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Saturday 28 November 2020

Denver Zoo Lights

Things are starting to get a little festive around here!

Last night we rugged up in our Winter woolies and headed to Denver Zoo to check out the annual Zoo Lights display. This was our first time checking out the Zoo Lights here in Denver (we've been in Oakland and San Diego in the past) and the twinkling lights were just as beautiful as I had imagined. 

While this was our first year visiting, it certainly isn't a new event for Denver. In fact, this year marks the 30th anniversary of the Zoo Lights! All throughout the exhibition there were many light displays from previous years. You'll see years marked in lights in many of the pictures below.  

Now, with COVID-19 numbers increasing here in Colorado (like much of the country) you may be wondering what steps the zoo has put into place to make the event safe for all visitors. First of all, let me just say that I felt completely safe visiting the zoo. With timed ticketing, mask rules, hand sanitzer stations and social distancing reminders all around, the zoo has done a great job at protecting visitors. The entire zoo is now one way which means that visitors are less likely to come into contact with others. Most indoor areas were closed and there were designated areas for eating and drinking. While it would've been nice to walk around sipping a hot chocolate while taking in the views of the lights I felt much safer knowing that visitors could only remove their masks in particular places. 

Ok, onto the lights!

There were two main types of lights making up the displays. Lights shaped like various animals, and background lights twinkling in trees, bushes and along fences. Together they made for a magical experience. Some of the animal lights were animated to make it look as if they were moving like the elephants squirting water below.  

For the most part, the animals displayed in the lights were spread through out the zoo in groups that go together based on location or animal type. For example, local animals that we can see here in Colorado such as prairie dogs, mountain lions and moose were located in the same part of the zoo. African animals tended to be together (although there were some out layers) and underwater creatures were located together as well. Most of the animals depicted are animals that can be seen at the zoo during the day, although there were some, such as the whale above, that definitely don't call the zoo home!

While the location of many of the light displays was a little random, some appeared in the enclosure of the animal they represent. The flamingo lights were one such display. Then there were a few that left us a little baffled, like the farmer tending to corn with a lion head in the background! 

While the animal lights were the highlight, one of my favorite displays was made up of strands of twinkling green lights hanging from trees. These overhang the walkway in one section and gave the impression of walking through a glade of trees covered in Spanish moss. They were so pretty.

The Zoo Lights make for a fun family night out, but make sure to rug up warm enough. It was below freezing when we were there and one of the kids (no naming names!) refused to wear a jacket which meant that we had to rush through a little faster than I would've liked. If you're visiting with small kids, there is a shorter route that you can take through the zoo, but this does skip past about half of the light displays. Bringing a stroller or a wagon for younger children is a good choice if you're worried that little legs might get tired (or cold). The entire zoo is paved and wheelchair/stroller friendly. 

Drinks and snacks, including hot chocolate and hot apple cider are available for purchase throughout the zoo, and as I mentioned earlier there are designated areas for eating and drinking. There are plenty of fun light toys available for purchase throughout the zoo. We chose to bring our own 3D glasses from home that turned the twinkling lights into candy canes and snowmen. 

Zoo Lights runs nightly from November 23rd to December 31st with timed entry slots between 5pm and 8:30pm. The event finishes nightly at 10pm. The first two weeks (November 23rd to December 3rd) are reserved for Denver Zoo members only. 

Tickets are $25 for adults (ages 12 and up) and $15 for children (ages 3 to 11). Children under three are admitted free of charge. Member discounts are available for the first two weeks only. 

For more information and to book tickets visit https://denverzoo.org/events/zoolights/

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