Guests at River of Lights can expect to walk through the ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden and experience over 550 intricately designed and constructed sculptures and light displays and millions of twinkle lights.
River of Lights was started in 1997 by the New Mexico BioPark Society(NMBPS), the 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization that supports the ABQ BioPark Zoo, Aquarium, Botanic Garden, and Tingley Beach. In its inaugural year, River of Lights attracted 32,000 visitors with 30 rented light displays. Now 23 years later, the event has grown to be New Mexico’s largest holiday light show with more than 128,000 attendees and raising $800,000 in 2017.
River of Lights is NMBPS’ top annual fundraising event and Albuquerque’s number one holiday destination.
Creating River of Lights…
We make magic. You make memories.
Preparing for River of Lights is a year-round job, and the event shines brighter every year. The New Mexico BioPark Society employs three full-time craftsmen. Before each holiday season, new sculptures and displays are created, more twinkle light strands are added, and old favorites are re-lit to give them new life.
Every sculpture in our River of Lights collected is hand-welded and strategically lit by our dedicated artists. They can take a small toy, or even a simple idea, conceptualize it and transform it into a 3D masterpiece. After that, the team comes up with a color scheme and carefully attaches rope light around each curve and corner of the sculpture. Not all of our sculptures are static displays. Some appear to be running, jumping, flying, chomping – you can almost say our sculptures are living pieces of art.
River of Lights Fun Facts
Did you know...
We have nearly 600 light displays and animated sculptures ranging from a 1-foot flower to a 30-foot Brontosaurus
To make a 1-foot sculpture takes an average of six hours, whereas the Brontosaurus took nearly 600 hours
Setup starts in mid-September, and it takes a crew of 10 to place sculptures and twinkle light the Botanic Garden
All our sculptures are stored in two giant warehouses and four storage containers
Many of our sculptures are created in pieces for easy installation and storage
Our first T-Rex was modeled after a wind-up toy
We use over 100,000 zip ties annually to attach rope light to our sculptures
There are over 200 miles of twinkle lights scattered through the Botanic Garden
Over 12 miles of extension cords are running electricity to all our sculptures and twinkle lights