In a year when we could all use a little extra holiday magic, a lights display is the perfect way to be festive and stay socially distant. Many Austin traditions are returning and even extending their displays to make sure everyone can experience the twinkly fun. So whether you choose a drive-through or walking display, grab a cup of hot cocoa (even if it’s 70 degrees) and get in the holiday spirit with these light shows in and around Austin.
Santa’s Ranch in New Braunfels
Nov. 6 – Jan. 3
This drive-through display of over 1.5 million lights—including a 50-foot tree, lit-up gingerbread houses, and North Pole scenes—is one of the best around. Hot cocoa, kettle corn, and other snacks are available for purchase. You can buy tickets online in advance or when you arrive.
Mozart’s Light Show
Nov. 19 – Jan. 6
The Austin tradition returns this year with a “Covid Cautious,” reservations-required light show. Book a lakeside table online for up to six people for a 1-hour time slot between 6 and 11 p.m. All tables are spaced 6 feet apart. When you book your table you can add on holiday treats like cookies, brownies, and cinnamon sugar pretzels. Time slots are selling out fast, so book soon!
Lakeway Trail of Lights
Nov. 20 – Jan. 3
While there will be no opening weekend event this year, you can still walk through the trail and experience the magic of thousands of twinkling lights. Access the trail from the Lakeway Activity Center or by parking behind City Hall. Free.
Marble Falls Walkway of Lights
Nov. 20 – Jan. 2
The 30th annual Walkway of Lights will illuminate Lake Marble Falls for 44 nights in a row. Enjoy a socially-distanced walk through a display of over 2 million lights in a charming small town setting. Free.
Johnson City Lights Spectacular
Nov. 27 – Jan. 3
Over 2 million twinkling lights will be on display in the historic square in the “Twinkliest Town in Texas.” (NASA has even reported being able to see the lights from the International Space Center, so it definitely earns that title.) You can drive through the festive square and neighboring streets or explore on foot while maintaining social distance. Free.
Peppermint Parkway at Circuit of the Americas
Nov. 27 – Jan. 3
Get the ultimate holiday experience at Peppermint Parkway, a one-mile drive at Circuit of the Americas that takes visitors through Candy Cane Lane, Gingerbread Alley, ATXmas, Frozenland, and more. The parkway features a 60-foot tree, festive entertainers, dazzling scenes with millions of lights, and giant light sculptures. Advance tickets are recommended but you can also purchase them at the gate.
Bastrop River of Lights
Nov. 27 – Jan. 1
Take a family-friendly half-mile walk in Fisherman’s Park and along the paved riverwalk on the Colorado River. The lights display features traditional holiday themes, fun cartoons, and more. Free.
Luminations at the Wildflower Center
Nov. 27 – Jan. 3 (Closed Dec. 24-25, 31, and Jan. 1)
For a lights display with a nature twist, check out Luminations at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Enjoy a peaceful walk through the Texas Arboretum amidst lit-up oak trees, thousands of luminarias, and the forts of Fortlandia. Walk through an illuminated open-air tunnel and relax in a glowing moon-ring swing. Take-along foods will be available from the cafe. Online reservations are required with timed admission to limit crowds.
Austin Trail of Lights
Nov. 28 – Jan. 3
The long-running (this is the 56th year!) Austin tradition returns as a drive-through only event in Zilker Park. The trail features more than 2 million lights, 90 lighted holiday trees, and more than 70 other holiday displays and lighted tunnels. It has been extended by two weeks this year, and you can book your pass online for your preferred date and time. The premium Dash Pass option gets you in early at 5:45 p.m. (General Admission begins at 7 p.m.).
Buda Trail of Lights
Dec. 5-6, 10-13, 17-20
The 12th Annual Trail of Lights event, held at the Historic Stagecoach Park, will be a drive-through event this year. Experience all the fun displays and lights from the safety of your vehicle. Free.