Tucked away on a woodsy country road in Wimberley, the EmilyAnn Theatre and Gardens Trail of Lights is a Hill Country holiday masterpiece waiting to be discovered. My children and I have enjoyed this gem for years and it’s always a favorite. While the trail has grown tremendously in the past 16 years, it still hasn’t lost its down-home charm.
The event and parking are always free and there is plenty of overflow parking at the nearby Wimberley High School. The trail sprawls six acres and is cleverly decorated by community volunteers, individuals, and local businesses vying for 1st place bragging rights in the design competition. While there are plenty of traditional Christmas themed installations, there are also more creative ones such as life-size dinosaurs, hand-painted giant cowboy boots, and a mannequin rock band complete with a stage and instruments.
A popular attraction on the trail is Ye Olde Yule Log. The fire is large enough for both old and new friends to gather around, yet small enough for everyone to feel the cozy warmth of a crackling fire. The friendly volunteer staff offers free hot chocolate for all and, for a small fee, you can roast your own hot dogs and s’mores. While you are enjoying your fireside treats, be sure to catch the nightly entertainment on the Theatre stage. Enjoy local musicians, dance troupes, character visits, and choir performances from area church groups. For a complete list, visit the schedule here.
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Another can’t miss highlight of the trip is visiting Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus on the weekends (see the schedule), or stopping by Santa’s mail room while they’re away at the North Pole. When Mr. and Mrs. Claus are at their rocking chairs, children are welcome to join them on the porch, sit on their lap, and share their holiday wishes. Parents are encouraged to take pictures and the little ones are sent on their way with a candy cane to sweeten their night. On the nights Santa isn’t available, children can write letters to him in the mail room and drop them in the mail box for immediate delivery.
Overall, I think the most magical part of the Wimberley Trail of Lights is the overwhelming sense of community that shines through the entire event. This includes the local businesses who honed their carpentry skills to create extra-special holiday decorations for all to enjoy, the volunteers who offer up piping hot chocolate for families to sip around the fire, and the local establishments such as the Wimberley Village Library who offer free books for the children to take home.
With all the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping madness and the pressure to out-do last year’s Christmas feast, it’s a nice change of pace to wander through the natural beauty of a twinkling and serene hill country trail while enjoying the little things like the warmth of a fire, the joy of seeing Santa Claus, and the excitement in a child’s eyes as they gaze in awe at the thousands of lights before them. These little things are a tradition I look forward to every year at the EmilyAnn Theatre Trail of Lights. If you enjoy them as well, please consider leaving a donation on your way out to help ensure this event will continue for years to come.
The Trail of Lights runs every evening November 26 through December 29, 2016. It is open from 6-9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 6-10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Admission is free, but donations are greatly appreciated.
For more information, visit the EmilyAnn Theatre & Gardens website.
The EmilyAnn Theatre & Gardens
1101 FM 2325
Wimberley, Texas 78676