Every winter, thousands of visitors flock to Johnson City to see its incredible light display. This small town in central Texas shines bright every night from late November through early January as the heart of the town is decked out in millions of lights.
With concerts, carriage rides, local attractions, and oh-so-many lights, there is a lot to see on a visit to this Hill Country gem. Here’s what to know if you’re heading to see the Johnson City lights display.
Festivities start the day after Thanksgiving
Johnson City wastes no time in getting to the holiday festivities. Before most people have even finished their Thanksgiving leftovers, the city is ready to flip the switch on the light displays.
The Friday after Thanksgiving marks the start of the Johnson City Lights Spectacular. At 5:30 pm, visitors and locals gather at the Blanco County Courthouse just off Main Street for a fun evening. The event begins with a local choir singing Christmas carols before a countdown to turning on the lights. Everything is capped off by fireworks that can be seen for miles around the Hill Country.
Lights are concentrated in two main areas
There are two separate areas full of lights to see.
The Blanco County Courthouse and the surrounding area are fully decorated for the season. The Courthouse itself is dripping in lights, and there are reindeer, sleighs, and other light sculptures to see on the courthouse grounds.
On the streets immediately surrounding the courthouse, local businesses and homes go all-out. Not only will visitors find colorful lights, but there are also Nutcracker statues, lit up presents, and scenes tailor-made for Instagram.
A few blocks away, the Pedernales Electric Cooperative (PEC) headquarters is a sight to behold. The trees are the attraction here. Every inch of them seems to gleam all the way to the top.
The number of lights is breathtaking
The Courthouse is covered in strings of over 100,000 lights, and the nearby displays surely double that number. But it’s the PEC headquarters that is truly stunning. From the base of the trunk to the top of the smallest branches, the trees glow in over a million lights. There are even reports of the display being seen from space.
Carriage rides add to the atmosphere
Johnson City is compact, and it’s easy enough to walk or drive between the sites. But, for an even more romantic way to see the lights, horse drawn carriages ferry visitors through the streets.
With their own holiday lighting, the carriages are a sight themselves. They transport onlookers at a leisurely pace with ample stops for photos.
Lights are on late
Every night from November 25 through January 8, the lights are on until midnight, giving visitors ample opportunity to appreciate all the details with minimal crowds.
Local attractions get in on the fun
There are lots of other fun things to see in and around Johnson City during the holidays.
The town’s biggest attraction, the boyhood home of the 36th President of the United States Lyndon B. Johnson, is open for Christmas-themed tours by lamplight on weekends. The fascinating Science Mill also opens its doors for special exhibits and events for guests of all ages. There are also numerous concerts and Christmas pageants at local venues, including the First United Methodist Church.
Fifteen minutes away in Stonewall, there are other special events at LBJ State Park and Historical Site, the president’s former estate. Throughout the season, there is a live nativity and an appearance by Santa as well as caroling and a Christmas tree lighting ceremony. A bit further west in Fredericksburg, there is a nightly light display and ice-skating rink as well as lot of special Christmas events.