Hill Country Holidays

Traveler alert: The very best holiday light displays in San Antonio, Austin and Central Texas

Best holiday light displays in San Antonio, Austin & Central Texas

San Antonio River Walk Christmas Lights
The River Walk is a must-see during the holidays. San Antonio River Walk/Facebook
Marble Falls Walkway of Lights Christmas holiday display
Walkway of Lights at Marble Falls is one of the breathtaking displays in Central Texas. Walkway of Lights/Facebook
San Antonio Zoo Zoo Lights Christmas holiday display smores
New this year are the Zoo Lights nights at San Antonio Zoo. San Antonio Zoo/Facebook
San Antonio Christmas Light Fest Don Strange Ranch Santa train
Travel a little out of town and enjoy the San Antonio Christmas Light Fest. San Antonio Christmas Light Fest at the Don Strange Ranch/Facebook
San Antonio River Walk Christmas Lights
Marble Falls Walkway of Lights Christmas holiday display
San Antonio Zoo Zoo Lights Christmas holiday display smores
San Antonio Christmas Light Fest Don Strange Ranch Santa train

Traveling to San Antonio, Austin or other parts of Central Texas? Visit one (or all) of these spectacular holiday light displays that are are sure to get you into the Christmas spirit.

San Antonio
River Walk: Though the Holiday River Parade has already passed, visitors can still enjoy the downtown River Walk, which is transformed into a wondrous winter wonderland. Visitors can take a nighttime boat down the river and enjoy the spectacle of almost 2 million lights. On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights until December 20, visitors can also see the illuminating beauty of the Fiesta de las Luminarias, where over 6,000 glowing luminarias line the bank of the river at dusk. To add further Christmas cheer, the Ford Holiday Boat Caroling takes place each night on decorated barges from 6:15 to 8:30 pm.
Admission is free

Christmas Light Fest: This drive-thru display at Don Strange Ranch features over 2 million lights, and is a mere 20 minutes from La Cantera in San Antonio. Visitors can take hay rides, partake in holiday shopping at Santa's Village, and relish holiday favorites like s'mores and hot chocolate. On weekends, the ranch offers even more holiday fun: Families can meet and take pictures with Santa, enjoy wider holiday dining options (as well as a full bar for adults), and see live holiday performances.
Runs through December 27; $27 per vehicle, or $5 when purchased from Walgreens

Six Flags Fiesta TexasCombine all the fun and thrills of a theme park with the Christmas spirit during Holiday in the Park at Fiesta Texas. All the park rides remain open as visitors take in the festive decorations (complete with a 60-foot Christmas tree) and over 1 million brilliant, sparkling lights.
Cost: $49.99 in advance; $64.99 at the gate

Windcrest Light-upAlmost 80 residents of the Windcrest neighborhood have entered the 56th annual Windcrest Light-up. With categories such as best cul-de-sac, most creative lighting, and best elegant creation, the neighborhood provides stunning sights.
Admission is free

San Antonio Zoo: This is the inaugural year of the San Antonio Zoo Lights. The zoo has extended hours until 10 pm, which allows guests to see the zoo transformed — complete with snow flurries, soundscapes, and animal light sculptures. Each area of the zoo has a quirky new theme like Zooltide Celebration and Zoominaria. This unique nighttime zoo experience is bound to become a San Antonio holiday tradition.
Runs through January 3; $12.25 per person

Once you've seen all that the Alamo City has to offer, venture out to one of these Hill Country holiday destinations and prepare to be dazzled.

Austin
37th StreetThe residents of 37th Street in Hyde Park take Christmas decorations and lights to a whole new level. Not to be confused with traditional, residential Christmas lights, the houses on 37th Street find a way to hang lights everywhere. Since these displays depend entirely on the residents, some years are a bigger extravaganza than others. However, visitors would be amiss not checking out these lights at least once.
Admission is free

Mozart's Coffee RoastersMozart's will host its annual Christmas lights show every night. The thousands of multicolored decorations twinkling on their outdoor deck that overlooks Lake Austin is a sight to be seen. There is a show every hour from 6 to 11 pm.
Runs through January 10; admission is free

Trail of LightsThe Trail of Lights is part fair, part Christmas spectacle, and 100 percent an Austin tradition. Visitors enter Zilker Park under a literal canopy of dazzling lights and are instantly captivated. Over 2 million lights light up the park grounds and there are tons of activities from an interactive kid's zone to live music and full bars to the neon-lit Ferris Wheel and carousel. At its center is the Zilker Holiday Tree. It is a time-honored tradition to spin underneath the tree. And of course, it would not be a true Austin event unless dozens of delicious food trucks and vendors were also present.
Admission is $3 through December 22

Belton
Every year, the Belton Lake Outdoor Recreation Area hosts Nature in Lights. This drive-thru Christmas event is almost 6 miles long and features over 120 displays. A favorite is the 500-foot tunnel of lights. Visitors can also see the lights by riding the train at "Gingerbread Junction." Towards the end of the trail, guests can stop at Santa's Village to purchase holiday treats and take pictures with St. Nick himself.
Runs through January 3; $8 per vehicle

Buda
Just a few miles outside of Austin, Buda hosts its Trail of Lights at the Historic Stagecoach Park. A smaller, more intimate affair than its Austin counterpart, Buda's Trail of Lights features charming Christmas displays and lights. Each night there is live entertainment, a campfire, and concessions.
December 17 – 20; admission is free

Burnet
Visitors can follow thousands of charming lights through Wallace Riddell Park, the Burnet Historic Square, and Hamilton Creek Park during the Burnet Christmas Trail of Lights. The town square is the focal point of this city's Christmas display, where the courthouse is draped in glittering white lights.
Runs through December 31; admission is free

Fredericksburg
Fredericksburg is known year-round for its great novelty and antique shopping, and the holiday season is no exception. This town celebrates its German heritage, and during Christmastime, the Marktplatz holds both a 30-foot Christmas tree and a traditional 26-foot German Christmas pyramid. Visitors can revel in the holiday splendor while shopping along Main Street, which is covered in thousands of splendid Christmas lights. The outdoor ice-skating rink, Eisbahn, is also a great place to enjoy the holiday spectacle.
Admission is free

Giddings
Camp Tejas' Light of Tejas prides itself on its sensational 2 million light display and indoor light show. The theme at this camp has a religious focus, and highlights include the multicolored Christmas tree forest and the huge light tunnel. Additionally, the camp offers hay rides, concession stands, zip lines, bounce houses, and "Texas sledding." There is also a fireworks show every night at 9 pm.
Runs through December 19; $7 per person

Goldthwaite
Nestled less than two hours away from Austin is the small charming town of Goldthwaite. During the holiday season, it lights up its courthouse, surrounding downtown area, and city park in thousands of Christmas lights. Visitors can have a relaxing, quiet evening and enjoy the various drive-thru Christmas displays throughout the town.
Admission is free

Johnson City
Over 2 million lights envelop Johnson City come Christmastime — the Blanco County Courthouse alone features over 100,000 lights. Pedernales Electric Cooperative hangs over 1 million lights on an entire block of trees, which creates a magical, twinkling forest. For more youthful displays, Memorial Park plays host to famous Christmas characters such as Santa's reindeer and Frosty the Snowman. Carriages run each night to take visitors through the city.
Admission is free

Llano
This city hosts its Starry Starry Nights display through New Year's Eve. Llano's display is one of the most colorful in Central Texas, with thousands of multicolored lights strung all along the Llano River and through the Badu Park. A Santa and Cookie Room is open from 6 to 8 pm on Friday and Saturday nights.
Runs through December 31; admission is free

Marble Falls
Hands down, Marble Falls hosts one of the most breathtaking (and famous) Christmas displays in Texas: Walkway of Lights. Over 2 million lights and 230 sculptures create this majestic experience along Lake Marble Falls. Thousands of visitors come marvel at the Walkway of Lights and enjoy shopping along downtown's Main Street. To make that trip a little easier, the Chamber of Commerce offers nightly hay rides between Main Street and the Walkway of Lights.
Runs through January 3; admission is free

New Braunfels
Historic Downtown New Braunfels is covered in Christmas lights. The courthouse is draped in glimmering white lights while Main Plaza is equally decorated and holds a magnificent Christmas tree. Elsewhere in New Braunfels, the Santa's Ranch drive-thru display features almost 2 miles of Christmas lights, complemented by hot cocoa and kettle corn.
Admission to Historic Downtown is free; Santa's Ranch is $28 per vehicle

Round Mountain
Though this town has a population of barely 200 people, it has been a longtime participant in the Hill Country Christmas Trail. The town is right between Johnson City and Marble Falls, which makes it an easy stop for anyone driving between the two bigger Christmas displays. Round Mountain's famous pioneer history comes alive during Christmastime when the city decorates its historic buildings with hundreds of lights.
Admission is free

Round Rock
The Rock 'n' Lights Holiday Light Tour and Christmas Towne is a drive-thru spectacle that gets bigger and brighter every year. Drive down the almost 2-mile path and see over 1 million twinkling lights in Old Settlers Park. At the end of the trail lies Christmas Towne, which features holiday treats, carnival rides, games, and more.
Runs through December 26; $15 per vehicle

Wimberley
Until the day after Christmas, thousands of visitors stroll along a path to view the eye-catching lights of Wimberley's Trail of Lights at the EmilyAnn Theatre. This Christmas attraction is truly a community effort. Each year, community organizations, businesses, and schools create more than 100 spectacular displays. The Trail of Lights also features a Yule log burning every night, weather permitting.
Runs through December 29; admission is free