10 best places in Austin to watch enchanting holiday light displays
November 30, 2017
Article by: Cindy Brzostowski, culturemap.com
When it comes to the best things about the holidays, getting to see all of the twinkling lights go up around town is definitely a top contender. Whether you’re looking for a festive family outing or are celebrating the season with your best pals, catch some fun holiday light displays at one of these events around Austin.
Head east towards the Travis County Exposition Center to see a display of over 200,000 lights choreographed to holiday music at the Community First! Village of Lights. The free event takes place on December 1-2 and 8-9, with lights from 6-9 pm. You can also shop for handcrafted gifts at the Advent Market, catch a Christmas movie, and enjoy some hot cocoa and s'mores.
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center pulls out all the stops during the winter to illuminate their gardens with enchanting luminarias and light displays. While meandering through the paths, enjoy complimentary maple taffy and hot chocolate, or purchase other tasty snacks from the on-site vendor, Royal Fig Catering. Tickets are $15 for non-members ages 5 and up, and $10 for members ages 5 and up. Children under age 4 can enter for free.
A hallmark of the holiday season in Austin is the Trail of Lights at Zilker Park, a community-wide celebration since 1965. Roughly 400,000 people show up every year to enjoy more than 40 displays using more than two million lights. The event runs from 7-10 pm from December 9 through December 23. Options for entry include visiting during their select free entry dates, buying a $3 general admission ticket online to skip the lines at the event, getting a ZIP Fast Pass to gain early access, or go all out with the extra perks of a Platinum Pass. Limited parking is available with a prepaid pass.
Did you know that there’s more than one place around town to check out a Trail of Lights? Lakeway has its own celebration going on every night through January 1. And the fun goes on late into the evening from 6 pm to midnight. Better still, there's no cost to park or attend. You can get to the trail from either the lower level of the Lakeway Activity Center parking lot or from behind City Hall.
It's easy for the whole family to get into the holiday spirit at Winter Wonderland at the Circuit. On top of its spectacular Tunnel of Lights and Circuit of Lights Track Walk, the transformed Grand Plaza of the racetrack has a human snow globe, petting zoo, Santa's workshop, skating rink, train ride, vendor village, and plenty of other festive activities. The Winter Wonderland is open during the evenings from December 1-2, and then again December 8 through December 30. Admission is $16 (although children 5 and under are free).
Mozart's Coffee Roasters is a local favorite known for delicious lattes and scenic water views, but during the Christmas season, it hosts a spectacular nightly light show. You can catch the dazzling display made up of more than a million LED lights from 6-11 pm now through January 1 (except on Christmas Day). It takes place on the outdoor deck, and is completely free to enjoy.
The holidays are in full swing at The Domain. On top of checking out the light shows made up of more than 200,000 lights synchronized to music, the complimentary horse-drawn carriage rides, carolers, and Santa photo experience on the weekends make for a jolly ol' time. And, of course, the many different retailers at the mall mean it’s easy for you to go ahead and finish your Christmas shopping while in the area.
You have to love a group of neighbors that all get together to put on an over-the-top holiday lights display. The Anna Court cul-de-sac in Cedar Park is one such group. These houses are decked out in lights, which they coordinate to a playlist of holiday hits. You can swing by any evening of the week to catch the display. It’s free to check out, but they are accepting toys to donate to the Blue Santa program.
Anna Court isn’t the only street in Cedar Park going all in with the decorations this season. Just a short 5-minute drive away is Chinati Court, which hosts its own lovely light display. Park your car in the neighborhood, and stroll along the street to take in the Christmas cheer. As an extra special touch, they have train rides on Friday and Saturday nights. Chinati Court is also accepting toy donations, which they’re giving to Brown Santa.
For years, the Rhodes family has decked out their home to create a fun Christmas lights display. In fact, a few years ago they were featured on ABC’s The Great Christmas Light Fight. You can see view the lights for yourself by heading over to 2410 Sharon Dr. in Cedar Park. It won’t cost you anything, but they are collecting donations for the Cedar Park Area Food Bank.