15 Great Holiday Pop-Up Bars In Austin

The best Christmas bars to get into the holiday spirit.
15 Great Holiday Pop-Up Bars In Austin image

photo credit: David Douglass

We love when bars and restaurants get into the holiday spirit and dress up a little bit. It gives us something to do when it’s pitch dark at 5:30pm, and more importantly, it gives us an excuse to wear our ugly sweaters and order an eggnog at the bar without getting weird looks (we went through a weird phase this past summer). Thankfully, Austin has a ton of bars and restaurants that like to go all out for the holidays. Whether you want to play board games in a cozy inflatable igloo or watch a light show on the lake, there are events going on all month long. Here are our favorite holiday-themed bars and restaurants in Austin.   

Also see our guide to restaurants open on Christmas Day.


photo credit: David Douglass

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Every year around the holidays, Nickel City on East 11th turns into Sippin’ Santa, a Christmas-themed tiki bar. It’s one of the more popular holiday bars in Austin, so you’ll want to show up a little early (in the season, or in the day), but you can also grab reservations for larger parties via email (with a minimum order, tip, etc…), so you don’t have to worry about securing a space for you and your little gang of reindeer friends. 

When: Nov 21 - Dec 30

photo credit: Robert Lerma

The Eleanor image

The Eleanor



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Miracle on 5th Street is probably the most elaborate of Austin’s many holiday pop-ups. Occupying the Roosevelt Room’s next door event space downtown, The Eleanor, it even requires a ticket for entry (for $10-25, depending on the date). If you want to bypass the inevitable line, you can also purchase a Dasher Pass (basically a fast-pass ticket) for a bit more.

When: Nov 17 - Dec 27

It’s always Christmas at Lala’s—complete with festive lights, drink specials, and little elves hanging from a string on the ceiling that dance when you open the restroom doors—so you can keep the celebrations going long after the holiday has passed. But despite the year-round decor, there’s something about the time from Thanksgiving to New Year’s that feels especially festive here. It’s a strip mall dive bar in Brentwood, so don’t come in expecting anything fancy—just a good, holiday atmosphere, all the time. 

When: Always

Most of the year, Mozart’s is where you go when you want a place to sit with a coffee on the lake and maybe even get some work done. But during the months of November and December (and a little beyond), you can sit with a coffee on the lake while enjoying their annual light show. The event tends to draw a bit of a crowd, but you can reserve a table in advance, or try your luck with the standing room general admission. Either way, you’ll gain access to their Bavarian Marketplace with vendors selling snacks and holiday trinkets. 

When: Nov 9 - Jan 6 (2024)

Even though Hanukkah only lasts eight nights, at the East Austin retro bar Kitty Cohen’s, you can celebrate the entire month of December. In addition to a handful of Hanukkah-themed drinks—plus, frozen eggnog—Zee’s Wiener System will be popping up every Friday selling a special all-beef latke hot dog.

When: Dec 1 - 30

photo credit: David Douglass

Donn's Depot image

Donn's Depot


From mid-November until “late January,” Donn’s Depot transforms from an old dive bar and dance venue in Clarksville to an old holiday-themed dive bar and dance venue, complete with festive lights and drink specials. It’s free to get in most nights, but they do charge a cover on Fridays and Saturdays (and on weekdays as it gets closer to the holidays). 

When: mid-November - “Late January”

photo credit: David Douglass

Gibson Street Bar image

Gibson Street Bar


Taking the award for “best dressed parking lot,” Gibson Bar doesn’t just turn into a holiday-themed bar—it closes down the parking lot, covers it in astroturf and a giant plastic tent, and creates a semi-outdoor winter wonderland on South Lamar. Under the tent, there’s a big Christmas tree surrounded by a bunch of picnic tables where you can post up and pretend like you’re somewhere a lot colder. 

When: Nov 24 - Dec 31

If you’ve ever wanted to have drinks in an igloo (or at least one of those inflatable ones), you’ll be able to reserve one at the Hotel Van Zandt on Rainey Street. Reservations are generally available Wednesday-Sunday—with two seatings each night—but you’ll want to check the online calendar for full availability. In addition to food and drink, you’ll be able to listen to record players and play board games in the igloos, but the whole experience will run you about $100 (plus a food and beverage minimum). 

When: Dec 1 - 30

photo credit: David Douglass

Sunny’s Backyard image

Sunny’s Backyard


For the last few weeks of the year, Sunny’s turns its tiny bar on East 7th (with a giant patio) into a holiday-themed one. There’s a small menu of drink specials, and a fully decked-out interior, plus you’ll have access to the usual kitchen menu of vegan pub food most nights. 

When: Nov 18 - Dec 31

photo credit: David Douglass

The Driskill Bar image

The Driskill Bar



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The 16-foot Christmas tree in the lobby of The Driskill downtown is one of the biggest in town, and it’s up on display for the entire month of December. This year, in addition to live holiday music and cookie sales benefiting local charities, there will be a handful of holiday tea events that you can purchase tickets to in advance. Of course, you can always pop into the hotel lobby without a reservation to take in the sights of the tree during a night out on Dirty Sixth Street.  

When: Dec 1 - 31, Holiday tea on select dates.

photo credit: Wax Myrtle's

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From Thanksgiving until December 24, Wax Myrtle’s is turning into Happy’s, a Chicago-based holiday pop-up happening right here in Downtown Austin. Expect to find holiday-themed cocktails and festive decor daily, reserved exclusively for walk-ins. 

When: Nov 24 - Dec 24

Up on the rooftop of The Otis Hotel by UT, Otopia has inflatable igloos you can rent out while you sip on cocktails and hot cocoa. An igloo will set you back $200-250, but it comes with cookies, hot chocolate kits, board games, and a record player (to use, not to keep). Plus, you can invite up to seven friends to join you, because board games aren’t a lot of fun by yourself.

When: mid-November - mid-February

photo credit: Liberty Bela Photography

Lefty's image



For the entire month of December, Lefty’s Brick Bar on East 6th Street turns into “Rudolph’s Road House,” an interactive holiday bar with festive drinks, retro decor, and regular events—including a weekly, “Smack-Talk Santa,” in case you’ve ever wanted to get roasted by a jolly old man with a beard. 

When: Dec 1 - 31

The pool area outside of the Austin Motel on South Congress turns into a “Winter Wanderland” for most of December. During the week, you can wander in and check out the decorations, and if you show up on Fridays, you can watch holiday movies while floating in the pool. There are also special events going on almost every weekend, from toy drives and ‘90s ski dance parties, to caroling and photos with “Sexy Santa.” On the weekends, local vendors will be hosting holiday pop-up markets. 

When: Nov 30 - Dec 24

Up on the 20th floor of The Westin in Downtown Austin, you’ll find Azul, claiming the spot of the “highest view of Downtown” in the whole city. And for the month of December, that also makes it the highest holiday bar in town, too, when it turns into “Yule at Azul.” Expect to find festive drinks, holiday decor, and a photo booth where you can show off all your ugly sweaters. 

When: Dec 1 - 30

Moxy Austin


Whether you consider The Nightmare Before Christmas to be a holiday movie or a Halloween movie is irrelevant. At The Moxy Hotel near the UT Campus, the bar is dressing up as the popular ‘90s Tim Burton film, accompanied by holiday cocktails and weekly movie nights (with free cocoa). 

When: Dec 1 - 31

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Suggested Reading

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Where to grab a bite to eat the next time you’re in downtown Austin.

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