Here’s another way Austin isn’t like other cities: Our holiday tree is not a chopped down conifer or other living thing sacrificed to the winter gods. It’s a moonlight tower.
Yes, it’s gussied up with lights, spreading out in a conical shape, with a star on top. But underneath (yes, people can—and do—go underneath, in droves, and spin around until they are in altered states), it’s still a moonlight tower—one of those gorgeous, nutty, metal towers that Austin bought from Detroit in the 1890s to make our streets glow at night with the light of 30 or so (artificial) moons.
Austin’s holiday tree is in Zilker Park and is accompanied by our downright amazing road down the dazzling memory lane known as the Trail of Lights, a 52-year-old tradition that’s both commercial (in a local way) and eternally charming.
The tree and trail are technically separate installation,s but they’re adjacent and both part of the overall experience. The Trail of Lights continues to gain popularity and add events, so it’s a good idea to obtain tickets and check the trail calendar before attending (general admission is free 7-10pm on seven nights between Dec. 10 and Dec. 23 and $3 during those hours on other nights, but folks can also pay for quick or less crowded access in variety of ways).