It’s all about the lights—Christmas and Hannukah—and Wimberley’s Trail of Lights is shining for its 15th year.
The Trail of Lights is held on eight acres in the wooded hills at the EmilyAnn Theatre and Gardens. It’s a popular community event that wasn’t ever planned to be one.
When Ann Rolling, director of the EmilyAnn, is asked why it happened, she smiles and shakes her head. “I wish I had an answer.”
The original plan back in 1998 was just to have a lighted tree at the top of one of the most visible hills in the village. Norm, Ann’s husband, thought it would be a good idea to string up some lights around the 105-year-old flagpole at the top of the hill to make it look a little like the famed Zilker Park “tree” in Austin.
“We came out one night to check on the lights and we passed dozens of people with flashlights creating their own trail, walking up to see the tree closer,” Ann says. “We hadn’t intended it that way.”
The next year, Gary Pigg set up a display near the Betrothal Tree on the trail up the hill. It showed Mary and Joseph on their way to Bethlehem. That’s all it took for others in Wimberley to want to be a part of this new Trail of Lights.
Now visitors find eight acres bursting with more than 110 gaily lighted exhibits sponsored by individuals, organizations, businesses, churches, and schools.
“It’s amazing to witness the multi-generational presence out here, from babies to grandparents. It’s exciting to see and hear them all,” Ann says.
And the Trail is more than just lighted displays. It’s a place to make family holiday memories.
“You can go back to a time when families sat around a Yule Log and ate and sang and celebrated the holidays,” Ann explains.
Visitors gather at the Yule Log to roast hot dogs or marshmallows while sipping hot chocolate by the fire and listen to live entertainment on most nights.
Santa or Mrs. Santa will be on hand most nights and a special mailbox will collect letters to Santa. The Jingle Bell Express, a favorite with children, will run most nights.
New this year, Ann points out, will be weekend visits by several different princesses.
Be sure to stop by the Literacy Volunteers of America exhibit where the group and Half-Price Books of San Marcos will again offer free gently used books for children. Children are encouraged to bring books to donate as well.
The Trail of Lights is a walking path, but golf carts rides through the exhibits are available for those needing assistance.
Admission is free, but donations are happily accepted. Donations help pay the electric bill and help keep the EmilyAnn grounds open year-round. Parking is available onsite with additional parking available at adjacent Wimberley High School and Danforth Junior High, both located on Carney Lane. A lighted path connects the lower high school lot to the EmilyAnn.
Alcohol, dogs, and firearms are not permitted.
The Trail of Lights is open, weather permitting, through December 31 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
The EmilyAnn Theatre and Gardens is located at 1101 Ranch Road 2325 in Wimberley. For more information, call 512-847-6969 or visit the web site at emilyann.org.