ALBUQUERQUE, NM--River of Lights was brighter than ever, and a mild December helped the ABQ BioPark welcome record-breaking crowds last year. Almost 104,000 guests enjoyed the sparkle of River of Lights (103,874 to be exact), far surpassing the light show's previous attendance high of 90,037 in 2010.

Overall, the BioPark's total attendance was up 2% on Dec. 31, halfway through the fiscal year, and revenue was up 11% compared to the halfway mark in FY2012. The BioPark continues to be the most visited destination in New Mexico with steady growth expected in coming months.

"It's exciting to see people who return year after year to see the lights. Adults love it as much as the kids do, and you can hear them comment about the new sculptures and new arrangements," said Maryann Torrez, BioPark Special Events Manager. "I had several people tell me they've been to light shows all over the country, and Albuquerque's is the best by far, and for a great price, too. We are all proud to be part of what has become a great tradition for both citizens and tourists to New Mexico."

As crews pack away the lights, the entire BioPark looks forward to 2013. We will open new macaw, alligator, and gorilla "bachelor pad" exhibits at the Zoo and a Pacific Coral Reef and plastic awareness exhibit at the Aquarium. Construction begins on the next phase of the Botanic Garden's Insectarium, which may be ready to open by year end. The event calendar gets off to a busy start in January:

Jan. 18-19 - Aquarium Overnight
Jan. 19 & 20 - The year's first Half-Price Weekend
Jan. 19 - Scales, Scutes and Skin Day (features reptiles and amphibians)
Jan. 19 - Feb. 24 - Winter Fire Colors Flower Show
Jan. 26 - Sea Turtle Awareness Day

"We are glad to see attendance numbers that reflect our community's support for the increased admission fees that make it possible for us to maintain a world-class facility," said Rick Janser, BioPark Director. "We appreciate that continued support. With a great year of events and new exhibits coming up, we want to be an institution that Albuquerque citizens and all New Mexicans can be proud to call our own."