The holidays arrive with wintertime, and yet so many of our seasonal staples, in terms of go-outs and must-dos, happen when the sun has gone night-night.
Caroling tops many an evening activity list, and ice skating, too (all of those twinkling lights surrounding a rink provide a picturesque backdrop to our twirls).
But if singing isn't your strong suit, and triple axels aren't in your skill set, there is another outdoorsy option that comes with plenty of twinkle and yuletide cheer: LA Zoo Lights at the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens.
The lots-of-lights lark is entering its third year in 2016, and it has a dual purpose: To both put on a sparkly, glow-forward, camera-ready show, and to launch the 50th anniversary of the Griffth Park-based zoo.
That anniversary, called "ZooLAbration," will really take flight (or leap or swing or bark or whatever animal action you prefer) in 2017.
On the Zoo Lights ends of things, look for seven weeks of nearly nightly wonderment ("nearly nightly" means only Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas are closed).
"More lights" is the promise for the 2016 displays, which will include "a fanciful menagerie of animal characters brought to 'life'" plus "a disco ball forest," "glittering twinkle tunnels," and a laser show that incorporates water.
What to do, where to go and what to see
Wait. A disco ball forest? This seems like a melding of two entirely distinct ideas that is far, far overdue.
Matters move from enchanted to slightly eerie at LAIR, where the zoo's Living Amphibians, Invertebrates, and Reptiles hang out. Not only is there a "giant illuminated snake" perched over the LAIR entrance during Zoo Lights, but black light within creates a subterranean world (you may just spy insects "scurrying" around walls).
Call it a drop of eek in the sweet drink that is Zoo Lights.
Speaking of real, actual sweet drinks, and not the proverbial ones: Hot chocolate is for sale, as are churros and other treats, so plan on wearing the mittens that help you clutch a warm beverage best.
And speaking of real, actual adults beverages: A special Holiday Happy Hours event for 21+ guests is on the schedule on Dec. 8 and 15.
And speaking of New Year's Eve: There's a family-fun party happening at the zoo, in case you're looking for a different sort of celebration. (Okay, we weren't actually speaking of New Year's Eve, but given that LA Zoo Lights runs from Nov. 18 through Jan. 8, it seemed worth noting.
And "thousands" of the "giant illuminated snowflakes" shall return, too, lending some traditional winterscapes to our mild Los Angeles nights.
There's more to come on the ZooLAbration, and the park's 50th anniversary, but, for now, best look into tickets, and your go-to scarf and mittens. You're headed outside this holiday season, the better to encounter, mega LED beasties glittering at points around the LA Zoo.