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A unique set of festive illuminations are coming to the South Coast

Santa Barbara Zoo Lights starts Thursday
Santa Barbara Zoo
Santa Barbara Zoo Lights starts Thursday

These aren’t just twinkling festive lights.

Holiday season is upon us, and for those looking for some festive cheer, Santa Barbara’s inaugural Zoo Lights exhibition features larger than life size animal and wildlife installations.

"This has been a two year process, it's a brand new event," explained David Velazquez, the Zoo's Director of Business Operations.

He told KCLU it’s a chance to see the zoo in a whole new light as it transforms into a winter wonderland that will illuminate not just the Zoo but also the community spirit this holiday season.

"We might have overdone this! It's going to be so much fun," said Velazquez.

The immersive holiday experience features thousands of handcrafted silk-covered lanterns aglow with more than 50,000 LED bulbs.

The giant illuminated lanterns represent animals and nature scenes of wild places from around the world.

"Some of the lanterns are about 14 feet tall, about 40 feet wide. The focus of zoo lights is a lot of animals," he said.

Guests can also enjoy interactive areas, take photos with Santa (on select dates only), and enjoy wintry snacks and drinks for purchase.

ZooLights opens on November 3rd and runs through January 15, from 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Tickets start at $22/adult and $20/child (2-12), SB Zoo Members get $2 off. Ticket prices vary by day.

Caroline joined KCLU in October 2020. She won LA Press Club's Audio Journalist of the Year Award in 2022 and 2023.

Since joining the station she's won 7 Golden Mike Awards, 4 Los Angeles Press Club Awards and 2 National Arts & Entertainment Awards.

She started her broadcasting career in the UK, in both radio and television for BBC News, 95.8 Capital FM and Sky News and was awarded the Prince Philip Medal for her services to radio and journalism in 2007.

She has lived in California for ten years and is both an American and British citizen - and a very proud mom to her daughter, Elsie.