Across the street from Mozart’s annual Christmas Light Show, prospective patrons sit in their cars and face the glaring red brake lights of the cars lined up in front of them.
Portions of the main parking lot were blocked off by orange and white striped barricades. The street parking in front of the coffee shop on Lake Austin Boulevard and around the corner on Enfield Road was filled. Some cars spent their Saturday evening across from the shop, circling the Oyster’s Landing parking lot in hopes of finding a spot. Others drove to the Lower Colorado River Authority parking garage hiding behind the lot.
From Nov. 21 through Jan. 5, the light show is a free event that brings in hundreds of thousands of people, as well as their cars.
Due to limited parking availability, Elise Krentzel, Mozart’s director of marketing and public relations, recommends patrons take a Lyft or Uber to the show. The lakeside coffee shop expects 750,000 people to attend their light show this holiday season because of Austin’s ever-increasing population and the widespread popularity of the light show. This is 250,000 more than last year’s estimate, which could make finding a parking spot all the more difficult.
“It's not just Mozart’s — it's everywhere in the city,” Krentzel said.
Other popular areas such as South Congress Avenue have similar parking issues, with patrons, employees and residents fighting for convenient parking spots, according to KUT. Because the widespread issue is amplified by events like the light show, Krentzel said she recommends that patrons take the bus if they live near a stop.
Public relations sophomore Julie Tran, who has seen the show several times, said she and her friends visited Mozart’s via bus last year. Tran said they considered taking a Lyft or Uber but ultimately decided they did not want to pay for the ride or split up the group.
According to Google Maps, the Number 18 bus ride from UT campus to Mozart’s is estimated to take around 15 minutes, including walking and waiting at the bus stop. Tran said traffic near Mozart’s Coffee Roasters and stops made along the way may contribute to longer bus routes.
“Taking the bus isn't terrible, because I don't have my own transportation,” Tran said. “(The bus) could be unpredictable, so you don't really know what time you're going to get there.”
Accounting sophomore Asha Nagar also took the bus to the light show last year. She said her bus experience was “smooth and convenient” and ideal for students who don’t have a car.
This year, Nagar rode in her friend’s car to the light show. She said they arrived at 6:30 p.m. on a Friday evening and were able to find a parking spot in the additional Oyster’s Landing parking lot.
Before going to watch the lights, Nagar and her friends went to have dinner at an adjacent restaurant. By the time they got to the light show, the coffee shop’s parking lot was full. Nagar said almost all the places to sit were taken.
Regardless, Nagar said she bought a hot chocolate and enjoyed watching the show with her friends.