The Holiday Lights shine bright down in Texas each year and one of Central Texas’s most beloved holiday light displays is the Austin Trail of Lights. This mile-long trail of twinkling lights, fun displays, food, and more is an annual tradition, one that Texas Traveling Mom and her family have enjoyed for years. While there are lots of great light displays all over the state of Texas, there are some very special reasons why the Trail of Lights is the best.


Trail of Lights Tunnel Photo Credit: Rebecca Darling, Texas TMOM

11 Reasons Why Austin Trail of Lights is the Best

Walk through the Tunnel of Lights

The trail begins at the landmark Austin Trail of Lights tunnel. And if you get there at the opening, you can catch a glimpse with no one in it.

It’s a WALKING trail

Most Holiday Light Displays require you to sit in a car and drive through the lights.  The Trail of Lights is a 1.25 mile walk of twinkling lights. You can enjoy the trail at your own pace, and not worry about the person in the car behind you honking to hurry you up.


Trail of Lights Photo Credit: Rebecca Darling, Texas TMOM

See the Austin Skyline from the Ferris Wheel

Right smack dab in the middle of the trail sits a 90-foot Ferris wheel. The gondola cars are big enough to fit your whole family. What a unique way to see all the lights, from above.

Write a letter to Santa at Armadillo Alley

This is one of the food and activity stops along the trail. Kids can write a letter to Santa and mail it to the North Pole here!


Trail of Lights Photo Credit: Rebecca Darling, Texas TMOM

Create a Flip Book on the Green Screen at Santa’s Workshop

In the North Pole on the trail, kids can play in Santa’s Workshop with a giant Light Bright, a green screen, a photo booth, snow machine and more.

Trail of Lights in Austin Texas.

Trail of Lights Photo Credit: Rebecca Darling, Texas TMOM

Have a piece of homemade candy at Candyland

Local Austin confectioners make homemade candy and give it away for free. Now how Austin is that?!

Ride the Ferris Wheel to catch the lights from above 

Visitors can take a spin around the Ferris wheel and catch the trail from above.  The view of Downtown Austin is pretty spectacular too.

Trail of Lights

Trail of Lights Photo Credit: Rebecca Darling, Texas TMOM

Walk through the Bat Cave

In honor of Austin’s Mexican free-tailed bat colony, the trail has a bat cave to walk through this year.


Trail of Lights Photo Credit: Rebecca Darling, Texas TMOM

Take a spin under the Zilker Tree

A trip to the Zilker tree is not complete without a spin under the tree.  Yeah, it might make you dizzy, but it’s fun….


Trail of Lights Photo Credit: Rebecca Darling, Texas TMOM

Warm Yourself by the Yule Log

You must check out the giant yule log that will be burning each night.  Grab a cup of hot cocoa and warm up by it.

And the BEST REASON – It’s FREE (for the first week)!

Yes, for the first week, the Austin Trail of Lights offers free admission.  The second week, the cost is only $3 per person.

Some Austinites think that it’s too crowded to go to the Austin’s Trail of Lights, but there is a solution for the crowds.  If you pay $10-20 for a ZiP pass, you can get in a full hour before the general public and have access to hospitality tents with hot cocoa.  You can also buy a parking pass, so it’s possible to pay more and avoid the big crowds.

There’s also a Platinum Pass that includes valet parking, a hospitality tent, access to the trail an hour before it opens to the pubic, and tickets to ride the Ferris wheel. The cost for the Platinum pass varies per person ($80-$295) but it sounds like the way to go. Click here for more info on tickets & special event nights.

Visiting Texas this holiday season? Don’t miss Santa’s Wonderland in College Station! And here are 4 Holiday Events in Texas you want to put on your calendar!

Austin Trail of Lights