A towering Christmas tree will light up Zilker Park for the 47th time on Sunday, officially ringing in a series of holiday events at the park.
The Zilker Holiday Tree’s lighting begins at 5:30 p.m. with prelude music by the Austin Civic Wind Ensemble and holiday classics sung by the children of the Barton Hills Choir.
At 6 p.m., two winners of the 2013 Zilker Holiday Art Contest — Hana Hassibi, 7, and Helena Wiese, 10 — will light the 155-foot-tall tree.
The tree is built around one of the city’s iconic Moonlight Towers and is made up of more than 3,000 25-watt bulbs strung across 39 streamers. At the top sits a double star 10 feet across. At its base, the tree is 120 feet wide, according to the Austin Parks and Recreation Department.
The tree will remain lit from 6 p.m. to midnight through Dec. 31.
On Friday, the Trail of Lights, a series of holiday-themed light displays at the park, will begin with a tickets-only preview party featuring live music, free refreshments and food vendors. A Trail of Lights 5K and family mile is planned for Dec. 7.
It will be open to the public Dec. 8. and will run through Dec. 22.
The trail is a roughly 1-mile path of holiday lighting displays that has been an Austin tradition since the 1960s.
It is being put on this year by a newly-formed nonprofit, the Trail of Lights Foundation, which will raise money for and manage all aspects of the event, which cost about $1.2 million last year and drew 400,000 people over eight nights.
For more information, go to www.austintrailoflights.org.
Parking during Sunday tree lighting is free and on-site. However, motorists will no longer be allowed to wait and pay for parking at Zilker Park from Dec. 6 to Dec. 21 during Trail of Lights. All parking then must be pre-arranged through austintrailoflights.org.
Attendees of the tree lighting will have little to fear from Mother Nature. The National Weather Service has forecast partly cloudy conditions Sunday with a high of 70 and low of 53.