Driskill Hotel continues old Austin holiday traditions

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Hotel guests gather to take pictures in front of the Christmas tree in the Driskill Hotel lobby Tuesday night. The tree lighting ceremony is one of the hotel’s yearly holiday traditions.

Photo Credit: Angela Wang | Daily Texan Staff

For more than a century, the Driskill Hotel has been symbolic of the Austin holiday season. Festive garlands are hung on the banisters and the scent of Christmas cookies fills the air at the corner of Sixth and Brazos. 

Last night, the Driskill Hotel once again inaugurated their annual seasonal festivities, which include a tree lighting ceremony, Victorian Teas and a visit from Santa. From traditions that began as recently as three years ago, to those dating back more than a century, the Driskill has helped generations of Austinites and visitors alike feel the holiday spirit. 

“Each event brings out the true holiday spirit that lives in each of us,” Driskill general manager Lance Stumpf said in an email.

In his statement, Stumpf said the goal of each of the Driskill’s unique traditions is to help Austinites experience memorable moments. He said the most special element of the seasonal gatherings is seeing all of the attending families make memories together. 

“We cherish being the site of so many families’ memories, and each year we strive to create and build on our holiday events so there is something for everyone,” Stumpf said. 

The most memorable experience at the Driskill for Lori Bernero was when her husband proposed to her on a balcony overlooking Sixth Street and Congress in 2009. Now, she said she is excited to be back with their 6-year-old daughter to show her the place where they became engaged. 

Bernero said she usually loves the holiday season and the events that come with it, but the Driskill’s celebration holds a particularly special place in her heart because of the significance of the location. 

“I love going to see Christmas decorations at various places, but to be at such a special place, I think it will give us that warm and fuzzy feeling inside,” Bernero said. 

Whether it is for newcomers or longtime locals, Stumpf said his team looks forward to helping the public make the most of the season this year, as they use the Driskill’s history to build on Austin’s holiday story. 

“The holidays are a time to bring friends and family together to create treasured memories, whether through a favorite tradition or by creating a new one,” Stumpf said in an email. “The Driskill offers so much history and tradition for both the community and individuals, and we take enormous pleasure in helping our guests create and celebrate their cherished holiday traditions.”

For Alyssa Laguerra, the holiday season has always been exciting, but she said she missed seeing her loved ones and the lighting of the tree at the Rockefeller Center in New York.

“I don’t have any family here in Texas at all, but I have made some really great friends,” Laguerra said. “Just having one of my really close friends invite me to something like (the Driskill holiday events) is kind of like making our own traditions here, since none of us have any family here.” 

She said attending the Driskill holiday events could pave the road for the new traditions they are trying to begin as she and her friends, who are also recent newcomers, continue to adapt to life in the Lone Star State. 

“We are all kind of transplants from somewhere else,” Laguerra said. “Also, (we) go every year to Trail of Lights, and maybe (we) will do this again if (we) like it enough this year.”