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

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Tuesday night began the 55th season for the Austin Trail of Lights — and it all kicked off with a grand opening.

Thousands are expected to attend this year’s events, with a lot to look forward to for both first-timers and long-time visitors. New attractions include a new House for Santa, a “Trail of Flights” wine experience, a life-sized dreidel, and more spots for S’mores.

The trail features over two million lights and 60 displays will be up for the next 13 nights.

MORE: Celebrate the magic at the Austin Trail of Lights

Here’s everything you need to know about this year’s visit to Zilker Park:

Dates/Times

  • Starts Tuesday, December 10 and runs through Monday, December 23.
  • General admission gates are open 7 to 10 p.m. every evening. There is a $5 admission fee (ages 12 and older) on weekends, but most weeknights are free.
  • ZIP Passes allow you to enter the park an hour earlier at 6 p.m. ZIP guests also receive special access to the ZIP Lounge where you’ll find complimentary holiday cookies, cocoa, comfortable seating, and heated washrooms. ZIP passes are $20 (plus fees).

Specialty Nights

Wednesday, December 11

  • Heroes Night
  • 7–10 p.m.
  • The trail will honor veterans, active military, and first responders (police, fire, EMS) at their annual Heroes Night. Heroes and up to 3 of their family members are invited to enjoy complimentary ZIP access on this special night.  

Thursday, December 12

  • Movies in the Park
  • 7–10 p.m.
  • Grab a bag of kettle corn, bring a blanket and enjoy a classic holiday movie – Home Alone – under the stars and lights in Austin’s beloved Zilker Park.

Sunday, December 15

  • UT Night
  • 7–10 p.m.
  • We’re lighting up the Trail burnt orange at UT Night at the Austin Trail of Lights. This special evening is dedicated to our city’s vibrant UT community. UT Night is a great way to ring in the holiday season with students, faculty, alumni, family and friends. UT-themed programming by university groups will showcase Longhorn pride!

Getting There

  • Parking on-site must be purchased in advance for $15 per vehicle. With a prepaid parking pass, you will be able to access our event parking with your pass anytime between 5:30 p.m. and when the event concludes at 10 p.m.
  • Please leave plenty of time to arrive at Zilker Park. This is a very popular event in the center of the city and you should still expect traffic delays approaching Zilker Park.
  • Shuttle: TOL shuttles will operate from two locations on Dec. 13-15, and 19-23: Republic Square in downtown Austin (422 Guadalupe St., Austin 78701) and Toney Burger Event Center in south Austin (3200 Jones Rd, Austin, TX 78745). The shuttle ticket includes your TOL general admission ticket. First shuttle starts at 5:30 p.m.
  • Ride Hailing Apps: The ride share pick up / drop off will be located just west of the Zilker Holiday Tree in the Zilker Field. Drivers are aware of the street closures surrounding Zilker Park.

As always, you’ll want to be prepared for the weather, as the event runs rain or shine.

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