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Lights Before Christmas Sets the Pace for Holiday Cheer

For Immediate Release: November 10, 2016

Zoo to Unwrap Annual Christmas Festival with 5K to Benefit Wildlife Conservation

[Columbia, SC] — Race over to Riverbanks for Columbia’s longest running holiday tradition as BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina presents the 29th annual Lights Before Christmas at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden.

To kick-off this year’s event, the Zoo will host its first 5K to benefit wildlife conservation and education efforts at Riverbanks. The race will begin at 7:30am on Saturday, November 19. The run will wind through the park’s scenic back roads, cross the Saluda River and pass some of the most popular exhibits in the Zoo. Runners and walkers are encouraged to register online in advance; space is limited.

The Zoo will then illuminate Saturday evening beginning at 5:00pm with nearly one million twinkling lights and countless animated images. Guests are invited to meander through the park while soaking in the sights and sounds of the holiday season.

On chilly nights, cozy up to the Jingle Bell bonfire—an ideal retreat for making s’mores, sipping hot cocoa and watching it snow; Riverbanks is the only place in town where it snows every night. In addition, Santa Claus will be greeting guests at Santa’s Village starting at 6:00pm nightly through December 23.

Lights Before Christmas will take place November 19 – December 30 from 5:00pm – 9:00pm. Lights will be closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. 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.

All Riverbanks members are eligible for one or more free visits to Lights depending on membership level. A valid membership card and picture ID are required; guest passes will not be accepted. Additional information on membership packages and benefits also can be found on Riverbanks’ website.

Event parking will be available on the Zoo side only.