This is the time of year when people like to dress up their homes and properties with bright lights and festive holiday displays.
And it’s not restricted to suburban neighbourhoods.
The B.C. Wildlife Park likes to go all out, too.
Celebrating its 21st year, the annual Wildlights Festival brightens up the east Kamloops park and features a number of events and entertainers for visitors to check out.
Wildlights is sponsored by Cascades Casinos and runs from Dec. 14 to Jan. 6, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. every day except for Christmas Day.
Julie Ratcliffe, marketing and events manager for the park, said Wildlights is a big part of the organization’s bottom line.
“Wildlights helps to generate revenue for the park that will carry it through the slower season and into the new year,” she said. “As a not-for-profit, we look forward to the support of the local community.”
The primary draw is the spectacular light displays, which feature more than 650,000 lights, creating an eclectic mix of images throughout the park.
It’s beautiful, but Ratcliffe noted there is a lot of work behind it — about eight weeks, with set-up beginning in early October. It then takes about five weeks to dismantle.
For those who have visited Wildlights in the past, Ratcliffe pointed to some new experiences that might be of interest. Families can take pictures in the Canadian Tire Kamloops Holiday Gazebo, enjoy the bright lights train tunnel and experience more lights than ever.
Visitors can also participate in Scrooge’s Scavenger Hunt, enter the Ugly Christmas Sweater Contest, bake their way into the Dec. 16 and Dec. 17 Cookie-Baking Contest and attempt to conquer the Nutcracker Maze. Coffee and doughnuts will be on sale Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Featured again this year is perhaps the park’s most popular attraction — the Wildlife Express miniature train.
“Our guests love to ride the Wildlife Express train and see the lights from a different view,” Ratcliffe said.
Uncle Chris the Clown will be performing magic shows at 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. most nights (there is no 6:30 p.m. show on Dec. 16 and no shows on Dec. 20, 24, 26, and 31).
Elk feedings are daily at 6 p.m., while reptile meet-and-greets will take place daily at 7 p.m.
You can visit with the goats in the Home Hardware Family Farm from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. daily, purchase a snack at the Caboose or have dinner at the Blue Heron Café. You can even finish up your Christmas shopping at the Naturally Yours gift shop.
Of course, Santa always stops by to say hello.
Annual pass holders receive 50 per cent off the price of admission.
“Wildlights is a great all-ages holiday family tradition that focuses on bringing people together and celebrating the holidays in an outdoor environment,” Ratcliffe said.
Admission to Wildlights is $12.45 per adult, $10.45 per senior, $8.45 per child (ages three to 17) and free for those ages two and under.