The 12 days of Christmas music: How to sing along to your favorite carols in Austin

Carrie Rodriguez hosts a special Navidad Edition of her Laboratorio series with Lesly Reynaga at the State Theatre on Dec. 10.
Carrie Rodriguez hosts a special Navidad Edition of her Laboratorio series with Lesly Reynaga at the State Theatre on Dec. 10.
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Put a partridge in the pecan tree and deck the agave, it’s the holiday season in Texas.

We can’t promise leaping lords or maids-a-milking and those five golden rings are between you and your true love. But there will certainly be ladies dancing and drummers drumming as artists from Austin and beyond fill local clubs and concert halls with cheer.

Here are a dozen opportunities to jingle the bells and sing along to your favorite carols this holiday season.

Nov. 25: Bob Schneider and the Moonlight Orchestra at ACL Live

The king of Austin’s ‘90s funk rock scene has matured into one of the most prolific songwriters the city has ever produced, and he has the weekly Song Club subscription service and podcast to prove it. For his Holiday Spectacular, he’s bringing the Moonlight Orchestra, which traditionally includes members of Tosca Strings. Expect rich arrangements that bring warmth to your holiday faves. Queen of country (and Christmas) music, Kelly Willis, will join Schneider alongside Caroline Hale. $25 and up. (

Dec. 2: Holiday Sing-Along and Tree Lighting at the Texas Capitol

Back in the early ‘80s, longtime KUT and KUTX radio personality John Aielli and his friend, pianist Paula White, decided they should play Christmas carols at the Texas Capitol. They set up a piano and a microphone and made merry under the rotunda. They returned again and again. Each year more revelers arrived to share in the celebration and eventually, the joyous sing-along moved onto the Capitol lawn. (Aielli died in 2022.) These days, it’s tied to the Capitol Tree Lighting and Downtown Stroll. This year’s celebration kicks off at 5 p.m. with a Kwanzaa tribute from community radio station KAZI 88.7 FM. At 6 p.m. KUT and KUTX personalities will lead the singalong of favorite carols. (Pro-tip: arrive early to snag a free keepsake songbook.) At 7 p.m., your favorite public radio hosts will lead a countdown to the lighting of the 45-foot-tree. Once the conifer is bedazzled, local dynamos Tomar and the FCs will take the stage to warm your hearts and put some soul in the season. (

Dec. 3: Samara Joy at Bass Concert Hall

“I’ll keep you warm in December,” the 24-year-old jazz breakout promises on the lead track to “A Joyful Holiday,” her new collection of Christmas classics and originals. Then she wraps you in the crushed velvet darkness of her voice, a magnificent instrument with astonishing character and depth. This tour caps off an incredible year for the Bronx native, who took home trophies for best jazz album and best new artist at the 2023 Grammy Awards. (

Dec. 6-7: JD McPherson 'Socks' A Rock ‘n’ Roll Christmas Tour at Antone’s

McPherson celebrates the fifth anniversary of his Christmas collection “Socks.” The title track, an ode to “the worst gift I ever got,” is a cautionary tale for bad boys and girls and their parents alike. The rockabilly bad boy’s other yuletide rockers include “Hey Skinny Santa,” a callout of a big man with a 32-inch waistline, and “Santa’s Got a Mean Machine.” The Dec. 6 show was added after night one sold out. $30. (

Grammy Award-winning jazz artist Samara Joy plays at Bass Concert Hall on Dec. 3.
Grammy Award-winning jazz artist Samara Joy plays at Bass Concert Hall on Dec. 3.

Dec. 7-9: Keep Austin Cheer’d! at Continental Club

Austin band Me Nd Adam and website Do512 present a three-day “retro Austin holiday extravaganza" benefitting Casa Marianella, a local nonprofit that provides aid to displaced immigrants. The alt-rock duo will be joined by indie pop standouts TC Superstar on Dec. 7, soul pop duo THEBROSFRESH on Dec. 8 and Lady Dan and Ellis Bullard on Dec. 9. $15 adv., $20 at the door. (

Dec. 10: Carrie Rodriguez Laboratorio Navidad Edition at State Theatre

For the holiday installment of her award-winning musical exploration series, singer-songwriter and violinist Rodriguez will be joined by Lesly Reynaga. Reynaga celebrated the release of her debut full-length album “Valerosa” — a vibrant collection of mariachi-influenced slow burners and Spanglish bops — with a mariachi-backed set at Lollapalooza earlier this year. She also played the Statesman’s new music series, the Drop. Reynaga will perform with the Laboratorio band and she bringing her own mariachi. Organizers promise a program of “Reynaga’s original songs, ranchera classics and cherished villancicos (Christmas carols) in both Español and Inglés.” $30-$50. (

Photos: Lesly Reynaga performs on The Drop at Waterloo Records

December 14: Resound Presents Winter Formal at the Mohawk

For the third year in a row, the premiere indie music booking agency and production house in Texas hosts a free holiday ball for the Austin music community in the heart of the Red River Cultural District. The event includes DJs, karaoke (carol-aoke?), ornament decorating and a high stakes gingerbread house competition featuring elaborate entries (some have lights!) from the local venues Resound rocks all year long. This year’s event doubles as a release party for Resound’s new compilation “A Very Homie Holiday,” featuring Austin club regulars Melat, Being Dead and Texas String Assembly, plus many more. Entry is free, but $5 raffle tickets that benefit Free Lunch ATX buy you a shot at cool prizes from businesses like Austin Film Society, End of an Ear and Prototype Vintage. (

Nolan Potter's Nightmare Band takes Santa on a strange, psychedelic adventure in the Nightmare B4 X-mas.
Nolan Potter's Nightmare Band takes Santa on a strange, psychedelic adventure in the Nightmare B4 X-mas.

Dec. 16: Nolan Potter’s Nightmare B4 X-mas

At a local mead house (Hotel Vegas) on a Christmas yore (2019), a self-described “Texas bedroom wizard” whipped mystical flutes together with dizzying math rock, distorted guitar and an occasional dream of peace on Earth. The resulting live album is a chronicle of Santa’s strangest adventures. Do you need an “Elf Curse” in your holiday mix? Perhaps. Do you need a thrilling mashup of the “Harry Potter” theme music and “My Favorite Things”? Absolutely. $20. (

Dec. 17: Tribute to the Three Kings: Albert, Freddie + B.B. King at Antone’s

The best place in town for a Blue Christmas is Austin’s home of the blues for almost 50 years. An all-star ensemble of local blues hands — Skye Downing, Kathy Murray, Chris Duarte, Matthew Robinson, Eric Demmer and Oscar Onelas — pay tribute to the electric guitar greats. $12. (

Dec. 20: Mariachi Sol De Mexico De Jose Hernandez at ACL Live

In his storied career, Hernàndez, a fifth generation mariachi artist, has collaborated with everyone from Tejano sensation Selena to the Beach Boys. He considers himself an ambassador of mariachi music and has launched multiple initiatives to inspire a love of traditional Mexican music among the next generation. Trumpet in hand, he commands a tight-knit ensemble of a dozen players as they deliver the drama and romance of mariachi music to audiences around the world. $29 and up. (

Dec. 21: Pentatonix: The Most Wonderful Tour of the Year at Moody Center

Over four holiday albums, the A Cappella quintet from Arlington has built a canon of carols so deep a top Google query for the group asks: “What Christmas songs has Pentatonix not done?” Their impeccable harmonies and pop pizazz bring seasonal faves to life. $59.50 and up. (

Dec. 23: A Drag Queen Christmas at ACL Live

Looking for a holiday experience that’s extra naughty with just a side of nice? Top queens from “RuPaul’s Drag Race” make the yuletide gay in this campy Christmas extravaganza. Hosted by Miz Cracker, the cast includes Season 15 winner Sasha Colby, “All-Stars” season eight winner Jimbo the Drag Clown, Canada’s Drag Race host Brook Lynn Hytes and many more. Special guest Todrick Hall also makes an appearance. $42.50 and up. (

More holiday shows in Austin

  • Dec. 1: Lee Roy Parnell’s Texas “flavored” Christmas at State Theater

  • Dec. 2: A Charlie Brown Christmas at the State Theatre. Shows at noon, 3:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.

  • Dec. 7: Shane Smith and the Saints Ugly Sweater Christmas Party with Rob Baird at ACL Live

  • Dec. 8: Ian Moore Family Christmas at the State Theatre

  • Dec. 8-9: Graham Reynolds Ruins the Holidays at the Long Center

  • Dec. 9: Matt Rogers "I Don’t Need It To Be Christmas At All" at the Paramount Theatre

  • Dec. 14: William Beckmann’s 2023 Las Posadas Tour. at State Theatre

  • Dec. 14: The Jinxx and De La Holiday Show at Bass Concert Hall

  • Dec. 15: Jelly’s 11th Annual Christmas jam at 3Ten

  • Dec. 15-23: Armadillo Christmas Bazaar. Performances at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. daily

  • Dec. 15: Il Divo at Bass Concert Hall

  • Dec. 17: Michael Martin Murphey’s Cowboy Christmas at the Paramount

  • Dec. 19: Sarah Brightman: A Christmas Symphony at Bass Concert Hall

  • Dec. 25: Dale Watson’s annual Christmas dance at the Continental Club

  • Dec. 29: Mannheim Steamroller by Chip Davis at Bass Concert Hall

This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: Christmas concerts in Austin: Bob Schneider, Samara Joy, mariachi