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Houston's best holiday lights? It's hard to beat this winding, magical trail

Houston's best holiday lights? It's hard to beat this magical trail

News, Shelby, Zoo Lights, Dec. 2014
TXU Energy's Zoo Lights creates a magical wonderland with 2,000,000 lights. Photo by Shelby Hodge
News, Shelby, Zoo Lights, Dec. 2014
Zebras are among the multitude of light animals prancing through the magnificent setting. Photo by Shafik Rifaat
Houston Zoo lights November 2014
In its third year, Houston Zoo's Zoo Lights is better than ever. Photo courtesy of Houston Zoo
Houston Zoo lights November 2014 lights in trees
Lights dance and flash to holiday tunes. Photo courtesy of Houston Zoo
Houston Zoo lights November 2014 art car
The "Holly Berry" artcar, a 1958 Cadillac, welcomes guests to the nightly party. Photo courtesy of Houston Zoo
News, Shelby, Zoo Lights, Dec. 2014
Even the non-professional can have fun photographing the amazing light displays. Photo by Shafik Rifaat
Houston Zoo holiday lights, November 2012
While the real animals sleep, the holiday creatures enchant. Photo by Stephanie Adams/Houston Zoo
News, Shelby, Zoo Lights, Dec. 2014
Around every corner, a new light display awaits. Photo by Shafik Rifaat
News, Shelby, Zoo Lights, Dec. 2014
Lights are everywhere along the 1.9-mile course.  Photo by Shafik Rifaat
News, Shelby, Zoo Lights, Dec. 2014
Whimsical decorations pop up throughout the zoo. Photo by Shafik Rifaat
News, Shelby, Zoo Lights, December 2014
Creativity with the lights has no limits. Photo by Shelby Hodge
Houston Zoo holiday lights, November 2012
Lighted animals march near the real-life habitats. Photo by Sarah Rufca
Houston Zoo holiday lights, November 2012
This says it all.  Photo by Stephanie Adams/Houston Zoo
News, Shelby, Zoo Lights, Dec. 2014
Whimsical decorations pop up throughout the zoo. Photo by Shelby Hodge
Houston Zoo lights November 2014 animals
Lions and tigers, but no bears, oh my, are part of the light play. Photo courtesy of Houston Zoo
News, Shelby, Zoo Lights, Dec. 2014
News, Shelby, Zoo Lights, Dec. 2014
Houston Zoo lights November 2014
Houston Zoo lights November 2014 lights in trees
Houston Zoo lights November 2014 art car
News, Shelby, Zoo Lights, Dec. 2014
Houston Zoo holiday lights, November 2012
News, Shelby, Zoo Lights, Dec. 2014
News, Shelby, Zoo Lights, Dec. 2014
News, Shelby, Zoo Lights, Dec. 2014
News, Shelby, Zoo Lights, December 2014
Houston Zoo holiday lights, November 2012
Houston Zoo holiday lights, November 2012
News, Shelby, Zoo Lights, Dec. 2014
Houston Zoo lights November 2014 animals

If the "holly jolly Christmas"spirit hasn't landed on your doorstep yet, we suggest a quick trip to the Houston Zoo where the nightly enchanted forest extravaganza — Zoo Lights — will soon have you humming "Jingle Bell Rock" and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer."

No bah humbugs allowed! In fact, it's impossible to be anything but near giddy amid the magnificent TXU Energy presentation that features more than 2 million LED dancing lights spread across the zoo along a marvelous winding path that follows a 1.9-mile course. (Comfortable footwear a must.)  In its third year, the magical wonderland of lights is better than ever.

The majestic oaks wrapped like holiday presents in rings of light — white, yellow, red, lavender — are just the beginning of this light show so enchanting that surely Santa's elves had a hand in it. Colossal lighted globes spin overhead while waterfall lights create fantastical illusions.

 The majestic oaks wrapped like holiday presents are just the beginning of this light show so enchanting that surely Santa's elves had a hand in it. 

A tunnel of sparkling lights in rainbow colors invites as lights across the park dance to holiday tunes. Bruce Springsteen belts out "Santa Claus is Coming to Town." Bing Crosby warbles "White Christmas. And Andy Williams lifts spirits with "The Most Wonderful Time of Year."

Beyond sight-seeing, activities include holiday carolers each night at 7 and at 8, photo opps inside a giant snow globe, s'mores for the making, riding the Wildlife Carousel gingerbread cookie decorating and loads of places for snack or a meal. Hot chocolate for the kiddos and beer and wine for the grown-ups keep spirits high.

Zoo Lights runs 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. nightly through Jan. 4, except for Christmas and Christmas Eve. (Admission is separate from regular zoo admission, ticket discounts offered online.)