Twinkle, Twinkle: Central Texas Holiday Lights Displays
One of the magical things about the holiday season are the lights. Parents feel nostalgia as they recall trimming the Christmas tree as a child and even hyper kids are stopped in their tracks by all the twinkly goodness. With the sun setting around 5:30, it’s even possible to see some displays before bedtime. Unlike performances and special events, where kids need to be nicely dressed, well-fed and behaved, lights can be enjoyed either from the comfort of your own car or outdoors. Lastly, while you may have already busted the budget shopping for gifts for your crew, you can enjoy many lights displays for free or at a low cost.
So, where are the great lights displays in Central Texas?
- The Domain – 11410 Century Oaks Terrace. The tree in front of Macy’s is lit, and you can take in holiday movies on Fridays and Saturdays through December 17th on the Plaza in the Domain II, starting at 6pm. Holiday carriages run on Fridays and Saturdays through December 23rd from 5:30-9:30pm.
- Willis Littlefield’s house – 1611 West 12th Street in Clarksville. Willis has animatronic Santas galore and welcomes kids to interact with his display (and he insists you take a candy cane!)
- Mozart’s Coffee Roasters – 3825 Lake Austin Blvd. You can check out the video to get a preview of this 10-minute long light show, which takes place on the hour from 6pm-midnight until 12/31.
- Calle Limon – Off of Airport, near Bolm Road, this street is teeming with with lights. Named Best Holiday Light Trail in the Chronicle’s Best of Austin 2011, Calle Limon is one I had forgotten about this until reader Cynthia reminded me (thanks, Cynthia!) Check out this video to get a preview.
- Zilker Christmas tree - Take one spin under the tree and you’ll make this a family tradition. Lit from 6pm-midnight until 12/31.
- Pete’s Trail of Lights – 10708 Rigsbee Ct. (Circle C). Lights will be up, weather permitting (check blog), through New Year’s from 6-11pm Fridays and Saturdays and 6-10pm the rest of the week.
Yes, I left the 37th Street lights off this list. Having grown up in Austin to see the display in its full glory, the lights just aren’t what they used to be. I do see they have a “stuffed animal petting zoo” which looks cute. Feel free to go, but keep in mind that the ringleaders moved years ago and so keep your expectations in check.
- River of Lights – West of Main Street & Pine Streets on the Colorado River. Created in 2002 by the Bastrop Chamber of Commerce, this walk features 120 lighted displays and music.
- Buda Trail of Lights – See Christmas themes illuminated by lights along a .6 mile trail in Historic Stagecoach Park, 880 Main Street. Takes place dusk-1pm from December 14-21st. Shuttle parking at Cabela’s. Handicapped accessible.
- Chianti Court – Just off Sun Chase in the Ranch at Cypress Creek (park on Sun Chase so you can walk down Chianti). Donate to Williamson County’s Brown Santa program and buy hot chocolate to raise funds for the organization.
- Williamson County Courthouse on the Square – More than 10,000 lights will adorn the building and trees in the historic town center until 12/31.
- Schmidt home – 7110 Pebble Creek Dr. You can check out this video to see the “hip hop Christmas remix”. Lights are on from 5:30-11pm until the first weekend of 2012. The family also takes donations for a local charity, the Georgetown Project.
- Lights Spectacular, Hill Country Style – The Blanco County Courthouse, one mile north of Johnson City, is decorated with 100,000 lights. You can book a hayride for a fee. Lights are on Friday and Saturdays from 6-11pm and 6-10pm other nights of the week. The displays will be on all night on Christmas Eve and the lights will go on through January 1, 2012.
- Starry, Starry Nights - Badu Park. Enjoy lights along the river. Walk through the lighted archway to being the trail which ends with Santa.
- Christmas Walkway of Lights – Lakeside Park, 305 Buena Vista. This self-guided winter wonderland boasts over two million bulbs and is free to the public, but donations are cheerfully accepted. The lights will be on from 6-10 pm through January 1, 2012. Santa will be on hand during the weekends.
- Santa’s Ranch – 9561 I-35 North. $22 per vehicle. Drive through nearly a mile of spectacular holiday scenes with over 1 million lights & over 100 displays & animations.
- Lanicek home – 2207 Klattenhoff Drive. This year’s display has over 20 minutes of music and movie clips. There are over 11,000 lights daily from 6-10pm. Consider bringing a donation of non-perishable food for the St. Lous Food Pantry. Check out this video of the display.
- Texas Baptist Children’s Trail of Lights – 1101 North Mays. Cottages will be decorated for the season and a large tree will be lit throughout the holiday season.
- Spindler home – 1805 Rusty Nail Loop – Tune in to 88.5 FM to enjoy this lights show, which is on every day from 6-10pm. See the video here.
- Trail of Lights – More than 100 local businesses, community groups and families make displays for this 8-acre walking trail. Live entertainment, visits from Santa and Mrs. Claus, the Jingle Bell Express ($2 per ride) and other events will take place throughout the holiday season. Complimentary hot chocolate will be served and water will be available for sale. Donations of gently used books will be accepted at the Literacy Volunteers of America exhibit for distribution to children. Trail is open until December 31st on 6-10pm Fridays and Saturdays and 6-9pm the rest of the week. Admission is free but donations for the electric bill are accepted. Additional parking is available at Wimberley High School and Danforth Jr. High – both located on Carney Lane. A lighted path connects the lower high school lot to the EmilyAnn. Parking at the high school is highly recommended on busy nights. Alcohol, dogs, and firearms are NOT permitted at the Trail of Lights.
What’s your favorite lights display? Do you have a house that’s all decked out that we should check out?
Written by: Nicole Basham