Five years ago, Trail of Lights was privatized to take the monetary obligation away from taxpayers. The future of the holiday extravaganza seemed rocky at first, but now the event is arguably better than ever with a giant Ferris wheel, charitable events and Austin vendors helping to make the event memorable.
What Makes Austinites Return Year After Year?At the press conference for this year’s Trail of Lights, Mayor Steve Adler called the event “the heartbeat of Austin in the holidays.” He went on to say it’s a major part of how his children remember and differentiate the holidays from year to year.
Trail of Lights holds something of interest for every resident. Austinites will recognize old friends along the 1.2-mile trail with classic light displays, the dizzying tunnel, Santa’s House and the returning Candy Cane Lane.Families can grab snacks from Austin favorites like Southside Flying Pizza, Amy’s Ice Creams, Burro Cheese Kitchen and As Good As It Gets Kettle Corn, and hang out in Zilker Village where live performances from storytellers, musicians and dancers take place on the Community Performance Stage. If someone needs to warm their hands by the fire, the Yule Log will be burning with recycled wood picked up from the Greenbelt.
Special Events at Trail of Lights 2016
The calendar for Trail of Lights this December is bustling with excitement, but the first noteworthy event occurs on Sunday, Nov. 27 at 6 p.m.: The 50th Anniversary Zilker Tree Lighting. Admission is free and entertainment, food and live music will be provided.
For the past three years, Google Fiber has sponsored the illumination of our famous Zilker Tree. At the recent press conference, Mark Strama, Head of Google Fiber Operations in Austin, said the company takes the assignment very seriously! After seeing many visitors nearly lie on the ground, Strama entertained the idea of digging a pit for people to get in to capture the perfect upwards-facing family photo with the apex of the tree. While he decided against it for obvious reasons, he’s always thinking of how to make the event better for visitors.Trail of Lights is open to the public from Dec. 10 to Dec. 23, 7-10 p.m. Be sure to mark your calendar for the following special events:
- Fun Run (Dec. 3) – This 1.2-mile run is open to all ages and registration has begun online for $25-40. Last year, two waves of runners made a total of 6,000 participants.
- STARS at the Trail (Dec. 4-6) – For three nights, Trail of Lights will only be available to those participating in the STARS program, which brings 20 nonprofits to Zilker Park for private tours. Over 1,600 children and teenagers will take part in the biggest STARS events yet.
- Night Lights (Dec. 9) – Those who buy a ticket to this preview party will taste bites from local restaurants, listen to music from Shinyribs and Greyhounds, see a classic car show, and enjoy free rides on the Ferris wheel and carousel.
- Grand opening (Dec. 10) – Finally, the masses can join in the festivities!
- UT Night (Dec. 11) – University of Texas students, alumni and staff enjoy a special night at Trail of Lights. Student groups will provide entertainment.
- Heroes Night (Dec. 13) – On this night, Trail of Lights recognizes those who have served our country.
- Movie Night (Dec. 16) – Family-friendly movies will be playing, courtesy of Alamo Drafthouse.
How to Make Your Own Holiday MemoriesTickets go on sale online starting Nov. 9. Admission if free to the public from Dec. 10-16. Starting Dec. 17, admission is $3 each for ages 12+.
Only a small amount of parking will be available on-site and passes must be purchased in advance. Shuttles (also requiring a ticket) will depart from Burger Center and Republic Square Park.Zip Fast Passes can be purchased to get to the front of the entry line and access Zilker Lounge. Platinum Access passes get VIP treatment like valet parking, a golf cart ride to the front tunnel, early entry and drink tickets.
@MadameKLM wants to know:
How long can you spin under the Zilker Tree?