River of Lights returns with new sculptures, Santa’s Workshop

Illustration by Cathryn Cunningham / Journal

The tradition continues.

Thousands of lights will illuminate the grounds of the ABQ BioPark botanical garden starting Saturday, November 27, during the annual River of Lights.

The event has become an Albuquerque vacation staple, drawing thousands of visitors over the four weeks. The event is the New Mexico BioPark Society’s largest fundraiser and proceeds help support ABQ BioPark.

Last year there was a scaled-down event due to the pandemic, but this year there will be some changes.

According to Danielle Flores Mills, head of marketing and communications for the New Mexico BioPark Society, timed tickets will be available online at riveroflights.org.

She says all tickets must be purchased online and in advance.

“Reservations are available in hourly increments, and guests must arrive within their reservation time, but can stay as long as they want,” she says. With timed entry, each night’s attendance is capped to reduce crowd size and allow for social distancing.

“The event is designed as a one-way street to eliminate level crossings,” said Flores Mills.

Park & ​​Ride will be available on select nights at the ABQ BioPark Zoo.

Visitors will be able to see around 600 handmade structures filled with lights.

Ranging from dinosaurs to a Pegasus and a unicorn, and everything in between, there is surely something for everyone.

Of course, the location of most lighted structures changes every year.

“There are pieces that have been in our collection for years,” she says. “Moving them every year changes the landscape for visitors. What you might have missed last year will take center stage this year. “

Flores Mills says the River of Lights team has expanded the African scene with several new sculptures.

The Santa Claus workshop is also new this year. The event includes s’mores and hot chocolate, personalized by you with festive toppings; a selfie with Santa Claus while you present your holiday wishlist to him; and an ornament created by your little ones to take home and cherish as a lasting memory of your night out.

This results in an additional cost of $ 25 for adults, $ 20 for children ages 3-12, and $ 12 for toddlers under 3.

You can find more information on riveroflights.org.

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