15 Free And Cheap Things To Do This Christmas In Austin

Spending Christmas in Austin? Despite being a warm city for much of the year, Austin really brings out the holiday pizzaz during the month of December and it’s a REALLY fun place to spend Christmas! We’ll even get a few cold days at the end of the year, so it’s a great time to bundle up, grab the peppermint hot cocoa, and see the lights. (Which are all FREE or CHEAP things to do in Austin this Christmas…)

Sure, it’s starting to become a rather expensive city to call home. And with inflation, the economy, etc., it’s no surprise that lots of folks are looking for free things to do in Austin during the holidays. So we’re going to highlight a few options that are either 100% free or very reasonably priced. 

15 Free Things To Do In Austin This Christmas

Psst: be sure to check out out our full guide to all of the best holiday activities in Austin! Most of these require tickets and reservations, but there are really good options this year and it’s definitely worth at least reading through the list to see what strikes your fancy. 

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15 Free And Cheap Things To Do This Christmas In Austin

A few things to know about these free Christmas events in Austin: 

  • Lots of them are free events that offer food/activities as an optional purchase. So it’s up to you how much you spend! You could bring the family and enjoy the lights and sounds without spending a dime (FREE), or you could get some kettle corn and hot cocoa (CHEAP) and enjoy the night that way. 
  • Austin is actually a fairly small town, in regards to city limits. So many of these events are in bordering or nearby cities like Round Rock, Buda, Lakeway, and Marble Falls.

1. Free Nights at Trail of Lights

15 Free Things To Do In Austin This Christmas

Did you know that the Trail of Lights is one of the oldest holiday traditions in Austin? That’s part of what makes it so magical! Parents bring their children and say, “I remember walking this trail when I was a little kid..” It’s all so sweet and nostalgic. 

The Trail of Lights generously offers several free days each year. Just check out their calendar and look for any days marked with the “free” logo on them. It’s truly one of the most magical holiday events in Austin, and we’re all so lucky that it’s also one of the FREE holiday events in Austin! {Photo: Trail of Lights facebook}

WEBSITE | 2207 Lou Neff Rd, Austin, TX 78746

2. See Holiday Magic At The Domain NORTHSIDE

where to do your holiday shopping in Austin

The Domain NORTHSIDE is a massive shopping mall in north Austin. It’s a Simon property, which means A) deep pockets and B) crazy good holiday decorations. We’re talking Christmas trees, lights covering the streets, decor on every street lamp, and that’s not even mentioning the individual decorations that each store chooses to use each year! 

If you’re looking for some free things to do in Austin for Christmas, definitely save an afternoon to drive to the Domain and walk around to take in the holiday cheer! 

This is a great family-friendly Christmas activity in Austin (loads of space for little ones to run around, including playscapes), or it would make a fun date activity (plenty of dinner options at the Domain.) {Photo: Domain NORTHSIDE facebook}

WEBSITE | 11821 Rock Rose Ave, Austin, TX 78758

3. Diagon Alley in South Austin.

15 Free Things To Do In Austin This Christmas

Calling all Harry Potter fans! Diagon Alley is in…South Austin? Yes! A home in South Austin has created a life-size replica of Diagon Alley that you can visit. 

There’s no ticket cost, so this is 100% free thing to do in Austin this Christmas. They do accept donations to charities, so if you have some excess at the end of the year, that’s a great way to give back. For all of the details about location, food, etc., check out the Diagon Alley facebook page. {Photo: Diagon Alley facebook}

4. Go look at Christmas lights in Austin

Coming soon: we’ll share some of the best neighborhoods in Austin to look at Christmas lights!

5. Observe the Zilker Tree Lighting Ceremony

15 Free Things To Do In Austin This Christmas

It’s such a sweet and quaint little ceremony that kicks off the holiday season each year. Enjoy a band performance, a children’s choir, and whatever else the foundation dreams up for the year. 

Like many of the other free Christmas events in Austin, you have the option to purchase some concessions, if you choose. Be sure to stay until the end of the ceremony…that’s when the Zilker Tree is turned on and lights up the Austin sky!

WEBSITE | 2100 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78746

6. Lakeway Trail of Lights

15 Free Things To Do In Austin This Christmas

As the Austin Trail of Lights has grown in popularity, many other small towns near Austin have created their own trail of lights. There are a few reasons why these smaller trails, like the Lakeway Trail of Lights, are fun to attend, even if you don’t live in that city.

For starters, they’re typically FREE!  And we’re all about free holiday events near Austin! Also, the Lakeway Trail of Lights is much less crowded than Austin’s Trail of Lights, which can become absolutely packed on the free nights. 

Be sure to bring your peppermint hot cocoa and your ugliest Christmas sweater, and enjoy taking in all of the sights at the Lakeway Trail of Lights. {Photo: Lakeway Trail of Lights facebook}

WEBSITE | 105 Cross St, Lakeway TX 78734

7. Free Tickets To Mozart’s Lights

15 Free Things To Do In Austin This Christmas

Over the years this has become a VERY popular annual holiday event in Austin. Mozart’s is a coffee shop on Lake Austin that has a very large, beautiful deck that overlooks the water. Each year, they set up a pretty impressive holiday light display that’s synced to music, and folks come out to watch it and enjoy drinks and bites from the cafe. 

But as it has become more popular, Mozart’s has gotten smarter at monetizing it (including BOATS you can reserve for a trip out on the water to see the lights from there!) 

But if you don’t care about having your own table, Mozart’s offers standing room only tickets, which are completely FREE. Just select tickets for the Bavarian Marketplace Standing Group, and you’ll be able to enjoy the crowds and the lights and the sights for free. 

WEBSITE | 3825 Lake Austin Blvd, Austin, TX 78703

8. Walkway of Lights in Marble Falls

15 Free Things To Do In Austin This Christmas

Marble Falls has become quite the Christmas destination! Not only do they offer an absolutely beautiful Walkway of Lights that reflects millions of lights in Lakeside Park, but they also have a full month-long schedule of holiday activities like downtown ice skating in Marble Falls, Santa sightings, holiday shopping, and live music.

WEBSITE | 305 Buena Vista Dr, Marble Falls, TX 78654

9. Selfies With Santa at Hill Country Galleria

15 Free Things To Do In Austin This Christmas

Nope, no annoying reservations to visit Santa here… The Hill Country Galleria offers Selfies With Santa, and this holiday event in Austin happens all month long. 

Located right by Buenos Aires Cafe, Selfies With Santa is a very chill event. There’s no professional photographer on sight, so families are encouraged to use their own cameras (you can use Santa’s HALO Selfie Light!) to capture some holiday memories. 

After your pictures with Santa, The Hill Country Galleria is a great place to wander, eat, and window shop this Christmas. {Photo: Hill Country Galleria facebook}

WEBSITE | 12700 Hill Country Blvd, Bee Cave, TX 78738

10. Driskill Tree Lighting Ceremony

15 Free Things To Do In Austin This Christmas

The historic Driskill hotel in downtown Austin, dating back to 1886, has an annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony that’s an absolutely lovely free activity to enjoy in Austin during the holidays. 

Check their calendar for all the up-to-date details! Stop by for the tree lighting ceremony for live music and cocktails as they light the signature 16 foot tree, or wander into the Driskill any time during the month of December to take a photo by their gorgeous tree. 

WEBSITE | 604 Brazos St, Austin, TX 78701

11. Christmas on Mercer in Dripping Springs

15 Free Things To Do In Austin This Christmas

This one is so much fun! Christmas on Mercer is a weekend event in downtown Dripping Springs with arts and crafts, music, food, and holiday cheer….and admission is FREE! 

They have everything from a holiday movie and an epic tree lighting ceremony on Friday to a Santa sighting on Saturday, lots of activities for the little ones, and plenty of food to purchase. {Photo: Christmas on Mercer Street facebook}

WEBSITE Downtown Dripping Springs

12. Downtown Austin Holiday Stroll

Bringing it back to downtown Austin, the Downtown Holiday Stroll and Sing-Along is happening again! It’s a completely free event that includes lots of singing, lights, music, and ends at the downtown Austin holiday tree for the official tree lighting ceremony. Check  out their website for the details. 

WEBSITE Downtown Austin

13. Light Up The Lake in Round Rock

15 Free Things To Do In Austin This Christmas

Sometimes the cities around Austin have the BEST free holiday events…and Round Rock is no exception. Light Up The Lake is one of the most popular holiday activities near Austin for families. 

It’s a 2-day holiday festival at Old Settlers Park. They’ll have balloons and lights over Bright Lake, kids activities, food booths, yule log, crafts, and lots more! There’s no cost to enter, so feel free to bring the family and enjoy the day, purchasing only the things that interest you. {Photo: Light Up The Lake}

WEBSITE | 3300 E Palm Valley Blvd, Round Rock, TX 78665

14. Budafest

15 Free Things To Do In Austin This Christmas

Round Rock is north of Austin, Buda is south of Austin, and they both offer absolutely amazing holiday events for families. Budafest is 3 days of holiday cheer at the brand new Buda amphitheater. From their festive parade (with fireworks at the end!) to pictures with Santa, live music, food, and more, this is a can’t-miss holiday festival for the whole family. {Photo: Budafest facebook}

WEBSITE | 880 Main St, Buda, TX 78610

15. Watch all your favorite Christmas movies at home

Aaaaand we can’t finish without mentioning this one. 😉 Sometimes the very best Austin holiday memories happen at home. Snuggle up with your loved ones, put on your Christmas jammies, make a big steaming cup of hot cocoa (extra marshmallows, please!) and turn on White Christmas. 

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