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Cave Caroling

Immerse yourself in the underground music scene at Longhorn Cavern.

By Sheryl Smith-Rodgers

Imagine that you’re deep within Longhorn Cavern. On cue, lights illuminating the cave’s formations flicker out, and darkness blots out the faces of those next to you. Then, one by one, everyone lights a handheld candle, filling the underground room with soft light.

The poignant moment is part of Caroling in the Cave, a series of three holiday celebrations at Longhorn Cavern State Park this month.

“It always sends chills up and down my spine,” says Linda Dyke, a Burnet school teacher who attends each season. “It’s an instant of total darkness that’s very meaningful to me. Because that’s what Christmas is about — God sending light into the world.”

Awesome, too, says operations manager Kaye Barlow, are the cavern’s magnificent acoustics, which enhance concerts and sing-a-longs to an “astounding” degree. She should know: Barlow, who’s also a professional singer and songwriter, has sung in the cave numerous times. As part of Caroling in the Cave, she’ll perform Dec. 19. Other featured musicians include Butch Morgan of San Antonio (Dec. 15) and the Flyin’ A’s from Austin (Dec. 22).

Besides music, fun’s on the agenda, too. Each evening, Caroling in the Cave starts with games and refreshments “topside” at park headquarters. Try your hand at Christmas bingo or Christmas carol trivia. Then join everyone as they carol down to the cavern for a concert and sing-a-long.

Afterward, park staff — sporting goofy reindeer antlers — host more games and refreshments back upstairs. Door prizes include tickets to the cavern, cavern concerts and even rides on the Vanishing Texas River Cruise. The evening concludes by the headquarters’ rock fireplace, where staff read two Christmas stories.

If the holiday celebrations leave you yearning for more, you’ll be glad to know that Longhorn Cavern hosts monthly concerts. A buffet-style dinner is also available.

Longhorn Cavern State Park is located 6 miles west and 6 miles south of Burnet on Park Road 4 off U.S. 281. For more information, call (877) 441-2283 or (512) 756-4680. Visit <www.tpwd.state.tx.us/longhorncavern> or <www.longhorncaverns.com>.

Caroling in the Cave starts at 5:15 p.m. Tickets: adults, $17; seniors 60-plus, teens 13-19, active military, $16; children 2-12, $12. Reservations required. Shoes/socks recommended. Chairs provided. If you like, bring a blanket or light jacket, flashlight, and ice chest with drinks (no food allowed).

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