Holiday Fun

Beloved Trail of Lights has new surprises in store for Austin this season

Trail of Lights has new surprises in store for Austin this season

Trail of Lights Austin skyline
Trail of Lights returns December 8-22.  Photo by Maggie Boyd

The winter holiday season has arrived, and with it, one of Austin's most beloved and anticipated events: the Trail of Lights.

This year, the two-week event will merge traditions from its 51-year history with a few new surprises. For the first time ever, attendees will find a classic carousel in Zilker Village, along with a new and improved Groovy Grove. Favorites will also return, including Santa's Workshop, the North Pole, the Yule Log, Candy Land, and the Ferris Wheel. 

More than 400,000 people are expected to experience the 50-plus displays utilizing a whopping 2,000,000 lights. 

"From fun family outings to celebrating our UT campus, or even using the lighted trail as a beautiful backdrop for asking your loved one to marry you, the Trail of Lights has something special for everyone," said Mario Espinoza, president of the Trail of Lights Foundation. "We're excited to keep this uniquely Austin tradition thriving and provide new ways for the community to enjoy the Trail of Lights."

The annual affair features some of Austin's favorite food trucks, from East Side King and Mighty Fine Burgers to Amy's Ice Cream and Funtastic Funnel Cakes. Additional holiday fun can be had at the arts and crafts station; the Community Performance Stage, which will feature more than 60 local performance groups; and writing letters to Santa at the North Pole. 

The Trail of Lights starts December 8 and runs through December 22, but you can get a jump on the holiday tradition at the Zilker Tree lighting ceremony on Sunday, November 29 and the Night Lights preview party on Friday, December 4. There's even an app to keep folks connected to what’s happening. 

The event is free December 8-15; December 16-22 there will be a $3 admission fee for ages 12 and over.