With Hanukkah beginning this week and the countdown to Christmas in full swing, neighborhoods around the nation have holiday lights galore. But, we all know that everything’s bigger in Texas, and holiday displays are no exception. In fact, during the holidays, the statewide average electricity bill in Texas is $127.10, which is the ninth highest in the nation, according to USA Today. Although most holiday displays tend to be focused on Christmas, looking around at the lights is a great, low-cost way to experience the wonder of winter without the extra impact to your electricity bill. Check out our list of the biggest and best free holiday light displays from around the state.
With over 50 years of bringing holiday joy to Austin, the Trail of Lights is a city tradition. Located in Zilker Park, visitors have the opportunity to experience over 40 different displays that use over two million lights. In addition to the lights, visitors can snag a quick bite to eat from some of Austin’s famous food trucks, enjoy live music or take a ride on the ferris wheel or carousel. However, not all nights are free so be sure to check out the ticket calendar for the free and discounted dates. The Trail of Lights Foundation is also hosting a food drive during the event with a goal to collect 25,000 meals for the Central Texas Food Bank. If you’re willing and able, consider bringing one of these items with you.
Head over to the Amarillo Botanical Gardens between now and December 23rd for a peaceful walk through the gardens, which are lit up with over 200,000 lights. The tropical conservatory is always warm, and there will be additional entertainment and activities every night. The gardens are only open Thursday through Sunday from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., so be sure to plan accordingly. While admission is free, donations are being collected to help support the Amarillo Botanical Gardens. Can’t make it to the botanical gardens? There are lots of other light displays around town you can check out instead.
Although there are plenty of places to see lights in the DFW area, the Vitruvian Lights make the top of the list. With over 550 trees wrapped in LED lights, the free display in Addison is a wonderful sight to behold. The walk-through display surrounds the man-made lake at Vitruvian Park, and other activities at the park include food trucks, free photos with Santa and a holiday shopping village. The park is open from 5:30 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. from now through January 1, and parking is available for free onsite.
Additionally, according to USA Today, the DFW area is home to the neighborhood with most outrageous holiday lights in Texas. Located in at Randol Mill and Westwood Drive, this Arlington neighborhood has over 11,000 homes you can drive through to see lights. The drive is completely free, but be careful driving through the neighborhood.
Located off Tomball Parkway, the residents in the Prestonwood Forest neighborhood are in year 40 of their holiday display extravaganza. This massive display of lights started off with one block decorating their homes extravagantly and has become a neighborhood-wide competition that includes 768 homes, according to ABC 13. Although the official judges panel made their tour on December 9th, residents and touring guests have until the end of December to vote online for their favorite home for “People’s Choice Award”. Driving through the neighborhood is free, and visitors can view a neighborhood map on the Prestonwood Forest website.
With over 300,000 lights, Starbright Village in McKinney Park is a grand display of holiday spirit. Visitors have the option to walk or drive through the park, which makes the lights accessible for visitors of all ages and abilities. The lights are on and the park is open nightly from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. through January 1. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated and are put toward next year’s light setup.
While most people know they can see a wonderful light display at the San Antonio Riverwalk, it’s not the only place near the Alamo City with awesome displays. The University of the Incarnate Word puts on a massive, dog-friendly display on campus called Light The Way. With over a million lights on display, campus truly becomes a winter wonderland. While the main event happened in November, the lights are still on and will stay on until January 6th. and the exhibit is dog-friendly. There is free parking on campus, as well as overflow parking on the AT&T lot across the street.
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