Austin Trail of Lights kicks off for the season — here’s everything you need to know


AUSTIN (KXAN) — It’s the holidays, right from the comfort of your car. The Austin Trail of Lights returns for the 57th year Saturday and is expected to draw thousands of people to Zilker Park.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of the grand opening.

Dates and times

  • The Austin Trail of Lights starts Saturday, November 27 and runs through Friday, December 31. Some nights are closed for private events.
  • Gates open at 5:45 p.m. for people with premium passes. General admission passes will have timed entries at 7, 8, 9 and 9:45 p.m. Reservations are required.

Drive-thru only

  • It’s a drive-thru event again this year so a vehicle is required. Walking, biking, scootering or other forms of transportation are not allowed.
  • Cars can have up to 9 people in them. Once you hit 10 people, you’ll be required to buy another pass.


  • General Admission Passes: $30-$40 per vehicle (depending on entry time and date) with designated access at the top of each hour beginning at 7 p.m.
  • Dash Passes: $65 per vehicle, this premium pass presented by Northern Trust allows for 5:45 p.m. early access, prior to the 7 p.m. General Admission time slot. Dash Pass guests will also receive a box of holiday cookies and bottled water.
  • Premiere Night Passes: A limited number of passes for the Trail of Lights Foundation’s official 2021 fundraiser and first look opportunity are now available for Nov. 27. At $95 per vehicle, this pass includes: access on an evening with limited attendance; a box of holiday cookies, bottled water and a commemorative gift.
  • Reservations are required on a per-vehicle basis. You can make reservations on the Trail of Lights website.

Special nights (Hook ’em!)

  • Don’t bother taking your UT jersey off Saturday, December 11. If you just sleep in it, you won’t have to change for UT night on Sunday, December 12. The night will feature special University of Texas programming.
  • On Dec. 28-29, nonprofit partners will get their own time to go through the display through the STARS at the Trail program, and eligible families in the Austin Independent School District will also get free passes, organizers said.
  • A virtual 3-mile fun run is also part of the event, and registration for that can be done on the Trail of Lights’ website.

The glitz and glam

The most important question, what will the event look like this year? There will be more than two million lights, 70 displays and tunnels, and almost 100 decorated trees. Our Brit Moreno got a sneak peak.

The event operates entirely on support from sponsors. H-E-B is the title sponsor of the event. KXAN is also a sponsor of the event.

Tickets for Trail of Lights are on sale now, you can purchase them on the Trail of Lights website.

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