The Wildflower Center is a non-profit organization loosely affiliated with UT but not funded by the university. This lovely arboretum in south Austin is a perfect getaway all year round. Yet, this time of year, the annual light show (sans advertisement billboards or crass corporate displays) is the place to be for a good hour or so, as you can leisurely stroll two miles with your family and loved ones from out of town. I went with a good friend, and we got our steps in.

Luminations celebrate the four elements with dazzling and thoughtful light exhibits.

I enjoyed the phoenix-like sculpture, which looked like the statue’s wings were splayed open. A multi-colored sculpture of balls (metal? I’m not sure of the material) twisted, inverting itself in the wind.

There were PVC multi-lighted swings for children and adults alike whose colors changed like a Philips smart bulb. Walking along the dark black path, it was lit only by the exhibits spaced quite far apart and small square ground lights resembling paper bags. There are two cafes along the path, one at the center’s main entrance and the other about halfway through the walk. We spotted a Chinese food truck hidden near some bushes but didn’t stop.

The Wildflower Center is open Wednesdays – Sundays from Nov. 24, 2023 – Jan. 6, 2024* from 5:45 – 9 p.m. Closed Dec. 24, 25, 31 and Jan. 1

By Elise Krentzel

Elise Krentzel is the author of the bestselling memoir Under My Skin - Drama, Trauma & Rock 'n' Roll, a ghostwriter, book coach to professionals who want to write their memoir, how-to or management book or fiction, and contributing author to several travel books and series. Elise has written about art, food, culture, music, and travel in magazines and blogs worldwide for most of her life, and was formerly the Tokyo Bureau Chief of Billboard Magazine. For 25 years, she lived overseas in five countries and now calls Austin, TX, her home. Find her at, FB: @OfficiallyElise, Instagram: @elisekrentzel, LI: