Austin’s most delightful holiday attraction to take place Dec. 9-23 and will feature a schedule full of local Austin entertainment and unique holiday programming

(AUSTIN, TEXAS – Nov. 2, 2017, source: Juice Consulting) – The 53rd annual Austin Trail of Lights powered by H-E-B today announces its most ambitious calendar yet featuring exciting performances from local Austin musicians, creative programming additions, special celebrations and community programs. The Trail of Lights will open to the public Saturday, Dec. 9 and will run through Saturday, Dec. 23. Online ticket purchases will be available on November 8, 2017 at www.AustinTrailofLights.org.

The annual event, produced by the nonprofit Trail of Lights Foundation, welcomes 400,000 guests for 17 public nights and 3 dedicated nonprofit nights in Zilker Park. The full calendar of event nights, including theme nights such as Preview Party, UT Night, Heroes Night and Movie Night can be found at www.austintrailoflights.org/calendar.

As Austin’s 2nd largest annual event, the Austin Trail of Lights features more than 2 million lights, 4 light tunnels, a 90 foot Ferris wheel, 40 displays, two stages, and more than 20 of Austin’s famous food trucks. In recent years, this community-wide event has received national accolades among holiday and lighting events by CNN.com, USA Today, Southern Living and more.

"The 2017 Trail of Lights celebrates the creativity, talents, accomplishments and generosity of Austinites,” said Trail of Lights Foundation Board President, Leah Davies. “2017’s event is a culmination of a great year, highlighting the people, music, groups, food, technology, charitable organizations and businesses that make Austin the place we love to call home. Visitors will see new modernized displays, interactive environments, Austin’s famous food trucks, local musical talent, movies, local merchants and more. For those who visit the Trail of Lights as an annual tradition, there are new activities waiting for you. For those who haven’t been yet, this is the year to start your tradition.”

Title sponsor H-E-B announced the continuation of its title sponsorship through 2019. H-E-B has served in the title sponsorship role since 2012, handing out more than 250,000 books at the Read 3 book train as part of the Read 3 early childhood literacy program.

“For more than 50 years, the Trail of Lights has offered surprises and delights for everyone in the community,” said Leslie Sweet, director of public affairs at H-E-B, title sponsor of the Trail of Lights. “Events like the Trail of Lights bring members of our community together at this special time of the year and H-E-B is proud to help Central Texas families enjoy a special time together.”

2017 Highlights Include

New and improved features

  • A new seating and hospitality area offers a mid-way resting point and expands Arctic Point featuring the Pennybacker Bridge presented by Community Impact, one of the best photo opportunities at the event. Community Impact sponsored the build of the Pennybacker Bridge in 2015.
  • Arctic Point will continue to be built out as a new destination zone of the Trail.
  • Look for Santa hanging with his surfboards at Surfing Santa, a new display sponsored by NLand Surf Park.
  • The final tunnel, Starry Night, will sparkle even brighter with more than twice as many lights as past years thanks to the long time sponsorship by Lori and Tito Beveridge. The Beveridge family has sponsored Starry Night tunnel since 2012.
  • Local Austin entertainment will continue throughout the Trail of Lights with nightly acts by community and professional performers, and nightly story times by celebrity readers. Confirmed entertainment includes Mother Falcon String Trio, Whiskey Shivers, and DJ Mel at the Night Lights Preview Party on Friday, December 8; Alan Haynes at the Grand Opening on Saturday, December 9, The University of Texas Longhorn musicians and entertainers, Wood & Wire, Trube, Farrell & Snizz, Jomo & The Possum Posse, Datura, Tiarra Girls, and many others. The full entertainment schedule will be available here over the coming weeks: www.austintrailoflights.org.
  • Food and tastings from some of Austin’s favorite chefs, restaurants and beverage brands. Featured samplers at the Night Lights Preview Party on December 8 include: Sway, Chameleon Hospitality/ Wu Chow, Mattie’s, Texas Honey Ham Company, Chi’Lantro, Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill, La Pera and H-E-B Cafe Mueller. Food trucks participating in the full event include Bohemian BBQ, Evil Wiener, Pitalicious, sMASHtini, Shawarma Point, Moojo, and Fancy Fluff, featuring holiday flavored cotton candy.
  • The return of Austin Trail of Lights classics such as the North Pole including photos at Santa’s House presented by Dell Children/Ascension, the Ferris wheel presented by the Austin Convention Center, H-E-B Read 3 Train book give-away, and an interactive Santa’s Workshop where visitors can create their own holiday videos to share presented by Vista Equity Partners.
  • New and improved experiences include the revamped Starry Night tunnel, new lighting displays, increased photo opportunities and additional hospitality areas allowing guests to rest and enjoy the event for a full evening of activities.

Community Impact of the Trail of Lights

With 400,000 attendees, the Trail of Lights offers a perfect opportunity to make an enormous impact on the Central Texas community. This year, the producers are challenging attendees to bring a canned good to the Trail on any public night. With the support of Trailgoers, the Foundation will reach its goal to collect 25,000 meals, or enough food to feed 6 families for a year. All food will be donated to the Central Texas Food Bank.

Today the Trail of Lights Foundation also announced the organizations that will participate in the 2017 STARS at the Trail program. STARS at the Trail, started in 2013, will this year host 1600 children, families, seniors and others from up to 20 nonprofit organizations for private experiences at the Austin Trail of Lights. Underwritten by a grant from Vista Equity Partners and other generous donors, The Trail of Lights Foundation provides transportation, private tours, hospitality and visits with Santa for participants who might not otherwise have an opportunity to experience the Austin Trail of Lights.

“The Trail of Lights Foundation is committed to opening the doors of the Trail of Lights to as many Central Texans as possible,” said Davies. “STARS at the Trail allows us to extend the joy of the Trail and the holiday season throughout our community.”

Specialty Nights and Programming

This year, the Austin Trail of Lights will offer numerous specialty nights leading up to and during the event. Additional specialty nights will be announced as details are available.

Sunday, Nov. 26: The annual Zilker Tree lighting starts the holiday season off in Zilker Park. Now in its 51st year, the Zilker Tree is the largest man made holiday tree, built around a historic Austin moontower. Food vendors and other merchants will operate at the tree throughout the month of December. Check the Austin Trail of Lights website for schedules.

Saturday, Dec. 2: The Trail of Lights Fun Run, presented by St. David’s HealthCare, is a 2.1-mile course starting at the Zilker Tree and takes runners through the iconic Austin Trail of Lights, ending with a celebration in the park. Up to 10,000 runners are expected to participate in two waves. Registration began in mid-September, and can be purchased here: https://austintrailoflights.org/2017-fun-run.

Dec. 3, 4 and 6: STARS at the Trail, presented by Vista Equity Partners, hosts up to 20 nonprofit organizations for private tours of the Trail. Since 2013, STARS at the Trail has provided an opportunity for more than 3,000 school children, teens, families of varied socioeconomic backgrounds, youth in foster and adoptive care, WWII veterans, mentors and mentees, chronically ill patients and others with unique circumstances to create special holiday memories at the Austin Trail of Lights. For some of these attendees, this trip to the Austin Trail of Lights may be their only holiday experience.

Friday, Dec. 8: 4th annual “Night Lights, presented by Lyft” – The official Austin Trail of Lights Preview Party will take place at Zilker Park from 7-10 pm benefitting STARS at the Trail and will feature live entertainment from Mother Falcon String Trio, Whiskey Shivers and DJ Mel. The party will offer light bites from Austin area restaurants, complimentary beer and wine, special holiday entertainment, a classic car show, a Maker’s Market curated by Edible Austin, and an opportunity to experience the Austin Trail of Lights like never before. Participating restaurants include Mattie’s, Sway, Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill, Chameleon Hospitality/ Wu Chow, La Pera, Chi’Lantro, Texas Honey Ham, H-E-B Café Mueller, Top Notch, and many more to come. Small batch makers include Sertodo Copper, local handmade jewelry by Vinca Inc., chocolates from the Turtle Enoteca and Gelateria, French macarons from Le Petits Plaisirs and more to be announced. Advance tickets start at $75 and can be purchased here starting November 8: https://austintrailoflights.org/night-lights

Saturday, Dec. 9, Grand Opening. The official Austin Trail of Lights Grand Opening will feature a special opening ceremony by title sponsor H-E-B and a special performance by Austin-based bluesman Alan Haynes. The Trail will remain open Dec. 10 - 23 with general admission gates open at 7:00 p.m. every evening. General admission for children under 12 is always free at the Trail of Lights. There will be a general admission fee on 7 of the 15 nights of the event. Early entry ZiP Fast Passes, Platinum passes, general admission tickets, parking and shuttle tickets will be available for purchase on select nights. Calendars for ticket availability and online ticket purchases will be available November 8th at www.AustinTrailofLights.org.

Sunday, Dec. 10: The fifth annual UT Night, presented by The University of Texas at Austin will turn the Austin Trail of Lights burnt orange. The evening features special programming, Longhorn entertainment and private hospitality tickets for The University of Texas at Austin students, faculty, staff and alumni.

Tuesday, Dec. 12: The annual HEROES Night, presented by the Texas Lottery, honors first responders— police, fire and EMS, active military, veterans and emergency responders. Guests will create holiday letters to send to troops and other activities to pay tribute to first responders’ service.

Tuesday, Dec. 19: Movie Night, presented by Austin Parks Foundation. Grab a bag of kettle corn, bring a blanket and enjoy a holiday movie under the stars and lights in Austin’s beloved Zilker Park.

Accolades and Statistics

● Second largest event in Austin according to the Austin Business Journal (2017)

● Recognized as a top 10 lighting or holiday event by USA Today, Yahoo and Southern Living

● 375,000 attendees in 2016

● More than two million twinkling lights

● More than 1 million miles walked by attendees annually

● 20+ food vendors

● 7,500 runners at the 2016 Fun Run

● 1,000 volunteers annually

● 20 nonprofit groups hosted during STARS nights

● Two stages housing special performances and live music

● 45 performers

● 15 marriage proposals

● 50,000 amusement riders


Since adopting the annual event from the City of Austin in 2012, the Austin Trail of Lights has been produced exclusively with private dollars and without taxpayer funding. Corporate sponsors and individual donors contribute more than $1.5 million to provide partial underwriting for the annual event. The remainder of funds are provided through event ticket sales.

2017 will be the sixth year H-E-B has served as Title Sponsor and has committed to serve as title sponsor through 2019. Additional multi-year sponsors include Vista Equity Partners, Dell Children’s/Ascension, Keller Williams Realty, Cirrus Logic, Silicon Labs, T5 Foundation, Robert F. Smith Family, NXP, Maudie’s Tex Mex, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin Parks Foundation, ABC Home and Commercial Services, 3M, Central Texas Pediatric Orthopedics, Austin Energy, Longhorn Rents, The UPS Stores, Texas Lottery, Pirkey Barber PLLC, K. Freise & Associates, Maxwell Locke & Ritter, Ambetter Superior HealthPlan, Lori and Tito Beveridge, American Bank of Commerce, and Watkins Insurance Group, NXP USA, Inc., UPS, SHI, Humana.

The Trail of Lights welcomes new sponsors including St. David’s HealthCare as Fun Run title sponsor as well as Lyft, NLand Surf Park, SolarWinds, Capital One, LCRA, Austin Convention Center, Juice Consulting and Archer-Malmo.

Sponsor opportunities are currently available. For information, please contact Jill Weir at jweir@forefrontnetworks.com.

About the Trail of Lights Foundation

The Trail of Lights Foundation is an independent nonprofit corporation dedicated to producing the Austin Trail of Lights as an authentically Austin community celebration. The organization raises the funds from donations by individuals and the business community to produce and ensure the long- term sustainability of Austin’s largest community celebration. It is curated in close conjunction with its long-time partners, Forefront Networks and 3Can Events, who provide turn-key production, marketing, sponsorship and programming services to the foundation. The Trail of Lights has remained in the top three Austin events since the Trail of Lights Foundation adopted the event in 2012.

For more information on The Trail of Lights, please see www.austintrailoflights.org.



To RSVP for the Dec. 8 Night Lights preview party, or for any night from Dec. 9 to 23, for general coverage requests or press inquiries about the Trail of Lights, please contact the team at Juice Consulting:

Heather Wagner - 512 788 9254 - heather@juiceconsulting.com

Reed Madison Snelling - 512 240 9052 - madison@juiceconsulting.com