Austin's Trail of Lights turns on for the holidays



Posted on December 8, 2013 at 6:47 PM

Updated Monday, Dec 9 at 9:20 AM

AUSTIN -- The annual Austin Trail of Lights flipped the switch to "on" for the 2013 season on Sunday.

The event is free, but a recent change to parking accommodations means that trail attendees must pay in advance to park near Zilker Park. The parking passes can be bought online here and cost $15 per vehicle. There are also ZIP tickets available, which allow ticketholders to skip the line.

"I really like it. It's really fun," said attendee Julia Remeny. "But we parked far away and just walked. We didn't bear the parking pass and waiting in line."

Janelle Ronquillo and her family said they didn't mind the walk to Zilker Park.

"It was actually great to be able to see it, walking from the distance," Ronquillo said. "Then, when you walk in, and you see this huge tunnel of lights.

Sunday's opening ceremony started at 6 p.m., then the lights turned on at 7 p.m. The trail was open from 7 to 10 p.m. on Sunday.

Families made their way through the famous entrance, taking pictures. However, as the Ronquillo family soon found out, dogs aren't allowed at the Trail of Lights.

The trail had food trailers and live music, with musician Seth Walker performing at 9 p.m. Sunday.

James Russel, the executive director of the Trail of Lights, listed a few other options to get to the trail aside from driving.

"We've expanded our shuttle locations as well," Russell said. "We are using Waterloo Park and the state garages around Waterloo Park. We'll be using [Berger] on the weekends. Our Republic Square [shuttle] as usual, and Craig Field as usual."

Russel said Trail of Lights executives changed the transportation plan to prevent the backup and traffic onto Mopac as seen in previous years.

Last year was the first year the Trail of Lights returned after a two-year hiatus. In years past, only 250 people showed up over the entire period. In 2012, the Trail of Lights saw $450,000 attendees, causing lines. That's why they had to make some changes.

The Trail of Lights lasts through Dec. 22.