The holiday season is nearly here, with all the fun and excitement it brings! The City of Albuquerque and the New Mexico BioPark Society invite you to get out and have some fun at the 12th annual River of Lights Holiday Light Festival! From November 29 through December 30 (closed Dec. 24 & 25) thousands of twinkling lights will dazzle Rio Grande Botanic Garden visitors. New Mexico’s largest walk-through holiday light show features giant light sculptures of plants, animals and seasonal themes. It’s an awesome display that gets bigger and better every year! Nov. 29, the opening date for River of Lights, is also the date for Albuquerque’s annual Twinkle Light Parade, which ends on Central Avenue in front of the Aquarium/Garden.

“River of Lights is a favorite holiday tradition for Albuquerqueans,” says Mayor Martin J. Chávez. “As always, there are exciting new exhibits this year, including a dancing fountain on the lake, a giant T-Rex wind up toy, a yellow submarine and a spectacular miniature snowman display on the plaza.” On loan courtesy of Integrated Technologies Corporation (ITC), the snowman collection, with more than 1,500 pieces, is lighted by fiber optics.

River of Lights entertained more than 50,000 visitors in 2007. The event is sponsored by the New Mexico BioPark Society, KOB TV-4 and Clear Channel radio stations 100.3 the Peak FM and Big-I 107.9 FM. River of Lights sculptures are designed and constructed by Albuquerque BioPark artists and craftsmen. Advance tickets may be purchased from Zoo and Aquarium/Botanic Garden cashiers or online at Tickets are also available at the gate. On-site ticket sales start at 5:30pm and end promptly at 8:30pm. The Aquarium closes daily at 5pm and is not open during River of Lights; however, it is available for rental of catered events on most nights.

Visitors may purchase hot food and beverages on site and enjoy live entertainment from Nov. 29 – Dec. 23. A free Holiday Nature Crafts program will be offered in the Aquarium/Garden Education building on consecutive Wednesdays on Dec. 3, 10 and 17, from 6 to 7:30pm. The miniature Garden Railroad, decked out for the holidays, will operate from 6:00 to 8:30 pm Wednesdays through Sundays (weather permitting). The Shark Reef Café will offer special holiday meals Dec. 16-23 and Dec. 26-30. Reservations will be taken for parties of 15 or more. For information about restaurant dining call 505-848-7182.

The Aquarium and Garden gift shops will be open during the evenings for holiday purchases. More information about parking, dining, live performances and other activities is available at

River of Lights began in 1997 as a fund raising project sponsored by the New Mexico BioPark Society. Proceeds from River of Lights help support the Albuquerque Biological Park’s BioVan educational outreach program. The BioVan curriculum teaches about the Rio Grande and the native plants and animals that depend on our river for existence. The BioVan visits Albuquerque elementary schools free of charge.

Albuquerque Biological Park hours are 9:00am to 5:00pm daily. Admission is $7.00 for adults and $3.00 for seniors 65 and older and children 3-12. Same day combo admission to all facilities is $12 for adults; $5 for seniors and children. New Mexico BioPark Society membership confers free general admission to all BioPark facilities and discounts to many special events. (No member discounts to River of Lights.) Find out more about becoming a BioPark Society member at The Albuquerque BioPark is an accessible facility and a division of the City of Albuquerque’s Cultural Services Department. For special assistance in visiting the BioPark, please call 311 locally or (505) 768-2000 (Relay NM or 711), TTY 800-659-8331.

The Albuquerque Biological Park is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Look for the AZA logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you and a better future for all living things. With its more than 200 accredited members, AZA is a leader in global wildlife conservation and your link to helping animals in their native habitats. Visit for more information.