Leisure Magazine dubbed it “World’s Best Holiday Light Display.” The Blanco County Courthouse boasts over 100,000 twinkling lights, while the nearby Pedernales Electric Coop’s Headquarters on Ave F showcases a lighted forest of over 1 million lights.
The event kicks off with The Lighted Hooves and Wheel Parade on Friday, November 29th at 6:30, and the lights are on each night until January 1st. Hayrides and carriage rides are available throughout the season, and during weekends the courthouse is filled with ornaments and holiday crafts for purchase. It’s a great trip to make with the family to “oohh” and “ahhh” at the magnificent lights.
This holiday tradition also involves a short drive to a charming hill country town – and is totally worth it for a unique Christmas experience.
Each December, the First Baptist Church (located two blocks east of the town square) recreates the city of Bethlehem from ancient times. People play the parts of Joseph and Mary, as well as transients, peddlers and other townsfolk. The presence of animals such as camels, donkeys, sheep, goats, chickens and doves add to the experience, making it as true to life as possible. Even the smell of fresh butter, homemade bread and a crackling campfire make it feel as if you’ve been transplanted back to that historical time. There’s a marketplace with merchants, craftspeople and beggars. There’s also an inn – but of course it’s full. Main Street Bethlehem is different than your typical holly jolly Christmas event, which is what makes it so unique and special.
A lot of time and hard work goes into bringing the ancient city to life, and it’s truly an awe-inspiring event. To top off the evening, cookies and hot chocolate are served upon exit.
- 2013 Dates: December 6, 7, 8 and 13, 14, 15
- 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. each evening
- This event is free, but donations are accepted