Events | Kids | Locals | Things to Do

Return of the Trail of Lights and Zilker Holiday Tree 2012

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An Austin tradition since 1965, the Trail of Lights is back in full swing at Zilker Park after a two-year hiatus. Although the Zilker Holiday Tree was open to the public the past two years, the closing of the Trail of Lights frustrated a lot of Austinites who found much joy in the holiday family tradition. Lucky for them, Austin’s Trail of Lights is back this year and ready to give you and your family something fun to do together in the upcoming winter weeks!

The Zilker Holiday Tree is lit every night from 6pm to midnight starting December 2nd until December 31st. Standing 155 feet tall in the middle of Zilker Park, Austin’s Zilker Tree boasts 39 multi-colored streamers, 3,309 lights and bulbs, and a very bright star with 150 lights on the top. With so many lights, it’s hard to miss amongst the Downtown Austin Skyline.

This year’s Trail of Lights performers include dancers, singers, musicians and carolers. Each night celebrates a different theme, including Heritage Night, School Spirit Night and Military Appreciation. Food and drink will be available, including hot chocolate, cider and bites from local food trailers.

General Information

Admission is FREE!

Hours of Operation

6:30-10:30 PM, December 16-23


Barton Springs Road Closures (North of Bee Cave Rd. to Robert E. Lee Rd.)

  • Saturday 12/15: 3 to 11 PM
  • Sunday 12/16: 3 to 11 PM
  • Monday 12/17 to Friday 12/21: 6 PM to 11 PM
  • Saturday 12/22 & Sunday 12/23: 5:30 to 11 PM


Parking in the park is available but fills VERY quickly, with typically long wait times (about 45 minutes). There are approximately 1,000 public spaces available, with access from North Mopac Access Road and Barton Springs Road. Parking on site is $10/car (cash only!) Disability Access parking for those with appropriate handicapped parking permits or license plates is available on a first-come, first-serve basis. The entire trail is wheelchair accessible as well, with a limited number of complimentary golf carts available for disability support (disable guest & 1 additional passenger).

Shuttle Service

Off site parking and shuttle service to Zilker Park is available at both Barton Creek Square Mall and Republic Square Park.

  • Hours of Operation: 5:30 to 10:30 PM
  • Shuttle fee: $2/person, under 5 ride for free
  • Barton Creek Square Mall shuttle stop is on the North Side by Dillard’s, parking is free
  • The Republic Square Park shuttle stop is at the North end of the park on Guadalupe; paid parking on the street and in area lots
  • The City of Austin encourages carpooling and use of mass transit when attending all events

Prohibited Items

  • Weapons
  • Large backpacks
  • Alcohol
  • Glass containers
  • Metal aerosol containers
  • Outside food or beverages
  • Fireworks or explosives
  • Large umbrellas
  • Non-collapsible chairs
  • Coolers
  • Tents
  • Skateboards, scooters or personal motorized vehicles
  • Bicycles (inside festival grounds; racks are available near each entrance)
  • Carts or Wagons of any kinds
  • Pets (With an exception of service dogs)
  • No unauthorized, unlicensed, or illegal vending or solicitations

Theme Nights Schedule

Theme Nights provide even more fun at the Trail of Lights!

Trail of Ligths 5K Race December 15th
Grand Opening Night December 16th
Special opening ceremony activities start at 6 PM
Military Appreciation Night December 17th
Uniquely Austin Night December 18th
Think “Keep Austin Weird”
Heritage Night December 19th
School Spirit Night December 20th
Caroling Night December 21st
Join in on an attempt to break the world record for most carolers singing together!
Santa/Elf Night December 22nd
Dress as your favorite Christmas character with elf ears, santa hats or reindeer antlers
Grand Finale Night December 23rd

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