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27 November . 2018

How to celebrate the holidays in Hill Country style

You are certainly welcome to decorate a roadside Christmas tree, one of those quirky local traditions that are keeping Austin weird. But there are easier ways to enjoy the holidays in unique Hill Country style. Here are 6 of our favorite traditions and attractions near Sweetwater.

The Hill Country Flyer offers seasonally themed excursions through the Hill Country on antique steam trains, departing from their historic depot in Cedar Park. Featuring Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus, hot cocoa, Christmas cookies and more, the popular North Pole Flyer rides sell out quickly, so make reservations as soon as possible. Even one of the regular rides is great fun.

Johnson City’s annual Lights Spectacular bathes this quaint Hill Country town in more than 1 million lights. Now in its 25th year, the Lights Spectacular offers hayrides and carriage rides throughout the holiday season. Each weekend, the Garden Club fills the historic Courthouse with holiday ornaments and crafts available for purchase. Johnson City is just one 10 towns on the Texas Hill Country holiday lights trail.

Located just a few miles from Sweetwater, the Hill Country Galleria offers many holiday events, including the popular Tree Lighting & Santa’s Arrival Ceremony on Nov. 23. Photos with Santa are offered daily during the season, along with the Lone Star Holiday Market, Jingle Bell 5K Run, Santa Cares, Holiday Wine Walk, a Movie on the Lawn featuring “The Polar Express,” and much more. See the complete calendar.

The Trail of Lights in Zilker Park is Austin’s most famous holiday event. Featuring 2 million twinkling lights, 40 displays, curated food trucks, nightly entertainment and much more, it attracts more than 400,000 annual visitors, making it one of Austin’s top three festivals, right up there with the Austin City Limits Music Festival and South by Southwest. This year’s Trail of Lights glows from Dec. 10-23.

And back to those roadside Christmas trees. Why not pick your own tree from a local tree farm? Some offer other holiday events, such as the Kid Entrepreneur Market at Cross Plants and Produce in Kyle, and the gifts and refreshments at St. Nick’s Christmas Tree Farm in Fredericksburg. Here’s a list of 7 great Christmas tree farms in and around Austin from 2017. It would be a good idea to verify this year’s schedules before heading out.

For more Hill Country things to do and see in every season, along with local shopping and dining recommendations, check out our Area Guide.