Los Angeles Zoo becomes an illuminated wonderland for winter

The Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens returned with its annual L.A. Zoo Lights event beginning Nov. 27, complete with thousands of lights and animated installations to add holiday spirit to Griffith Park. The spectacular displays and enchanting and spirited environment made for a delightful night for family and friends. Some attractions included real life reindeers, a musical light-and-water show, glittering light tunnels and dozens of illuminated snowflakes.

The winter wonderland will be held through the beginning of 2016. With its debut just last year, the event garnered more than 170,000 visitors and an accolade on USA Today for 10 Best Readers’ Choice travel awards. Whether it’s sipping some steamy hot chocolate, munching on delicious churros or walking hand in hand with loved ones to enjoy the breathtaking lights, the L.A. Zoo is the perfect holiday destination for the most wonderful time of the year.

Though previous years have been very successful, the Los Angeles Zoo continues to raise the bar. In addition to more lights, displays, decorations and effects, the zoo expanded the LAIR. The LAIR, which stands for Living Amphibians, Invertebrates and Reptiles, contains a gigantic light up snake from the rooftop to greet guests who enter the building. The LAIR creatively ties the zoo and Christmas lights together to create glowing webs, orbs and insects in ultraviolet light. Reindeer Romp Village, a small ornamented and reimagined area is the perfect place for parents to bring their children. The area is a bustling place with snowflakes, white Christmas trees and a real life Santa to take special holiday photos. The atmosphere is completed by upbeat pop music and Christmas songs to get visitors smiling and dancing. Another addition to the excitement is “Lightscapes: Wild Holiday,” an aquatic show that contains animations, music and lighted fountains and shooting water.

Other new features include VIP events such as the Holiday Happy Hour for guests over 21 and a Family New Year’s Eve for all ages on Dec. 10. The happy hour featured a lounge serving appetizers, wine and hot and cold specialty cocktails. The family event provides an opportunity “to celebrate 2016 in style with skip the line express entry, dinner buffet, soft drinks, complimentary champagne for adults, sparkling apple cider for kids, dessert, a ride on the Zoo’s carousel, DJ dance party, cash bar and live music,” according to the zoo’s website.

L.A. Zoo Lights is open every night from 6 to 10 p.m., except for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Tickets are $13 for adults and seniors and $11 for children ages two to 12 on Mondays through Thursdays, except from Dec. 21 to 23 when tickets are the same as weekend prices. The weekend prices are $16 for adults and seniors and $14 for children ages two to 12. There are also special ticket prices available after 9 p.m. Additional ticket information and to purchase tickets can be found online.