Trail of Lights returns to the city of Austin


May-Ying Lam

Lighting technician Clay Eads arranges part the Trail of Lights display in 2008, the last year the event was fully operational. Lack of funding inhibited the event in 2009 before it was phased out completely in 2010 and 2011.

Kelsey McKinney

Merry early Christmas, Austin. The Trail of Lights is returning.

Throughout Zilker Park, a million tiny lights will be strung this December.  They will be arranged in careful lettering, built into meandering tunnels, a sky-high Christmas tree and glowing walls. The grassy area that plays host to hundreds of musicians each fall for Austin City Limits music festival will be transformed into a winter wonderland yet again.

The Trail of Lights is a staple of Austin traditions. Historically, the Trail of Lights was held every December since 1967 in Zilker Park. Unlike South by Southwest and ACL, the Trail of Lights became a hallowed Austin event without the tourists.

“The Trail of Lights is our true, Austin winter holiday celebration,” said Mayor Lee Leffingwell in a statement. 

If the holidays are a time for family, the trail of lights was our Christmas dinner.

Two years ago, though, the Trail of Lights never lit up.  After budget cuts in 2010, the City of Austin could no longer afford the lights, which cost a pretty penny to set up, take down, and — of course — run at such a high voltage for weeks on end. The trail remained dark for two years.

But last year, after partnering with the RunTex Foundation, the elaborate display returned. The Trail of Lights will return for a full two weeks in 2013, running from December 8-22. The Trail of Lights is now privately funded and ready to return for the 2013 season. 30 light displays, food trailers and all of the traffic await you.

It’s OK to be excited about spinning around under the 155-foot tall Zilker Holiday Tree while eating kettle corn and a funnel cake.

Check out these previous posts to read more about the Trail of Lights: 

Trail of Lights cancelled after lack of funding

Runtex Strives to bring Austin’s Trail of Lights to its former glory

Runtex founder Carrozza positive about company’s future despite Riverside eviction notice

Trail of Lights will come back for at least five years