Austin shines brightly at Trail of Lights and Zilker Tree


Five years have slipped by since we’ve walked Austin’s beloved holiday light display at Zilker Park called Trail of Lights. When our kids were little we went every year, and our last visit was in 2012, but this year it was just me and my husband keeping the family tradition alive. And it is still magical, silly dinosaur displays and all, mainly because of the park’s majestic trees, themselves transformed into brightly lit, many-armed holiday creatures.


Colored green, pink, orange, and blue, Zilker’s pecans and oaks glow festively along the trail.


Photo-op stages are set up here and there, like this one resembling Austin’s Pennybacker Bridge on Loop 360, with a view of Zilker Christmas Tree beyond.


A Ferris wheel and carousel have been added since we last attended, adding a carnival festivity.


The colorful trees seem to embrace the rides too.


Who doesn’t love an old-fashioned carousel?


Well, maybe that one boy. (But I bet he secretly loves it too.)


It was cold, and we didn’t ride. But I enjoyed the colorful scene.


It would be hard to pick a favorite color tree.


Maybe red?


A glowing blue tree messed with my cell phone camera, but I kind of like the effect.


A serape-wearing, jackalope-riding cowboy delivering toys makes a Texas-style version of Santa Claus.


From the Trail of Lights we walked across Barton Springs Road to see the Zilker Holiday Tree, an Austin tradition for 51 years.


Standing 155 feet tall and anchored by a Moon Tower, this tree of light rises high above the trees in Zilker Park and can be seen glowing from afar against the backdrop of downtown Austin.


But just looking is no good. You have to stand under the lights and spin. When you’re dizzy and laughing, you’ll know you’ve done it right.

1, 2, 3 — SPIN!

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4 Responses

  1. Kris P says:

    You do the holidays up right in Austin! I think the idea of light displays arranged along a walking trail is brilliant. When I was a kid we had a nearby “candy cane lane,” which consisted of several well-decorated streets. For some reason, everyone drove there to view it, creating clogged streets even in those days. Why we never walked the “lane” when it was as close as our elementary school, I can’t explain. It certainly wasn’t due to foul weather!

  2. Ann says:

    So pretty! It looks like a lot of work went into making those trees light up with different lights. There are several places here that are heavily decorated for the holidays and fun to walk around in as well. Thank you for sharing!

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