For 27 years, Calgarians have flocked to take in the magic and wonder of the city’s largest display of Christmas lights.
ZooLights officially opened on Nov. 17 at The Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo, marking the unofficial start to the holiday season with more lights and more displays than in years past.
Among the festive displays are tributes to the newest members of the zoo family, polar bears, which will make their debut to the public later this year.
“It’s the most magical time of the year at The Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo, and I think that the staff have outdone themselves this year. I say that every year, but this year just feels like more,” said Alison Archambault, Director for Brand and Engagement at The Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo.
“The theming of the ENMAX Conservatory is Arctic twilight, and the prehistoric park has the theme of the life of a polar bear. So there’s special lighting of a polar bear mom and a cub walking through the Arctic.”
She said that the zoo recognizes that many of the displays have become part of cherished family traditions over the years, and so staff and volunteers have worked hard to keep some of those favourites available while also adding new features to ZooLights. The result is more than a million lights spread out throughout the entire park.
“We have a team that actually works on Zoolights 11 months out of the year. So they take January to take it all down, and then they start planning for the next event all over again, thinking about how to add some extra special magic.”
She said that this year, more 150 staff were involved in planning this year, and each night over 100 staff and volunteers run the event for visitors—everything from guiding people through the park to running the hot chocolate and concession stands to staffing the ice skating, axe throwing, and fire pits.