Turtle Back Zoo Holiday Lights Spectacular; 5pm to 9pm Daily, Friday, Dec. 12 to Sunday, Jan. 4; 560 Northfield Avenue, West Orange
WEST ORANGE, NJ - The Essex County Holiday Lights Spectacular continues for an eighth year at Turtle Back Zoo as 50 figures are illuminated by 100,000 lights throughout the complex. The free event runs daily, from 5pm to 9pm, beginning Friday, Dec. 12 until Sunday, Jan. 4. Visitors are encouraged to bring donations for local food pantries and assistance groups.
New to the Holiday Lights Spectacular this year are themed weekends. Friday through Sunday winter films, music and crafts will be offered. Additionally, several animal exhibits will be open nightly, photographs with Santa will be available until Dec. 23 and refreshments will be available for purchase. Turtle Back Zoo is located at 560 Northfield Avenue, West Orange.
Over 100,000 lights will illuminate figures of about 50 animal and holiday-themed figures throughout the Zoo and surrounding complex including bears, tigers, elephants and holiday lights designed to look like wooden soldiers, stars and winter scenes. Additionally, several animal exhibits will be open, including:
Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo announced on Friday that 2104 is the second straight year the zoo topped 600,000 in attendance and the fifth time it topped half a million.
Photos Credit: Laura McCarthy
“We invite the public to make this Essex County holiday tradition
New to the Holiday Lights Spectacular this year are themed weekends. Popular films, holiday music, crafts and animal presentations will be offered each Friday through Sunday along with ice carving demonstrations on Saturdays. Movies will be shown continuously in the Sea Lion Sound Exhibit beginning at 5pm until closing.
The schedule for the weekend activities is as follows:
Friday, Dec. 12 to Sunday, Dec. 14
Friday, Dec. 19 to Sunday, Dec. 21
“Our themed weekends will make your visit to the
Visitors to the Holiday Lights Spectacular are encouraged to bring donations for the needy which will be collected at the front entrance of the Zoo. Specifically, non-perishable foods and pet foods, new unwrapped toys, and new and gently used winter coats are being requested. Last year, from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, about 5.5 tons of non-perishable food, 5,984 toys and 1,778 winter coats were collected for the less fortunate.
The following foods, hygiene necessities and household supplies are currently in demand at local assistance groups:
“We are offering free admission
The Essex County Holiday Lights Spectacular is sponsored by PSE&G, Covanta Energy, the Zoological Society of New Jersey and the Essex County Parks Foundation.
Turtle Back Zoo
Acting Director Brint Spencer
560 Northfield Avenue
West Orange, NJ 07052
Turtle Back Zoo is committed to providing an enriching recreational experience that fosters excellence in wildlife education and wildlife conservation. Formed in 1962 on a 15.5 acre section of the county’s South Mountain Reservation, the Zoo was designed by Tjark Reiss who created the exhibits based on Hans Christian Anderson’s nursery rhyme themes. The zoo opened on June 3, 1963 with a collection of 140 animals of 40 species and by ten years later the zoo’s animal collection had grown to 850 animals of 275 species. Since taking office in 2003, Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo has spearheaded over $70 million in upgrades to the zoo. In September 2006, Turtle Back Zoo was granted accreditation by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association. This distinct honor places Turtle Back Zoo among the elite zoos and aquaria of the United States and means that the zoo adheres to the highest standards for zoos in the country.