New Mexico BioPark Society’s 26th Annual

Presented by 
TLC Plumbing, Heating and Cooling

November 25 – December 30, 2023

5:00 – 10:00 p.m.
ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden

2601 Central Ave. SW, Albuquerque, NM 87104
(Last timeslot entry 9 p.m. Event closed December 24 & 25)

Get into the holiday spirit at River of Lights, presented by TLC Plumbing, Heating and Cooling!
Enjoy a stroll through our 1.6-mile path of over 700 one-of-a-kind hand-welded light displays, animated and 3D sculptures, and millions of twinkling lights at New Mexico’s original and largest walk-through holiday light show.

Event Map

We want to thank our 2023 River of Lights Sponsors

And a special thank you to our presenting sponsor and your Albuquerque plumber, TLC Plumbing, Heating and Cooling.


Helpful Tips for a Successful Visit

  • Please stay on the paths. Plants grow by the inch and die by the foot, literally.
  • To avoid crowds, visit River of Lights early in December and on weeknights (Monday – Thursday).
  • Plan your visit early! As we get closer to December 25, nights will sell out.
  • Prepare for uneven paths. River of Lights journeys through various parts of the Botanic Garden, which include unpaved paths. Plan accordingly.
  • Paths are ADA-accessible. Due to varying path surfaces and weather conditions, some assistance may be needed in certain areas.
  • Leave your pets warm and at home. Only service animals are allowed inside City of Albuquerque property, which includes the ABQ BioPark.
  • Take advantage of our FREE Park & Ride located at the ABQ BioPark Zoo. Scroll down for more info!
  • When heading to Park & Ride, avoid the traffic and take I-40 to 12th Street or I-25 to Lead Ave., then travel to the ABQ BioPark Zoo.
  • There is no need to park in the neighborhood or pay for parking at other non-River of Lights businesses. The Botanic Garden parking lot and Park & Ride at the Zoo provide plenty of parking for all guests.
  • Most guests will arrive for the timeslot at the top of each hour; if you wait about 20 minutes, the lines will be much shorter.
  • For real-time event updates, Follow us on Facebook @riveroflightsabq and Instagram @riveroflights_abq.

Please Note: The River of Lights event includes flashing lights, strobe lights, and other special effects lighting, dark places, uneven terrains, and low overhangs. Please watch your step, stay alert, and do not act in harmful ways to yourself, others, the plants, and the exhibit.

Thank you for visiting New Mexico’s #1 holiday light show. Please respect our neighbors as you depart the event.

River of Lights Features


Santa’s Magical Experience

brought to you by


Enjoy a magical VIP experience with Santa Claus and his elves for an extraordinary evening of ho-ho-holiday merriment before being whisked away to the enchanting River of Lights!

The experience:

Your magical evening begins with reserved parking at Tingley Beach, and as you enter Santa’s New Mexico Headquarters, his elves will be there to greet you. While Santa wraps up his checklist for the night, indulge in the extravagant build-your-own s’mores station along with hot chocolate prepared by elves.

With refreshments in hand, snuggle up for a holiday story, after which Santa will appear! Visit with the jolly man, present your holiday wish list and take some candid photos. Santa will present every (naughty or nice) child with a special winter-themed stuffed plush animal!

As the first part of the evening wraps up, board a festive open-air shuttle and be whisked away! Santa Claus will personally escort you and the rest of the guests to jump the line right into the magic of River of Lights!

Your ticket includes the following:

  • Reserved Parking at Tingley Beach
  • S’mores & Hot Chocolate Bar
  • Holiday story by Santa’s elves
  • Meet & Greet with the jolly man himself
  • Gift for every child and toddler from Santa
  • Shuttle service from Tingley Beach to River of Lights (including return service)
  • Skip-the-line service to enter River of Lights!
  • Admission to River of Lights


Santa’s Workshop

brought to you by

The description:


Santa’s swinging the secret doors of his New Mexico HQ at Tingley Beach wide open for an 18+ bash that’s more dazzling than Rudolph’s nose!

Unleash your inner Picasso and bedazzle a nutcracker that screams YOU! And while you’re channeling those crafty vibes, indulge in a drool-worthy, build-your-own S’mores & Hot Chocolate extravaganza.

If enough grown-ups channel their inner child and believe hard enough, the big bearded man might pop by for a surprise.

When the crafting winds down, hop aboard a jolly shuttle. Santa, in all his rosy-cheeked glory, will lead you straight past the lines and into the twinkling wonder of the River of Lights. It’s the cherry on top for an unforgettable evening!

Your ticket includes the following:

  • Reserved Parking at Tingley Beach
  • A 12-inch nutcracker to decorate
  • S’mores & Hot Chocolate Bar
  • Meet & Greet with Santa Claus
  • Shuttle service from Tingley Beach to River of Lights (including return service)
  • Skip-the-line service to enter River of Lights!
  • Admission to River of Lights

What is River of Lights?

Who We Are and What We Do.

Guests at River of Lights can walk through the ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden and experience over 800 intricately designed and constructed sculptures, 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, the event has grown to be New Mexico’s largest holiday light show, with an attendance of over 120,000 and raising over $1 million in 2022.

River of Lights is the New Mexico BioPark Society’s top annual fundraising event and Albuquerque’s number-one holiday destination.

Creating River of Lights.

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 collection is hand-welded and strategically lit by our dedicated artists. They start with a small toy or concept, conceptualize it and transform it into a flat or 3D masterpiece. The team will then create a color scheme and carefully attach rope lights around each curve and corner of the sculpture. Not all of our sculptures are static displays. Some appear to be running, jumping, flying, and chomping – you can almost say our sculptures are living pieces of art!

Did You Know?

  • We have over 800 light displays and animated sculptures ranging from a 1-foot flower to a 30-foot Brachiosaurus.
  • To make a 1-foot sculpture takes an average of six hours, whereas the Brachiosaurus 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 of 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.
  • You can see our first-ever hand-made sculpture – the flat panel saguaro cactus.
  • You can search for our first-ever 3D sculpture – the yucca cactus.
  • Our first T-Rex was modeled after a wind-up toy.
  • We use over 100,000 zip ties annually to attach rope lights 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.

Contact Us

Thank you for your questions and feedback in advance.

Box office hours are available Monday – Saturday. You can fill out the form, and an associate will return your message within 24 hours (excluding Sundays). Please include your name, contact number, and your order confirmation number.

Special Note: Please be cautious of individuals selling fake tickets to this year’s event. Our event requires timed tickets; we strongly discourage you from purchasing third-party tickets as we cannot confirm the legitimacy of your purchase.

For media inquiries or photo usage requests, email

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