Nestled within Hilbert Conservatory will be multiple tracks of “O” and “G” gauge model trains. At the zoo, over 150 larger-than-life light sculptures depict holiday and animal scenes such as candy canes, snowflakes, Santa Claus and reindeer, Victorian carolers, giraffes, lions, deer, elephants, flamingos, swans and many others. With timed flashing lights, many of the light displays appear to be moving, and there are over a million twinkling lights.
“Christmas in the Animal Kingdom” returns to the Waters Building. The popular poem “The Night Before Christmas” comes to life through the vignettes created by Hoosier artist Vanessa Pegan that interpret how animals celebrate the spirit of the season. Nightly visits with Santa will be held inside the Kroger Party Pavilion. Families may also decorate their own special holiday cookies or nibble on holiday goodies. Digital photos with Santa will be available as will a bounce house for the kids. From Wednesday through Sunday, one of Santa’s own reindeer will be nearby. (Santa visits end on Dec. 23.)
The Julian Center Mitten Tree will be in the Kroger Party Pavilion, where visitors are encouraged to bring a gently used or new clothing item for women and children — mittens, gloves, scarves or socks — to put on the tree. Visitors donating items receive $1 off admission.
School and community choirs will perform in the Schaefer Rotunda at White River Gardens. Outside will be entertainers performing on selected evenings, plus nightly rides on the White River Junction Holiday Train and the carousel. The Café on the Commons will be open noon-9 p.m. throughout the event with their regular lunch and dinner offerings.
Purdue University will display around 125 different varieties of poinsettias in the Conservatory as part of its National Poinsettia Cultivar Trials. Each visitor may vote for their favorite from all the specimens, as well as their choices among the “novelty” and “red” groups.
White River Gardens will be closed from 5-9 p.m. on Dec. 11, and both sites will be closed Dec. 24-25. Combo ticket prices for both Kroger Christmas at the Zoo and the Indiana Rail Road Company presents Holiday Trainland show at White River Gardens are $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and children 2-12, and children 1 and under are free. Parking is $5. For more information: 630-2000, www.indianapoliszoo.com.