Animal Dreams

Nothing gets folks into the holiday spirit more readily than holiday lights — there's just something about the way the whole world turns into a sparkling wonderland just when the days are at their shortest and darkest. Plus, they're mostly nondenominational (if you ignore that big to-do about the Denver City and County Building's creche), and they're like hot chocolate for your soul. The favorite of families all over the Front Range, the Denver Zoo's Zoo Lights might be the most popular, with its animated displays (there are more than 150 of them this year), cheerful carousel, train rides, live entertainment and thousands upon thousands of twinkling LED lights spread out over 38 acres, and it's open again for another season, as of December 6.

Some highlights? Denver Zoo spokesman Sean Andersen-Vie says the zoo's multicultural entertainment will grow this year to include German and Polish singers and dancers, along with the usual Hispanic-, Asian- and African-themed performances, and special displays will include an interpretive Mongolian ger, or tent structure, to explore. And, as always, each night will be filled with carolers, ice carvers, visits with Santa and warming stations offering cold-weather drinks and goodies, as well as shopping at the overloaded zoo shop. But there's yet another reason to attend on this quiet Monday night: Today is the last day visitors can bring a new toy to donate in return for half-price admission; the donations go to Denver Bronco Wesley Woodyard's 16Ways Foundation Toy Drive, but the early-season gate-admission deal goes away after today.

Visit Zoo Lights nightly through January 5; tickets range from $6 to $12. Visit for more information, or text "Dzoo" to 56512 for the evening's scheduled events.
Dec. 6-Jan. 5, 5:30-9 p.m., 2013