Christmas is now eight days away, so if you're not feeling jolly yet, attending a holiday event might be the cure you need to rid any Grinch-like emotions.
Although 2020 has meant coming up with new traditions, beloved events around town are still happening in a safe and unique fashion.
Here are nine holiday events happening throughout town:
The Nutcracker: Home for the Holidays
A cherished pastime for many families, the Austin Ballet Nutcracker will be held virtually this year. The beloved tradition is available as a digital film through on-demand viewing with a donation to the Austin Ballet, starting at $30 for a nine day viewing. Other donation options include an exclusive access alternative for a $100 donation, with three weeks on-demand viewing of the film, extra bonus material and fun virtual events. The last option available is a VIP exclusive access for a $250 donation, which includes another exclusive access ticket that can be gifted, plus all the benefits.
This year, don't miss out on the magical tale and battle against the evil mouse king, instead get the family together with snacks and blankets and watch the special Christmas event comfortably from home. More information on the event can be found here.
Trail of Lights
The 56th annual Trail of Lights transitioned to a drive-thru experience this year to provide a COVID-19 safe experience. The Austin tradition will illuminate the city with over 2 million lights at Zilker Park until Jan. 3.
General admission tickets range from $25-$35 per vehicle, depending on entry time. Guests can also purchase a dash pass on selected dates for $60 per vehicle, including a box of holiday cookies, an ATX Lights Saving Card and early entry between 5:45-7 p.m. Tickets and more information on the Austin Trail of Lights can be found here.
The SoCo Stroll
Music Lane and the South Congress Avenue Shopping District are celebrating Christmas this year with a new tradition: The Soco Stroll. The event will last until the end of the month and is a self-guided walking tour of Music Lane and South Congress Avenue featuring lighted window displays, local shops, food and beverages, live music and more.
The event is completely free and masks are encouraged, so wear your favorite coat and strut around town to this new holiday tradition. More information on the SoCo Stroll can be found here.
Pop! A Rockin' Holiday Concert
Zach Theatre will host an hour long holiday concert with performances from Chanel, Kenny Williams, Daniel Rowan, Leslie McDonael, Roderick Sanford, Jessica O'Brien and Judy R. Arnold.
The event will be held outside of the Topfer theater with socially distant seating. Pods can be reserved for two to six people and tickets range from $92-$383 depending on seat location. Guests can enjoy performances of holiday classics while enjoying drinks available at their outdoor bar. Tickets and more information on Pop! A Rockin' Holiday Concert can be found here.
Peppermint Parkway is hosting its first holiday drive-thru experience at Circuit of the Americas. With millions of lights and a carnival, Peppermint Parkway is the perfect event for people of all ages. After driving through the light show, COTA will also host Peppermint Plaza, where guests can enjoy the COTALAND Kiddie Amusement Park with a ferris wheel, games, trains, food and a meet and greet with Pepper and Mint, the Peppermint Parkway mascots. Tickets are $35 per vehicle for standard admission. Guests can also purchase three different types of upgraded tickets ranging from $60-$90 per vehicle. Tickets and more information on Peppermint Parkway can be found here.
Downtown Holiday Stroll
The 26th annual Downtown Holiday Stroll is returning for a month-long celebration with free activities throughout downtown. The stroll is back for 2020 as a safe and socially-distance experience, including family-friendly activities, window displays, photo-ops, live music, holiday shopping and appearances from beloved Santa and Mrs. Claus until Dec. 31.
Holiday strollers can pick up a downtown holiday passport filled with deals, discounts and activities for the whole month from any participating business or can print one at home. More information on the Downtown Holiday Stroll can be found here.
Luminations at Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Stroll through Luminations at Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center to view the botanical oasis covered in thousands of sparkling lights. The event is a one-way one-mile path through the Texas Arboretum, with select structures of Fortlandia and audio and visual art installations.
The event, taking place until Jan. 3, is taking reservations and operating at a limited capacity to ensure a safe experience. Tickets are $18 for ages over 18, $10 for ages five-seven and free for children under the age of four. More information on the Luminations at Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center can be found here.
Mozart's Light Show
Mozart's Coffee Roasters are continuing their tradition with Mozart's Light Show, featuring shining light displays, live music, beverages and treats. Every show will have a live music experience, varying in musical guests. Mozart's At Your Table trays can also be preordered featuring bottomless hot chocolate and coffee, fresh-baked brownies and cookies and giant cinnamon sugar and salt pretzels.
Table reservations start at $10 per table and are available for parties of up to six people. Mozart's will be spacing tables six feet apart to ensure guest safety. Tickets and more information on Mozart's Light Show can be found here.
Christmas themed trivia nights at Pluckers Wing Bar
Pluckers Wing Bar is hosting two virtual Christmas themed trivia nights to kick off the holiday season. The first game night hosted by Pluckers will be a Christmas themed family trivia night held on Facebook Live at 6 p.m. Dec. 20. The kid-friendly game night will have three rounds of Christmas themed trivia and fun physical challenges for the whole family.
If you're looking for a trivia night to compete with all your friends, Pluckers is hosting its second trivia night for teams on Dec. 23 at 7:30 p.m. Round up a team of your friends to answer 10 questions in different categories. Guests will also receive a free menu item on their next order at Pluckers. You can register to participate here.
This is part of a holiday series counting down to Christmas, so make sure to visit Austonia tomorrow, as we reach seven days until Christmas.
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After two years of no in-person events, Austin festival South by Southwest has agreed to give 50% of ownership to P-MRC, a Los Angeles company that controls publishing operations for Rolling Stone and Billboard.
The media venture was founded in 2020 and is part-owned by Jay Penske, racer Roger Penske's son and head of Penske Racing and Penske Media.
The move comes after the COVID-19 pandemic left the festival with two years worth of hemorrhaging funds. SXSW organizers were left scrambling for solutions in March 2020 when the city of Austin canceled the festival at the onset of the pandemic. One-third of the festival's 175 year-round employees were laid off, and the festival ran a shortened virtual event in 2021.
SXSW CEO and co-founder Roland Swenson said in a statement that the company is grateful to get aid when they need it most and that they are now looking to the future.
"It has been an incredibly tough period for small businesses, SXSW included," Swenson said. "When Jay Penske approached us with an interest in becoming a partner, it was a true lifeline for us. Both of our companies share a passion for producing high-quality content that helps shape modern culture, so this feels like a natural alliance."
Both of Austin's big-name festivals are now in the hands of out-of-town buyers. In 2014, homegrown festival Austin City Limits was bought in part by LiveNation, who took 51% ownership in Austin live promoter C3 Presents.
The fest has captured the essence of Austin arts and culture for 34 years, and it doesn't plan on stopping now. With P-MRC by its side, SXSW said it plans on keeping its unique identity but expanding operations as it prepares for an in-person celebration next spring.
"Since 1987, SXSW has been the world's premier festival centered at the convergence of tech, media, film, and music," Penske said. "Today SXSW continues to be one of the most recognized brands for empowering creative talent and bringing together the brightest creators of our time. As part of this significant investment, we plan to build upon SXSW's incredible foundation while extending the platform further digitally and assisting Roland and his incredible team to bring their vision to even greater heights."
With their future restored, SXSW's newest slogan rings truer than ever: "See you next year at SXSW!"
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Update: Former Travis County deputy suspected of killing 3 in northwest Austin now in police custody
Stephen Broderick is now in police custody for a suspected domestic violence incident that killed three in northwest Austin on Sunday.
After initially being called an active shooting incident, joint local law enforcement and more than 75 FBI agents proceeded with an almost day-long manhunt with three helicopters and on-ground teams for former Travis County deputy Broderick. Police captured him after a 911 caller reported a suspicious man walking along U.S. 290, where he was taken into custody.
Police believe the victims, who have been identified as two Hispanic women and one Black man, knew their assailant. A child was involved but is now safely in police custody. Two of the victims have been identified as former and current Elgin ISD students: Alyssa Broderick and Willie Simmons III.
The school district released a statement offering its condolences to the families. Alyssa was enrolled until October 2020 and played on the basketball team. Simmons was a senior at Elgin High School where he was captain of the football team and had been recruited to play football at the University of North Texas.
Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez released the following statement on the incident: "I'm truly heartbroken that a former Travis County Sheriff's Office Deputy is the suspect in such a horrific incident. TCSO is standing by to provide any, and all assistance we can to the families of the victims in their time of need. I'm proud of the integrity and professionalism shown by the men and women of TCSO, APD and other law enforcement agencies, who worked tirelessly throughout the night to locate Stephen Broderick. I'm especially grateful to the vigilant citizen who called 911 after seeing Broderick, and to the Manor PD officers and TCSO deputies who took him into custody this morning."
APD @Chief_Chacon provides updated media briefing in relation to Great Hills Trail incident. - PIO8 https://t.co/47siNWhARI
— Austin Police Department (@Austin_Police) April 18, 2021
During a press briefing at 4:45 p.m. on Sunday, Interim Police Chief Joe Chacon said law enforcement was on the scene for several hours investigating the incident with 41-year-old Broderick.
"We're very sorry that obviously this has happened and we continue to try and locate this individual, we are transitioning from a search in this area to a fugitive search and those efforts will continue until this person is located," Chacon said. "I don't want anyone to think that we're packing up and going home. We're going to continue to look for this individual because he continues to pose a threat to this community."
#texasshooting #masshooting Arboretum shooting Austin. pic.twitter.com/SkIsgDoYHt
— Jamie Hammonds (@jamie_hammonds5) April 18, 2021
This story has been updated at 8 a.m. Monday to include the latest information.
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Formula 1 is returning to Florida for the first time since 1959, announcing that the brand-new Miami Grand Prix will join the calendar in 2022 and Austin will no longer be the only F1 race in the U.S.
Held at the Hard Rock Stadium complex in Miami Gardens, this will be the first race in the Sunshine State in 62 years. With a new track setup, F1 will loop the stadium, home of the NFL's Miami Dolphins.
Excited for @F1 @f1miami @HardRockStadium - a Global Entertainment Destination. This event will bring opportunities for so many and will be world-class. Thank you to @gregmaffei #chasecarey #stefanodomenicali @MayorRHarris @Ogilbert @CommishDiaz @MayorDaniella pic.twitter.com/n6dDDD1cPX
— Tom Garfinkel (@TomGarfinkel) April 18, 2021
The new 3.36 mile circuit has 19 corners, three straights and potential for three DRS zones, with expected top speeds of 198 mph.
Now with two races in the U.S., F1 President Stefano Domenicali said they will avoid having back-to-back events by keeping the Miami Grand Prix separate from the U.S. Grand Prix, which is held at Austin's Circuit of the Americas.
The date of the race has yet to be confirmed, though Domenicali said he expects the first race in a 10-year deal to take place in the second quarter of 2022. Austin's race will take place on Oct. 24 this year.
"The USA is a key growth market for us, and we are greatly encouraged by our growing reach in the U.S. which will be further supported by this exciting second race," Domenicali said.
Miami will mark the 11th race location in the U.S. since the Championship began in 1950: Circuit of The Americas in Austin; Dallas, Texas; Indianapolis, Indiana; Sebring, Florida; Riverside, California; Watkins Glen, New York; Long Beach, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Detroit, Michigan and Phoenix, Arizona. COTA was first opened in 2012.
Domenicali said F1 will be working with the FIA and the Hard Rock Stadium to leave a lasting impact on the community: discounted tickets for residents, a program to support local businesses and a STEM education program through F1 in schools.
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