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Where to Catch the Best Christmas Lights Around Austin

Image credit: Damon Rushing/Shutterstock.com

The best Christmas lights around Austin are found in holiday light shows, seasonal sites and ordinary neighborhoods. In a place where Yuletide temperatures hover in the 50s, Christmas lights in Austin, TX are the best way to mark the season — and smart business owners have caught on.

The Christmas lights in Austin aren’t just famous throughout Texas — according to CNN, they’re some of the best in the country. Zilker Park’s famed “tree” anchors one of the best neighborhoods in Austin for Christmas lights. At 155 feet tall, it’s also claimed as the tallest man-made free-standing Christmas tree in the world.

Where do you want to see Christmas lights in Austin? Whether it’s just in your living room or part of a paid spectacle, you have your choice.

So read on for our pick of the best Christmas lights in Austin. Trust us, they’re even more impressive than they look here.

Best Christmas Lights in and around Austin:

Austin Trail of Lights

trail of lights in austin texas

Image credit: Roschetzky Photography/Shutterstock.com

  • Price: $30–65
  • Location: Zilker Park (2100 Barton Springs Road, Austin)

The Zilker Park spectacular hasn’t lost any steam in its sixth decade. The annual event has transitioned to a drive-through in the COVID era, which works pretty well for its two-million-light, 2.1-mile sprawl.

It takes 15,000 hours and 1,500 volunteers to put together this masterpiece. It contains 90 lighted holiday trees and more than 70 other holiday displays and lighted tunnels.

Mozart’s 2021 Holiday Light Show

  • Price: Standing room tickets are free / Reserved tables start at $20
  • Location: Mozart’s Coffee Roasters (3825 Lake Austin Blvd, Austin)

Mozart’s Annual Christmas Light Show is back in full force after 2020, and it’s added some tricks. The reserved tables introduced in the pandemic are still here — but if you prefer, you can just show up for the free standing room tickets. (There are also reasonably-priced boat options, perfect for this lakeside spectacle!)

There will be a festival-style Bavarian marketplace, as well as the customary nibbles. But the star of the show is the one-million-light assorted light sculptures of guitars, the State Capitol, and a tree filled with presents.

Marble Falls Walkway of Lights

walkway of lights in austin texas

Image credit: thesiouxzy

  • Price: Free
  • Location: Lakeside Park (305 Buena Vista Dr, Marble Falls)

The Hill Country’s Marble Falls refuses to be outdone by Zilker, bringing its own venerable two-million-light walkway into its 31st year. Lakeside Park hosts this extravaganza, which still allows more reasonable COVID-era crowds to stroll through it — unlike its too-popular south Austin cousin.

The Walkway of Lights is home to over 350 lighted sculptures.

Peppermint Parkway

  • Price: $40–95
  • Location: Circuit of The Americas (9201 Circuit of The Americas Blvd, Austin)

With drive-through light displays in demand due to pandemic conditions, Peppermint Parkway was born. The young event includes a mile of holiday displays, millions of lights, live dancing elves and a walking plaza full of food and activities.

In Peppermint Plaza, young visitors can visit Santa, go-kart race, try amusement rides and more. More mature visitors can check out the Mistletoe Kissing Booth.

Zilker Holiday Tree

zilker holiday tree in austin texas

Image credit: _newhart

  • Price: Free
  • Location: Zilker Park (2100 Barton Springs Road, Austin)

The Zilker Tree is a dressed-up, 155-foot-tall moonlight tower — a 120-year-old lighting structure used to illuminate public spaces at the dawn of artificial lighting.

 It’s also an Austin holiday tradition.

Lake Travis Lighted Boat Parade

  • Price: Free / Price for cruises and lakeside watch parties vary
  • Location: Lake Travis

The Crosswater Yacht Club and Hurst Harbor Marina are calling on their most creative boaters to dazzle the lakeside crowds in five categories of waterborne sculpture: Sailboat, Runabout/Ski Boat, Cruiser, Pontoon and Houseboat/Barge.

Boaters meet at the mouth of Hurst Creek at sunset on December 4. There are several options for watching, including Dink Pearson Park on the north shore and Lakeway Resort and Spa on the south shore. Lakeway Resort charges for their watch party.

Luminations at the Wildflower Center

  • Price: $15–25
  • Location: Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center (4801 La Crosse Ave, Austin)

The Wildflower Center is once again aglow with thousands of luminarias — those paper bag votive candle lanterns — set inside its beautiful Texas Arboretum.

 Stroll along to music — then visit the most fantastic collection of secret hideouts Austin has to offer in Fortlandia.

Downtown Holiday Stroll

  • Price: Free
  • Location: Downtown Austin

The December 4 Downtown Holiday Stroll transforms Austin’s center city corridors into a live music procession that culminates in the downtown tree lighting.

Santa’s Ranch

  • Price: $35
  • Location: 9561 I-35 North, New Braunfels

With waterpark season over, Santa’s Ranch becomes the biggest reason for Austinites to head to this San Antonio satellite city. This is another drive-through technicolor extravaganza, with lit-up gingerbread houses, nativity scenes, depictions of the North Pole and more.

37th Street Lights

37th street lights in austin

Image credit: 37thstreetlights

  • Price: Free
  • Location: West 37th Street between Guadalupe Street and Home Lane, Austin

What started out as a spontaneous display of Austin eccentricity has become a tradition of its own. In the 1980s, a couple of 37th Street houses used Christmas lights left by university students and neighbors to decorate the street. Others soon followed. As one early participant recalled, “It didn’t start out as Christmas lights. It started out as a wild art form and stayed that way.”

 Now thousands walk down the small street every year to witness the wonder. This year’s opening night is December 10.

Hometown Holiday

  • Price: Free
  • Location: Downtown Round Rock

Round Rock is getting in on the Christmas fun. Every December sunset the downtown will come alive with tasteful lights surrounding its still-planted trees.

 In addition, there will be live music in the parklets and on Main, and enough cute shops to remind you what the season is really about — presents!

Sights and Sounds of Christmas

sights and sounds of christmas in san marcos texas

Image credit: smtxsightsandsounds

  • Price: Free for kids 12 and under / $5 for teens and adults
  • Location: 401 E Hopkins St, San Marcos

The Sights and Sounds festival is coming to San Marcos for two early December weeks — December 2–4 and 9–11. It will bring carnival rides, a petting zoo, Christmas ponies, ice skating… and of course, Santa!

Lights Spectacular

lights spectacular in johnson city near austin

Image credit: lightsspectacularjctx

  • Price: Free
  • Location: Johnson City

Johnson City is home to another million-strong lighting display — this one visible from space according to NASA! The spectacle is entering its 31st year, with horse-drawn carriages, a lit-up courthouse, a parade and lamplight tours of LBJ’s boyhood home.

There’s even a Grinchmas weekend on December 18!

Lakeway Trail of Lights

trail of lights in lakeway texas

Image credit: hyperspd1

  • Price: Free
  • Location: Lakeway

There’s another Austin area Trail of Lights — this one a far humbler version that is navigable by foot. This Trail of Lights is a small, pedestrian-only circuit behind the Lakeway City Hall, geared to kids.

There will be music, a fire pit for roasting marshmallows, and “Reindeer Games.” Access the trail from the lower level of the parking lot at the Lakeway Activity Center (105 Cross Creek) or by parking behind City Hall (1102 Lohman’s Crossing).

Shady Oak Christmas Display

  • Price: Free
  • Location: 107 Shady Oak Drive, Georgetown

Shady Oak Drive hosts another legendary home display — this one with an immersive element. Tune into 95.3 FM to get the full synchronized-with-music lights experience.