As a young child, I loved seeing all the beautiful Christmas lights as I walked through my neighborhood. It was a time when I would oooh and ahhhh over the most exciting and dramatic displays. I would mentally take myself into a storyland that was filled with wonder and excitement. My “imagination station” would be running wild each time I saw Santa and his reindeer lit up across a neighboring rooftop. The twinkle in my eyes would light up almost as magically as my neighborhood. It was one of my favorite parts of the Christmas season.
As I grew older I began to notice that with each passing year, there seemed to be fewer and fewer displays being set out for our visual enjoyment. Memories stay with us, of course, but there is something to be said about seeking out the same experiences for our little ones to enjoy for themselves.
And so our quest began. We found two places in Memphis where large displays of lights were on display for our viewing pleasure.
Zoo Lights at the Memphis Zoo
We began with a family trip to the Memphis Zoo where they have created a holiday atmosphere for everyone to enjoy. Their annual “Zoo Lights” features a large display of light exhibits extending from the entrance of the zoo to the Teton Trek. Santa is on hand for pictures with your children and there is food, beverages, and treats available at stops throughout the zoo. In addition, the trams operate at no charge for those who’d rather ride than walk through the zoo’s displays. On select nights, the zoo’s outdoor tented ice skating rink is open for your enjoyment! Check the Memphis Zoo website for more information and hours of operation.
One thing that struck Louis and me about Zoo Lights was how it would make for a great date night for a couple that enjoys long strolls together, bundled up in winter warmth. While we went as a family, we also saw that there were several places along the path where a couple could sit down on a bench, enjoy the lights and take in some people-watching before walking again, hand in hand, throughout the zoo.
For more details on Zoo Lights, check out the Memphis Zoo’s website: www.memphiszoo.org
Starry Nights at Shelby Farms Park
Shelby Farms, the largest urban park in America, has once again decorated itself with more than a million LED lights. From November 25, 2011 until December 30, 2011, nighttime visitors to the park are treated to an imaginative display of lights designed to peak your sense of wonder.
As you drive through the park, you’ll see balls of light “rolling” down hillsides, setting off more displays as they make their way through the park. You’ll see a giant dinosaur rising from the depths of one of the park’s lakes. You’ll experience a ride “under the sea” where you experience an underwater light show. There is a giant nativity scene, a music themed section, and much more.
On Monday nights in December, Starry Nights is closed to cars. Visitors can walk, bike, or jog through the park and take in the sights. Carriage Rides are available on a first come, first serve basis Sunday through Thursday nights.
In addition, “Mistletoe Village” is open in the Woodland Discovery Playground where you can toast S’mores, sip hot cocoa, and take your picture with Santa.
Learn more about Starry Nights at www.starrynightsmemphis.com
There may be fewer lights decorating our neighborhoods these days, but the Memphis Zoo and Shelby Farms Park have taken it upon themselves to make sure that today’s generation can experience the joys and imaginative wonder that comes from seeing marvelous displays of festive holiday lights!