Austin’s holiday tradition Trail of Lights drives forward with changes

Austin City Council gave the go-ahead on September 17th for the cherished Trail of Lights, set to become a pure drive-through experience in 2020.

Along with this big change, the event, hosted by the Trail of Lights Foundation and the City of Austin, will be zero entry this year and will be extended from the typical 15 days to 30 days.

City council approved an ordinance allowing the holiday tradition to switch from the traditional pass-through format to a drive-through format this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Around 1,300 cars per night are allowed to go through the annual extravaganza of Christmas lights.

Typically, visitors stroll through Zilker Park to look at the lighted displays, spin under the lights of the massive Zilker tree, and sample goodies from food trucks. The regulation states that in 2020 the “traditional face-to-face event is not possible, safe or in line with protecting the health of the community”.

The Trail of Lights, founded in 1965, attracts around 400,000 visitors annually. In 2019 there were more than 2 million lights, 90 Christmas trees lit and over 70 other holiday displays and lighted tunnels. The Trail of Lights was a drive-through affair early on.

In a statement, James Russell, executive director of the Trail of Lights Foundation, said the 2020 edition schedule and other details will be announced in mid-October.

In a 2019 publication, the foundation called the Trail of Lights “a not-to-be-missed tradition and community-wide event that celebrates the spirit and people that make Austin unique.”

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