Translate Our Site

River of Lights

The holidays sparkle each year at the ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden.

Plan Your Visit

Polar Bear Express 2019

Polar Bear Express is a magical, nighttime experience aboard the Rio Line Train on a journey to meet Santa & experience the glow of River of Lights! Tickets go on sale November 1!

River of Lights 2019

Dates: Nov. 30-Dec. 30, 2019

  • Open 6 to 9:30 p.m.
  • Closed Dec. 24 & 25


Buy tickets online. Please contact Hold My Ticket for questions on your ticket. 1-877-466-3404.
[email protected]

  • From any BioPark cashier from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily.
  • Tickets for Polar Bear Express sold separately.

At the Gate: Starting at 5:30 p.m. (Gates for River of Lights open to guests at 6 p.m.)


  • Adults (13+): $12
  • Children (3-12): $6
  • Babies (under 3): Free

No senior or member discounts for this special event. There is no will call for River of Lights tickets.

Group Discounts

  • 50 or more: 10 percent discount
  • 100 or more: 20 percent discount

Group tickets can only be purchased by e-mailing [email protected] or calling 311.


A limited number of wheelchairs are available for rent during River of Lights. Wheelchairs are available on a first-come first-serve basis for $7. Visit the Wildflower Cafe in the plaza for rentals.

Contact Us

Questions? Call 311, visit the New Mexico BioPark Society's River of Lights page or email [email protected].

A carriage pulled by a unicorn made out of multicolored lights at the Botanic Gardens.

Enjoy the magic of millions of twinkling lights and nearly 600 dazzling holiday displays at New Mexico’s largest walk through light show! River of Lights was voted 8th Place in USA Today’s 10 Best Readers’ Choice for Best Botanical Garden Holiday Lights in 2018.

Come see why! Learn more about how this amazing light show comes to life each year.


Holiday Nature Crafts

BioPark Education offers free Holiday Nature Crafts in the Education building on Wednesdays, Dec. 4, 11 and 18 from 6 – 8 p.m.

G-Scale Model Railroad

Special holiday trains chug through the Garden Railroad exhibit until 8:30 p.m., Wednesdays through Sundays, weather and volunteer staff permitting.


Magic Hour

(2019 details coming soon)

Now introducing Magic Hour at River of Lights 2018! This new and exciting addition to our event allows you to experience the magic before the masses. From 5 to 6 p.m., up to 400 exclusive guests can tour our hundreds of sculptures and millions of lights before the gates open to general admission ticket holders! Tickets are $20 per guest (no age limitation), available online only and sold by date. General admission ticket holders can upgrade their tickets as well. Make your reservation for an exclusive Magic Hour.


In 1997, River of Lights began as a fundraiser for the BioPark. Today, proceeds continue to support a variety of ABQ BioPark projects through the New Mexico BioPark Society.

Each year's show unveils ingenious new sculptures and stunning displays made by BioPark artists and craftsmen.

Free Park & Ride Service

Beat the traffic and use our free Park & Ride service at the ABQ BioPark Zoo!

Service available on these select nights only:

Park & Walk

Bypass event traffic and head to Tingley Beach to park and walk to the garden gates on select nights. Tingley Beach parking lot available on these select nights from 6 – 10 p.m.

Tingley Beach parking lot available on these select nights only:

  • November 30
  • December 1
  • December 6-8
  • December 13-30 (closed Dec. 24, 25)

Free ABQ Ride Bus Service provided by City of Albuquerque

Utilize free bus service nightly starting at 5 p.m. from the Uptown Transit Center, Central and Unser Transit Center, and the Alvarado Transit Center. From these locations, the Route 66 and Route 766 buses will take guests to and from the BioPark bus station at New York and Central.

Free parking starts at 6:30 p.m. at the OneCentral parking garage across the street from the Alvarado Transit Center.

Follow these helpful tips for the best River of Lights experience...

  • Take advantage of the various parking options to eliminate traffic stress!
  • Come out to River of Lights early in December. Mondays through Thursdays are always less crowded, especially the first two weeks of the event.
  • Arrive at River of Lights a little later in the evening. It’s always busy when doors open, but if you wait until 8 p.m., you’ll miss the holiday rush!
  • Carpool or ride share with friends and family. This can eliminate those pesky parking woes.

Please Note:

  • Handicap parking is available at the ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden parking lot. Space is limited.
  • All guests, please park legally. Parking is not allowed outside of designated parking spaces, including on Tingley Drive.

Event Sponsors

The New Mexico BioPark Society would like to thank all its sponsors: City of Albuquerque, Bank of Albuquerque, KOB 4, 100.3 The Peak, 94 Rock, and ACE.