‘Tis the season to sparkle! Events and festivals full of holiday light trails adorn Texas Hill Country, and we’ve found the best and brightest for you.
Of course, we all LOVE Trail of Lights at Zilker Park. However, these eight Hill Country destinations can satisfy your craving for even more holiday glitz.
I love that Christmas glow. If you do, too, here are the best holiday light trails I’ve found within easy road tripping distance of Austin, organized by distance from downtown.
1/ Round Rock Rock’N Lights
The nearest fabulous light show is in Round Rock, our nearest neighbor to the north. Drive your car through the 1.5-mile trail to see two million Rock’N Lights. Afterwards, walk through the Christmas Towne village to play in a light maze, ride carnival rides, purchase food and more.
The Rock’N Lights driving trail is open every night from now through Dec. 26 and costs $15 per car. Christmas Towne is free and open to the public on Dec. 3, 4, 9-11 and 15-23.
2/ Bastrop River of Lights and Lighted Christmas Parade
The Lost Pines Christmas events in Bastrop include a Lighted Christmas Parade and a half-mile walking trail, the River of Lights.
The parade is on Dec. 10 this year and will include creatures from Austin Bike Zoo along with the people, vehicles and animals who make up the usual parade fare.
The River of Lights is located along the Lower Colorado River from Fisherman’s Park to Ferry Park. Local groups decorate the entire walk for the season, while area businesses completely sponsor the parade and lighted walking trail, both free and open to the public. You can stroll along the River of Lights from now through New Year’s Eve.
3/ Wimberley Holiday Trail of Lights
The EmilyAnn Theatre hosts this celebration of the season. The eight-acre Wimberley Trail of Lights includes the traditional burning of a Yule Log where you can roast marshmallows and drink free hot chocolate!
This walking tour of glittery gorgeousness is a true community effort. Numerous local businesses and community members come together each year to decorate the trail. It is interactive, with character cutouts for fun photos, musical garden and a life-sized chess/checker board to play on.
Wimberley keeps the Trail of Lights open through Dec. 29. The Trail of Lights is free, but donations are welcome.
4/ Santa’s Ranch in New Braunfels
Two words: Christmas dinosaurs!
That alone should make the drive worth it. Drive through Santa’s Ranch along a mile or so of winding country roads. The animated, custom-made displays feature more than 1.5 million lights a-glowing.
Apart from Christmas dinosaurs, all of the Yuletide favorites appear: angels, Christmas trees, the North Pole and nativity scenes. Visit through Jan. 1. Cost is $28 plus tax per car.
5/ Johnson City Lights Spectacular
The Lights Spectacular group sent me perhaps the most interesting photo of the season. International Space Station mapping shows that the Johnson City lights can be seen from space. Impressive!
Johnson City turns into a proper holiday village during the free Lights Spectacular. The courthouse wears a draped array of thousands of lights, while the Pedernales Electric Cooperative wraps more than one million lights around a large stand of oak trees. Almost every home and business in town dresses up for December. The list of events is long and run through New Year’s Eve. Check it out on the official website.
6/ Marble Falls Walkway of Lights
More than two million lights and 400 lighted sculptures sparkle on the banks of Lake Marble Falls. The annual Walkway of Lights is a free event in Lakeside Park, but donations are welcome.
Local non-profit organizations sell holiday goodies and Santa photos (cash only) at the park. Open through Jan. 1.
7/ San Antonio River Walk Holiday Lights
I must include San Antonio’s popular River Walk lights, illuminated every night through Jan. 16. Stroll along the River Walk for free or book a boat to maximize your sparkly glee. Admire the lights over chips, salsa and perhaps even a margarita at one of the riverside restaurants. The City of San Antonio and Paseo del Rio Association sponsor the light show every year.
8/ San Saba Christmas Park
Nestled at the top of the Texas Hill Country, San Saba goes all out with its Mill Pond Christmas Extravaganza. The Christmas Park is a full ten acres of dancing shimmer and glimmer.
That’s right, I said dancing! San Saba is home to more than one million lights that flash in time to a customized song list. How fun is that? The songs range from classic country to pop and—of course—Christmas music.
Visitors can walk or drive through the light display. The wintry wonderland is full of fun visual goodies including tunnels and digitally-animated scenes. The San Saba Christmas Park is free and open to all through Jan. 6.
Time to confess my lifelong love of shiny objects. December is the shiniest month of all: lights, colors, pretty little packages, all gloriously shiny! Enjoy.
@theAustinot wants to know:
What is your favorite Texas Hill Country holiday lights tradition?
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