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28 November . 2023

Our holiday event guide to Lakeway, Lake Travis, Austin and the Hill Country

Get ready for the holidays with our guide to festive events all around Sweetwater. One of the best things about our location, where Austin meets the Hill Country, is that we’re only a short sleigh ride from holiday events in Austin and the Hill Country, not to mention in Lakeway, Bee Cave and Spicewood.

Here are our top picks for holiday fun. Many are free, while some require tickets. Please check the links provided to confirm dates and admission policies – and enjoy!

Bee Cave on Ice

Bee Cave on Ice, a festive ice-skating rink at the Central Plaza of the Hill Country Galleria, continues through Jan. 15. The ice rink will be open seven days a week. Tickets are $15 and include skate rental and a 60-minute skate session. Reservations are highly encouraged, although some walk-ups will be available. Visiting Bee Cave on Ice is also a great opportunity to enjoy some holiday shopping and dining at one of Austin’s liveliest shopping and entertainment centers, located just a few miles from Sweetwater.

Holiday Arts Market, Photos with Santa & more at Hill Country Galleria

In addition to the ice rink, the Hill Country Galleria has many more magical events during the holiday season. You can take Photos with Santa through Dec. 24. (On Mon., Dec. 18, Supportive Santa will offer a unique photo experience for children with special needs and their families.) You can find handmade gifts at the Holiday Arts Market, offering a rotating lineup of vendors on Fridays and Saturdays, from Dec. 2-23. The weekly Bee Cave Farmers Market, every Sunday from 10-2, offers more handcrafted gifts plus sweet and savory foods.

Lights On! in Lakeway

Lights On! is an annual tradition that kicks off the holiday season in Lakeway, a vibrant town near Sweetwater. For 2023, Lights On! happens on Friday, December 1, starting at 6 p.m. The festivities are at the City Hall parking lot, at the corner of Sailmaster and Lohman's. Have fun decorating cookies, roasting marshmallows, listening to live Christmas music and playing reindeer games with the family. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be nearby to 'plug in' the Trail of Lights display and speak to the kids.  Food trucks will be on hand with pizza and sweet treats available for purchase.

Trail of Lights in Lakeway

One of Lakeway’s most cherished traditions, the Trail of Lights kicks off Dec. 1 with the aforementioned Lights On! event and continues nightly from 6 p.m. until midnight, every night through January 1. Stroll through thousands of twinkling lights along the glimmering trail, beginning across from the Lakeway Activity Center.  There is no charge to park or attend this self-guided trail.

Jingle Bell Run 5K

On Saturday, December 2, the Bee Cave Chamber of Commerce hosts the 3rd Annual Jingle Bell Run 5K through the streets of the Hill Country Galleria. The 5K begins at 7 a.m., with a Kids Dash at 7:45 a.m. A costume contest for “Most Festive” and raffle drawings add to the holiday cheer. The Chamber will be collecting toy donations for Toys for Tots, Blue Santa and other organizations. Please bring new, unwrapped toys if you would like to join in the giving.

Lake Travis Lighted Boat Parade West

Don’t miss the ninth annual Lake Travis Lighted Boat Parade, sailing the lake from 6-10 p.m. on Saturday, December 2.  The organizers note: “There are a few public places to watch the parade go by including Lakeway Resort and Spa on the south shore. Call Lakeway Resort prior to the event to ask about the cost associated with their watch party.”

Hill Country

Sweetwater’s location makes the Hill County an easy day (or night) trip to enjoy the many small-town holiday traditions in cities like Marble Falls and Johnson City. Here are a few of our Hill Country favorites.

In Marble Falls, stroll through 2 million twinkling lights and over 350 lighted sculptures in Lakeside Park in the 33rd annual Walkway of Lights from through December 31. The lights reflecting off Lake Marble Falls offer a truly magical experience. Other Marble Falls events include a Winter Ice Skating Rink at Lakeside Park, Christmas at the Barn and much more.

The Lights Spectacular in Johnson City is billed as one of the largest light displays in the nation, with more than one million twinkling lights around the historic courthouse and this quaint town along the Pedernales River. Hayrides and carriage rides are available, and lamplight tours of President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s Boyhood Home are offered on Saturday evenings. Now in its 34th year, this spectacular display lights up the Hill Country through January 7.  

In Dripping Springs, Christmas on Mercer is an all-day holiday celebration on Saturday, December 2. It features arts and crafts vendors, food, live music, photos with Santa at Santa’s Workshop, and kids’ activities. Evening events include the annual Lighting on the Tree ceremony, caroling and more. 

Greater Austin

The Trail of Lights, Austin’s brightest holiday tradition, takes place in Zilker Park from December 8-23. Now in its 59th year, this event features 2 million twinkling lights, 90 lighted holiday trees and more than 70 other holiday displays and lighted tunnels. There’s also live music, community performances, food and festivities on every evening.

Luminations is a strollable winter tradition at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

This year’s all-new light installations are inspired by the four elements – earth, air, fire and water. It’s open Wednesdays through Sundays through Jan. 6.

Austin’s famous Armadillo Christmas Bazaar returns back inside the Palmer Events Center for the first time in several years. From Dec. 15-23, the Bazaar is a one-of-a-kind shopping destination for fine arts and crafts, featuring national and local award-winning artist. Add live music, food, and a full bar in a festive, lively atmosphere, and you have a holiday event that’s as unique as Austin.

Holiday events at The Long Center include a traditional ballet performance of The Nutcracker, plus new favorites including Conspirare Christmas, Graham Reynolds Ruins the Holidays, and Home Alone with the Austin Symphony Orchestra. Check out the calendar for dates and ticket information.

At Sweetwater, our residents will be enjoying their own holiday traditions and celebrations!

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