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Zilker holiday tree lights up Austin in virtual ceremony

The young winners of the parks department's annual art contest flipped the switch and turned on the lights on Sunday evening.

AUSTIN, Texas — It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas here in Austin!

The Zilker tree lighting ceremony took place on Sunday, Nov. 29, and like so many other events in 2020 went virtual this year. The tree holds more than 3,100 lights and is 155 feet tall.

The winners of the Parks and Recreation Department's annual art contest helped flip the switch and turn the lights on.

The event is an annual tradition going back to 1967 and our own Quita Culpepper was there, serving as MC for the event.

This year, the 39 string lights on the 155-foot-tall tree only contain LED bulbs, for a total of 3,159 red, yellow, green and blue bulbs.

The Zilker holiday tree is built around one of the original 31 moonlight towers in the city that helped provide Austin with its first urban lighting system in 1895. Now, only 17 moonlight towers remain in Austin, the only working ones in the world, according to the city.

The city will light the tree up every day beginning Nov. 29 through Jan. 1 from 6 p.m. to 12 a.m. Because of the pandemic, residents are asked to view the tree from their vehicles this year and not gather underneath it.

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