Well, will you look at the time? Just like a snap of Santa’s fingers, Christmas is upon us. If you’re worried it’s too late to get out and about in the Austin area — between presents, ham and candlelight church services, we mean — you’re wrong.
Here are a few ways you can still have a merry little (last-minute) Christmas.
Hear some music
Not a lot is stirring in Austin clubs on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but the Live Music Capital isn’t entirely dark, either. Options on Christmas Eve include Carson McHone’s Songwriter Special at the White Horse, an annual tradition in its seventh year. McHone’s parents are co-owners of the White Horse, but the dozens of musicians and fans who gather at this event every year are a music-community family unto themselves. Participants play a couple of songs each, from 8 p.m. into the wee hours of Christmas morning. Donations to the SIMS Foundation and the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians will be accepted, as will potluck contributions for the traditional pool-table spread.
Christmas Day musical traditions include Dale Watson & His Lone Stars at the Continental Club (10 p.m., $15) and Flaco Jimenez at Antone’s (8 p.m., $12-$15); joining the latter this year are David Beck’s Tejano Weekend and Theo Lawrence. And the holiday fare extends beyond Christmas celebrations, with the Mazel Tov Kocktail Hour playing a Chanukah Concert at Barrel O’ Fun adjacent to Alamo Draft House Mueller (7-10 p.m., free).
— Peter Blackstock
Have some cups of cheer
If you need a breather from all the family festivities on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, a few trusty neighborhood bars are open to deliver just that. Both B.D. Riley’s Irish Pub locations trumpet being open 365 days a year, and on Christmas Day in particular, the kitchens will stay open late to serve turkey dinner.
The Tigress Pub — known for craft cocktails in a cozy, unassuming setting along North Loop — hosts a Christmas Eve potluck from 5 to 10 p.m. Tuesday. Bring your favorite dish to share. Another place open on Dec. 24 only is East Sixth Street’s Lazarus Brewing, which hosts a midnight Christmas Eve service (it actually starts at 11 p.m.) as the final event in the brewpub’s 12 Days of Christmas program.
Local bars are making spirits bright on Christmas Day, too. Little Woodrow’s Burnet location screens the most action-heavy holiday movie there ever was, "Die Hard," with drink specials and free holiday cookies (8 p.m.). Have yourself a white Christmas at Edge Rooftop and Bar at the JW Marriott’s Snow Much Fun on Congress pop-up (with fake snow, but that’s better than no snow). And at the Volstead on East Sixth is a late-night dance party, 21 and up only (9 p.m.).
— Arianna Auber
Wrap up your holiday shopping
The Hill Country Galleria has transformed its central plaza into the Hill Country Holiday Village. Lose yourself in the winding walkways, all decked out with holiday cheer and featuring local vendors of art, jewelry, home goods and holiday fare, for one final day. The charming Christmastime market is open 12 to 4 p.m. Dec. 24 for any last-minute shopping you might need to do.
Blue Genie Art Bazaar, one of Austin’s largest holiday shopping markets, is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Christmas Eve. There will be handmade gifts by more than 200 artists and vendors, all located under one roof with a full bar and a festive, family-friendly atmosphere.
In true Austin style, the 44-year-old Armadillo Christmas Bazaar is as much about the live music as it is about the nearly 200 artists spread around a festive Palmer Events Center. On its final day open — Christmas Eve — the performers who take the stage throughout the day are Blazing Bows, Albert and Gage, and Bill Kirchen. The sprawling indoor market is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 24.
See some lights
Head to Marble Falls for the Walkway of Lights, which since the early ’90s has reflected off the waters of Lake Marble Falls every holiday season. It’s a mesmerizing sight thanks to 2 million twinkling lights arranged on more than 350 sculptures. The Walkway of Lights is open 6 to 10 p.m. daily through Jan. 1.
The 37th Street Lights are a quirky, irreverent — and thus distinctly Austin — tradition dating back to the 1980s. (There was a years-long hiatus, but the neighborhood show returned with a dazzle in 2018.) Light displays along this street flicker to life and are welcome to be viewed 7 to 10 p.m. daily through the new year.
Mozart's 10th Annual Joyous Light Show. Clark Griswold would be proud: The coffee shop with a massive deck overlooking Lake Austin gets a little bigger and brighter every year. More than 1 million LED lights and a repeating show timed to holiday music — not to mention holiday desserts and hot chocolate — will fill you with Christmas cheer. It’s open 6 to 11 p.m. daily, except Christmas Day, through Jan. 5.
Johnson City’s 30th Annual Lights Spectacular. More than 1 million lights will cover three city blocks, including the facade of the Blanco County Courthouse, a display well worth the drive. Lights Spectacular is pet-friendly; has horse-drawn carriage rides and tractor-pulled hayrides; and offers related events at 6 p.m. nightly through Jan. 5.
Catch a movie
"Little Women" comes out Christmas Day, but there also are special screenings of old film favorites around town.
AFS Cinema has a few presents for film nerds. As you’d expect, their Christmastime slate is part iconic, part eclectic. You’ve got "It’s a Wonderful Life" (Dec. 24 and 25). But you’ve also got the witchy Kim Novak-Jack Lemmon flick "Bell, Book & Candle" (Dec. 25 and 26) and the excellent boozy 1930s mystery "The Thin Man" (Dec. 24, 25 and 27), which is one of those "oh, yes, this IS a Christmas movie" movies.
For fans of foreign films, you can also catch "Yi Yi" (Dec. 28 and 29) and "Tokyo Story" (Dec. 30 and Jan. 1). Don’t sleep on 1983 New Year’s Eve flick "Get Crazy" (Dec. 29 and 31), with Lou Reed and Malcolm McDowell as "basically Mick Jagger."
Of course Alamo Drafthouse has some yuletide offerings on tap, too: Frank Capra tearjerker "It’s a Wonderful Life" screens 1 p.m. at Alamo Mueller, 3:25 p.m. at Alamo Lakeline and 6:25 p.m. at Alamo Slaughter, all on Christmas Eve. Alamo Ritz offers several different showtimes of the "Elf" movie party Dec. 24-25. Ritz also has a movie party scheduled for "National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation" on Christmas Day.
Tickets are subject to availability for both AFS Cinema and Alamo Drafthouse.
And if you’re looking for free family fare, Domain Northside will screen "Abominable" at 6 p.m. Dec. 27 on the lawn. Bring a chair and a blanket; heaters will be provided.
— Eric Webb