Lights Before (& After) Christmas at Riverbanks Zoo, Columbia

Experience Columbia’s longest running holiday tradition as OneMain Financial presents the 25th annual Lights Before Christmas at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden.

The Zoo’s silver anniversary celebration of Lights will kick off this Saturday, November 17 and will include old favorites as well as some new options for making family memories. In addition to the more than one million twinkling lights and hundreds of animated images that adorn the park every year, guests this year will have an opportunity to experience a 15-foot, life-size snow globe as well as have the chance to name a penguin!

The ornate event will also once again feature the Music in Motion Lights Spectacular, a 20-foot Christmas tree moving to the rhythm of popular seasonal tunes. Songs from the tree resonate throughout the Zoo’s Palmetto Plaza, where you’ll find the cozy Jingle Bell Bonfire—a popular spot for roasting marshmallows and sipping hot cocoa on cold winter evenings.

As part of the festivities, guests can also visit with Santa Claus in Santa’s Village on the nights leading up to Christmas Eve; and don’t forget, Riverbanks is the only place in town where it snows every night.

When: November 17 – December 30; Closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day


Where: Riverbanks Zoo and Garden

500 Wildlife Parkway

Columbia, SC 29210

Admission: Guests who purchase tickets in advance will receive a $2 discounted rate of $8 for adults and $6 for children ages 3-12. Advance tickets may be purchased online at or at any Zoo ticket window.

Note: 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. Parking for the event will be on the Zoo side only.

About Riverbanks Zoo and Garden: For nearly 40 years, Riverbanks Zoo & Garden has connected individuals, families and groups with the world’s wildlife and wild places. It is the mission of Riverbanks Zoo and Garden to foster appreciation and concern for all living things. Riverbanks is located at 500 Wildlife Parkway, Columbia, SC 29210. The Botanical Garden entrance is located at 1300 Botanical Parkway, West Columbia, SC 29169. The park is open daily from 9am to 5pm, except for Thanksgiving and Christmas day. Admission is $11.75 for adults, $9.25 for children ages 3 – 12 and free for children 2 and under. Group rates and other discounts may apply. Year-round membership packages are also available. For more information, call Riverbanks at 803.779.8717, visit  or .

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