Christmas At The Zoo – Indianapolis Zoo Lights


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Nestled in the heart of Indianapolis, the iconic Christmas at the Zoo event beckons visitors to a mesmerizing festival of lights. As the chill of winter embraces the city, the zoo comes alive with twinkling fairy lights, vibrant displays, and festive spirit. From enchanting animal encounters to the hypnotic dance of curtain and twinkle lights, this is more than just a Christmas light show; it’s a celebration of the season’s magic.


Christmas At The Zoo - Indianapolis
Festival highlights

About Christmas At The Zoo Indianapolis

Christmas at the Zoo in Indianapolis is more than just a festival; it’s a symphony of lights, sounds, and experiences that capture the essence of the holiday season. As visitors walk through the zoo, they’re transported to a luminous world, where the very air seems to shimmer with magic and wonder. With each step, the stories of Christmas come to life, backed by a mesmerizing array of lights and activities that cater to both the young and the young at heart.

Featured Lighting Displays

  • Tunnel of Lights: Walk through a dazzling corridor of brilliance and emerge on the other side filled with festive joy.
  • Christmas Trees: Majestic trees adorned with thousands of lights, standing tall and bright.
  • Animation Video Mapping: Witness stories unfold on surfaces, turning static structures into dynamic tales.
  • Light Projection on the Ground: Each step you take is illuminated with radiant patterns and scenes.
  • Twinkling Lights: Everywhere you look, little lights twinkle, creating a serene and magical ambiance.
  • Illuminated Christmas Decorations: Traditional holiday symbols gleam in vibrant colors, lending an authentic touch to the festivities.
  • Light Displays Depicting Animals: From glowing lions to shimmering swans, discover a zoo that shines in the night.
  • Twinkling Trees: Trees that don’t just stand but shimmer, adding to the dreamy landscape.

Other Festive Activities

  • Visiting Santa’s Village: Meet the jolly old man himself and maybe whisper your Christmas wish.
  • Helping Mrs. Claus Decorate Cookies: Get hands-on in the kitchen and add your personal touch to some delicious holiday treats.
  • Exploring the Mirror Maze: Dive into a world of reflections and discover a playful side to the festival.

Whether you’re here to marvel at the spectacle of lights or create cherished memories with loved ones, the Christmas at the Zoo festival ensures an experience like no other.

Festival Dates (2023)

Christmas at the Zoo Indianapolis unfolds its magic from November 18 to December 30, 2023. As you mark your calendars for this enchanting festival of lights, please take note that the event will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day, giving the luminescent creatures and dedicated staff a moment of festive respite. Ensure you plan your visit around these dates to fully immerse yourself in the radiant wonders of the season.

Where It’s Located and How to Get There

The radiant spectacle of Christmas at the Zoo Indianapolis graces the grounds of the renowned Indianapolis Zoo. Located in the vibrant heart of Indiana, USA, this event transforms the zoo into a luminous wonderland, offering visitors an unforgettable holiday experience against the backdrop of one of the state’s premier attractions.

For those flying in, the Indianapolis International Airport is the nearest gateway to this Festival Of Lights Indianapolis. Situated approximately 14 miles from the zoo, visitors have multiple transportation options at their disposal. Taxis and rideshare services like Uber and Lyft are readily available at the airport for direct journeys. Alternatively, for those preferring public transport, bus services operate routes that connect the airport and the city, from where you can easily get to the zoo.

Getting to Indianapolis by Train from Other Cities

  • From Chicago: Board the Amtrak Cardinal service, which runs thrice a week and offers a direct route to Indianapolis.
  • From Cincinnati: The Amtrak Cardinal service also connects Cincinnati to Indianapolis, ensuring a smooth journey.
  • From St. Louis: While there’s no direct Amtrak service, visitors can take a combination of train and bus to reach Indianapolis.
  • From Louisville: Again, while no direct train service exists, a combination of train routes and bus services can get visitors to Indianapolis.
  • From Cleveland: The best route involves taking the Amtrak Capitol Limited to Chicago and then boarding the Cardinal to Indianapolis.

For information on train schedules and ticket prices, visit the respective train company’s official website.

Festival Hours

Dive into the glowing heart of the holiday season at Christmas at The Zoo, which opens its shimmering gates every evening from 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM. Within these hours, visitors are invited to explore the luminous displays, immerse themselves in the festive spirit, and create lasting memories under the canopy of twinkling lights. Ensure you maximize this time frame to capture the full brilliance of the event.

Cost to Visit the Festival

Experiencing the splendor of Christmas at The Zoo doesn’t come with an additional price tag. In fact, the cost of tickets to this luminous event mirrors the zoo’s general admission prices. Here’s a breakdown of the ticket rates:

  • Adults: $24.75
  • Children (2 to 12): $20.75
  • Senior and Military: $22.75

For those who are already members of the Indianapolis Zoo, there’s even more good news: your membership grants you free access to the Lights Festival! Such a membership not only offers an avenue to support the wonderful work of the zoo but also a golden ticket to multiple visits of festive brilliance. If you’re interested in availing a zoo membership or exploring its myriad benefits, we recommend checking out the Indianapolis Zoo’s official website for more information.

indianapolis zoo lights

Weather and What to Wear

As the curtain of winter descends on Indianapolis between November and December, the city experiences a transformation into a colder and more serene environment. Temperatures during these months typically hover around the mid-30s to mid-40s (°F) during the evenings. Crisp air is interspersed with occasional snowfalls, giving the city and the zoo a picturesque white blanket – enhancing the festival’s ambience.

To ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience at Christmas At The Zoo, it’s essential to dress warmly. Here’s our recommended clothing list:

  • Layered Outfits: Begin with thermal wear and layer up with sweaters or fleece for optimum warmth.
  • Warm Outerwear: A winter coat or a heavy jacket is a must-have.
  • Hats and Beanies: Keep your head covered to retain body heat.
  • Scarves: Wrap up to shield your neck from the chilly breezes.
  • Gloves: Preferably insulated ones to keep your fingers warm as you wander around.
  • Waterproof Boots: Especially if there’s a chance of snow or wet conditions, to keep feet dry and warm.
  • Warm Socks: Woolen or thermal socks will ensure your feet remain cozy.

Where to Sleep – Hotels Nearby

After a night of radiant wonders at the zoo, retreat to one of Indianapolis’ finest accommodations nearby to recharge and dream.

JW Marriott Indianapolis

  • Address: 10 S West St, Indianapolis, IN 46204, USA
  • Location: Centrally located in downtown Indianapolis, the hotel provides swift access to a myriad of city attractions, including the zoo.
  • Description: This luxury establishment offers guests an elevated experience with stunning city views, plush rooms, and top-notch service.
  • Amenities: Revel in amenities such as a state-of-the-art fitness center, a variety of dining options, and of course, complimentary Wi-Fi to share your festival memories in real time.

Staybridge Suites

  • Address: 535 S West St, Indianapolis, IN 46225, USA
  • Location: Conveniently positioned close to the heart of the city, making it a great choice for those keen on exploring further.
  • Description: Tailored for families and long-term visitors, Staybridge Suites offer spacious rooms, kitchenettes, and a homey environment.
  • Amenities: Beyond free Wi-Fi, guests can enjoy a daily breakfast buffet, an indoor pool, and a 24-hour business center.

The Alexander

  • Address: 333 S Delaware St, Indianapolis, IN 46204, USA
  • Location: Nestled in the city’s bustling center, The Alexander is a short drive from the zoo and other major landmarks.
  • Description: With its modern design infused with a touch of elegance, The Alexander captivates guests with its art-inspired interiors and chic ambiance.
  • Amenities: Alongside the indispensable free Wi-Fi, the hotel boasts an art gallery, a state-of-the-art fitness center, and gourmet dining options.

What to Eat

Illuminate your culinary senses with Indianapolis’ gastronomic delights after indulging in the festival’s visual feast.

  • St. Elmo Steak House
    • Location: 127 S Illinois St, Indianapolis, IN 46225, USA
    • Description: A historic establishment that has been serving Indianapolis since 1902, St. Elmo Steak House offers an elegant dining ambiance replete with dark wood interiors and a vintage charm.
    • Foods They Serve: Specializing in premium hand-cut steaks, they also offer a selection of seafood, chicken dishes, and their famed shrimp cocktail with a sinus-clearing horseradish sauce.
  • Bluebeard
    • Location: 653 Virginia Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46203, USA
    • Description: Set in a renovated 1920s warehouse, Bluebeard tempts diners with an ever-evolving menu that celebrates fresh, local ingredients.
    • Foods They Serve: The menu ranges from mouth-watering starters to hearty mains. Think charcuterie boards, fresh salads, and contemporary American dishes like duck breast, scallops, and their much-acclaimed lamb burger.
  • Milktooth
    • Location: 534 Virginia Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46203, USA
    • Description: This vibrant and eclectic spot brings a fresh take to the brunch scene, offering diners a blend of classic comforts with avant-garde twists.
    • Foods They Serve: The menu is a brunch lover’s dream with dishes like sourdough waffles, Dutch baby pancakes with unique toppings, croissant sandwiches, and an array of gourmet toasts and coffee blends.

More Things To Do In The Area

Beyond the brilliance of the festival, Indianapolis boasts a treasure trove of attractions waiting to be discovered.

Indianapolis Museum of Art

  • Location: 4000 Michigan Rd, Indianapolis, IN 46208, USA
  • Description: A pivotal cultural institution, the Indianapolis Museum of Art is nestled within an expansive campus known as Newfields. It’s a haven for art enthusiasts, showcasing a diverse collection that spans across continents and eras.
  • Activities to Explore: Dive deep into the world of art with exhibits featuring European, Asian, African, and American masterpieces. Don’t miss the serene gardens, contemporary art spaces, and the historic Lilly House on the grounds.

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

  • Location: 3000 N Meridian St, Indianapolis, IN 46208, USA
  • Description: Ranked as the world’s largest children’s museum, this wondrous space promises a blend of learning and fun, making it an ideal destination for families.
  • Activities to Explore: With five levels of exhibits, children can embark on adventures from digging for dinosaur bones to exploring the vastness of space. The museum also offers a planetarium, carousel, and interactive installations tailored for young explorers.

White River State Park

  • Location: 801 W Washington St, Indianapolis, IN 46204, USA
  • Description: Encompassing 250 acres, the White River State Park is the city’s premier green space, offering a respite from urban hustle while being located right in downtown Indianapolis.
  • Activities to Explore: Perfect for those looking to recharge in nature, visitors can enjoy leisurely strolls along the scenic canal, have picnics by the river, rent pedal boats, or even attend outdoor concerts and events at the park’s amphitheater.

A Final Sparkle: Wrapping Up Your Unforgettable Visit to Christmas At The Zoo Indianapolis

As the festive season unfurls, Christmas At The Zoo Indianapolis stands as a shimmering testament to the city’s spirit and warmth. Amidst twinkling lights and ethereal displays, memories are crafted, and traditions are solidified. 

Whether it’s your first visit or a cherished annual tradition, the magic of this festival intertwines with the soul of Indianapolis. So, come, bask in the glow, and let the city’s winter wonderland sweep you off your feet.


  • Is there designated parking available for the festival?
  • Yes, the Indianapolis Zoo offers ample parking spaces. It’s advisable to arrive early, especially on weekends, to secure a spot close to the entrance.
  • Are smoking and vaping allowed inside the zoo during the festival?
  • No, the Indianapolis Zoo is a smoke-free and vape-free environment. Designated smoking areas are located outside the main entrance.
  • Can I bring my pet to the festival?
  • Pets are not allowed inside the zoo. However, service animals with proper documentation are welcome.
  • Is there a separate ticket required for the Christmas At The Zoo festival?
  • No, the cost of the event is included in the zoo’s general admission ticket.
  • Are there any discounted tickets available for groups?
  • Yes, the zoo offers group rates for parties of 20 or more. It’s recommended to contact the zoo’s ticketing office in advance for group bookings.
  • Can we bring outside food and beverages to the festival?
  • Outside food and beverages are not permitted inside the zoo. However, there are multiple dining options available on-site.
  • Are strollers and wheelchairs available for rent during the festival?
  • Yes, both strollers and wheelchairs are available for rent on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • In case of inclement weather, will the festival be canceled?
  • The festival typically goes on, rain or shine. However, in extreme weather conditions, certain activities or displays might be affected. It’s always best to check the zoo’s official website or social media channels for any weather-related updates.

While this article aims to answer questions and concerns about the zoo lights festival, it is always best to visit the zoo’s official website for up-to-date information.


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