The annual holiday tradition, Essex County’s Holiday Lights Spectacular at the Turtle Back Zoo, opens this weekend!

Take a stroll through the zoo surrounded by the sparkling lights of over 50 winter and animal holiday-themed figures illuminated with over one million lights. Myrtle the Turtle, the mascot of Turtle Back Zoo, and several of his winter friends will be on hand to greet visitors at the zoo. Several animal exhibits will be open to enjoy, including the Sea Lion Sound, Essex Farm, Tam-ring Gibbons Reserve, Amazing Asia and the Reptile Building. Also part of the festivities is storytime—a family-friendly event for young children ($10 per participant), seasonal activities such as a s’mores station, Grinch weekend, and photos with Santa!

Even more spectacular–admission is FREE! Instead of paying an admission fee, the zoo is asking for donations of non-perishable food items, new, unwrapped toys, and new or gently used winter coats. Items will be given to several organizations that provide assistance to those in need. Last year, between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, about 18 tons of non-perishable food, toys, and winter coats were collected.

Essex County Holiday Lights Spectacular

Hours and dates: 5–9 p.m. each night

  • Friday, Saturday, Sunday, November 17, 18, 19
  • Friday, Saturday, Sunday, November 24, 25, 26
  • Friday, Saturday, Sunday, December 1, 2, 3
  • Daily from Friday, December 8 to Sunday, December 31 (closed on December 24 and 25)

Location: Essex County Turtle Back Zoo, 560 Northfield Avenue, West Orange.

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