Trail of Lights brings dazzling gift to Austin for 55th time


Trail of Lights 2019. (KXAN Photo: Chelsea Moreno)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — It’s the dazzling wonderland that comes to life every December in Austin thanks to a tradition that started many years ago. But beyond the sparkly displays, organizers said for them, it’s all about the feeling they hope to evoke.

“We’re creating generational memories here at the trail,” said President of the Trail of Lights Foundation Rachel Green.

Though it was the 55th annual Trail of Lights preview party that happened Friday night, the trail served plenty of picturesque displays to capture many. The event, ahead of TOL’s official opening on Dec. 10, benefited the Trail of Light Foundation and is presented by the Austin Community Foundation.

“The preview party is an amazing opportunity for the Trail of Lights Foundation to raise funds to keep all the lights on the trail and also keep the trail open for half of the month free and available for all to come,” Green said. The night allows companies to host their corporate holiday parties in private tents and get to experience the trail with less of a crowd and free food bites.

“It’s an opportunity for all of Austin to come together in one space to just be together, enjoy live music, reminisce on some of our childhood memories, make new memories with our growing family and just have a really good time,” she added.

It started as a gift to the city, but in 2009 with the recession, there wasn’t enough money to fund it. It made its comeback in 2012 after partners raised the money to get it up and running again.

Experience this year’s TOL with our photo gallery:

Now, thousands of volunteers and about 100 sponsors work together to make it happen. Organizers start wrapping trees on Oct. 31. No staples or nails are allowed on them.

While over two million lights, 90 holiday trees and more than 70 displays and tunnels provide for a lot to see, it’s the smells and the experience with loved ones and the feeling of the holidays that takes over.

“I hope that new memories are made, old memories are relived and I really hope everyone enjoys our new exhibits,” Green said.

“As a part of the trail of lights foundation it is an honor to serve our community. I speak for our board by saying that we are so gracious and we pride ourselves on ensuring that this is available and accessible to all to come and we hope that everyone comes out and enjoys it this year.”

Rachel Green, President of Trail of Lights Foundation

Admission is free on TOL’s official grand opening on Dec. 10. The foundation hosts several nights free for the event as well.

The gates will open at 7 p.m. every night until Dec. 23. Tickets are available here.

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