Things to Do

Zilker Tree Lighting Ushers In the Holiday Season in the Hill Country

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Tony Maples Photography


Every year in Austin, Zilker Park’s Moonlight Tower is transformed into the Zilker Tree using strings of bright and beautiful lights. This year, the tree’s lighting takes place on December 1, 2019, beginning at 5:30 p.m. with pre-event music. The lighting will happen at 6 p.m., followed by performances by the Austin Civic Wind Ensemble and the Barton Hills Choir!

Those wishing to see the moment the switch is flipped for the lighting of the Zilker Tree are asked to bring a toy to donate to Operation Blue Santa. This ceremony will mark the 53rd year of the Zilker Tree, officially ushering in the holiday season in this part of the Texas Hill Country.

Video: YouTube/Steve McIntosh

Shared on the Steve McIntosh YouTube channel, the video above shows an aerial view of the Zilker Tree using a drone. According to the web link for the tree at, it stands “…155 feet tall and is composed of 39 streamers, each holding 81 multicolored, 25-watt bulbs – totaling 3,309 lights.” In 2016, the lights were switched over to LED in order to save on energy. At the top of the Zilker Tree sits a 10-foot-tall, double-sided star. It’s sponsored by the Trail of Lights Foundation, and people from all over the Texas Hill Country and beyond can pay a visit to see the tree, take selfies with it, or carry on with the tradition of spinning beneath its lights. Every night, the tree will be illuminated, visitors are asked to visit the link provided here for the Trail of Lights schedule in order to view parking availability.

Is the Zilker tree lighting one of your favorite Hill Country Christmas traditions? What are your all-time, top Texas traditions for the holidays? We want to know! Be sure to send us a line and tell us all about your favorite Texas Christmas memories.