ABQ Biopark River Of Lights


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The ABQ Biopark River of Lights is a light festival celebrated annually at ABQ Biopark Botanic Garden. It started as a fundraiser for the Biopark in 1997. Today, it continues to support different ABQ Biopark projects.

Yearly, the River of Lights features stunning displays and ingenious new sculptures created by Biopark craftsmen and artists. The festival is perfect for enjoying holidays with colorful and creative lights. It is an excellent event to visit with your loved ones.


ABQ Biopark River Of Lights
Festival highlights

About the Festival

The River of Lights at Biopark Botanic Gardens is not just a festival; it’s a journey. As you step into the gardens, you’re transported into a world where light and nature fuse, creating a spectacle that’s hard to describe in mere words. Drawing inspiration from New Mexico’s rich culture, the diverse flora of the gardens, and the universal allure of stories told through lights, the festival is an embodiment of Albuquerque’s spirit during the festive season.

Featured Lighting Displays

  • Glowing Animated Sculptures: Watch stories come alive with sculptures that move and dance with light.
  • Twinkling Lights: The gardens are blanketed with a canopy of shimmering lights, turning pathways into starlit trails.
  • Twinkle Lights Trees: Trees draped in twinkling lights, creating forests of sparkle that transport you to a winter wonderland.
  • Glowing Plants: Botanical wonders that radiate a gentle glow, casting soft hues onto the nearby surroundings.
  • Illuminated Painting Exhibits: Artwork that harnesses the power of light, offering a new perspective on traditional painting.
  • Animal-shaped Light Displays: From majestic lions to graceful swans, discover a zoo of creatures crafted entirely from lights.
  • Fairy Lights: Delicate strings of lights that flutter and shimmer, adding a touch of magic to the gardens.
  • Larger-than-life Light Art Installations: Imposing structures that play with scale, color, and form to create immersive visual experiences.

Other Activities in the Area

  • Guided Night Walks: Experience the gardens from a new perspective with expert guides sharing tales and trivia.
  • Botanical Craft Markets: Local artisans showcase their wares, perfect for picking up a unique souvenir.
  • Gourmet Food Stalls: Savor regional delicacies with a modern twist, all while soaking in the ambiance.

With so much to see and do, the River of Lights offers something for everyone, making it a must-visit during the holiday season. Whether you’re a lover of art, a fan of the great outdoors, or simply in search of some holiday cheer, we invite you to join us in this celebration of light and life.

Festival Dates

Each year, the River of Lights at Biopark Botanic Gardens adorns itself in its festive brilliance on various dates. However, one thing remains consistent: these enchanting evenings always fall between the months of November and December. This schedule ensures that visitors can bask in the full ambiance of the winter season, with the crisp air complementing the glow of the myriad lights.

To ensure you mark the right dates on your calendar and don’t miss out on this luminous celebration, we strongly recommend checking the festival’s official website. Dates, after all, may vary, and the website will offer the most accurate and updated information on when you can experience the magic firsthand.

Where It’s Located and How to Get There

The River of Lights is located at ABQ Biopark Botanic Garden, 2601 Central Ave. NW. If you use public transportation, you can use buses 766, 66, 790, and 777, which have routes that pass ABQ Biopark Botanic Garden. 

The Biopark Botanic Gardens is conveniently located in the heart of Albuquerque. For travelers arriving by air, the Albuquerque International Sunport is the nearest airport, situated just about 10 miles away. This makes for a short and scenic drive, allowing visitors to transition smoothly from the bustling airport to the tranquil ambiance of the gardens.

If you liked this festival, you might want to check out these wonderful lights festivals as well:

Wakehurst Glow Wild

China Lights 2023 Nature’s Glow

Reaching Albuquerque by Train

  • From Santa Fe: The Rail Runner Express is a popular choice, offering a direct route with picturesque views of New Mexico’s landscapes.
  • From Denver: Amtrak’s Southwest Chief line connects Denver to Albuquerque, ensuring a comfortable journey through the Southwest’s vistas.
  • From Los Angeles: Board the Southwest Chief line from Los Angeles’ Union Station directly to Albuquerque.
  • From Chicago: The Southwest Chief also caters to travelers from Chicago, providing a direct connection to Albuquerque.
  • From Dallas: While there’s no direct train, one can take the Texas Eagle Amtrak line to San Antonio and then board the Sunset Limited line, which connects to the Southwest Chief.
  • From Phoenix: First, take the Thruway Bus service to Flagstaff, and from there, board the Southwest Chief line to Albuquerque.

Travelers are advised to check train schedules in advance and book tickets accordingly to ensure a seamless journey to Albuquerque.

Need a Taxi?

Where to Sleep

If you visit the River of Lights at ABQ Biopark, you will need a safe place to sleep. Here are some of our top options where you can stay.

Sandia Peak Inn

The Sandia Peak Inn is near Botanical Gardens, Old Town, Aquarium, and other tourist spots. The hotel can provide you with clean rooms with comfortable beds. 

They have good service and offer a personal touch to give you a satisfying stay. They also have complimentary breakfast and amenities like a pool, free parking, WiFi, and more. Each room features a flat-screen TV, microwave, air conditioning, telephone, and more. They also have an accommodating and approachable staff for your needs. 

The Querque Hotel 

The Querque Hotel can offer an excellent stay with its helpful amenities, including a pool, free parking, free WiFi, air conditioning, and a gym. It is only a 10-minute drive to the University of New Mexico and Balloon Fiesta Park. You can make the best of your stay with its fitness center and indoor pool. 

San Mateo Inn

San Mateo Inn can provide you with comfortable beds so that you can sleep well during your stay. You can also enjoy mountain biking and hiking trails nearby. It also has a seasonal outdoor pool where you can relax. The hotel can meet your expectations for a beautiful stay. 

Festival Hours

You can enjoy the twinkle lights from 5:00 PM to 10:00 PM. Joining the festival allows you to enjoy its awesome features, including Santa’s Workshop and free park & ride. The festival hours are a perfect time to unwind with a creative light show. 

How Much It Costs To Visit The Festival

The ticket price for visiting the Christmas light show is $14 for adults and $7 for kids from 3 to 12 years old from Monday to Thursday. 

The ticket price on Friday to Sunday for adults is $17 and $9 for children from 3 to 12 years old. There’s no need for a ticket for 2 years old and below. 

You can also have other costs for your food, accommodation, and other activities while visiting the lights festival

Tickets, however, may vary so it’s always best to visit the festival’s official website for the latest updates on ticket prices.

Weather and What to Wear

ABQ Biopark River of Lights is held from November to December, a winter season in the ABQ Biopark Botanic Garden. The daytime is about 7 degrees Celsius, while the temperature at night is around 20 degrees Fahrenheit. 

If you visit the fairy lights at ABQ Biopark, you should wear gloves, a hat, a jacket, and closed shoes. With this, you can keep warm during the cold weather. 

What to Eat

While visiting the light exhibition, you may get hungry. You can visit the following restaurants to satisfy your food cravings. 

Bosque Burgers

Bosque Burgers can serve your meals for dinner and lunch. If you love burgers, it is the best eating destination for you. Their friendly staff will serve you quality comfort food. The ambiance of the restaurant is very relaxing. 

Central Grill and Coffee House 

The Central Grill and Coffee House are among the most popular eating spots in the area. Some of their famous dishes include Kids Breakfast Burrito, Going Bananas French Toast, and more. 

You can also try their fresh baked deserts, New Mexican Southwest dishes, gourmet burgers, pancakes, and specialty sandwiches. 

Los Compadres 

Los Compadres serves Southwestern and Mexican dishes. Some of their daily specials are Tamale Plate, Beef & Papa Taco Plate, Adovada Plate, and more. They offer dinner, lunch, and breakfast meals. Aside from their delicious foods, they have a friendly staff, making it a perfect place to eat. 

Sandia Crust Pizza Company

If you’re a pizza lover, this pizza house is for you. They have quality and fresh ingredients and crispy crust. Their staff can give you quality customer service for a satisfying dining experience. 

More Things to Do in the Area

You can also enjoy other things while visiting blinking Christmas lights in ABQ Biopark. 

Biopark Aquarium 

You can view the sea creatures at the Biopark Aquarium. It features sea turtles, eels, colorful fish, and more. If you travel with your kids, it can be an ideal place to walk and breathe fresh air. 

ABQ Biopark Zoo

The zoo features over 900 animals like lions, monkeys, elephants, kangaroos, and koalas. Walking around the zoo is the best idea if you want to see exotic creatures. 

Tingley Beach 

Walking at Tingley Beach can make you feel relaxed. The beautiful nature will give you peace of mind. The beach features walking trails, a model boat pond, and three fishing ponds. It is also a good place for paddleboat rides and waterside picnics. 

Japanese Garden 

The Japanese Garden is another gem of the place. It features a pond with beautiful views of a waterfowl, a majestic waterfall, and colorful fish swimming. The garden allows you to appreciate the beauty of nature. 

A Final Sparkle: Wrapping Up Your Unforgettable Experience at ABQ Biopark River of Lights

The River of Lights at BioPark Botanic Gardens is more than just a festival; it’s a luminous embrace of culture, nature, and artistry. Each light tells a story, inviting visitors to become part of Albuquerque’s radiant winter tapestry. Whether you’re a first-time guest or a returning admirer, the gardens promise a magical experience that lingers long after the lights dim. We invite you to be part of this enchanting journey and create memories that glow.


  • Is there parking available at the venue?
  • Yes, ample parking spaces are available at the BioPark Botanic Gardens. However, during peak festival days, it’s advisable to arrive early to secure a spot.
  • Can visitors smoke within the gardens during the festival?
  • No, smoking is strictly prohibited within the BioPark Botanic Gardens to ensure the comfort and safety of all visitors.
  • Are pets allowed during the River of Lights?
  • While we love our furry friends, pets are not permitted during the festival. Service animals with proper identification are an exception.
  • Are there any group discounts available for ticket purchases?
  • Group discounts are available for larger parties. Please contact the festival’s ticketing office for more details on group bookings.
  • Is the event wheelchair accessible?
  • Absolutely! The Biopark Botanic Gardens are wheelchair-friendly, ensuring that all visitors can enjoy the River of Lights comfortably.
  • Can tickets be refunded or exchanged?
  • Unfortunately, tickets are non-refundable and cannot be exchanged. We encourage visitors to check their schedules before making a purchase.
  • Will there be food and beverages available for purchase?
  • Yes, a variety of food and beverage stalls will be available throughout the gardens, offering both local and international delicacies.
  • In case of inclement weather, will the festival still take place?
  • The River of Lights is an outdoor event and is subject to weather conditions. In extreme cases, the festival may be postponed or canceled. It’s best to check the official website or contact the festival organizers on the day of your visit if the weather seems uncertain.

While this article aims to answer questions and concerns about the festival, it is always best to visit the festival’s official website for up-to-date information.




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