Outdoor Holiday

‘WildLights' Ups the December Dazzle in Palm Desert

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens has been a glimmerful go-to for nearly three decades; see the under-the-stars shimmer this season.

The Living Desert

What to Know

  • The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens
  • Through Dec. 30, 2021 (select nights)
  • $16 general, $14 member, $12 admission for children ages 3 to 12

THE DESERT BY NIGHT? It's a place of myth, of legend, of campfire tales, coyote songs, and the fluttering of birds, or perhaps bats, in the picturesque distance. An evening in an arid place often starts with an over-the-top spectacle of a sunset, all rose gold and deep orange, but soon you've been fully Milky-Way'd, as the star-dotted bowl over your head grows darker, darker, and then darker still. In other words? The desert, after the sun takes its daily leave, is pure magic, and adding thousands of bulbs, and sparkly installations, and illuminated animals to this ensorcelled scene only ups the air of enchantment.

THE LIVING DESERT ZOO AND GARDENS... has been in the enchantment-upping business for nearly three decades now, thanks to its popular year-ending experience, "WildLights." The outdoor festivity, which features several inspired-by-nature displays, is a different sort of spin on the outdoor light show. It isn't common to spy "a herd of life-size, luminescent animal lanterns," but this Palm Desert destination boasts oodles of bright beasties (while the actual beasties are tucked up for the night). A light tunnel, model trains, spots to purchase sips and eats, and other December-style details have made this merry must-visit a Coachella Valley classic.

BUY YOUR TICKET... before you go, and know ahead of time that there will be a few closed nights (like Christmas, for example). But this enduring event will twinkle over most evenings, straight through to Dec. 30, 2021. Planning a desert idyll over the holidays? This could be just the airy adventure you seek, one that has seasonal charms, incandescent animal sculptures, and, oh yes, a sky of stars, with, just maybe, a Milky Way sighting or two.

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