Austin’s Trail of Lights is Back, Brighter Than Ever!

Since its re-launch in 2012, Austin’s Trail of Lights in downtown Zilker Park has become one of the Capitol City’s top community events. Whether you prefer your lights twinkling or blinking, this distinctly Austin tradition is guaranteed to awaken your holiday spirit this season.

Published December 5, 2018

Returning for its 54th year of sparkling holiday delight, the Austin Trail of Lights is a dreamland of winter spirit blanketed in dazzling lights that captures the spirit of the season. From spinning under the 155-foot Zilker Holiday Tree to walking through the glittering holiday displays and illuminated pecan trees, this is an event not to be missed.

The entrance is a spectacular preview to the dazzling lights and displays that line one of Austin’s top community events, the annual Trail of Lights. Photo courtesy Austin Trail of Lights

Attracting  400,000 people  annually, with more  than 65 displays, 2.5 million lights,  Austin’s famous food trucks and restaurants (including Wholly Cow Burgers, Amy’s Ice Cream and Austin’s Pizza), nightly entertainment and holiday activities, the Trail of Lights continues to create treasured memories and ignite family traditions.

This illuminated tunnel of falling stars and never-ending blanket of lights is an example of the type of artful displays visitors to the Trail can expect to see. Courtesy photo

The Grand Opening on December 10 kicks-off the season by transforming Austin’s most-beloved Zilker Park into a magical holiday experience for the entire family, where general admission is free to the public. (The nonprofit Trail of Lights Foundation works year-round to provide the Austin tradition to the community for free on specific nights through private and public donations. The foundation is also committed to maintaining the event as an authentically-Austin community celebration. ) 

Rachel Green, new Austinite and president-elect of the Trail of Lights Foundation Board,  says, “Coming to the Trail of Lights made me feel like I was a part of the rich history and culture of our amazing city.” 

This Santa put aside his usual bright red suit and opted for a Texas-sized cowboy hat atop his head. Photo courtesy Austin Trail of Lights

The Trail of Lights hosts special events throughout the 14-night affair guaranteed to keep your holiday spirits high, which began with the Zilker Holiday Tree lighting on November 25 and Fun Run on December 1.

The Trail of Lights runs December 10 – 23, with preview events leading up to the Grand Opening, followed by special nights throughout the 14-night affair guaranteed to keep your holiday spirits high.

~ Dec 2-4: STARS at the Trail hosts over 20 nonprofit organizations and their members.

~ Dec 8: Night Lights Preview Party is a fundraiser for the Trail of Lights Foundation where guests get a sneak peek of the Trail before the general public, light bites from local restaurants, drinks and live entertainment.

~ Dec 10The GrandOpening is full of festivities following a special opening ceremony and special musical entertainment.

~ Dec 11: Heroes Night honors veterans, active military and first responders in the community.

~ Dec 13: Movie Night is fun for all ages with a family-friendly movie in Zilker Park.

~ Dec 16: UT Night hosts UT students, alumni and all UT fans in the community as the Trail shines burnt orange!

LIVE at the Trail showcases local musical lineups, from Dec 10-23, for all to enjoy.

The sounds of the holidays can be enjoyed by a variety of live musical bands playing at the Austin Trail of Lights every night. Photo courtesy Austin Trail of Lights

Parking has been known to bring out the Scrooge in even the jolliest of people, therefore the Trail of Lights has been made easier than ever to attend. Trail-goers can purchase tickets and, shuttle and parking passes ahead of time. Zip Fast Passes are the most convenient way to see the Austin Trail of Lights, especially on busier nights, where pass-holders can skip the crowds and enter the gates one hour before the general public.

The Trail of Lights runs December 10 – 23, 7 pm – 10 pm at Austin’s Zilker Park. Gates for Zip Fast Pass ticket holders open at 6pm. Tickets and parking passes are available online or at the gate.


Austinite Lisa Davis is the Editorial Assistant at Texas Lifestyle Magazine and a student at Concordia University-Texas.

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