Austin lights up Zilker Park Holiday Tree

It's time to spread some Christmas cheer in Austin.

"The tradition of coming every year, it really is an Austin staple that has been something I hope never ends," said Llano Espinosa.

Going 57 years strong is Austin's annual Zilker Holiday Tree Lighting.

"It is a long time," said Jason Mourer, the sales and events manager for the Austin Park and Recreation Department. "Well, I think it's important because it's on a moon tower and people in Austin like really cool things."

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10-year-old Maya Nolan is this year's first place winner in the senior young artists' category.

The moontower in the center is part of the city's original lighting system.

Surrounding it are more than 3,300 bulbs.

"I'm just really really really excited because I've never seen it, and I've never done it," said Maya Nolan.

Every year, the winners of an art contest get to help flip the switch and officially welcome the holiday season to Austin.

Ten-year-old Maya Nolan is this year's first place winner in the senior young artists' category.

"My artwork has the Zilker tree with the park in the background, but of the Austin skyline with a crane," said Nolan.


More than fifty years after the first tree lighting, there's still a certain magic to it.

"I think I like the countdown as my favorite, personally, because everyone's just excited that energy is great before the lights go on," said Mourer. "If you just listen right as the lights turn on you can kind of hear everyone ‘oo’ and ‘ah.’ That really makes it special, and we know we've done a great thing for the city."

Perhaps the best way to experience the tree is to go in the center, look all the way up and take a spin.

"When you look at it up here, it's mesmerizing," said Francesca Laboy, who watched the lighting.

"It was actually designed by Austin Energy electricians, and they created the spiral pattern," said Mourer.

With a flip of a switch, Zilker Park becomes a little more merry and bright.

"There's colors and like the star goes bright, and the tree it looks like it's a real tree," said Ava Vefali, who attended the ceremony.