Over 30, 000 Guest Expected to Enjoy This Year’s Living Desert Festivities
Written By: Sara Hyland WildLights at The Living Desert Zoo
There are many holiday traditions in the Valley during Christmastime. Candy Cane Lane, Miracle on El Paseo and… wait for it… WildLights at The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens! Who doesn’t love the twinkling holiday lights shining all around while strolling down the familiar pathways and exploring the different displays? Soaking up all the wonder with kids is one of the best parts—bringing them to visit Santa, experience up-close encounters with animals and keeper chats, as well as assemble crafts and ride camels and the carousel! This year promises more lights and more magic.
This year marks the 24th annual WildLights event, and the size and scope have only gotten bigger. Thanks to the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation’s contributions for the past 15 years, as well as the City of Indian Wells, the Zoo can put on this beloved event. Guests can expect to be welcomed by a shimmering display of lights from the moment they park their cars. “Over one million lights have been installed throughout the park, ” says Erin Scott, Marketing and Public Relations Manager for The Living Desert. “The setup for WildLights takes weeks, and we’re so excited for everyone to come out and enjoy the beautiful, festive holiday tradition.” Every year over 30, 000 guests walk the glittering paths of WildLights; both kids and adults awe over the splendor of the holiday lights, light displays, and fun activities!
This year brings some new additions to the light show. “New this year, ” says Scott, “guests will have the opportunity to stroll through Africa and see our African animals at night.” Besides seeing the animals at night, there are brand new light displays, including a luminescent, life-sized herd of animal lanterns. These additions include two adult giraffes, one baby giraffe, two zebras and three cheetahs, with the tallest standing 16 feet tall. They promise to transport guests to the African savanna. Also, new this year is a snowy holiday Whoville, straight out of Dr. Seuss’ classic. Guests will have the opportunity to have snowball fights and play in the artificial snow (environment-friendly and safe for guests and animals). But don’t worry, “All your WildLights favorites return, ” Scott says, “including the Tunnel of Lights, Butterfly Lane, Field of Blue and more!” Favorite holiday movies will be available to enjoy throughout the evening in the Village WaTuTu outdoor theater. Not to mention the more than 3, 300 feet of G-scale model train track decorated.
There will be plenty to keep everyone of all ages entertained at WildLights. Every night live bands or DJs will be playing holiday and classic tunes on the Palm Garden Patio, which will have comfortable seating for some rest after the luminescent walk. These entertainers include Andy Cahan, keyboardist for the Turtles, the Shadow Mountain Band, along with other popular local artists and bands. In the Discovery Center, the Zoo’s Education Department has prepared some fun and educational crafts for guests in Mrs. Claus’ Cheetah Conservation Craft Corner. Guests from all over the world are privy to four animal encounters and talk with zookeepers or get up close with some animal ambassadors. Nightly schedules are posted each evening.
A variety of warm food and snacks are offered during WildLights, including hot cocoa and alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages. While parents are sipping on their choices, kids can sit on Santa’s lap and take photos on the Palm Garden Patio and tell him what they want for Christmas. Admission to WildLights is $10 for adults, $8 for members, children and military (with ID) and children under three are free. WildLights runs: Dec. 2-3, 9-10, 16-24 6-9 p.m., with last admission at 8:30 p.m.
The Living Desert
47900 Portola Avenue
Palm Desert, CA 92260
Everything From Whoville-Themed Snowball Fights to Exploring the African Safari at Night