Riverbanks to Unwrap 31 Years of Lights Before Christmas

Columbia's Longest Running Holiday Tradition Kicks Off Saturday, November 17

[Columbia, SC] – Jingle over to Riverbanks Zoo and Garden for Columbia's longest running holiday tradition as BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina presents the 31st year of Lights Before Christmas.

The dazzling display of nearly one million twinkling lights kicks off Saturday, November 17, at 5:00pm. Soak in the sights and sounds of the season with family and friends, gather round and sing along to a 30-foot animated story tree playing popular Christmas favorites, and join in the Holly Jolly Christmas Parade featuring a host of charismatic characters.

All-new this year, merriment comes alive with nightly entertainment provided by Chapin Theater Company. Performances will take place throughout the evening inviting guests to take part in holiday-themed skits and festive songs and dances.

In addition, Santa Claus will once again be visiting with guests starting at 6:00pm each evening through December 23 in Santa's Village, sponsored by Future Scholar South Carolina's 529 College Savings Program. On chilly nights, cozy up to the Jingle Bell bonfire—an ideal retreat for toasting s'mores, sipping hot cocoa and watching it snow; Riverbanks is the only place in town where it snows every night.

The 3rd annual Riverbanks Run 5K to benefit wildlife conservation will set the pace for the family-friendly holiday festivities. The race will begin at 7:30am on Saturday, November 17. The run will wind through the park's scenic back roads, cross the Saluda River and pass some of the Zoo's most popular exhibits. Runners and walkers are encouraged to register online in advance; space is limited.

Lights Before Christmas will take place rain or shine November 17 – December 30 from 5:00pm – 9:00pm . Lights will be closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Riverbanks members will receive at least one free visit with a valid membership card and photo ID (guest passes will not be accepted). General admission is $12 for adults and $10 for children ages 2 – 12. Children under 2 are admitted free. Guests are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance online.

Riverbanks Zoo and Garden is home to more than 2,000 magnificent and fascinating animals and one of America's best public gardens. The Zoo opened on April 25, 1974, and for more than four decades, has connected individuals, families and school children with the natural world. Riverbanks is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and is recognized as a global leader in animal care and welfare, education, recreation, science and wildlife conservation. It is the mission of the Zoo and Garden to create meaningful connections and inspire actions that will have a lasting impact on conservation. For more information, visit www.riverbanks.org or connect with Riverbanks on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and SnapChat.

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