Six Austin-tatious Christmas Displays in Central Texas

String of white and gold lights? Check. Staple-gun to pin them across the eaves? Check. Boring as hell Christmas display? Check.

Sure, the same old icicle-wrapped tree or a starry expanse of cool white across your gate might fly in some locales, but this is Austin, Texas! We hunger for more exuberance. Our holiday displays don't have to be sacred or secular, per se, but they do have to strike awe into the heart and gleam so bright even Santa Claus would call in a nuisance complaint.

So, without further ado, here are Central Texas' most Austin-tatious Christmas spectacles:

Follow the Lights to Holiday Heaven
Sure, it's family friendly. It's the holidays. It has to be family friendly. But is it still a mind-funk of explosive colors to fool your senses into thinking you're watching a New Year's Eve firework show? Yes, yes it is.

Running through the holiday season, the Trail of Lights stages a stunning hostile takeover of Zilker Park. Every day from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., the large metropolitan park explodes with kaleidoscope of Christmas cheer. Admission is free, but you can skip the lines for a $3 gate fee.

Deck the Streets with Tacky Lightshows...
For an eyeful of ebullience which hits home, Christmas crazies can swing by the original eclectic student-hood gone gentry, Hyde Park. Down on 37th Street, the locals really know how to crank the holiday cheer to 100,000 watts. Denizens craft outre, Austin-styled displays, which are dazzling affronts to good taste, out of miles of lights, inflatable eyesores, and plastic figurine panic. Fans of serious seasonal illumination will love strolling around this block.

Light Your Last Minute Free-for-All
Admittedly, some of us are getting a little too old to sit on Santa's lap without feeling creepy. However, those of us with charged-up tykes, who can't stand the shopping carnage but crave the Christmas haul, are in luck. You can set them down with Santa while you check off your last minute wish lists with a trip to The Domain, all while enjoying their reverse-seasonal affectation disorder.

With a massive tree that aspires to, if not equals, the White House's Balsam Fir, along with a blinding festoon of luminary festiveness, the pedestrian mall puts the Kringle in Christmas. Sure, you may have to punch someone out for copies of Pokemon Sun and Moon, but at least you can ice your hand while soaking in the a December joy.

Cap off Christmas at the Capitol
Speaking of seats of government, Austin's own stately Capitol is no slouch when it comes to kicking out the seasonal visual aids. The entire commons area, as well as the irritating, one-way loop around the iconic building is strewn with cheery garlands and dazzling displays of illumination. Don't slow your roll there for too long, because during December Congress Avenue and Sixth Street are also lit up like – well, something conical and branchy with a tinsely stuff on it.

The Christmas Miracle Mile and a Half
Ostentatious displays aren't restricted to the city limits. Those of us who live a wee-bit closer to Santa's workshop (north, that is) or want to escape the Zilker throngs, have a few options as well. Round Rock really knows how to give the local power and light people a Christmas bonus: The Rock'N Lights Holiday Light Tour consists of over a mile's worth of oohs and ahhs, as at least 2 million bulbs await seasonal celebrants at Old Settlers Park.

The star-dampening, Texas-sized visual feast runs through December 26.

Drink in the Holidays
Nothing gets our holiday hackles up like wading through the crowds for that can't-live-without-it toy or wiggling our legs until the park port-o-potty and its festive aromas clear out. Less spectacle than other local displays, at least Lala's Christmas Bar comes with a little nerve tonic. "It's always Christmas at Lala's," so burnt-out shoppers or workaday humbugs can get their holiday spirits during the whole year.
However, there's nothing like basking in this dive bar's pan-seasonal ambiance to remind us about holiday cheer after a brutal trip to the mall. Just make sure you get a sleigh ride home if you've had one-too-many spiked eggnogs.

Andy L. Kubai is a freelance writer and transplanted Austinite who's been exploring the internal and external wonders of his new home for the last 5 years. Find out more about Andy on his website.

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