FIRST LOOK: Winter Wonderland at COTA is back! 5 things you need to know
Now that Thanksgiving is over and Christmas carols have started flooding the airwaves, there's a good chance you're looking for ways to enjoy the lights, sounds and tastes of the holiday season.
This weekend, one of Austin's newest traditions, Winter Wonderland at the Circuit, opened for its second year at 9201 Circuit of the Americas Blvd. with offerings that include ice skating, photos with Santa, a carnival, camel rides and more.
If you're planning a visit to Winter Wonderland, here's what you need to know.
1. This year includes a Chinese Lantern Festival. From an intimidating dragon to a batch of adorable pandas, the pieces that make up the Chinese Lantern Festival, which is new this year, were all hand-crafted using a traditional Chinese technique that extends back for centuries. Don't miss the tunnel where you can learn about the Chinese zodiac and how your birth year is said to shape your personality.
2. The ice skating rink this year features real ice. Upgrading from last year's synthetic rink, you can now slip and slide on the real thing in the pit of the Austin360 Amphitheater.
3. The singing trees are back! The singing trees that mesmerized guests last year with their perfectly choreographed renditions of popular tunes such as "Frosty the Snowman" are back and as fun to watch as ever!
4. Anna, Elsa and Olaf are in attendance. The "Frozen" characters are on-site and available for photo ops, as is Mulan, who is glad to teach you her "princess" and "warrior" poses.
5. Children 5 and under are free. There's no charge for the littlest revelers thanks to Dell Children's/Ascension.
General admission for adults and children ages 6 and up starts at $16 and includes the Chinese Lantern Festival, the Tunnel of Lights, the singing trees, the live music stage, a carousel and photos with Santa. There's an additional charge for the petting zoo ($5), unlimited carnival rides ($10), camel rides ($10 kids, $15 adults) and ice skating ($15). Free parking is available in Lot A, with shuttle service provided.
Winter Wonderland is open Nov. 29-Dec. 2, Dec. 6-9 and Dec. 13-30. Hours are 6-11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 6-10 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays. Learn more at circuitoftheamericas.com/winter-wonderland.