River of Lights returns with new sculptures, Santa's Workshop - Albuquerque Journal

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 Botanic Garden beginning Saturday, Nov. 27, during the annual River of Lights.

The event has become a holiday staple in Albuquerque, drawing thousands of visitors over the four-week run. The event is the New Mexico BioPark Society’s largest fundraiser and proceeds help support the 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, New Mexico BioPark Society marketing and communications manager, there will be timed tickets available online at riveroflights.org.

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

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

“The event is designed as a one-way path to eliminate foot traffic crossing,” Flores Mills says.

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

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

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

Of course, the placement of many of the lighted structures changes every year.

“There are some pieces that have been in our collection for years,” she says. “Moving them around each year helps change the scenery for visitors. What you may have missed last year will be front and center this year.”

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

Also new for this year is Santa’s Workshop. The event includes s’mores and hot chocolate, customized by you with festive toppings; a selfie with Santa as you tell him your holiday wishlist; and an ornament created by your little ones to take home and treasure as a lasting memory of your evening.

This comes at an additional cost of $25 for adults, $20 for kids ages 3-12 and $12 for toddlers under the age of 3.

More information can be found at riveroflights.org.

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