The Trail of Lights Foundation unveiled details for this year’s 51st anniversary Trail of Lights celebration, returning to Zilker Park Tuesday, Dec. 8 – Tuesday, Dec. 22. The Austin Trail of Lights, powered by H-E-B, is a much loved community event that welcomes visitors from near and far to experience the magnificent display of lights.
This year’s Trail of Lights will bring back favorites like the North Pole, Santa’s Workshop, the Yule Log, the Ferris wheel, and Candy Land while introducing a new and improved Groovy Grove, a classic carousel in Zilker Village, more than 50 displays and exhibits, and over 2 million lights. This authentically Austin event, with more than 400,000 attendees and 1,000 volunteers, honors the past while bringing new and exciting additions, attracting families with children of all ages and setting the scene for the perfect romantic date night.
Highlights for 2015
- The North Pole including photos at Santa’s House presented by Seton Healthcare, the Ferris wheel, H-E-B 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
- Armadillo Alley will feature a new Groovy Grove presented by the 5T Foundation, and will include letters to Santa, as well as arts and crafts, near the Community Performance Stage featuring more than 60 local performance groups
- Candy Land, where candy is plentiful and handed to you by Santa’s elves, sponsored by the Robert F. Smith Family
- The Yule Log returns fueled by wood pulled from the Greenbelt that otherwise would have been a fire hazard, thanks to Cirrus Logic
- The University of Texas at Austin will turn the featured Globe burnt orange – hook ‘em!
- A replica of the iconic 360 Pennybacker Bridge has been added to Trim-a-Tree Grove
- Austin’s favorite food trucks such as East Side King, Burro Cheese Kitchen, La Fantabulous, Austin’s Pizza, Krispy Kreme, PitaLicious, Funtastic Funnel Cakes, Hat Creek Burger Co., The Evil Wiener, Crepe Crazy, As Good As It Gets Kettle Corn, Mighty Fine Burgers, Southside Flying Pizza, Churro Co. and Amy’s Ice Cream
- Additional holiday displays from sponsors Google Fiber, KXAN, and more. See the full list of the Trail of Lights’ 2015 sponsors at www.AustinTrailofLights.org/sponsorship/2015-sponsors.
“From fun family outings to celebrating our UT campus, or even using the lighted trail as a beautiful backdrop for asking your loved one to marry you, the Trail of Lights has something special for everyone,” said Mario Espinoza, president of the Trail of Lights Foundation. “We’re excited to keep this uniquely Austin tradition thriving and provide new ways for the community to enjoy the Trail of Lights.”
Austin Trail of Lights 2015 Special Events
Zilker Tree Lighting (Sunday, Nov. 29) – Each year, the Austin community eagerly awaits the lighting of the 155 foot tall Zilker Tree as a symbol of the upcoming holiday season and Trail of Lights festivities.
Night Lights, the 2nd Annual Preview Party benefiting the Trail of Lights Foundation (Friday, Dec. 4) – Night Lights is an enchanted and exclusive first look at the Trail of Lights featuring Austin’s best chefs, artisans and performers. Ticket packages range from $300 – $5,000, and include free food samples and beverages, parking and much more. Headlining the event is Austin’s beloved music icon, Jimmie Vaughan.
Fun Run (Saturday, Dec. 5) – The Trail of Lights 2.1 mile Fun Run will be held at Zilker Park and is now open for registration. Part of the Trail of Lights “Sneak Peek weekend,” the Trail of Lights Fun Run is an event that welcomes all ages to exercise in festive attire at Zilker Park. Sponsored by Humana, the 2015 Fun Run encourages a healthy and fun way to celebrate the holiday season.
STARS at the Trail (Sunday, Dec. 6 and Monday, Dec. 7) – STARS at the Trail is the Trail of Lights’ outreach program, presented by the Robert F. Smith Family and supported by Austin Parks Foundation and multiple individual donors, which invites various nonprofit groups in Austin to partake in holiday activities at the Trail. Though STARS at the Trail focuses primarily on youth and family groups, it also seeks to engage seniors and veterans. This year, 12 nonprofit organizations will be hosted at private nights at the Trail of Lights with 600 participants each night. Last year, the Trail of Lights hosted 662 participants and donated 4,000 free passes to additional nonprofit organizations.
“We are thrilled to celebrate our community in Austin,” said Robert F. Smith. “The Trail of Lights offers a beautiful setting and unique spirit that brings all of our families together.”
Grand Opening (Tuesday, Dec. 8) – The official start to the Trail of Lights kicks off 15 nights of celebration.
Heroes Night (Wednesday, Dec. 9) – The Trail of Lights Foundation invites all service men and women to a special Heroes Night, co-sponsored by Texas Lottery, at Zilker Park. The Austin community is encouraged to help honor those who have served while enjoying a night filled with lights, entertainment and food truck favorites.
The University of Texas Night (Friday, Dec. 11) – The Trail of Lights will turn the Globe burnt orange in celebration of The University of Texas at Austin. Various student groups and performers will provide entertainment throughout the event and a special University of Texas hospitality area will be available for students, faculty, staff and alumni.
Community Support of the Trail of Lights
H-E-B returns as a title sponsor for the fourth year, as well as a partner in advancing childhood literacy through their Read 3 program, which has given away 150,000 books to kids visiting the Trail of Lights over the last three years.
“H-E-B cherishes the opportunity to give back to the community both through supporting the Trail of Lights as well as promoting literacy throughout Austin,” said Leslie Sweet, director of public affairs at H-E-B. “This year, every child who comes to the H-E-B Read 3 train will have a book to take home!”
Community leaders and businesses can support the Trail of Lights by becoming a Trailblazer sponsor through the Adopt-A-Display program. Sponsors also have the opportunity to add their own flair to the Trail of Lights through the Trim-A-Treeprogram. These sponsors will be given a tree to decorate however they wish to show their joy and support for the Trail of Lights and its history.
The Trail of Lights 2015 event marks the third year that the Trail of Lights Foundation, a nonprofit organization, has produced the event supported by donations from the business community and individuals. For more information on how to support the Trail of Lights Foundation and keep the Trail of Lights bright for years to come, visit www.AustinTrailofLights.org.
“We are proud that this city has a dedicated nonprofit organization and a supportive business community who are truly invested in honoring this long-standing holiday tradition,” said Austin Mayor Steve Adler. “That’s why we are excited to announce that the Trail of Lights Foundation’s contract has been renewed for five more years and they will continue doing the great work they’ve done to keep this tradition alive.”
For more information on schedules and to stay updated with the latest news, including the 15-day activity and entertainment lineup, location of shuttles, and online sale of parking tickets, ZiP passes, VIP passes, Fun Run registration and Night Lights tickets, visit the Trail of Lights website and sign up for the Trail of Lights newsletter at AustinTrailofLights.org, follow the@ATXLights Twitter feed or like the Trail of Lights Facebook page at facebook.com/AustinTrailofLights.