Austin may not be a snowy winter wonderland this December, but that doesn't mean you can't be transported to a land of faux snow, Christmas trees and holiday cheer.
Here are six places that are hosting winter wonderlands in Austin.
Winter Wanderland at Austin Motel, 1220 South Congress Ave.
Get ready for a holiday experience you’ll never forget! From Dec. 2-26, the Austin Motel is hosting a neon rainbow holiday experience, which includes trees, rainbow lights, carols with Drag Mrs. Clause, Hunky Santa, weekly holiday film screenings and boozy holiday drinks galore. Thursdays through Saturdays offer some of these special holiday treats, so come ready to have a jolly time. This is a family-friendly event, reservations aren’t required and admission is free, but they do ask you to donate to CARY, Council on At-Risk Youth. The full schedule can be found here.
Yelp Pink Winter Wonderland at Revival Coffee, 1405 East 7th St.
This year, Yelp is hosting their Deck the Halls with Yelp, a $100K Holiday Winterization Fund which helps local businesses fund improvement projects needed for the winter season. To celebrate this launch, they have partnered with Enchantment Event Decor to create a pink winter wonderland at Revival Coffee. This winter wonderland will also serve as a way community members can nominate local businesses in person to receive funding, learn about the campaign and celebrate the holiday season. Expect unique lights, tinsel, pink trees and an overall Instagram moment.
Illuminate at W Austin, 200 Lavaca St.
This year, the famous secret holiday bar at W Hotel will become a sophisticated winter wonderland! Guests will truly have the chance to shine during this holiday season and enjoy appetizers and tasty Fire or Ice cocktails off their brand new holiday menu.
South Pole at Kimpton Hotel Van Zandt, 605 Davis St.
This year, the Kimpton Hotel Van Zandt is hosting a marvelous winter wonderland with its third annual fourth-floor South Pole. They have revamped the rooftop desk to showcase outdoor igloos for private dining, holiday-themed cocktails (and also Friendsgiving-themed cocktails), and holiday-themed meals from Geraldine’s. Reservations for the private igloos will open on Dec. 3 and will also be open for a week around Valentine’s Day. They can be made here. Guests also have the choice to purchase hotel and dining packages, which can be made through Hotel Van Zandt or Geraldine’s.
Austin Trail of Lights at Zilker Park, 2100 Barton Springs Rd.
Get ready for the 57th annual Austin Trail of Lights running now through the end of the month. Tickets range from $15 to $65 and can be purchased online. The event is hosted by the Trail of Lights Foundation, and this year, it’s a drive-thru event. Enjoy over two million lights that light up the park, 90 holiday trees, and over 70 holiday displays and lighted tunnels. They also offer private nights in which entry is free through the STARS at the Trail program. More information about the Austin Trail of Lights can be found here.
Peppermint Parkway at COTA, 9201 Circuit of the Americas Blvd.
From now until Dec. 26, the Circuit of The Americas is hosting Peppermint Parkway, a winter wonderland where guests can enjoy a mile of immersive holiday displays, dancing elves, a plaza of food and activities and seven million holiday lights. There are four ticket packages that range from $40 to $95 and can include, along with regular admission, a fast pass and/or a chance to take a lap around the famous track. Regular admission includes a show, mailing letters to Santa, a mistletoe kissing booth, a holiday express train, amusement rides, treats, carols, a zipline and more!
Have fun walkin’ in a winter wonderland!
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We’ve all heard it before, ‘Austin isn’t what it used to be,’ despite residents complaining about their beloved city morphing since the 1880s. However, that’s not to say Austin hasn’t changed.
With expansive population growth, new businesses steadily flowing in, celebrities snapping up local property and constant new development, Austin is making its way through some growing pains.
Here are some of the parts of the city longtime Austinites gripe about and newcomers don't notice.
From its origins as a pseudo-red light in the 1990s to its emerging identity as a luxury shopping center and tourist destination, South Congress has been the epicenter of change in Austin. While many legacy businesses—think Prima Dora, Güero's Taco Bar and The Continental Club—are still operating, it has also seen its fair share of closures since the pandemic: Most recently, Lucy in Disguise with Diamonds announced it would closing.
the south congress area is raising my blood pressure— woman (@fiorellino__1) August 6, 2022
For each closure, there has been a handful of new openings, namely along Music Lane, which was completed in spring 2020. The new strip has brought crowds to luxury stores and restaurants that are typically reserved for the likes of The Domain, like designer brand Hermès, social club Soho House and luxury perfumery Le Labo. One person's sadness about the change is anothers excitement.
Since 2019, Austin has added 32 new buildings to its skyline, with another 28 under construction and yet another 25 in the proposal stage according to a June Downtown Austin Alliance report. In the words of the antique Austin-American Statesman in 1936, “Rip Van Winkle would have rubbed his eyes in amazement,” upon seeing the difference just 10 years can bring to the skyline.
While newcomers, especially tech executives, look forward to moving into the newest high rises, they mean big changes for long-time Austinites. The new towers mean the closure of Rainey Street favorites, as well as the 4th Street Warehouse District.
Making restaurant reservations
One of the most universal complaints about the ‘new’ Austin, from locals and visitors alike, is the need to make a reservation at most restaurants in town. This is a big change for locals that have lived here most of their life—you rarely had to make reservations pre-pandemic. And while this isn't loved by newer Austinites, it's the norm they know.
While you can still find walk-in options—think Lou’s, Taquero Mucho, Magnolia Cafe and Terry Black’s Barbecue—most restaurants with two or more dollar signs on reservation sites like Resy are likely to require a reservation… likely a month or more in advance.According to Open Table, some of the hardest places to get a reservation are celebrity hotspot Aba, James Beard Foundation Award-winning restaurant El Naranjo, Lady Bird Lake rooftop bar P6, sushi restaurant Uchi and farm-to-table restaurant Emmer & Rye. You’ll need to break out your calendar for those.
This massive development in North Austin is the go-to stop for luxury brands like Gucci, Anthropologie, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co. and Restoration Hardware. Split into two sides: The Domain and Domain NORTHSIDE. Originally opened in 2007, The Domain has changed drastically in its 15 years of business and is often called Austin’s “second downtown” but that still doesn’t change the fact that it still feels like a new area to longtime residents.Smart City apartment locator Maddie Hastings said she doesn’t often lease locals at The Domain, mostly people from out of town, and when she does, they don’t typically stay more than a year. Still, for newcomers, it's a fun development to work, eat and play.
Austin FC vs. UT
Verde has yet to stamp out that burnt orange cult following in town. Austin FC has gained a steady following despite only being on its second MLS season, but the University of Austin has strength in numbers from the hundreds of thousands of Longhorns who have graduated from the famous school living both in and outside of Austin.
Longhorns fans are often older Austnites or those that have graduated from the school. But for newer Austnites, they don't have a connection to the school and are instantly welcomed into the diverse and fresh MLS team.
That said, Austin FC and Longhorn fans seem to be peacefully coexisting, with part-owner and UT alum Matthew McConaughey saying "the more, the merrier."
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The stars aligned for a breakthrough discovery.
A collaborative team led by researchers from the University of Texas at Austin has found that star formation is a self-regulatory process. This understanding could lead to more information on star formation within our own and far away galaxies.
Every population of stars in our galaxy, and in the dwarf galaxies surrounding us, has the same balance for the mass distribution of stars, or what astronomers call the initial mass function. This has confused astronomers for decades since the stars in other galaxies were born under different conditions over billions of years.
So the researchers carried out simulations that were the first of their kind. Essentially, they follow the formation of individual stars in a collapsing giant cloud while also capturing how these newly formed stars interact with their surroundings by giving off light and shedding mass in a phenomenon known as “stellar feedback.”
“For a long time, we have been asking why,” said Dávid Guszejnov, a postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Astronomy at UT. “Our simulations followed stars from birth to the natural endpoint of their formation to solve this mystery.”
The research was completed on two of the most powerful supercomputers in the world and was part of an initiative known as the STARFORGE Project, which is co-lead by UT Austin and the Carnegie Observatories.
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