Are you looking for Christmas Lights in Austin area? Read on to find out the best places to enjoy holiday displays with your family in and around the Hill Country.
Hear, hear, the sparkly season is near! From now through the end of the season, festive holiday light trails adorn Texas Hill Country, and we’ve discovered the best and brightest dazzlers around.
We love love love the Trail of Lights at Zilker Park, yet if you want to set forth on an illuminated adventure beyond Austin’s most famous light trail, follow these shining beacons signaling from across Texas Hill Country.
These holiday light trails go above and beyond for those of us beguiled by the night and mesmerized by shiny objects. Yeah, I’m waaay into it. If you crave holiday glitz and are up for a quick road trip, then these nine Hill Country destinations will satisfy your quest to shine on.
One exciting new trend I’ve noticed this year is that some of these light trails have added even more events, attractions, and/or lights, and most of them are open longer than before. This gives you extra time to make the short road trip to experience these twinkly trails.
Note: I’ve added the distances to each trail from the Texas State Capitol this year to better help you plan your trip. Happy lights-gazing!
Best Christmas Lights In The Austin Area
1/ Santa’s Ranch in New Braunfels
Dinosaurs, space shuttles, and monster pickup trucks, oh my! Those whimsical lighted exhibits alone should make the trip to New Braunfels worth it. Drive through Santa’s Ranch along a mile or so of winding country roads. Animated, custom-made displays feature more than 1.5 million lights a-glowing.
It’s an absolute blast! You never know what light display will be around the next curve. A nativity scene? A choir of angels? An alien? A cowboy? Anything is possible at Santa’s Ranch.
It’s obvious this family, staff, and even the neighbors love this winter tradition. There’s so much added fun with less traditional exhibits that make us giddy with glee.
Andre Lenartowicz, a.k.a. The Austin Spotter, notes, “As Tom Petty would have sung, the waiting is the hardest part…Unless you pack a patient crew and/or snacks (and your favorite Christmas tunes), your best bet is to go during the work week.”
The wait is worth it and the added few days this year should help spread out the crowds. Once you’re in, stop by the concession stand for traditional treats like hot cocoa and kettle corn.
Santa’s Ranch is open now through Jan. 2, 2022. Visit from 6-10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 6-11 p.m. Friday through Saturday. Cost is $35 per car or $70 for a one-car season pass. Trailers, limos, RVs, and buses are not allowed because they wouldn’t be able to navigate the winding turns.
Distance from Texas State Capitol: 38 miles
9561 IH 35 North, New Braunfels, TX – Website
2/ San Saba Christmas Park
Nestled at the top of Texas Hill Country, San Saba goes all out with its Mill Pond Christmas Extravaganza. Who needs the Bellagio fountain when you have 30 acres of dancing shimmer and glimmer right here in the Hill Country?
San Saba flashes more than one million lights in time to music. You know you’re going to hear Christmas standards along with popular hits.
Walking through the San Saba light trail at Mill Pond Park is free, leashed pet-friendly, and open nightly from dusk – 10 pm Sunday – Wednesday and from dusk until 11 p.m. Thursday – Saturday.
Visit the lights from Nov. 25, 2021 through Jan. 5, 2021 (Per San Saba website). Also check out this post on why San Saba is an Unforgettable Road Trip from Austin that you have to take!
Distance from Texas State Capitol: 89 miles.
110 Thomas Stewart Dr., San Saba, TX – Website
3/ Bastrop River of Lights and Lost Pines Christmas
Bastrop, aka The Little Town That Loves Christmas, is gearing up for another festive season. Lost Pines Christmas highlights include:
Feel the Christmas spirit come alive with the City of Bastrop’s Annual Christmas Tree Lighting in beautiful Fisherman’s Park, along the River of Lights! Enjoy music, treats, fun for the entire family, and a visit from Santa Claus!
When: November 27
Take in the sights at the River of Lights which include numerous displays in a variety of seasonal themes lining Bastrop’s scenic June Hill Pape River Walk.
When: November 27 to January 1
Celebrate the season with a special night of fun and fellowship as the Farm Street Opry Band and guest perform great country music and your holiday favorites.
When: December 2
Enjoy this warm and special holiday classic
When: Multiple dates starting December 3 to December 19
Each night Krampus arrives and makes his trek through Scream Hollow for some of the darker Christmas traditions with Christmas haunts based on the historical legends and lore of Krampus. With live music, rabid bat bar, cafe, bakery, vendors and more!
When: Multiple dates from December 3 to December 18
Bastrop’s fanciful, fantastic, fun—and even famous—annual Lost Pines Christmas Parade will light up the night skies as it makes its way down Main Street. This famous parade is an absolutely highpoint of the Lost Pines Christmas season. More than 100 entries—from fanciful floats to fire trucks, from Honey Bears to longhorns, from Santa’s helpers to the man himself.
When: December 11, 6 pm
Distance from Texas State Capitol: 33 miles.
Historic Downtown Bastrop – Website
4/ Johnson City Lights Spectacular
The Lights Spectacular people in Johnson City don’t play when it comes to Christmas lights. The proof these lights are out of this world lies in actual images from NASA–the Johnson City Lights Spectacular can be seen from space.
Holy holiday spirit, Batman! Johnson City turns into a proper holiday village during the free Lights Spectacular. This year should be another brilliant season, as the event turns 32.
The courthouse wears a draped array of thousands of lights, while 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.
Multiple events are planned between November 26 and January 2 including Hayrides, Santa & Mrs. Claus, Lamplight Tours, Visit with the Grinch & more!
Distance from Texas State Capitol: 48 miles.
Downtown Johnson City – Website
5/ Old West Christmas Light Fest
This holiday haven is at Enchanted Springs Ranch in Boerne, northwest of San Antonio. If you love the Old West, then this one’s for you. Old West Christmas Light Fest has more than 40 Old West buildings decorated with more than 3 million Christmas lights.
Upon entering Old West Christmas Light Fest, you drive through some lights, including a tunnel. They didn’t have cars in the Old West, though, so the Christmasy town is an in-person experience. Walk through and see all of the lights and special decorations up close!
Plus, Old West Christmas Light Fest has many other activities, including new attractions this year like Christmas escape rooms, cookie decorating classes, and even laser tag. Yes, you heard me, LASER TAG among the Christmas lights. Giddy up!
Tickets are $15/adult, $10/military and first responder, and $10/children age six and up. Children five and under are free. Family packs for five people are $60.
Old West Lights Fest is open on specific days between Thursday through Nov. 25 through Dec. 24, 2021.
Distance from Texas State Capitol: 99 miles.
242 State Hwy. 46 W, Boerne, TX – Facebook
Discount on North Pole Flyer Tickets!
This ride is brought to you by the Austin Steam Train Association. Enjoy the perfect holidays event for you and your family! Riders sip on hot cocoa and nibble Christmas cookies while chatting with Santa and enjoying a live reading of the North Pole Flyer book.
Discounted tickets available!
Best Christmas Lights in the Austin Area – Continued
6/ Wimberley Holiday Trail of Lights
EmilyAnn Theatre & Gardens in Wimberley hosts this celebration of the season.
The trail runs most days in December and is a walking trail through approximately 8 acres of lighted exhibits. Most nights feature live entertainment on the stage next to our yule log where guests can enjoy complimentary marshmallows and hot chocolate.
Santa Claus flies in most nights from the North Pole and will be in his house to greet everyone! There will also be several special event nights throughout the run of the trail. During our 3rd Annual Chocolate Night on December 11th, guests can purchase a ticket to taste 10 samples of delectable chocolate from various vendors.
Another special event will be our Christmas Melodrama which will run Friday and Saturday nights from December 3rd to 18th.
This 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, a musical garden, and a life-sized chess/checker board. I hope they bring back their human snow globe from last year, too!
2021 Dates: December 4-5, 8-12, 15-23, 26 (on the 24th & 25th the lights will be on but no services will be operating)
Times: Fridays & Saturdays 6:00-10:00 p.m.; All other days 6:00-9:00 p.m.
Distance from Texas State Capitol: 40 miles.
1101 Ranch Road 2325, Wimberley, Texas – Website
7/ 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. Dogs are welcome on-leash.
Santa Land is open nightly with lots of Christmas photo ops. Santa himself makes an appearnce on the weekends. Local nonprofit organizations sell holiday goodies and Polaroid Santa photos (cash only) at the park.
The Walkway of Lights is open from 6PM-10PM every night (Weather Permitting) from November 19th-January 1st.
Distance from Texas State Capitol: 48 miles.
305 Buena Vista Dr., Marble Falls, TX – Facebook
8/ San Antonio River Walk Holiday Lights
San Antonio’s popular River Walk lights, illuminated from 5:30 pm to 8 am through Jan. 10, 2021, are a classic. Stroll along the River Walk for free, or book a boat to maximize your sparkly glee. Admire the lights over chips and salsa, and perhaps a margarita at one of the riverside restaurants.
The City of San Antonio and Paseo del Rio Association sponsor the free, season-long light show every year. The Ford Fiesta de Luminarias sees 2,000 luminarias lighting the way along the River Walk for the first three weekends in December. The San Antonio River Authority has added lights to the Pearl District, too, for bonus sparkle.
Special events that may require tickets include the Holiday Light Cruises, Holiday Boat Caroling, and Holiday Artisan Market and more (buy tickets and get details at website link below).
Distance from Texas State Capitol: 79 miles.
849 E. Commerce St., San Antonio, Texas – Website
9/ Christmas Lights in Austin: 37th Street Lights
Okay, this one isn’t technically a trail, but it is an entire street where nearly every house participates. And it’s right here in town, north of UT and south of Hyde Park. This is free, but the neighborhood accepts donations to keep this beloved Austin tradition alive.
37th St. off Guadalupe – Facebook
Magical Moments for One and All
December is the sparkliest month of all with lights, colors, and pretty little packages. Plenty of local courthouses and downtown areas have holiday light events throughout the season.
Crank up your cell phone camera, explore Texas Hill Country, and Instagram your heart away! Or simply enjoy the show and sip hot cocoa with loved ones. Your call. Ho ho ho!
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Travel on your mind? Check out Christmas Lights in Houston!