Wednesday, December 17, 2014

ZooLights 2014

What's cooler than thousands of Christmas lights in one place?
(Answer: nothing!)

This holiday tradition has been going on for almost as many years as I've been alive but this is (I think?) the first time I've ever been to Portland's ZooLights winter festival.

We went on an icy Sunday night at the beginning of December, during what was alleged to be the slow opening days of the attraction. Don't know how true that was; the first thing we saw when exiting the city train was a line about 200 people long at the ticket office!

line for snacks inside the zoo

In the end it was worth the chill and crowds. The lights were strung into elaborate displays with moving parts- hippos whose mouths opened and closed, lions running across a lawn in pursuit of prey. Families were decked out in Santa hats and glow in the dark necklaces, pushing strollers with wide-eyed babies. Hot chocolate stands did a brisk trade around every corner. I can see why many people return to this event year after year; it's nice to have a holiday tradition. I'd prefer mine to be champagne + Ukraine + banya with friends, but this was an enjoyable runner-up.

A few of our favorite scenes:
Actually, this one was too creepy for me, but D liked it.

The train ride:

It's was a 1.5 hour wait for an 8-minute train ride but definitely part of the authentic ZooLights experience. At the very least, we got to bond with everyone else in line, complaining about the cold and listening to the "Are we there yet?" refrain asked every 3 minutes by seemingly every child in line. The couple in front of us were Russian and it was good language practice to hear her fussing over the baby. And then at last, fingers numb, it was time to board the train!

The ride itself starts off in this cool corral of lights (pictured above), making me hope we might find ourselves transported into the future, but no luck. It was just an 8 minutes ride through the landscape of 2014 ; )

The Tunnel of Lights

And finally, out of the dozens of light displays, this was my favorite. It was fun to be inside- like a New Year's Eve party- and even just looking back at the photos makes me smile. There wasn't a single person who walked through this tunnel without stopping to take at least a dozen photos!

What's going on in your corner of the world now?
Are there Christmas / New Year's preparations underway?
Do you have anything in your city like ZooLights?


  1. We go to Zoo Lights every New Years as a family tradition and love it. However, the best light show I've ever seen is the Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights at Disney World. You HAVE to check it out someday! Thousands of intricate lights dancing to holiday music plus fake (but very real looking) snow falling all around you. It's totally amazing!

    1. Cool, thanks for the tip, Jenny! Is that Osborne as in Ozzy Osborne?

      Hope you guys have a great time at ZooLights this year : )