Zoo to illuminate holidays with 1.5 million colorful lights

November 12, 2013 - 10:23am

ZooLights opens Nov. 29 with close to 1.5 million colorful lights

The Oregon Zoo invites visitors to brighten their holiday nights at ZooLights, where sparkling lights and brilliant hues transform the zoo into a winter wonderland. Presented by Toyota with support from The Boeing Company, the traditional holiday light show begins Friday, Nov. 29, and runs through Jan. 5 at the zoo.

This year's ZooLights promises a more immersive experience, with visitors moving in a continuous loop around the zoo through areas that haven't been lit up before. One spectacular new section through the zoo's Africa Rainforest features a twisting 100-foot-long rainbow-colored tunnel of light.

Much-loved displays from previous years are back too. Life-size 3-D animals gather on the zoo's concert lawn, which transforms into meandering river of light. Hippos graze near the water while crocodiles lie in wait. Other returning favorites include leaping reindeer, trumpeting elephants, playful penguins and tobogganing polar bears.

The zoo railway is temporarily out of service this year as construction crews lay tracks for a new route designed to provide better views. While it won't be offering rides, the famous Oregon steam engine will be decked out in holiday finery near the train station, making a festive photo backdrop. (Zoo trains are expected to be running again in time for ZooLights 2014.)

In keeping with the zoo's commitment to sustainability, most of the lights displayed are LEDs (light-emitting diodes), which use only a fraction of the power of standard holiday lights. LEDs don't burn out the way traditional bulbs do, ensuring a long lasting, eco-friendly ZooLights experience.

ZooLights hours are 5-8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 5-8:30 p.m. Friday through Saturday. ZooLights will be closed Dec. 24-25. Admission is $10 for adults, $8.50 for seniors, $7 for children and free for children 2 and under. Zoo members may attend for free. Keep an eye on oregonzoo.org for specials such as two-for-one ZooLights admission in partnership with your local Toyota dealers.