Keeping the Lights on: The Trail of Lights Foundation

For 52 years, the Trail of Lights has been a cherished, must-do holiday tradition for Austinites of all ages. What began as a four-day event called “The Spirit of Christmas” has evolved into multi-week celebration that takes visitors through 1.25 miles of lights and displays in Zilker Park. It draws an estimated 400,000 visitors each year and is one of the top three attended events in Austin.

The fate of the Trail of Lights has not always been certain, though. In 2009, facing budget constraints, the City of Austin was able to produce only a scaled-down version; in 2010 and 2011, there was no festival. Lucky for Trail of Lights fans, in 2012, the Trail of Lights Foundation was launched. This independent nonprofit corporation is “dedicated to producing the Austin Trail of Lights as an authentically Austin community celebration.” It depends on donations from individuals and the business community to produce and ensure the festival’s long-term sustainability.

This year, the Trail of Lights will celebrate its 52nd birthday with a grand opening on Saturday, December 10. From December 10-23, visitors are invited to stroll through Zilker Park, view more than 40 displays and two million lights, warm their hands by the beloved Yule Log, and enjoy live music, food and holiday fun.

General admission access to the Trail is free for all ages December 10-16, and $3 per person ages 12+ December 17-23, and will be open from 7:00pm to 10:00pm nightly. Visitors who purchase tickets in advance can avoid long admission lines at the gate.

For more info, visit the Trail of Lights website.

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