Wild Lights will feature around 500 sculptures at the Detroit Zoo for attendees to take photos with.

Wild Lights will feature around 500 sculptures at the Detroit Zoo for attendees to take photos with.

Photo provided by the Detroit Zoo

Detroit Zoo’s Wild Lights to shine through early January

By: Mike Koury | Royal Oak Review | Published November 24, 2023


ROYAL OAK — Wild Lights, presented by Strategic Staffing Solutions, will begin Nov. 24 and run through Jan. 7 on select dates at the Detroit Zoo, 8450 W. 10 Mile Road. The zoo will feature millions of LED lights adorning its trees and buildings, along with about 500 sculptures.

When people walk into the zoo, said Emily O’Hara, senior manager of guest experience design, people will see the return of the Field of Light at the front, which consists of lighted tubes that appear to dance and play along to music.

“We are once again having our trail, which we just started activating last year, where guests can go through the forest, and this year it’s all underwater-themed, so they’re going to walk through a light tunnel and then by a sea of kelp and you’ll turn the corner and see a breaching whale. And that will end at a new interactive underwater wall, where when you walk by it, you kind of trigger phytoplankton and fish swim by and that kind of thing.”

O’Hara also highlighted the return of Toy Land that patrons can take photos with and the Wildlife Lodge, where people can warm themselves up and listen to live music. But she noted that what separates Wild Lights from other winter events is the abundance of lights that will shine throughout the zoo.

“We have lit animal sculptures throughout the footprint of the trail, and that’s really kind of the key feature that makes it the zoo experience,” she said.

Mayor Michael Fournier has spent many years at Wild Lights with his family, as they are members of the zoo.

Fournier said the zoo is like an additional park in Royal Oak where people can go to check out the lights or enjoy normal zoo activities.

“We’ve enjoyed over the years attending the event with our kids, and anytime that we can bring people in, especially in the colder months to Royal Oak, a great number of those folks decide that they want to come and patronize nearby businesses, which is always good for keeping the things we love, the businesses we love, vibrant and successful,” he said.

This will be the 11th year of Wild Lights, and the best thing about hosting the event, O’Hara said, is that every year is a new experience.

“We have some sculptures that folks see and love and you’ll still see them year after year, but we change the footprint and the layout every single year, and we always have new things that we enhance the trail with,” she said. “There’s a lot of nostalgia and kind of those key pieces, and yet you can come every single year and you’re going to experience something completely different at the same time.”

There are different ticketing packages for Wild Lights, which can be found at wildlights.detroitzoo.org, along with information on the event.