My holiday season doesn’t get started until Trail of Lights begins. This year, Austin’s beloved event is back for its 51st year of sparkling holiday goodness.
It may be like this every year, but there seems to be an renewed energy surrounding this celebrated Austin tradition. The Trail of Lights Foundation has worked extremely hard to make the experience better than ever, while keeping the cost to Austinites down.
Trail of Lights is free for its first week, Dec. 8-15. After that, its only a $3 for ages 12+. This is a small price compared to how much it costs to keep over two million lights bright on a trail where Austinites and visitors will walk a combined million miles this season!
New and Improved This Year
Open from 7-10 p.m. nightly through Dec. 22, Trail of Lights features classic, as well as new and improved, experiences to enjoy. Here are a few new things you don’t want to miss:
- Back by popular demand, an improved 90-foot ferris wheel is located at the North Pole.
- Brand new: classic carousel rides are available in Zilker Village.
- New photo opportunities for families at the North Pole.
- An awesome, new Loop 360 Pennybacker Bridge display is located inside the also new Trim-A-Tree Grove.
Every year, Trail of Lights is a new experience. It doesn’t matter whether this is your first or your 51st year, there’s always something fresh to enjoy. I remember this when I see the Zilker Christmas tree for the first time each year.
Trail of Lights Classics
If you’ve visited Trail of Lights before, then you might know your favorite part of the trail already. Is it the beloved Yule Log? The decked out UT globe? What about Santa’s Workshop? The weird holiday elves that can only be found in Austin? If the new experiences aren’t enough to get you excited, know that the classics you remember from years past are still here to usher in your holiday season.
Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but nothing gets me more excited about Trail of Lights than the lights themselves. Don’t get me wrong. I love me some Jackalope, but nothing beats the magic of millions of twinkling lights against the backdrop of a dark Austin sky.
Some of Austin’s favorite local food vendors are on site to make your Trail of Lights experience a tasty one. Amy’s Ice Creams and Southside Flying Pizza are just a couple of the delicious treats you can expect to find.
UT Night is Dec. 11, with a variety of special programming planned. Wear your burnt orange!
What to Expect
Never been to Trail of Lights? Need to know how to get there? This year, the Trail of Lights Foundation has made it easier than ever to get to the event. If you’ve never used Uber before, you can get a free ride using the code TRAILOFLIGHTS.
For just $5 a person, you can avoid a ton of traffic and parking woes by hopping on a shuttle at Republic Square Park or Burger Center. Both locations will shuttle you to the Zilker Tree. If you decide to drive, parking passes can be purchased in advance for $15 a car.
For a little extra, you can purchase a ZiP fast pass, which will get you to the front of the line before the trail opens at 6 p.m. The pass will also get you access to the VIP hospitality area within the trail.
With more ways to get to Trail of Lights than ever before, I suggest you make your plans now. As if you need a reminder that Austin weather is unpredictable, I recommend you bring a jacket, comfortable shoes, a bathing suit and thermal underwear. Also note that the attendance grows every year, so expect a crowd. More than anything, I suggest you have a great time!
@ATXtherapist wants to know:
What’s your favorite Trail of Lights memory?