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Lights Before Christmas

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Fun Facts:

  • This is the 25th season for the Lights Before Christmas, which features over one million lights and more than 200 lights animal images
  • The electrical spectacle known as the Dancing Lights and the 85-foot Norway Spruce are decorated with all wide angle LED lights.
  • The Lights Before Christmas began in 1986 with 50,000 lights and an attendance of 71,000 visitors; the record attendance for a Lights Before Christmas season was 2006, with 178,177 visitors.
  • We began using LED lights in 2002 and now approximately 50% of our lights are LEDs.
  • The Zoo begins hanging lights during the first week of September each year (See video on this page).
  • Two techniques are used to hang lights -- draping and wrapping.
  • A core crew of 12-15 employees from the Zoo's Grounds Department install the lights.
  • Nearly 50,000 feet of extension cords are used -- that's almost 10 miles!
  • If all the lights were strung end-to-end, they would reach nearly 70 miles!
  • It takes approximately 2 months to take down all the lights, then sort and store them for the following year.
  • Over 2,700 pounds of fudge will be made during "Lights Before Christmas, along with over 6,800 gallons of hot chocolate, more than 6,000 cinnamon pretzels, and over 3,800 gingerbread men.
  • Visit Santa's Ginormous Toyland located in the historic Indoor Theatre (through December 23).
  • Also, don't miss strolling carolers on selected evenings, ice-carving demonstrations on Thursday nights, rides on the train and carousel, a model train display, and hot chocolate and other holiday treats!
  • Big Tree Stats:
    - The Big Tree is a Norway spruce located near the Broadway entrance by the Conservatory
    - It's between 65-70 years old and over 85 feet tall.
    - The lowest branches from tip-to-tip are 50' in diameter.
    - The trunk circumference is 8 feet 7 inches.
    - It is estimated to weigh about 7 tons.
    - There are over 30,000 lights on the Big Tree alone, that's almost 3 miles of lights!
    - It takes approximately one week to decorate the tree.

Months of Preparation lead up to The Lights Before Christmas:

The video above shows members of the Grounds-Facilities Department starting work on the lights in the Fall, several months before opening day.