austin holidays

trail of lights | what to know, do, & wear


photos by Briley Noel

Trail of Lights is one of my favorite Austin traditions, and one that has been integral in my life ever since I can remember. Growing up, I was a Girl Scout (as if you didn’t know), and our troop always volunteered during Trail of Lights by bringing joy into the hearts of Austinites with our song. And by that, I mean that I enthusiastically belted Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer while all of my fellow scouts rolled their eyes and leaned on life-sized candy canes.


For those of you who aren’t familiar, Trail of Lights is an annual holiday experience where Zilker Park takes on a new life (no, not ACL Fest), and becomes covered in twinkling lights and festive displays ranging from holiday-themed Disney characters to the biblical birth to Santa’s workshop. My personal favorite was always the 12 Days of Christmas, because, you know, singing. You can, of course, take your photo with Santa, but I always bypassed the jolly old man for hot chocolate and funnel cake by the Yule Log.


The major attraction to Trail of Lights is The Big Tree (capitalization my own). The Big Tree represents all things festive and innocent and good. As a child, I ceremoniously spun under the giant moon tower carefully draped in lights to signify the beginning of the holiday season. I could spin and spin and never feel sick. As an adult, I still enjoy The Big Tree and recognize its presence as a sign of the holidays coming, but I’m less keen on the spinning and spinning.

Over the years, the Trail has evolved quite a bit. Now you can find live music, Austin’s finest food trucks, and even light it up packages full of glowing accessories for an extra-bright Trail experience. One of my favorite additions is the Bat Cave, paying homage to our tiny bridge dwelling mascots.

So, now that you’re super stoked about attending 2014’s Trail of Lights, you need to know what to wear. While I like to be the best dressed person in the room, I avoid sacrificing comfort for fashion. What I’m saying is that this is not the time to bring out your high-heeled ankle booties and holiday mini dresses. You will freeze, and therefore not be able to fully enjoy the greatness that is the Trail of Lights. Throw on a chunky sweater, skinnies, and tall boots that were made for walkin’. Don’t forget a cozy cowl or blanket scarf and a cute pair of earmuffs to keep you toasty in the crisp air! (Austin may not be as cold as other places this season, but the temps still drop at night. Bundle up!)
This season’s Trail of Lights runs from December 7 through December 21. Click here for more info about tickets, parking, and other special needs. See you there!


*This post isn’t sponsored. I just love Trail of Lights, and I was invited to the Light Check for an early viewing of the Trail. #medialounge
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