We’re very excited about another year of the amazing Trail of Lights in Zilker Park! To help you plan your visit to this beautiful and bright Austin holiday tradition, we want to give you the full scoop on when to go and how to make the most out of your experience. This year, the Trail is open from Dec. 9-23, with plenty of special events and happenings. Read on for important dates and details…

–> Schedule of events:

  • Fun Run –> Dec. 2
    Get family and friends together for the 2.1 mile Fun Run under the stars and 2+ million twinkling lights. Then you can stick around for the Finish Line Festival with DJ entertainment and dance party, fitness expo, activities, food trucks, drinks and more! Registration is $32 for adults and $20 for kids, which you can do online here.
  • Preview Night –> Dec. 8
    At the 4th Annual “Night Lights” Preview Party, you’ll enjoy music from Whiskey Shivers, bites from area restaurants, beer & wine, cocktail tastings, complimentary amusement rides and an exclusive sneak peek of the Austin Trail of Lights before the public! Tickets can be purchased online here for $75 and proceeds go towards the Trail of Lights Foundation’s STARS at the Trail program. Click here to enter to win tickets!
  • Free Admission Dates –> Dec. 9 – 14 and Dec. 18 & 19
    Admission to the Trail is FREE from Dec. 9-14 as well as Dec. 18 & 19 from 7-10 p.m. (You can choose to purchase ZiP or Platinum Passes for early entry during these dates.)
  • Ticketed Dates –> Dec. 15 – 17 and Dec. 20-23
    Tickets are required to enter the Trail of Lights on the dates noted above. Tickets are available for purchase online here. Tickets are $3 for ages 12 & up. Children ages 11 & under are free. (Parking must be purchased separately. See below.)
  • Special Events
    Take note that UT Night will be held on Dec. 10, Heroes Night on Dec. 12, Cap City Music Night on Dec. 14, and Movie Night on Dec. 19.

10500542_10155228367435131_3211977681930085928_n–> Getting There:

  • Parking Pass: Parking Passes to the Trail of Lights allow for close parking within Zilker Park. Passes can only be purchased in advance, online here. Parking Passes are available all nights of the Trail and are $15/car.
  • Shuttles: Trail of Lights Shuttles will operate from two locations on Dec 9, 10, 15-17, and 19-23: Republic Square in downtown Austin and Toney Burger Event Center in south Austin. Shuttle fare is $5 per person and includes General Admission access. Small children seated on an adult’s lap and infants ride free.
  • ADA Parking: Qualifying vehicles must display a state-issued handicapped plate or placard. The person to whom the placard or plan is issued must be present in the vehicle, as a driver or passenger. Disabled Veterans will receive free parking with display of state-issued license plate or placard.
  • Cap Metro Bus: CapMetro can get you close. Take the #3, #4, #30 or #338 bus lines to drop you a short walk to the park.
  • Bike: Bike racks will be provided across Barton Springs Road at the entrance.

–> Best Bet for Avoiding Crowds:
One of the best ways to beat the crowds is to purchase a ZiP Fast Pass. These passes allow access to the Trail of Lights at 6 p.m. — one hour before the Trail opens to the general public! ZiP guests also receive access to the Lounge in Zilker Village where you’ll find heated restrooms, cookies, cocoa and seating. A ZiP Pass purchase is required for ages 6 & over; children ages 5 & under are free with a ticketed ZiP adult. ZiP Fast Passes are $15-$20 and can be purchased online here.

–> Tips for Taking the Kids:
Of course, the kids are going to LOVE going to the Trail! But here’s a few suggestions to help make the outing smooth and meltdown-free.

  • Wear comfy shoes. There’s lots of walking — especially for little feet.
  • Wear layers or bring jackets in case the weather feels colder as the night goes on.
  • If possible, put the little ones in a baby carrier instead of a stroller because they can be harder to navigate among crowds.
  • Take note of some of the Activity Zones along the Trail such as Candy Cane Lane where kids can meet Santa or enjoy free hands-on activities. You’ll also want to get your free children’s book from H-E-B. And for $4/person you can ride the carousel, or for $6/person you can ride the Ferris wheel. You can check out the Trail Map to plan ahead before you go.
  • Keep your budget in mind before you go. There are TONS of delicious snacks for sale along the Trail. There are also several merchants at the Trail, but you may wish to bring your own glow sticks to avoid the temptation to purchase similar items there.

For more Insider Tips and FAQ, visit the Trail of Lights website.

To stay updated with the latest news, including the entertainment lineup, click here to sign up for the Trail of Lights newsletter. You can also like the Facebook page and follow @atxlight on Instagram (and with hashtag #atxlights), as well as the @ATXLights Twitter feed.

–> Giveaway! We have three 4-packs of ZiP Passes to give away! The ZiP Passes allow access to the Trail of Lights at 6 p.m. — one hour before the Trail opens to the general public! ZiP guests also receive access to the Lounge in Zilker Village where you’ll find heated restrooms, cookies, cocoa and seating. These can be used on any night through Dec. 23. Enter below. Good luck! By entering the giveaway, you’ll be added to our twice-weekly email list where you’ll get all the latest on family fun in Austin.

This giveaway is now closed. Thanks to all who entered!