Holiday Roadtrips: Lights Before (And After) Christmas, Riverbanks Zoo, Columbia, S.C.

Riverbanks Zoo Holiday Lights Display 2013 Columbia S.C.

UPDATE: Lights Before Christmas at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden will be closed Tuesday, November 26, due to the forecast for heavy rain. The lights will shine again from 5:00pm to 9:00pm on Wednesday, November 27.


Experience Columbia’s longest running holiday tradition – now featuring longer hours – as Aflac presents the 26th annual Lights Before Christmas at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden.

Lights Before Christmas Riverbanks Zoo Columbia S.C. Beginning Friday, November 22 through the end of December, the Zoo will illuminate one hour earlier, at 5:00pm each evening, with more than one million twinkling lights and countless animated images.

Please note: Since the Zoo will remain open as the lights start to shine, guests parked on the Zoo side (Greystone Blvd.) will not have to exit and re-enter the park for the nighttime event. Parking for Lights will be available at the main Zoo entrance only.

The ornate festival will again feature family favorites including the Music in Motion Lights Spectacular, a 20-foot Christmas tree grooving to the rhythm of popular seasonal tunes. Songs from the tree resonate throughout the Zoo’s Palmetto Plaza, where you’ll also find the cozy Jingle Bell Bonfire, a popular spot for toasting marshmallows and sipping hot cocoa.

On the nights leading up to Christmas Eve, kids off all ages are invited to visit with Santa Claus at Santa’s Village. Santa will be greeting guests from 6-9 PM each evening. Riverbanks also is the only place in town where it snows every night.

In addition, a few of the Zoo’s indoor exhibits will remain open during Lights including Gorilla Base Camp, Koala Knockabout and Riverbanks Farm.

Lights Before Christmas will take place each evening from 5:00pm to 9:00pm, November 22 to December 30. Lights will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.


Admission is $10 for adults and $8 for children ages 3 to 12. To avoid long lines on the nights of the event, guests are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance online at .

All Riverbanks members are eligible to receive one free visit when they show their membership card and picture ID at the gate; guest passes are not accepted.

For more information, call Riverbanks at 803.779.8717, visit  or


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