The holiday season in Austin can be magical. The Zilker Tree. Armadillo Christmas Bazaar. Brightly decorated cedar trees along Route 360. Everything falls in place for a beautiful season, with one exception: cold weather.
Growing up back east, Christmastime was synonymous with freezing temperatures. Bundling up to go shopping, frost covered windows, parks and forests transformed into Norman Rockwell paintings by blankets of snow. In Austin, not so much. It’s tough to get into the holiday spirit while wearing sandals and shorts.
Luckily, there’s a number of ways to add a little “brrrr” to your holiday season in Austin. It may not be a winter wonderland, but a touch of Christmas cold can lead to extra warmth in your heart. Let’s get chilly!
1/ Ice Skating at Whole Foods
A miracle of modern science, ice skating in 75-degree weather on the rooftop at the flagship Whole Foods Market on North Lamar is an amazing experience. But you don’t need to be Wayne Gretzky to get in on the fun. Admission is $10 and includes a skate rental, just in case you’ve never felt the need to buy skates in our blazing hot climate. Afterwards, grab a hot chocolate downstairs and be filled with holiday chill.
The Whole Foods Market rink is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily from Nov. 27 to Jan. 7.
2/ Watch a Texas Stars Hockey Game at H-E-B Center
In a land dominated by football, football and football, alternative sports are a footnote. But during our warm winter months, a very good hockey team plays just north of Austin in Cedar Park.
And it’s a great value. Tickets start at $15; there isn’t a bad seat in the house; and players hit other. Quite often. Just be sure to dust off your jackets before heading to the arena. Hockey wasn’t called the “Coolest Game on Ice” in the 90’s for nothing.
The Texas Stars play at H-E-B Center. Go to texasstars.com for tickets, schedule and team info.
3/ Nutcracker at the Long Center With Ballet Austin
Snow falling from the rafters. A gigantic Christmas tree. Something about sugar plum fairies. Few things scream “holidays” like Ballet Austin’s annual production of “The Nutcracker.” Now in its 54th year, this tradition presents the illusion of cold without the need for buying a scarf. Singing, dancing and Santa equals a magical evening for the whole family.
“The Nutcracker” runs every weekend until Dec. 23 at the Long Center. Tickets can be found at balletaustin.org.
4/ Cryotherapy at Recovery Zone
What’s cooler than being cool? SUB-ZERO! Hear me out on this one. The holidays can be a brutal assault on the body. Rushing from store to store, lugging bags of gifts to the car, carpel tunnel due to online shopping. You’ll need a breather and your body will need rejuvenating.
Enter cryotherapy. The treatment puts you in a sauna chilled to -200 degrees for three minutes or less. The results are nothing short of science fiction brought to life. Reduced muscle soreness, improved joint function and decreased fatigue will put you back into the holiday shopping frenzy with renewed energy.
Recovery Zone is located at 1211 West 6th St., Suite 600. For prices and availability, visit recoveryzonecryo.com.
5/ Tour Neighborhood Holiday Season Displays
Of everything on the list, this is my favorite. While Trail of Lights and the big Texas Hill Country light shows are awe-inspiring, walking Austin’s many neighborhood displays is a more intimate experience. Whether it’s Elfvis & The Kringles in Round Rock or the massive Harlen Family Christmas in Cedar Park, gazing at a kaleidoscope of lights in the chilly night air generates warm holiday feelings. Snuggle up with a loved one, bask in the glow and let the holiday season fill your heart.
@BillTuckerTSP wants to know:
How do you plan on spending your holiday season in Austin?