With twinkling lights, hot chocolate by the fire, and ice skating – to name just a few attractions – ZOOLIGHTS presented by Olympia Trust Company has become a holiday staple for many Calgarians. Every year, friends, families and couples frolic amongst two million lights and experience all of the classic holiday activities rolled into one.
Beginning November 23, 2018 and running until January 5, 2019, the festivities last seven weeks in total, but the task of creating Calgary’s most luminous holiday tradition takes much longer.
“There isn’t a single month of the year that we are not preparing for ZOOLIGHTS,” says Garrett Greenhill, Supervisor for Zoo Ready, the team responsible for preparing the zoo for ZOOLIGHTS. “It is very much a 12 month a year job.”
From the meticulous placement of almost 6000 strands of lights to the 70 ft lift needed to hang them on our tallest trees, bringing ZOOLIGHTS to life is no easy feat. Summer days are spent replacing bulbs and wrapping strands that, if laid out end-to-end would span close to 50 km in length, and planning for next year’s light displays begins before the previous year’s can all been removed. It’s extensive to say the least, but if you ask anyone involved in the process, they will tell you it’s worth it.
“It just doesn’t feel like the holidays until ZOOLIGHTS,” says Roz Freeman, Senior Specialist, Special Events & Experiences, Calgary Zoo. To her and many others, there is something magical about the event that you can’t find anywhere else.
“We’ve had children learn to skate for the first time here at ZOOLIGHTS,” says Freeman. “And new Canadians experiencing their first winter. It’s a special thing to be part of and the entire zoo comes together to make the best event possible.”
Tickets for this year’s ZOOLIGHTS are now on sale. Visit https://www.calgaryzoo.com/events/zoolights to experience the magic of ZOOLIGHTS and start glowing from the inside out.