This year’s Trail of Lights was bigger and better than ever, with more food, more music, more days, more crowds, and, most importantly, more lights!
Instead of walking the two miles over to Zilker Park, Bill and I decided to take a shuttle bus from downtown’s Republic Square Park. Round-trip tickets were reasonably priced at $3 per person. There was no wait to board our shuttle, a yellow school bus strung with Christmas decorations to put us in the holiday mood.
We arrived at Zilker about 15 minutes before the Trail of Lights opened to the general public. Since we had picked a warm evening on the last weekend of the event, several thousand people were already ahead of us in line. Along with everyone else, we slowly shuffled our way to the entrance tunnel of lights (see the first photo above).
Three large food courts were set up off the main trail. Each area had numerous trailers and stands serving a variety of foods, including tacos, burgers, funnel cakes, kettle korn, coffee, hot chocolate, and ice cream. The lines weren’t too long since there were so many options.
Entertainment stages were located near the food courts. During our visit, Suzanna Choffel was playing a set on the main stage near the gigantic Maudie’s TEXMEX rabbit. The children’s craft tents looked busy and the line was long to visit Santa and Mrs. Claus.
Of course, no visit to the Trail of Lights would be complete without a spin under the Zilker Tree at the end of the evening.
I’ve read that an estimated 425,000 visited this year’s Trail of Lights, and perhaps 35,000 on the evening that Bill and I went. Adding the extra space for the food courts helped to distribute the crowd, and the shuttle buses eased the parking problems in Zilker Park. The event was still free (except for the buses). Although we didn’t do this, there were options to pay extra for close-in parking or early trail entry (6-7 PM) which seem like reasonable ways to recoup some of the costs. All of these improvements made for a most enjoyable evening. We’re looking forward to the 50th Anniversary Trail of Lights next year!