AUSTIN (KXAN) — Some 20,000 people walked the Trail of Lights on Friday, gladly paying the new $3 gate fee now in effect for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Weeknights are still free, but the fee does apply on weekends for those 12 years and older. It was put in place as a way to defray some expenses and to try and spread those crowds out more evenly over the week.
There’s still lots to see in the trail’s 50th year. Forty displays, some new and some enhanced, lined Zilker Park. And folks didn’t seem to mind the minimal cost.
“It’s to pay for the lights and all the services they provide,” said Trennis Jones. “You have to pay for things if you like them.”
But what about the free weekday option?
“That’s true,” said Miguel Vincenze, “but the weekend is when we have time with the kids.”
Same with Nicki Cellington. “Oh boy, I’m a working mom, my husband works full-time and trying to get here on a weeknight is almost impossible.”
You get the gate fee pass in advance by going online or purchasing them at H-E-B. Shuttles leaving from several locations including the Burger Center and Republic Square Park are recommended for getting to and from the trail.
425,000 people visited the Trail of Lights last year, making it the most attended event in Austin, surpassing the Formula One race and South by Southwest.