A crackling bonfire and the sweet smells of candied apples, popping kettle corn, and comforting hot cocoa tease your senses at one of the greatest Austin holiday traditions of all time. Oh, yes. Trail of Lights is back.
From Dec. 10-23, 2019, spin under the 155-foot Christmas tree until you get dizzy with illusion and fantasy. Stroll through the spectacular displays of 2 million bright lights, 90 lit trees, and 70 holiday media displays, as you wind your way through Trail of Lights. Here’s what you need to know before you make your 2019 pilgrimage.
Exciting Features for 2019
Now in its 55th year, the Trail of Lights tradition brings unmatched wonder to thousands of Austinite children and adults every year.
Take a ride on the old-fashioned Ferris wheel and carousel, or visit the North Pole featuring Santa’s classic workshop.
This year, gear up for the jam-packed live music lineup from Live at the Trail. Performances abound nightly on two stages and at the Caroling Corner, with over 50 local musicians scheduled including:
- Jackie Venson
- Alesia Lani
- Wood & Wire
- 36th Infantry Division Band
- Croy and the Boys
- Emily Gimble
- Funky Uncle Santa
Fuel Up On-site
Take a quick refresh at this year’s food truck park or grab a holiday libation at the drink tent, as you merrily take in the sounds and sights of all things Christmas.
Slow sip your favorite wines while taking in the soothing sounds at the inaugural Trail of Flights. For the 21 and older crowd, the intimate wine bar will be open every night inside Zilker Village. Enjoy premium wine flights from brands such as Napa Valley’s Italics Winemakers, HALL Winery, Calmére Estate Winery, and Peju Family Provence.
Special Dates to Know
Each year, Austin Trail of Lights celebrates the vibrancy, philanthropy, and spirit of Austin with specialty nights:
Dec. 1: The 53rd annual Zilker Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony took place. The tree stands at 155-feet tall and is built around one of Austin’s historic moon towers. On Dec. 10, 1967, the first tree lighting ceremony took place with Mayor Pro Tem Emma Long. In subsequent years, this honor has been awarded to the young winner of a city-wide tree art contest.
Dec. 2-4: The 6th Annual STARS at the Trail program, presented by Vista Equity Partners, hosts up to 20 nonprofit organizations for private tours of the trail. Since 2013, STARS at the Trail has benefited more than 8,000 children, families, veterans, and seniors.
Dec. 6: Night Lights, the 6th Annual Preview Party presented by Austin Community Foundation, serves as the Trail of Lights Foundation’s annual fundraising event, with funds going to help keep Austin Trail of Lights accessible. This showstopper featured headliners Jackie Venson and Mother Falcon, food from Austin restaurants, and exclusive media displays.
Dec. 7: Fun, spirit, and Christmas merged together for the 8th Annual Trail of Lights Fun Run, presented by St. David’s HealthCare. This 2.1-mile course through Zilker Park and Austin Trail of Lights ended in a festive Finish Line Festival.
Dec. 10: Austin Trail of Lights Grand Opening kicks off the public run of the show with a countdown ceremony and entry tunnel lighting, plus a special celebration and tunnel lighting for Austin Trail of Lights sponsors. General admission on Dec. 10 is free and open to the public.
Dec. 11: Heroes Night, presented by Humana, will honor veterans, active duty military, and first responders. These heroes will be granted ZIP access for themselves and up to three family members, during a special night of unique programming for the occasion.
Dec. 12: Movies in the Park, presented by Austin Parks Foundation, features story time at 7:30 p.m. and a special night screening of the holiday classic “Home Alone” at 8 p.m.
Dec. 15: UT Night, presented by The University of Texas at Austin, calls on a herd of Longhorn fans to bring that local Texas Fight spirit to the trail. This night includes special guests and programming, and swells with Burnt Orange pride.
Dec. 17: A photography class will be presented by Precision Camera. The class welcomes photographers of all experience levels to take part in an exclusive guided tour through Austin Trail of Lights, with instruction and tips for best capturing the moment. Tickets must be purchased online.
Dec. 23: Closing night.
Know Before You Go
- Trail of Lights is open from Dec. 10 though 23 from 7-10 p.m. (6-10 p.m. for Platinum and ZIP Fast Passes)
- Free Days: General Admission is FREE for seven out of 14 nights. Refer to the calendar to see which nights offer free entry and which nights carry a $5 entry fee.
- General admission is $5. Children under 12 are always free! Purchase in advance to skip the longer line.
- Platinum Passes come with a concierge VIP experience. Includes early 6 p.m. entry through an exclusive Platinum back gate entrance, all-night access to heated platinum lounge, valet parking, golf cart shuttle service, drink ticket, and expedited ride ticket. Individual Platinum Passes are $80, while a two-pack is $150 and a four-pack is $270.
- ZIP Fast Passes allows you to enter the park at 6 p.m., an hour before the general public. They can be purchased for $20 ahead of time. Children 6 and over require a purchase.
- Parking: If you plan to drive to Austin Trail of Lights, parking must be purchased ahead of time online for $15 per vehicle. Parking lots open at 5:30 p.m. nightly.
- Shuttles are offered on Dec. 13-15 and Dec. 19-23 from two convenient locations directly to the front gate of the trail. Purchase a shuttle pass in advance to avoid lines at shuttle pick up spots. The shuttle fare includes general admission and costs $7 per person. The pickup locations are downtown at Republic Square (422 Guadalupe St.) and in south Austin at Toney Burger Event Center (3200 Jones Road).
Austin’s Favorite Family-friendly Event
Tickets to the 55th annual Austin Trail of Lights, powered by H-E-B, are now available to purchase online.
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