Still bright and free after all these years. Every day has live entertainment, myriad photo ops, and, of course, funnel cake. Go online for a schedule of shuttles and other transpo options. You can pay online for parking or a pass that lets you cut everyone in line. Bike racks will be available for your pedal pushers. Every day through Dec. 22, 7-10pm. Free.
Zilker Park, 2100 Barton Springs Rd., 512/974-6700
Need something Austin-y (art, jewelry, prints, clothing, etc., whatnot, and then some) for a loved one this year? More than 135 artists and artisans will help you with your gifting conundrums. Special events occur throughout the month of December, so shop early and often. Every day through Dec. 24, 10am-10pm. Free.
The Marchesa Hall & Theatre, 6406 N I-35, 512/494-6178
Sharp Entertainment will be in town casting a new food competition series called Frankenfood for Spike TV. Aspiring contestants are encouraged to show up with a unique dish featuring an odd combination that actually tastes good. See website for more details. 10am-5pm.
It's time for the annual homemade tamale sale at both Santa Rita outlets, where they'll have rotisserie chicken tamales with tomatillo-serrano sauce and pulled pork tamales with Tex-Mex sauce for $16 per dozen. Order at least 24 hours in advance for pick up at either outlet.
Santa Rita Tex-Mex Cantina, 1206 W. 38th; Santa Rita, 5900 W. Slaughter
It's not exactly a winter wonderland 'round these parts, but you can at least skate around the ice rink with 200,000 lights to help you get in the mood. Go online for package deals and VIP pricing. Through Jan. 6. $23 ($17, kids).
Adults can sip champagne while the kids enjoy hot chocolate plus a selection of tea sandwiches, desserts, and scones. Friday through Sunday afternoons from 3-5pm; reservations required. Fridays-Sundays through Dec. 22, 3-5pm. $45 ($25, kids).
This comedy for the whole family is a cherished holiday tradition, now with a new twist. Directed by Patricio Villarreal Avila for the Austin Latino Theatre Alliance, performed in Spanish with English surtitles. Through Dec. 22: Thursdays & Fridays, 8pm; Saturdays and Sundays, 7pm. $15 ($10, kids).
Mexican American Cultural Center, 600 River, 512/537-2582
Santa's tired of waiting for global warming to catch up at the North Pole. He's spending most of his pre-Christmastime on the 12 acres surrounded by the 1.5 million lights of Santa's Ranch. Why not join him? Through Jan. 4, 6-10pm. $28 per car ($56 for a season pass).
9561 N. I-35, New Braunfels (two miles south of Tanger Outlet Mall)
Two days, two locations, and two chances to get that perfect gift. Local, handmade jewelry, glasswork, clothing, artwork, paper goods, textiles and more await adventurous shoppers. Sat., Dec. 14, 11am-5pm: Red's Porch, 3508 S. Lamar. Sun., Dec. 15, 11am-5pm, Sholz Garten, 1607 San Jacinto. Free.
Come watch the choo-choos and inspire the next generation to keep this historic hobby alive and well. You might even be allowed to sit behind the controls if you're kind enough to the tip jar. Wed. & Sat., Jan. 1 & 4, 11am-5pm. Donations appreciated.