7 Christmas Light Displays to Ooh and Ahh About
Prepare to be dazzled by these magnificent Christmas light displays in Austin...
Rock N' Lights Holiday Tour elves busy at work, Dec 18, 2013. Rebecca Bennett.
'Tis the season for all things lovely and bright—and that means Christmas lights. It's time to clamber up onto ladders and deck every roof and tree and fence and yard decoration across the city with colorful holiday cheer.
Whether you need a little extra motivation or inspiration to hang your own lights or you're just looking for some awesome lights to enjoy with your loved ones, be sure to check out these seven dazzling Christmas light displays throughout the greater Austin area:
7. Capitol Christmas Tree
The Capitol tree lit up at night. Flickr Creative Commons.
Standing 45 feet tall—five feet taller than the Macy's Great Tree at The Domain—and lit with 137,000 LED lights, the Christmas tree in front of the Capitol building on 11th and Congress is a sight to behold.
The beautiful tree is programmed with a light show set to local music, playing at the top and bottom of every hour from 10:00 am until 10:30 pm Sunday through Wednesday, until 11:00 pm on Thursday, and until 12:00 am on Friday and Saturday.
6. Mount Bonnell
Folks gaze at the city skyline from Mt. Bonnell as the sun sets. Flickr Creative Commons.
If you're an adventurous type seeking to avoid large crowds, try climbing Mt. Bonnell after dark. While you're unlikely to find lights decorating Mt. Bonnell itself, the peak's prime view of Austin should afford a quiet, twinkling overview of the city's Christmas lights.
Mt. Bonnell is free and open until 10:00 pm every day. Just be prepared to trek up one heck of a flight of stairs to get to the peak!
5. 37th Street Christmas Lights
"The Heritage of Obama" display on 37th Street in 2008. Flickr Creative Commons.
There's no telling what you'll find on 37th Street. Up until relatively recently, 37th had a reputation for being one of the most elaborately and uniquely decorated neighborhoods in Texas—and by "unique," you know what we really mean: weird.
Lights strung across the street, adorning every tree, curb, car, mail box, and stop sign. Disco lights. A life-size Monopoly board pathway. A family of flamingos peering into a basket to see baby flamingo Jesus. Obama as baby Jesus.
In recent years, many long-time residents have moved from the neighborhood, leaving the lights show a little flat, but a good number of residents still decorate and the result is always entertaining at the very least.
For another display that exemplifies Austin's characteristic weirdness, head over to Willis Littlefield's home in Clarksville at 1611 West 12th Street.
4. Mozart's Holiday Light Show
Watch this video for a sneak peek of this year's holiday light show at Mozart's.
"There's no such thing as too many Christmas lights," says Mozart's Coffee Roasters, in reference to their spectacular 12-minute music and light show, which plays at the top of each hour from 6:00 pm to midnight every night (except Christmas Day) through January 5.
The light show features traditional Austin landmarks such as the Congress Bridge bats, notable buildings from the Austin skyline, the Capitol building, and more, all synched to popular holiday songs, including songs from the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
Mozart's is located at 3826 Lake Austin Blvd in Austin. Make sure to grab a cup of the coffee shop's delicious specialty coffee or hot chocolate before the show.
3. Rhodes Family Christmas
Spectators chat with Frank Rhodes and admire his epic handiwork, Dec 18, 2013. Rebecca Bennett.
Located in Cedar Park, the Rhodes family was selected to compete against 19 other families from across the nation in ABC's "Great Christmas Light Fight" this year. Sporting 100,000 Christmas lights synced to music at 95.9 and 89.9 FM, Frank Rhodes spends more than 200 hours—two weeks of vacation time—setting up the display each year.
You can find the house at 2401 Sharon Drive in Cedar Park. The show runs until January 1 from 5:45 to 10:00 pm on weekdays and until 10:30 pm on weekends. It's free, but the family requests monetary or non-perishable donations to the Cedar Park Food Bank; put 'em in the red box next to the large Christmas tree.
2. Rock N' Lights Holiday Tour
Two kids enjoy the Rock N' Lights tunnel from their vehicle's sunroof, Dec 18, 2013. Rebecca Bennett.
With a whopping 2 million lights, Rock N' Lights Holiday Tour is the largest Christmas display in the greater Austin area. Round Rock's Old Settlers Park has been transformed into a 1.5-mile, drive-thru Christmas wonderland featuring a light tunnel, decorated arches, and hundreds of wire frame objects outlined with lights and arranged artfully along the roadway.
The drive-thru is open until December 31 from 6:00 to 9:00 pm. At $15 per vehicle, it's a little pricey for a solo run, but add a few friends or family members to your backseat and the event becomes much more cost effective. Enter via Old Settlers Blvd and Harrell Parkway, not highway 79.
Also in Round Rock, the Jones family has prepared a 25,000-light show at 1005 Tom Seaver Place. Tune in to 100.5 FM and enjoy!
1. Austin Trail of Lights
The Trail of Lights' primary light tunnel provides a festive photo op. Rebecca Bennett.
After a two year break, the 1.25-mile Austin Trail of Lights in Zilker Park is back and grander than ever. In addition to well-adorned trees and light tunnels, the event boasts more than 50 sponsored light displays and large sculptures of everything from Santa riding a spaceship to Beauty and the Beast and Charlie Brown.
There are food vendors galore, a live stage, and yes, even Santa himself. The event runs from 7:00 to 10:00 pm every night until December 22—and it's totally free.
The only downside is parking. You'll have to park elsewhere and make a long trek to Zilker to enjoy this massive display, but it's definitely worth it. Make sure to try some of Ms P's delicious Mexican Hot Chocolate if you're feeling chilled.
From all of us here at Austin.com, have a safe and very merry Christmas!
Know of another awesome Christmas lights display that we didn't mention here? Let us know in the comments!