With all the festive store displays around town, it sure seemed like the holiday season arrived about a month ago, right? Well, it’s officially here now — you can get into the spirit of the season without second-guessing it.
Exploring all of the local light displays in the Austin area is an easy way to do that. Here’s a guide to the essential light shows that you’ll want to check out through the end of December.
Mozart's 10th Annual Joyous Light Show. Clark Griswold would be proud: The coffee shop with a massive deck overlooking Lake Austin gets a little bigger and brighter every year. More than 1 million LED lights and a repeating show timed to holiday music — not to mention holiday desserts and hot chocolate — will fill you with Christmas cheer. 6 to 11 p.m. daily, except Christmas Day, through Jan. 5. 3825 Lake Austin Blvd. facebook.com/events/2957857510904783.
Marble Falls’ Walkway of Lights. Since the early ’90s, the Walkway of Lights has reflected off the waters of Lake Marble Falls, a mesmerizing sight with 2 million twinkling lights arranged on more than 350 sculptures. Local choral groups also add to the ambiance with concert performances on most weekends. 6 to 10 p.m. daily through Jan. 1. 305 Buena Vista Drive, Marble Falls. marblefalls.org/walkway.
The Annual Lighting of the Square in Georgetown. Take a break from Black Friday shopping to watch Georgetown’s town center glitter for the first time this holiday season, with a little help from Santa. Then get back to your shopping at the stores along the square. 5:30 p.m. Nov. 29. 103 W. Seventh St. visit.georgetown.org/annual-lighting-of-the-square-2.
Johnson City’s 30th Annual Lights Spectacular. More than 1 million lights will cover three city blocks, including the facade of the Blanco County Courthouse, a display well worth the drive. Lights Spectacular is pet-friendly; has horse-drawn carriage rides and tractor-pulled hayrides; and offers related events, such as lamplight tours of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s boyhood home on Nov. 30 and Dec. 7 and 14. Opens Nov. 29. 6 p.m. nightly through Jan. 5. johnsoncitytexas.info/lights-spectacular.html.
Lakeway Trail of Lights. Thousands of twinkling lights and other festive displays set to seasonal music will leave you feeling dazzled and joyful. 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 Lohmans Crossing). Opens Dec. 1. 6 p.m. to midnight daily through Jan. 1. lakeway-tx.gov/721/Trail-of-Lights.
Mueller Austin’s 14th Annual Tower Lighting. The Mueller neighborhood festoons its former air traffic control tower with lights every year and hosts an event to turn them on for the rest of the holiday season. Expect treats, giveaways, a photo booth and music from the Austin Soul Train Drumline and Nash Hernandez Orchestra. 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Dec. 3. John Gaines Park, 2708 Sorin St. facebook.com/events/528517541271706.
Luminations. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is magical enough on its own, but this holiday season, thousands of luminarias (small paper lanterns) will make the gardens truly sparkle. Plus, there will be aerial performances from Blue Lapis Light, live music and food and drink from Royal Fig Catering and the North Door. Opens Dec. 5. 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday-Sunday through Dec. 15. Free-$18. 4801 La Crosse Ave. wildflower.org/event/luminations/all.
Buda’s 11th Annual Trail of Lights. Walk the lighted trail to view the dazzling shows produced by local organizations while sipping hot chocolate and meeting Santa for a photo or two. Opens Dec. 6. 6 to 10 p.m. Friday-Sunday through Dec. 22. Historic Stagecoach Park, 880 Main St., Buda. ci.buda.tx.us/525/Trail-of-Lights.
25th Anniversary of the Downtown Holiday Stroll. The kick-off to Austin’s holiday season doesn't get much more official than the tree lighting at the Texas Capitol. Come early for a holiday market, food trucks, kids’ play area and, at 6 p.m., the annual KUT & KUTX Holiday Sing-Along. The tree will remain lit through the holiday season, with a programmed light show at the top and bottom of every hour. 5 to 10 p.m. Dec. 7. Free. facebook.com/events/926118317775422.
Trail of Lights. One of Austin’s favorite holiday traditions is about to return for its 55th year in Zilker Park. And while it’s always fun to meander along the loop brimming with 2 million lights and lined with 60 elaborate displays, there’s even more to see and do this year. That includes themed and specialty nights, including Dec. 11’s Heroes Night, and a new wine bar, Trail of Flights. Grand opening Dec. 10, following a few limited-admission preview nights. 7 to 10 p.m. nightly through Dec. 23. Free-$80. 2100 Barton Springs Road. austintrailoflights.org. — Kristin Finan
37th Street Lights. A quirky, irreverent — and thus distinctly Austin — tradition dating back to the 1980s returned in 2018 after a yearslong hiatus. Light displays along this street go live with a premiere party on Dec. 14, which will boast a serenade by brass band Blowcomotion. Opens Dec. 14. 7 to 10 p.m. daily through the new year. facebook.com/events/2136832626418136.