Mozart’s Light Show. A 12-minute music and light show presented at the top of each hour from 6 to 11 p.m. nightly. Free. Mozart’s Coffee Roasters, 3825 Lake Austin Blvd. www.mozartscoffee.com.
Star Ranch Christmas Light and Sound Show. More than 200,000 lights, music, bounce house, hot chocolate, apple cider, cookies and more. Free. 6 to 10 p.m. Friday, Dec. 20, 21 and 25. 166 Eely Road, McDade. 512-273-2257 or 512-273-2453.
Trail of Lights. Enjoy 50 custom light displays on a 1.25 mile stroll through Zilker Park, featuring live music, local food for sale, merchants and photo zones. 7 p.m. nightly through Dec. 22. Zilker Park, 2201 Barton Springs Road. www.austintrailoflights.org.
Wimberley Trail of Lights. 6 to 9 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays and 6 to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Dec. 31. Free, donations accepted. Emily Ann Theatre and Gardens, 1101 FM 2325, Wimberley. 512-847-6969, www.emilyann.org.
Zilker Holiday Tree. With 3,309 multicolored light bulbs and topped by a 10-foot lighted star, the tree is 155 feet tall and 120 feet across. Open 6 p.m. to midnight nightly through Dec. 31. Zilker Park, 2201 Barton Springs Road. austintexas.gov/zilkerholidaytree.
The GX Drive In. Holiday treats, children’s activities, food trucks and drive-in style screening of “A Christmas Story.” 4 to 9 p.m. Saturday. Free, RSVP required. The Blue Starlite Drive-In, 1901 E. 51st St. To RSVP visit www.lexusgxlaunchevent.com and use the code GXE64202.
Holiday Film Series. The Paramount Theatre rolls out the red and green carpet for this series that runs through Monday. This weekend: “Meet Me in St. Louis” and “White Christmas.” $11, $7 for Paramount Film Fans. Information and complete schedule: www.austintheatre.org.
“The Polar Express.” Bring a lawn chair or a blanket for a movie on the plaza. 6 p.m. Friday. Free. Prete Main Street Plaza, 221 E. Main St, Round Rock. www.roundrocktexas.gov.
“On A Winter’s Eve.” Chorus Austin sings Pinkham’s “Christmas Cantata” as well as traditional carols, holiday favorites and the Chorus Austin favorite, the Swedish carol “Jul, jul, strålande jul.” With an audience sing-along. 7 p.m. Friday, St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, 8134 Mesa Drive. $15-$20. 512-719-3300, www.chorusaustin.org.
“Christmas Favorites: Past & Presents.” Austin Handbell Ensemble’s winter concert. 7:30 p.m. Friday: Oak Hill United Methodist Church, 7815 U.S. 290. 2 p.m. Saturday: First Baptist Church of Elgin, 205 W. Second St., Elgin. 7:30 p.m. Saturday: Faith Lutheran Church, 4010 Williams Drive, Georgetown. 7:30 p.m. Monday: St. Austin Catholic Church, 2026 Guadalupe St. Free. www.austinhandbells.org.
“Joyous Noël.” The chamber choir of the Texas Early Music Project sings Renaissance and Baroque carols, motets, dances and traditional songs accompanied by ensemble of harp, violin, flute, mandolin viols and lutes. 8 p.m. Friday at First Presbyterian Church, 8001 Mesa Drive, 8 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday at First English Lutheran Church, 3001 Whitis Drive. $20-$25 ($5 student rush). 512-377-6961; www.early-music.org.
Festival of Carols. Local elementary school choirs, holiday crafts and bake sale. 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday. Free. French Legation Museum, 802 San Marcos St. www.flm.org.
Central Texas Medical Orchestra Holiday Concert. Featuring Andrew Sords, violin, and guest artist Sara Hickman. Benefitting the Multiple Sclerosis Society. 7:30 p.m. Saturday. $25-$30. LifeAustin Church, 8901 W. Highway 71. www.ctmorchestra.org.
“The Sound Joy.” Texas Choral Consort’s holiday concert features the premiere of “Gocémonos,” by Austin composer Russell Reed as well as “Threshold of Light” by Tarik O’Regan and audience favorite John Rutter’s “Gloria.” 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Northwest Hills United Methodist Church, 7050 Village Center Drive. $15-$20. www.txconsort.org. 512-719-3300, www.chorusaustin.org.
Kelly Willis and Bruce Robison’s 15th Annual Holiday Shindig. Dale Watson and his Lonestars are special guests. $47-$57. 8 p.m. Saturday. Paramount Theatre, 713 Congress Ave. www.austintheatre.org.
Conspirare Holiday Big Sing. A community event where the audience is the choir, devoted to holiday music from carols to popular classics. 6 p.m. Tuesday. Free. St. Martin’s Lutheran Church, 606 W. 15th St. www.conspirare.org.
“Lessons and Carols from King’s.” Chamber choir Ensemble VIII presents the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, featuring nine readings from the Bible with carols sung between the readings. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, St. Louis Catholic Church Chapel, 7601 Burnet Road. $10-$5. www.ensembleviii.org.
Holiday music. Seasonal music from Austin’s Arundel Ensemble String Quartet. 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday. The Driskill, 604 Brazos St. 512-439-1234, www.driskillhotel.com.
Jim Brickman Holiday Show. Seasonal music in 88 keys. $52-$67. 8 p.m. Thursday. Paramount Theatre, 713 Congress Ave. www.austintheatre.org.
Paul Klemperer’s Festivus Celebration. Music, humor and memories come together for “a holiday show with an edge,” led by the Austin saxophonist and bandleader. $19.55. 8 p.m. Dec. 20. Paramount Theatre, 713 Congress Ave. www.austintheatre.org.
“Celtic Christmas at the Cathedral.” The elite choir Schola Cantorum of St. Mary’s Cathedral is joined by Silver Thistle Pipes and Drums and musicians specializing in Celtic instruments for Irish and Scottish traditional music. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 20-21, St. Mary’s Cathedral, 203 E. 10th St. $25. 512- 472-4540, www.celticchristmasaustin.com.
Love. at Stateside. Austin singers Ginger Leigh, Patrice Pike, Hedda Layne, Shelley King and Wendy Colonna perform original music and holiday songs. $34-$84. 8 p.m. Dec. 21. Paramount Theatre, 713 Congress Ave. www.austintheatre.org.
Robert Earl Keen’s Merry Christmas from the Fam-O-Lee. $29-$49. 8 p.m. Dec. 20. ACL Live, 310 Willie Nelson Blvd. acl-live.com.
A Gospel According to Jazz Christmas. With Kirk Whalum, Lalah Hathaway and Gerald Albright. $95 to $135 (includes dinner). 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Dec. 21. One World Theatre, 7701 Bee Cave Road. www.oneworldtheatre.org.
2nd Street Holiday Window Walk. Local businesses in the 2nd Street District present elaborate art installations in their storefront windows through Jan. 1. Free. Second Street from San Antonio Street to Colorado Street. www.2ndstreetdistrict.com.
Afternoon Tea. Traditional tea and seasonal celebrations with champagne for adults and cocoa for children with tea sandwiches, desserts and scones. $25 per child, $45 per adult. 3 to 5 p.m. Fridays-Sundays through Dec. 22. The Driskill, 604 Brazos St. 512-439-1234, www.driskillhotel.com.
Ebenezer’s Journey: A Dickens’ Christmas Story. An interactive program recreating various scenes of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” 7 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. $12. Pioneer Farms, 10621 Pioneer Farms Drive. 512-837-1215, www.pioneerfarms.org.
Holiday Hip-Hop Theatre Explosion. Family-friendly performances hosted by Zell Miller III, featuring holiday-themeed hip-hop poetry, dance, music and theatre. 8 p.m. Thursday and Dec. 20 and 21. $10-$30. The Vortex, 2307 Manor Road. www.vortexrep.org.
Luminations. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center invites the public to visit gardens lit with thousands of luminarias and twinkle lights during two nights of live music, children’s activities and more. 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Free admission with two canned food items. 4801 La Crosse Ave. 512-232-0100, www.wildflower.org/luminations.
Outdoor Ice Skating. The ice-skating rink, Eisbahn, is open for outdoor ice skating in downtown Fredericksburg until Jan. 4. Come and go all-day pass $10, includes skate rental. Marktplatz, 100 W. Main St, Fredericksburg. www.visitfredericksburgtx.com/holiday.
Schlotzsky’s Jingle Bun Run. A 5K and half marathon race followed by a 1K race for children with Santa. Race-day registration is $25 for the 5K and $45 for the half marathon. 9 a.m. Saturday. Scott and White West Campus, 5701 Airport Road, Temple. 254-298-5582, www.templeparks.com.
Snow Day! Play in real snow at the Hill Country Galleria, outside of the Bee Cave Library. Noon to 4 p.m. Sunday and Dec. 21. 12700 Hill Country Blvd, Bee Cave. 512-263-0001, www.hillcountrygalleria.com.
Texas Music Museum Holiday Festival. Presentation and book signing by Jason Mellard, art bazaar, tour current exhibits. 1 to 6 p.m. Saturday. Free. 1009 E. 11th St. 512-472-8891, www.texasmusicmuseum.org.
Blue Genie Art Bazaar. Thousands of original works including everything from serious art to kitschy items made by local and regional artists. 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily through Dec. 24. Closes 6 p.m. Dec. 24. Free admission and parking. The Marchesa Hall & Theatre, 6226 Middle Fiskville Road. www.bluegenieartbazaar.com.
VSA Holiday Art and Gift Show. Buy gifts and artwork from Texas artists and support artists with disabilities and VSA Texas. AGE of Central Texas Building, 3710 Cedar St. Room 101. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday through Dec. 24. 512-454-9912, www.vsatx.org.
Armadillo Christmas Bazaar. Nonstop live music and loads of artists have made this fair a tradition for 28 years. 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesday-Dec. 24. Palmer Events Center, 900 Barton Springs Road, $7 (children younger than 12 free). www.armadillobazaar.com.
Theater and dance
“Austin Children’s Nutcracker.” The Austin City Ballet’s 13th annual production, with dancers ages 8-18. 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 22. $25, $15 for children. Dougherty Arts Center, 1110 Barton Springs Road. 512-537-7045, www.austincityballet.org.
“The Austin Holiday Project.” Six actresses take the stage for a “mini-cabaret” sharing favorite holiday memories and songs. 7:30 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 22. $15-$30. Trinity Street Players Theater, 901 Trinity St. 1-888-287-3558, www.austintheatreproject.org.
“A Christmas Carol.” Based on the classic Charles Dicken’s tale. 7:30 p.m. Fridays through Dec. 20, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Dec. 15 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 21. Playhouse Smithville, 110 Main St., Smithville. 512-360-7397, www.texasplaywright.com.
“The Christmas Foundling.” A holiday tale set on Christmas Eve in the Sierra Nevada mountain range in 1850. 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Dec. 21. 2 p.m. Sunday and Dec. 21. Gaslight Baker Theatre, 216 S. Main St., Lockhart. 512-376-5653, www.gaslightbakertheatre.org.
“A Christmas Story.” Based on the classic holiday film. 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays and 2:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 29. No show Christmas Eve. $65-$100. Zach Theatre, 202 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-476-0541, www.zachtheatre.org.
“Holiday Heroes.” A holiday sing-along for ages 3 and up. 11 a.m. Saturday. $14-$16. Zach Theatre, 202 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-476-0541, www.zachtheatre.org.
“It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Show.” Audience members watch members of the KPNF radio station assemble a performance of “It’s a Wonderful Life” in 1946. 7 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 3 and 7 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. $23-$30. Rice’s Crossing Store, 3300 Palm Valley Blvd., Round Rock. www.penfoldtheatre.org.
“Mrs. Bob Cratchit’s Wild Christmas Binge.” A comedic version of the classic Dickens’ Christmas Carol. 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 28. $15-$18. Sam Bass Community Theatre, 600 N. Lee St., Round Rock. www.sambasstheatre.org.
“The Nutcracker.” The annual Austin Ballet performance directed by Stephen Mills, featuring the world premiere of new sets and costume designs. 7:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Thursday and Dec. 20-22. 2 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and Dec. 21-23. $12-$72. Long Center for the Performing Arts, 701 W. Riverside Drive. www.balletaustin.org.
“The Nutcracker.” The sixth annual TexArts production, directed and choreographed by Darren Gibson. 2 and 6 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. St. Michael’s Catholic Academy, 3000 Barton Creek Blvd. 512-852-9079, www.tex-arts.org.
“Of Mice and Music: A Jazz Nutcracker.” Tapestry Dance Company’s tap dance version of the classic ballet is performed to music by a live jazz ensemble. 7 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday. Stateside Theatre at the Paramount, 719 Congress Ave. $24-$29. 512-474-1221. www.austintheatre.org.
“The Second Shepherds Play.” A comedy about the shepherds who first welcomed the Christ Child. 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Dec. 21, and 12:30 and 2:30 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 22. $6-$9. Scottish Rite Theater, 207 W. 18th St. www.scottishritetheater.org.
“Wassail 2013.” A solstice Christmas family celebration featuring carols, stories, dancing and more. 5:30 p.m. Sunday. $15, $5 children younger than 12. Scottish Rite Theater, 207 W. 18th St. www.scottishritetheater.org.
“This Wonderful Life.” Martin Burke plays 37 characters from the classic Christmas film “It’s a Wonderful Life.” 7:30 p.m. Friday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Dec. 20-22 and 25-28; 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and Dec. 21-22 and 29; and 9 p.m. Saturday. $45. Zach Theatre, 202 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-476-0541, www.zachtheatre.org.
The Big Bash Holiday Extravaganza. Games, scenes and improvised stories. 8 p.m. Fridays in December. $15. The Hideout Theatre, 617 N. Congress Ave. 512-482-9131, www.hideouttheatre.com.
Esther’s Follies. “Home for the Holidays,” a musical comedy, magic and political satirical revue on Sixth Street. 8 p.m. Thursdays, 8 and 10 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays. $22-$29. Esther’s Pool, 525 E. Sixth St. 512-320-0553, www.esthersfollies.com.
“Elf Employment.” Puppet Improv Project’s presents a musical, interactive situational comedy. 6 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and Dec. 21-22. $7. The Institution Theater, 3807 Woodbury Drive. 512-895-9580, puppetimprovproject.org.
“(Expletive), It’s Christmas.” An Austin-centric holiday sketch comedy show. 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Dec. 21. $12. The Institution Theater, 3807 Woodbury Drive. www.theinstitutiontheater.com.
“Not So Silent Night.” A festive night of stand-up by local comedians. 10 p.m. Friday. $5. The Institution Theater, 3807 Woodbury Drive. www.theinstitutiontheater.com.
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It's not an accident that three of the five fastest growing cities are in Texas. It's more like destiny.
They say the Lone Star State has four seasons: drought, flood, blizzard and twister. This summer 97% of the state was in a persistent drought; in 2011 the Dallas-Fort Worth area experienced 40 straight days in July and August of temperatures of 100° or higher. The state's social services are thin. Welfare benefits are skimpy. Roughly a quarter of residents have no health insurance. Many of its schools are less than stellar. Property-crime rates are high. Rates of murder and other violent crimes are hardly sterling either. So why are more Americans moving to Texas than to any other state? Texas is America's fastest-growing large state, with three of the top five fastest-growing cities in the country: Austin, Dallas and Houston. In 2012 alone, total migration to Texas from the other 49 states in the Union was 106,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Since 2000, 1 million more people have moved to Texas from other states than have left.
As an economist and a libertarian, I have become convinced that whether they know it or not, these migrants are being pushed (and pulled) by the major economic forces that are reshaping the American economy as a whole: the hollowing out of the middle class, the increased costs of living in the U.S.'s established population centers and the resulting search by many Americans for a radically cheaper way to live and do business.
To a lot of Americans, Texas feels like the future. And I would argue that more than any other state, Texas looks like the future as well — offering us a glimpse of what's to come for the country at large in the decades ahead. America is experiencing ever greater economic inequality and the thinning of its middle class; Texas is already one of our most unequal states. America's safety net is fraying under the weight of ballooning Social Security and Medicare costs; Texas' safety net was built frayed. Americans are seeking out a cheaper cost of living and a less regulated climate in which to do business; Texas has that in spades. And did we mention there's no state income tax?
There's a bumper sticker sometimes seen around the state that proclaims, I WASN'T BORN IN TEXAS, BUT I GOT HERE AS FAST AS I COULD. As the U.S. heads toward Texas, literally and metaphorically, it's worth understanding why we're headed there — both to see the pitfalls ahead and to catch a glimpse of the opportunities that await us if we make the journey in an intelligent fashion.
Orginal article by: Tyler Cowen with Time Magazine
Compliments of: Francie Little | Austin Portfolio Real Estate | 512.468.5753
AUSTIN – This city better known for live music and BBQ will put on a show this weekend of global glitz and speed as Formula One returns for the second season at its only U.S. track.
More than 200,000 visitors are expected to descend on the city and file into the Circuit of the Americas track, where some of the world's fastest and costliest cars will compete in the 18th race of the Formula One season. Besides the race, the University of Texas Longhorns football team will host rival Oklahoma State University on Saturday, creating one of the busiest sports weekend in city history.
Formula One organizers and sponsors are eagerly waiting to see if the only U.S. track on the Formula One circuit could replicate the crowds that came out for its inaugural race last year, when 265,000 people attended throughout the weekend, including 117,000 for the Sunday race.
There's a lot riding on the event, from the $450 million in private investments it took to create the 3.4-mile state-of-the-art track and facility to the future of the sport's popularity in the USA. Last year was the first time Formula One hosted a U.S. race since 2007, when it was held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
"Formula One has been like a gypsy in this country," said Mario Andretti, who won 12 F1 races and, in 1978, became only the second American to ever win a world championship. "The stability Austin will provide in this venue to increase its popularity in the United States and around the world is immense."
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Formula One shuttles its signature race to 19 tracks around the world, from Melbourne to Monte Carlo to Singapore and Sao Paolo, and is one of the most widely-watched televised events in the world. Last year, more than 500 million television viewers watched the Formula One season – five times the number of viewers who tuned in for Super Bowl XLVII in February. This year, the race will be carried live by NBC.
"Austin is centrally located and a hot market place right now," said Steve Sexton, chief executive of the Circuit of the Americas track. "The fact that there are 20 million people within three hours of our circuit also helped."
A few years ago, when a group of promoters pushed to return the sport to the USA, Texas' reimbursement fund for major sporting events made it an attractive option and Austin's reputation for technology and entertainment drew interest, Sexton said. About 1,000 acres of hilly pasture about 15 miles southeast of downtown Austin was chosen as a potential site.
When approached with the idea, potential investor Red McCombs was skeptical. A San Antonio car magnate and co-founder of Clear Channel Communications who helped bring the Spurs NBA team to San Antonio, McCombs hadn't followed Formula One and didn't understand the sport, he said. But the fact that more people watch F1 than the Super Bowl got his attention. He became a major investor.
"With that kind of following, I know we can make it work," McCombs said. "And why not Austin?"
Last year, about 60% of attendees came from outside of Texas, including each of the 50 states, and another 15% to 20% came from 40 countries around the globe, Sexton said. It's like hosting the Super Bowl in the city – every year for the next decade, he said. "The popularity demand for Formula 1 is much more widespread than even we anticipated," Sexton said.
The appeal lies in the technology of the cars and the skill of drivers to keep them on the track and around hairpin turns, he said. Able to hit speeds of more than 200 mph, the cars push out 2 g-forces on drivers when accelerating and 6 g-forces – or twice the force put on astronauts during Space Shuttle launches – while braking, said Alexander Rossi, the only U.S. licensed F1 driver on the circuit. On a sudden brake, the driver's inner organs lunge to the front of the rib cage in a feeling that takes some getting used to, he said.
"Braking on an F1 car is probably the most mind blowing thing there is," said Rossi, a reserve driver with the Caterham F1 Team.
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They'll be plenty of drama on the race course, including whether German wunderkind Sebastian Vettel, who races for the Red Bull team, wins a record-breaking eighth consecutive race. But F1 also draws a plethora of extracurricular activity, from jet-set parties that cost a mortgage payment to attend to free concerts and racing simulators set up throughout downtown Austin.
The influx of people and corporate parties during last year's three-day event translated to $25 million in direct and indirect tax impacts and more than 10 times that much in overall economic impact to the region, according to recent studies.
At the Heywood Hotel in East Austin, F1 fans booked the boutique hotel's seven rooms about five months in advance of last year's race, owner Kathy Setzer said. This year, they started to book a year out. The clients form an upscale, international party atmosphere that's unique to Austin, she said.
"It's absolutely a great thing for local businesses," Setzer said. "And a wonderful opportunity to show off Austin."
Workers at Perla's Seafood & Oyster Bar on South Congress Avenue have pre-ordered an additional 3,500 oysters in anticipation of the crowds – from Mexico, Italy, the Czech Republic and elsewhere – they expect, manager Jamie Wagner said. "Having something so international in Austin is just really cool," she said.
All this, of course, hinges on whether F1 can redeliver the crowds that showed up last year, said Craig Depken, an economics professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte who has studied F1's impact.
"The F1 event in Austin is a shiny new thing," he said. "The question is whether four years from now you get the same interest."
Orginal article by Rick Jervis from USA TODAY
Compliments of: Francie Little | Austin Portfolio Real Estate | 512.468.5753