Winter Fun


Winter doesn't last long in Texas, and fortunately it is usually mild enough that almost all of the regular attractions can still be enjoyed.  In fact, winter is sometimes the best time to try out a new hike or park, since the weather isn't sweltering, and the crowds tend to be small!

There are not a whole lot of special events going on this season.  I guess we are all mostly in hibernation, but here are a few fun things to get you going!

● Polar Bear Plunge at Barton Springs
January 1 - 10am
Start the year off right, by beginning with a plunge into the 68 degree water at Barton Springs!

Okay, I must admit, they've been doing this for 35 years.  I have lived in Austin for around 20 of those years, and I've never managed to pull this one in.  At 10am, I am usually looking around somewhat blurrily at the chaos my house is in from the night before ;o)  But it sure does sound like fun!

Neighborhood Fishin' Trout Stocking - East Metropolitan Park  (Manor)
January 8, 2016

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department stocks fish that are big enough to catch and keep, and these fish are available for harvest as soon as they land in the water.

  ● Thinkery 21 - Super Powers: Science Facts, Fantasy & Fiction
January 14, 2016 7-10 pm

Have you ever dreamed of having super powers? Don’t miss this super powerful Thinkery21.  

The evening’s line up includes:  Superhero Portraits – By day you may be a 9 to 5’er, but at Thinkery 21step up to the Texas Portrait Booth by McLendon Photography to reveal your true superhero identity.

It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s…You!-Take flight with Phoenix Arising Aviation Academy’s state of the art flight simulator.

Super Simple Machines – Can you lift a 500lb weight?  Pulleys make it possible. Learn how simple machines give civilians the power to achieve greatness.

Who is that Masked Hero? –Hide your real identity by sewing your own superhero mask.

● Star Wars Family Fest at Bullock Museum
January 16, 2016

Snap your picture with your favorite Star Wars characters from Austin's 501st Legion. Enjoy puzzles and games by Austin Panic Room, lightsaber demonstrations by the Bam Academy, and intergalactic arts and crafts  Make sure to get the Star Wars prize giveaways as well as comic book giveaways courtesy of Dragon's Lair Comics and Fantasies. 

Free and fun for all ages!

● Austin Home and Garden Show at the Austin Convention Center
January 15 - 17
With thousands of square feet of exhibits you'll find the latest in products and services for everything from builders, contractors, materials, decks, pools, spas, entertainment systems, storage, plants, landscape displays/materials, kitchenware, and much more.
This year check out Austin's Jen Hatmaker abd Brian Santos, the Wall Wizard

Tickets are $8.50 for adults, 16 and under are free.  Check out the online $1 off coupon on the Convention Center's webpage.

● Take a day trip to Llano to see the Eagles's Nest

A family of Bald Eagles nests each year about 50 yards to the south of TX Highway 29 approximately half-way between Buchanan Dam and the City of Llano.  We happened to see them randomly one year when we were driving out to get some barbecue, and saw a bunch of people on the side of the road with binoculars.

It is a pretty impressive sight, and well worth the drive!

The eagles usually show up around November (though they appeared in September last year) and their eggs usually hatch in early January.

● MLK March and Festival
January 18 - 9am
The Annual Community March celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy while uplifting diversity and multi-culturalism in our city. The March kicks off on with a short program at the MLK Statue on the University of Texas campus.

It will then march on to the historic Huston-Tillotson University, where exciting activities are planned.

The MLK Community Festival kicks off as soon the march arrives on location and will last until 3 p.m.; it will include all types of vendors and local musical artists to make this year’s celebration the best ever!

● Austin Bacon and Beer Festival
January 25 - 2:30pm

This popular event showcases bacon-centric food prepared by bacon-loving chefs from Austin and Central Texas—and we’ll be pairing it all with craft brews! Can you ask for a Sunday afternoon better spent?

● Take a Tree Walk at the Wildflower Center
January 25

Get back to nature and explore the Mollie Steves Zachry Texas Arboretum during their annual Tree Talk Winter Walk. This free event includes family activities and provides the perfect time to explore the beauty and benefits of native trees and shrubs while learning about them. Small tree and shrub sale included.

● Hook 25th Anniversary Party at the Long Center
Celebrating the perfection of Robin Williams in the role of the adult Pan the Man, the Alamo Drafthouse and the Long Center are joining forces and going all out with this ultimate HOOK fan event, which is going to feature:

A screening at the Long Center, Austin’s largest cinematic venue, second screen subtitles so you can Quote-Along with all of your favorite lines, Pixie Stix to help you fly, Inflatable swords so you can battle pirates, Cell phones you can throw out the window when you realize you don’t want to be a grown up!

Tickets start at $29

● Carnaval Brasileiro
February 27, 2016

Carnaval Brasileiro in Austin began in the late 1970's with Brazilian students attending the University of Texas and has grown to what is billed as the largest indoor Brazilian Carnaval party in the world.  Every year more than 5000 costumed revelers converge on the Palmer Events Center for dancing, drumming and general revelry. 

● Jugglefest
Feburary 26 - 28, 2015

Celebrating its 21st year, Jugglefest is a three-day event full of workshops, games, demonstrations, and shows featuring juggling, unicycling, and related circus arts. Everyone is welcome to come on down to pick up the basics, learn some new tricks, meet some crazy people or just chill out and watch.

● Explore UT
Saturday, March 5, 2015

Explore UT is a day-long celebration during which the University of Texas open the doors of our campus to the state.

This event, now in its 15th year, features close to 400 programs across campus including performances, exhibits, lectures and activities for the entire family 

● It's My Park Day
Saturday, March 5, 2016
Held the first Saturday of March, this is the city's largest volunteer day. Every year, thousands of volunteers work to improve parks and greenbelts throughout the city.

Last year, there were over 90 projects city-wide, almost 3,500 volunteers, and over 10,000 hours of volunteer labor. That's equivalent to 5 park maintenance employees working full-time for a whole year!

Check out the Austin Parks website to learn more about when and where you can help!

● Star of Texas Fair and Rodeo
March 12st - March 26th

While we aren't big fans of the rodeo, and have never stayed late for the evening events, my boys used to really enjoy the carnival portion when they were younger. 

 The carnival usually offers a pretty reasonably priced wristband that will let you on all the rides.  When the boys were young, we'd get there when it first opened, and enjoy the rides.  When it started to get full, we'd walk over to the animal section to check it out.  When the crowds got heavy, we'd head home, tired and satisfied!

● Zilker Kite Festival
Sunday, March 6th, 2016

Zilker Kite Festival is one of Austin’s best-known annual events. Held on the first Sunday of March, it is the kick-off to the hundreds of springtime activities in Austin. Everyone is welcome to attend (pets too!). There is no admission to attend or to participate in the contest. Most folks come out to see the spectacular sight of hundreds of kites in the sky and to enjoy a spring day in the park.

● Sweet Berry Farms Strawberry Picking
Early March

While the official start of Spring is March 20, here in Austin, it feels like spring long before then!

One of our favorite things to do is to go strawberry picking at Sweet Berry Farms in Marble Falls.  They have rows and rows of strawberries, and open their doors in early March!  

In addition to the joy of picking your own fruit, they also have farm animals to enjoy, home made ice cream and more!  Plan on spending the afternoon!

To the left is one of my all-time favorite pictures of my youngest son -- about eight years ago.  Yes, we all sneak in a bite or two of fresh strawberry, but here is the face when my little guy snuck a green one :o)

● South by Southwest
March 13th - March 22nd
South by Southwest (SXSW) is a set of film, interactive, and music festivals and conferences that take place every spring (usually in March) in Austin, Texas, United States. It began in 1987, and has continued to grow in size every year. In 2011, the conference lasted for 10 days, with SXSW Interactive lasting for five, Music for six, and Film running concurrently for nine days.

● Zilker Garden Festival
April 2nd - 3rd
For over 50 years, the annual Zilker Garden Festival has been a one-stop, garden shopping destination when spring arrives in Austin and Central Texas. A family-friendly event, the garden festival offers something for everyone.

Tickets are  $7 for adults and $3 for children

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