San Antonio River Walk holiday lights will turn on early again this year

100,000 lights will illuminate San Antonio River Walk starting Nov. 12

SAN ANTONIO – The famous San Antonio River Walk holiday lights will make an early return for the 2021 season.

This year the 100,000 holiday lights that illuminate the River Walk during the holidays will be turned on Nov. 12.

Traditionally, the lights are turned on the day after Thanksgiving at the Ford Holiday River Parade, but they were also illuminated early last year as a way to spread some holiday cheer during a year mired in the COVID-19 pandemic.

San Antonio River Walk spokesperson Maggie Thompson told KSAT that the official lighting ceremony will still take place during the parade on Nov. 26.

The tradition of lighting the River Walk for the holidays started in 1974.

There are more than 2,250 strings with 100,000 lights that line the River Walk each year for the holidays.

River Walk officials previously told KSAT that a husband and wife team prepare the lights starting in July and typically deliver them to the city by mid-September.

They test each light strand, replace bulbs as needed and then prep the strands for “throwing” in the trees.

Then the city hires contractors to climb the trees and hang each light strand. Climbers ascend each tree as high up in the center of the canopy as possible before throwing the rolled-up light strands over the tree canopy.

Climbers are on a two-way radio with a ground person, who lines the climber up for each light strand so the strands are spaced out as evenly as possible along the outside of the trees.

So why don’t the lights just stay up year-round? Squirrels. 🐿️

Apparently, Christmas light wire is a delicacy for the tree rodents.

The lights will be officially turned off after the holiday season on Jan. 10.