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Trail of Lights Fee

Austin holiday favorite Trail of Lights could start charging admission fee this year

Austin Photo Set: Pages_trail of lights_dec 2012_12
If the City Council approves a resolution backed by the mayor, guests may have to pay an entry fee for the Trail of Lights this year. Photo by Jessica Pages
Austin Photo Set: Pages_trail of lights_dec 2012_15
The resolution would have guests 13 and older paying an entry fee of $3 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.  Photo by Jessica Pages
Austin Photo Set: Pages_trail of lights_dec 2012_12
Austin Photo Set: Pages_trail of lights_dec 2012_15

UPDATE: On Thursday, August 7, Austin City Council approved the Trail of Lights Foundation's revised contract that would allow the organization to charge a $3 admission fee to visitors 12 and older on the weekends. The foundation has not made a final decision to implement that fee; the decision will be made at an upcoming board meeting.


The Trail of Lights will return to Zilker Park this December, but it may come at a new price for guests.

Mayor Lee Leffingwell is proposing that the general public pay an admission fee to attend the Trail of Lights, a holiday spectacle at Zilker Park from December 7-21. Guests 13 and older would pay $3 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights; kids 12 and under would still get in for free. 

As reported by KXAN, Mayor Leffingwell says that the fee would help cover the cost of additional security, clean-up and staffing on the weekends. 

The Trail of Lights, which began in 1965 has never charged an admission fee. But a lack of funding has caused problems for the event in the past. In 2009, the Trail of Lights was scaled down due to budget woes. It was canceled in 2010 and 2011, but returned in 2012 thanks to assistance by the RunTex Foundation.

Last year, the creation of the Trail of Lights Foundation helped raise funds for the event. More than 425,000 visitors enjoyed the trail last December. There was no entry fee for the 2013 Trail of Lights, but guests had to pay in order to park on-site or to take a shuttle. They also had the option to pay for a Zip Fast pass that allowed for admission into the park before the gates opened to the general public.

The City Council is set to consider the resolution on Thursday. If the fee is approved, it could go a long way in guaranteeing that the lights don’t get turned off at Zilker Park in the years to come.

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