ZooLights Brighten Portland Attraction

More than 1.2 million bright bulbs illuminate the Oregon Zoo during the 22nd annual ZooLights festival

Diving penguins // © Michael Durham, Oregon Zoo

Diving penguins reflected in a fountain during the Oregon Zoo's annual ZooLights festival. // © Michael Durham, Oregon Zoo

More than 1.2 million bright bulbs illuminate the Oregon Zoo during the 22nd annual ZooLights festival, scheduled from Nov. 27 through Jan. 3. The family tradition features life-size animal silhouettes and moving light sculptures on display throughout the Portland attraction.

Families can expect to see their old favorites as well as such new additions as an animated, roaring lion in honor of the zoo's new Predators of the Serengeti exhibit, which opened in September. Other new displays include a lighthouse and a totem pole, along with three-dimensional seahorses, sharks and a crab. Over half of this year's lights are made of LEDs, which use about one-tenth the power of normal incandescent bulbs.

"ZooLights has become a fantastic tradition in our community," said acting zoo director Mike Keele. "Each year, this dazzling display of light and color gets bigger and better. The holidays wouldn't be complete without a walk through this winter wonderland to check out all the new touches."

As clients work their way from the entry plaza down the boardwalk, they encounter such scenes as leaping reindeer and tobogganing polar bears. A right turn from the boardwalk deposits guests at the wheels of the Oregon steamer train, decked out in luminous finery for a holiday express jaunt around the zoo.

During the festival, live music resounds throughout the zoo, with more than 100 schools, churches, professional groups and local dance troupes performing holiday musical selections. Costumed characters and elves greet zoo visitors and pose for pictures. For holiday shoppers, the zoo's gift shop sells animal-related gifts.

ZooLights runs from 5-8 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, and from 5-8:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. The attraction is closed Dec. 24 and 25.

Tickets, which include admission and a train ride, are $10.75 per adult (12-64), $7.75 per child (3-11) and free for children two and under.