Some holiday traditions stay the same year after year. Then there's Lights Before Christmas at Riverbanks Zoo.
The zoo is always tinkering with its lights show, trying to add new sparkle to the old favorites. This year's major addition is the Holiday Card Walk, giant pieces of art designed by local school classes.
The zoo set no parameters for the cards, just asked students to decorate 4-by-8-foot panels with holiday notions. Some of the oversized greeting cards feature traditional Christmas motifs; others incorporate the zoo setting, with animals gathered around a fire or pulling Santa's sleigh, said zoo spokesperson Lindsay Burke.
The other additions include giant candy canes that flash to music and tube lights that give the impression of snow falling.
Lights Before Christmas regulars also will notice the popular "Music in Motion" show has moved from the former sea lion pool to in front of the giraffe exhibit.
The show runs 6-9 p.m. through Jan. 3, with breaks on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas and New Year's Eve. The busiest nights always are the weekends closest to Christmas.
To avoid the lines at the ticket booths, you can purchase tickets online at riverbanks.org for $8 for adults and $6 for ages 3-12.
The other major light show in the area - Holiday Lights on the River at Saluda Shoals Park - begins Wednesday and runs through Dec. 31. It's a drive-through display with special get-out-and-play opportunities on Friday and Saturday nights and the full week of Dec. 17-23.
Holiday Lights on the River admission is $10 per car, $20 for 15-passenger vans and $35 for buses.