The kids are out of school. Often, day care centers close between Christmas and New Year’s. How are you going to cope? We have fun things you can do during winter break in Austin and across Central Texas. Check for weather cancellations or schedule changes before you head out.
Head to these light shows across Central Texas, or stroll around your own neighborhood or one nearby:
Zilker Tree. The tree will be on from 6 p.m. to midnight through Dec. 31. Zilker Park. austintexas.gov/zilkerholidaytree
Trail of Lights. 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday-Wednesday, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday. Free. EmilyAnn Theatre 1101 Ranch Road 2325, Wimberley. emilyann.org
Winter Wonderland at the Circuit of the Americas. See lights, go skating, enter the petting zoo and Santa’s workshop and more. 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday through Dec. 30, including Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. $16, plus additional fees for some activities. circuitoftheamericas.com/winter-wonderland
When you can, go outside and get some exercise:
Whole Foods Skating on the Plaza. 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. through Jan. 15. Closed Christmas Day. $10 per person. Whole Foods Market, 525 N. Lamar Blvd. wholefoodsmarket.com
Evergreen Christmas Tree Farm. Buy Christmas trees. 10 a.m. to dark Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. With s’mores-making and pine-cone painting, too. 242 Monkey Road. evergreen-farms.com
Plus, try a new playground in our playground guide on austin360.com/raisingaustin or go for a hike. We love the trails of Mayfield Park, Mary Moore Searight Park and behind the Austin Nature and Science Center.
Alamo Drafthouse Kids Camp. “The Peanuts Movie,” 10 a.m. Saturday, Lakeline, Mueller and Slaughter Lane. drafthouse.com
See these family-friendly new movies in theaters: “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” Disney’s animated “Coco,” the updated “Jumanji” with the Rock, “Wonder” with Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson, and the animated “Ferdinand,” based on the children’s book.
We have a few holiday theater possibilities to see during winter break. Check out these offerings:
Hideout Theatre Presents: “Monster Holidays.” 2 p.m. Saturday and Dec. 30. $5. Hideout Theatre, 617 Congress Ave. hideouttheatre.org
Ballet Austin’s “The Nutcracker.” See the classic ballet at 2 p.m. Saturday. $15-$98. The Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Drive. thelongcenter.org
“Disney Live! Mickey and Minnie’s Doorway to Magic.” Noon, 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday. $20-$55. Frank Erwin Center, 1701 Red River St. uterwincenter.com
“The Muttcracker (Sweet).” Circus Chickendog reenacts “The Nutcracker” with rescue dogs. 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 27-Jan. 1. $35-$15. Vortex Theatre, 2307 Manor Road. chickendog.net
“A Christmas Story: The Musical.” The classic Christmas movie comes to life. We double-dog dare you to go. 8 p.m. Dec. 29 and 30; 11 a.m. Dec. 30, 3 p.m. Dec. 30, 1 p.m. Dec. 31. $26-$86. The Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Drive. TheLongCenter.org
Museums often offer holiday programming to keep kids busy. If you can, buy tickets in advance and go early in the day.
Thinkery Gingerbread House Workshops. Traditional or Tot (ages 5 and younger): 9:30 a.m., 9:45 a.m., 10:45 a.m., 11 a.m., 2:45 p.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday; and 9:30 a.m., 9:45 a.m., 10:45 a.m., 11 a.m. and 12 p.m. Sunday. $12 per person plus $20 house kit. Gingerbread Art and Architecture for ages 7 and older. 10:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. $12 per person plus $30 house kit. Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave. thinkeryaustin.org
Thinkery Baby Bloomers. Kids up to age 3 learn about winter wonders. 9 a.m. Saturdays. Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave. thinkeryaustin.org
Kwanzaa Celebration of Ujamaa with Elizabeth Kahura. 6:30 p.m. Thursday. Carver Museum, 1165 Angelina St. austintexas.gov
Austin’s New Year. A family-friendly New Year’s Eve party with events throughout the day beginning at 3 p.m. Fireworks are at 10 p.m. Step into the Kids Magic Forest for the Bike Zoo, Dark Stack Media’s liquid light show, a giant Austin piñata, a stop-motion animation station, a crafting station, a magical fairy world and a train. Auditorium Shores, 900 W. Riverside Drive. austintexas.gov
BookPeople l ast Story Time of 2017. 10:30 a.m. Tuesday. Things That Go story time. 10:30 a.m. Jan. 2. BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd. bookpeople.com
Barnes & Noble 1 1 a.m. Saturday story times at all locations: “Santa’s Magic Key,” Saturday; “The Story of Ferdinand,” Dec. 30.
Bow Wow Reading with Bonnie. 11:30 a.m. Saturday and Dec. 30, Yarborough Public Library Branch.
Plus: Find out when your local library is open and check out some new books to bring home with you.
TO DO AT HOME
Here are 10 things you can do at home during the break:
- Decorate gingerbread houses. Don’t have a kit or don’t want to make the gingerbread? Use pretzel sticks or graham crackers and connect them using frosting, cream cheese or peanut butter. Use cereal and different snack foods as decorations if you don’t have candy.
- Play a board game. Even if you don’t get a new one for Christmas, there’s something satisfying about the classics such as Candy Land, Life and Sorry.
- Learn a new card game. Yes, you can start with Go Fish, but you also can branch out to Spoons, Swindle Your Neighbor, B.S. or poker.
- Make your own movies/plays. Let the kids write the script, create the costumes and direct one another. You also could have an evening of improv or charades. And you can’t go wrong with shadow puppets.
- Make goop or play dough. DIY Natural has this recipe for play dough:
1 cup of flour (whatever kind you have)
¼ cup salt
½ cup warm water
3 to 5 drops food coloring
Mix together the flour and the salt.
Mix together ½ cup of warm water with a few drops of food coloring.
Slowly pour the water into the flour mixture, stirring as you pour. Stir until combined, then knead with your hands until the flour is completely absorbed. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour until it doesn’t stick at all.
1 part water
2 parts cornstarch
Mix it in a zippered bag. Throw in some food coloring and get to playing.