Published on November 3rd, 2017 | by Millennium Magazine Staff


Riverbanks to Celebrate 30 Years of Lights Before Christmas

Plus, Enjoy BOGO Lights Admission in November with a Donation to Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital

[Columbia, SC] – Make tracks to Riverbanks Zoo and Garden for Columbia’s longest running holiday tradition as BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina presents the 30th anniversary season of Lights Before Christmas beginning Saturday, November 18.

The dazzling display will once again delight guests with nearly one million twinkling lights and countless animated images. Meander through the Zoo while soaking in an array of merry sights and sounds that will feature, for the first time, a 30-foot animated story tree plus a Holly Jolly Christmas Parade of charismatic characters.

Santa Claus will be greeting guests starting at 6pm each evening through December 23. Santa’s Village is sponsored by South Carolina’s Future Scholar 529 College Savings Program. On chilly nights, cozy up to the Jingle Bell bonfire—an ideal retreat for toasting s’mores, sipping hot cocoa and watching it snow; Riverbanks is the only place in town where it snows every night.

Tis also the season for giving and this year, Riverbanks invites guests help make the holidays brighter for patients at Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital. The Zoo will be collecting new toys for the Children’s Hospital at Lights during the month of November. Guests who donate will receive buy one get one free admission (purchase one general admission and get the second for equal or lesser value free; Riverbanks memberships and Explorer wristbands do not apply).

The 2nd annual Riverbanks Run 5K to benefit wildlife conservation will once again set the pace for Riverbanks’ family-friendly Christmas festivities. The race will begin at 7:30am on Saturday, November 18. The run will wind through the park’s scenic back roads, cross the Saluda River and pass some of the Zoo’s most popular exhibits. Early Bird registration ends November 7. Runners and walkers are encouraged to register online in advance; space is limited.

Lights Before Christmas will take place November 18 – December 30 from 5pm – 9pm. Lights will be closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. General admission is $11 for adults and $9 for children ages 2 – 12. Children under 2 are admitted free. Guests are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance online (Zoo members will receive at least one free visit with a valid membership card and picture ID; guest passes will not be accepted).

Lights Before Christmas will take place rain or shine. Parking for the event is available on the Zoo side only at 500 Wildlife Parkway in Columbia.

For 43 years, Riverbanks Zoo and Garden has connected individuals, families and groups with the world’s wildlife and wild places. Riverbanks is a special purpose district governed by the Riverbanks Park Commission, which consists of seven members, two appointed by Richland County Council, two by Lexington County Council, two by the City of Columbia, and one jointly by the three entities. It is the mission of Riverbanks Zoo and Garden to foster appreciation and concern for all living things. Riverbanks Zoo 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 $15.95 for adults, $13.50 for children ages 2 – 12 and free for children younger than 2. Group rates and other discounts may apply. Year-round membership packages are also available. For more information, call Riverbanks at 803.779.8717 or visit



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