Tag Archives: Zilker Park

How to Celebrate Christmas Like an Austinite

20 Dec

Austin Christmas GrafittiTraditions make a city feel more like home. When I first moved to Austin, I started thinking about why Fort Worth felt so much like home. After the obvious family and friend connections, and the sheer amount of time I lived there, I think it felt like home because of the traditions I had.

Each September or October I would go to the State Fair, I’d eat a mustard-covered Fletcher’s Corn Dog, and ride the Texas Star Ferris Wheel. Every November I would eat a gyro and chocolate baklava at the Greek Food Festival. Each December I would look forward to my friends’ Christmas In Black and White decade-themed costume Christmas party.

In an effort to make my new home feel more like home, I insisted on finding a few Austin events or activities I could look forward to year after year. If you’re looking to celebrate Christmas as an Austinite, here is what I suggest:

Trail of Lights 2013

1. Walk through the Festival of Lights in Zilker Park

Take a stroll through the light tunnels. Grab a cuppa hot chocolate. Get dizzy spinning under the tree. This year, there was a flip-book video booth and Anthony and I got an awesome memento our evening.

Zilker Park Tree

2. Buy your gifts from a local artist or store. 

Austin is filled with small businesses and local artists, buying gifts from these places is just the Austin way.

3. Go to a quote-along at the Alamo Drafthouse

I’m a believer. The Alamo Drafthouse is the best movie theater in the nation world. They have fun events year round, but during the holidays they host Elf Quote-Alongs and Home Alone All-you-can-eat-cheese-pizza parties. My husband and I learned of them too late to get tickets this year, so I scoured six stores before finding Home Alone on DVD, ordered plain cheese pizza, and had a party at home this year.

4. Decorate a tree on 360, or at least go and look at them

Before I moved here, Anthony told me how people would decorate trees on 360. I didn’t understand until we drove down highway and saw miles of trees decked out in tinsel and garland. My favorite tree was decorated like a reindeer. Next year, you’ll find me on the top of one of the hills, trimming a tree for all to see.

Hawaiin Tree Austin Texas

5. Go ice skating on the Plaza at Whole Foods downtown

The skating rink at the Austin-based grocery chain might be the closest thing to a white Christmas you will see in the capital city.

If you’ve moved to a new town and are missing home, I encourage to get out and try a few new things you can repeat at least annually.

Adventures in Austin City Limits

16 Oct

This past weekend, Anthony and I attended ACL Festival, or Austin City Limits Festival, a 3-day music festival in Zilker Park, with over 120 bands playing on 7 different stages. We watched somewhere around 22 of them. If I had to play favorites, The Colorfeels, Ben Howard, Gary Clark Jr., and Florence + The Machine would be at the top of my list. Finish reading this post, then go immediately and check them all out.

ACL Fest 2012

ACL rules say you’re not allowed to bring in cameras with a removable lens, so we broke out the old Polaroid camera my uncle gave me and my siblings when we were small and ordered some of the Impossible Project‘s Film.  I also thought it would be an appropriate time to download Instagram. We saw so many people with DSLRs, and overheard people tell the gate guards that the lenses didn’t come off. We decided to stick to the rules and have our fun by documenting our time with our instant camera and Instagram. If my scanner wasn’t boxed up in Austin, I’d upload the Polaroids.

The first day, we found a no-hassle, free parking spot 1.2 miles from Zilker (yes, this can actually be considered a great spot for the fest). We returned there each day. That was where our adventures began. Friday, we walked past different tents handing out sodas and goodies, and scored some more shades; this time, in a fun blue hue.

When gearing up to go we had a dilemma: bring chairs and lug them around all day or a blanket that could squeeze into the backpack? I’m very much the “travel light” type. This question was easily answered as we conducted our own “social experiment”. Friday we brought one inexpensive folding chair that would not be missed if lost or stolen and placed it at a stage near the festival entrance. We proceeded to stage hop and left the chair. In the end, our chair was safely resting where we left it. Anthony said that  leaving the chair was like leaving your dinner plate at a buffet restaurant. That made me giggle. While the blanket was great, it poured on Saturday, so chairs were a much better option for the mud. We picked up a second chair for Sunday.

Sweet Leaf Tea Smiles

With a crowd of about 80,000, ACL is people watching at its prime. Can you say gold lame leotards? If outfits didn’t make you stand out in the crowd, many people made “flags” so they could easily be found by their group. It felt a bit like ESPN’s College Game Day. Anthony and I stuck together the whole time, so we didn’t need a flag, but when meeting up with some friends it was easier to find each other by saying fun things like, “We’re to the left of the giraffe, in front of the tie-dye.”  My favorite flag was an upside-down turtle with a speech bubble that said, “This is awkward.”

When we needed to re-energize ourselves, we found plenty of food options at the festival. Booths lined the edge of the grounds with mostly local selections. Everything from food truck tacos to local organic salads and tamales were available. Fort Worth’s Tim Love even made an appearance with two booths (Love Shack and Woodshed)! I think the selection was a reflection of Austin as it was very “foodie” for a festival. Truffle Pomme Frittes from Second Bar + Kitchen, and Boomerang’s Australian style hand pies were among our choices over the weekend. I wanted to try Watermelon with Goat Cheese and Pop Rocks, but never did get around to it. After the festival Friday and Saturday, Anthony and I decided to grab a late night bite to reflect on the days’ events and discuss our favorite acts.
We sure are glad we chose ACL over the Red River Rivalry game this year…
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