AUSTIN (KXAN) — Sometimes Christmas magic can use a wizard’s touch.
For the first time ever, Diagon Alley ATX’s Hogwarts Castle in southwest Austin is fitted for the upcoming holiday with a few noticeable changes.
“At the end of Halloween we didn’t quite do as well with fundraising because of the pandemic so we decided to keep it up longer,” Joel Pace said.
Colors are the first thing passerby will notice. The Pace family transitioned their staple Harry Potter Halloween display into a “Yule Ball” display with blues, whites and silver. You can see more pictures of the display in the slideshow gallery at the bottom of the article.
There are lots of trees, lights, floating candles, custom “snow” and a dragon and reindeer. If you look close enough, there are also some hidden-in-plain-sight features. Same social distancing rules apply during the pandemic. They kindly ask people to not walk on their property. If you’d like to see the display in-person, their house is located in the Vintage Place neighborhood.
Beyond the visuals, Joel has taken it upon himself to learn how to create a music-timed light show.
“It’s best when it’s dark just to see the lights really pop,” he said.
You can see the fruit of his labor in their Facebook video below:
The best time to come is from 6-8 p.m. The light shows run every half hour from 5:30-8 p.m. during the weekdays and then on Saturday and Sunday, additional shows will run at 9 and 9:30 p.m.
A light in the dark
Joel tapped into his Christmas spirit to “bring a little light to this challenging time,” wife Amanda Pace said in an email to KXAN.
So far, everyone has loved the transition, including neighbors.
“Everybody needs a little bit of light, something happy, and that’s what this is. It’s just an expression of hope and joy and we just wanted to make everybody’s day a little bit brighter by doing something a little crazy and fun,” Joel said. “It’s a time to remember we’re all blessed. It’s a challenging time but there’s always people who need help and who are in a worse condition than we are and we just want to remember them.”
They are, again, raising money for three charities: Foster Angels, Variety Children’s Charity, and ZACH Theatre. They have QR codes on-site and Venmo accounts people can use to donate (both featured in slideshow). All money is donated to the charities and divided equally among the three.
The display will be open through the end of the year. However, the lights show won’t run past New Year’s. The Pace family also has tentative plans for someone to do a live ice-sculpture of Hogwarts as well as hold special evenings to boost fundraising. You can learn more by following along on their Facebook page.