Albuquerque’s River of Lights continues to brighten New Mexicans’ Winter

By; Izabella Kubiak

The annual River of Lights started Nov. 25 and featured light sculptures in Albuquerque’s Biopark.

The River of Lights has been offered to New Mexicans at the Biopark since 1997 and is run by the non-profit New Mexico Biopark Society to fundraise for the Biopark, aquarium, and Botanical gardens.  New Mexicans visit the Biopark in the winter to observe light sculptures, like dinosaurs, bugs, and other animals. 

Some New Mexicans, like Elyse Sorenson, enjoy grabbing a warm cup of hot chocolate before they walk the Biopark. Hot drinks are offered at a kiosk by the entrance, and apple cider, brownies, and cookies are also offered. 

Food options available at River of Lights photos by Izabella Kubiak

“We always get hot chocolate because it’s the best for the time of year. It makes everything warm and cozy,” Sorenson said. 

Sorenson is from Albuquerque, New Mexico, and tries to visit the Biopark annually with her husband, Xander Sorenson, if they aren’t busy. 

“Our favorite part of River of Lights is spending time with those we love, but we can’t always go annually because of our busy schedules. When we do go, we have lots of fun,” Sorenson said.

Although there is a rope limiting guests from climbing on sculptures, New Mexicans can capture mementos in front of the sizable figures, the tallest being the Bioparks returning green dinosaur. 

Some areas have exhibit themes, like a safari scene or an ‘under-the-sea’ adventure. Rachel Winn, who is from Albuquerque, says her favorite is the dinosaurs.

“I like the dinosaurs because I think it’s cool that they can create 3D objects out of the lights and it makes it feel magical,” said Winn.

Dinosaur figure at the River of Lights photos by Izabella Kubiak

Winn currently lives in Lubbock, attending Texas Tech, and tries to visit the Biopark when she comes home for winter break. 

“When I come home from school, I like to visit my family and partake in New Mexican traditions. I feel like River of Lights is one of those things you have to do when you come back to Albuquerque,”  Winn said. 

Aside from the light sculptures, some visitors of Albuquerque’s Biopark like the park for the quality time it brings with friends and family.

Maisy Dunlavy, a student at UNM, says she likes to walk the Biopark with those closest to her. 

“My favorite part of River of Lights is getting to experience it with my loved ones. It makes the holidays seem so much more joyful,” said Dunlavy.  

Light sculptures photos by Izabella Kubiak

The last day to visit the Biopark for River of Lights is Dec. 30, and the park is open from 5 p.m. – 10 p.m. Monday through Sunday. Tickets are available for purchase online from the city of Albuquerque website. 

“Everytime we go, me and my family always have so much fun together,” Dunlavy said. “I hope New Mexicans can enjoy this year’s River of Lights like mine has.”