Memo: Trail of Lights display area scaled down, will have less impact on Zilker Park


AUSTIN (KXAN) — A city memo from Austin Parks and Recreation Department Director Kimberly McNeeley outlines more details on the 2020 version of the Trail of Lights festival.

The event, that will be drive-thru only due to COVID-19, will have less of an impact on traffic in the area and in the park itself. The area of light displays compared to last year will go down 17 acres from 42 to 25, and since pedestrian and foot traffic won’t be allowed, the following services, events and attractions are canceled, the memo says:

  • Community performance stages
  • The carousel and Ferris wheel
  • Walk-up ticket purchases
  • In-person pedestrian experiences
A map provided by the City of Austin, the red shaded area shows the space in Zilker Park used by the 2019 Trail of Lights. In green area shows the area the festival will use in 2020.

Austin City Council approved the festival’s extension from 15 to 30 days in September, and even with that, Zilker Park will have 38 extra days of public use since no other events have been able to take place there, the memo says. There’s also an additional 10 days where the park won’t have event fencing in it, allowing for more access.

Traffic impacts will be lighter around the area as well, especially on Barton Springs Road. The road will stay open the entire time the festival is going on, and no more than 1,300 vehicles per night will be allowed to drive through the light displays, the memo says.

In a typical year, more than 1,900 cars are at the festival, along with shuttles and other modes of transportation. Usually, Barton Springs Road is closed during the event.

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