Zoo Lights

There’s no doubt that the holidays are the ideal time for decorative and zoo lights festivals. Just about everybody enjoys a done-up display featuring vibrant and multi-colored LEDs, perhaps some inflatable figures like Santa’s sleigh or Frosty the Snowman, as well as the occasional massive candy cane.

Now that everything is returning to its normal state, you can now freely walk into these events with your friends, family, or even special someone.

That got us thinking about the ideal places to enjoy a wonderful and memorable decorative holiday light tour.In most cities, visitors and residents alike will find local zoos that roll special displays during this time of the day.

Zoo Lights are excellent as they combine two things we truly enjoy: holiday lights and the zoo.

Bronx Zoo Holiday Light

Zoo Lights Around the World

Festival NameLocation (City, Country)ContinentDates
ZooLights at Lincoln Park ZooChicago, USANorth AmericaNovember 21 – January 3
Vivid Sydney at Taronga ZooSydney, AustraliaAustraliaAugust 27 – September 18
London Zoo LightsLondon, UKEuropeNovember 22 – January 3
Lumina Borealis at Kingston ZooKingston, CanadaNorth AmericaDecember 1 – February 28
Zoo Lights at Ueno ZooTokyo, JapanAsiaDecember 5 – January 12
Wild Lights at Dublin ZooDublin, IrelandEuropeNovember 25 – January 9
ZOOLIGHTS at Calgary ZooCalgary, CanadaNorth AmericaNovember 20 – January 2
River of Lights at BioPark ZooAlbuquerque, USANorth AmericaNovember 27 – December 30
Zoo Lights at Denver ZooDenver, USANorth AmericaNovember 23 – December 31
Christmas at the Zoo, Indianapolis ZooIndianapolis, USANorth AmericaNovember 21 – December 30
Zoo Lights at Houston ZooHouston, USANorth AmericaNovember 14 – January 10
Zoo Lights at Oakland ZooOakland, USANorth AmericaDecember 4 – January 17
Zoo Lights at Phoenix ZooPhoenix, USANorth AmericaNovember 7 – January 31
Festival of Lights at Cincinnati ZooCincinnati, USANorth AmericaNovember 21 – January 3
Jungle Bells at San Diego ZooSan Diego, USANorth AmericaDecember 4 – January 3
Wildlights at Woodland Park ZooSeattle, USANorth AmericaNovember 27 – January 3
Zoo Lights at Los Angeles ZooLos Angeles, USANorth AmericaNovember 20 – January 10
Zoolights at Point Defiance ZooTacoma, USANorth AmericaDecember 4 – January 3
ZOOLIGHTS at Smithsonian National ZooWashington D.C., USANorth AmericaNovember 27 – January 1
Lights Before Christmas at Toledo ZooToledo, USANorth AmericaNovember 20 – December 31
ZooLights at Stone ZooStoneham, USANorth AmericaNovember 19 – January 3
Wild Lights at Saint Louis ZooSt. Louis, USANorth AmericaNovember 27 – January 2
IllumiZoo – A Glenlore Tale at John Ball ZooGrand Rapids, USANorth AmericaOctober 10 – November 15
Wildlights at Columbus Zoo and AquariumColumbus, USANorth AmericaNovember 20 – January 3
ZooLights at Reid Park ZooTucson, USANorth AmericaDecember 4 – December 23
Christmas Lights Across Canada at The Canadian Museum of HistoryOttawa, CanadaNorth AmericaDecember 2 – January 7
Zoo Lights at Utah’s Hogle ZooSalt Lake City, USANorth AmericaNovember 29 – December 31
Glow Wild at WakehurstArdingly, UKEuropeNovember 26 – December 30
Christmas at Chester ZooChester, UKEuropeDecember 1 – December 24
Wild Lights at Elmwood Park ZooNorristown, 

*** The dates indicated are an average of the dates over the years. Therefore, you should check the posts on the website or on the official websites of these zoos ***

What Are Zoo Lights?

Zoo lights are a festival of lights that happens throughout the holiday season. This is an annual affair that takes place at different places during the Christmas period. The zoo invites visitors to experience the zoo nights, where there’s a collection of illuminated giant animal characters, rides, food stalls, and live entertainment.

With the lights on, you can see a Christmas light show, walk around the zoo, enjoy those millions of LED lights, view lighted animal lanterns, and many more. There are also numerous “selfie spots” you can enjoy to increase your Instagram accounts. How cool is that? 

Bronx Zoo Holiday Lights

What Can You See in Zoolights?

For about two weeks or a month in December, not only do locals and visitors get to enjoy the animals at the zoo, but they also get to witness art. Artistic and majestic LED light installations take over the zoo and transform it into a real winter wonderland.

Each year, the zoo takes on a different theme, and a contest opens to all artists, individuals, and organizations in public, persuading them to send in their ideas.

With a focus mainly on the zoo animals, most of the lights take on their forms. However, lights are not the only thing to explore when you head to a zoo during the festival of lights. You can also count on visits with Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus, hot chocolate standards, special date nights in the massive igloo, VIP nights, and so much more.

You can also expect decorations, treats, cute animals, roll a few balls of snow and make a snowman, and of course, celebrate the community of artists within the city. 

10 Zoo Lights Festival You Should Visit

Lincoln Park Zoo Lights

The Windy City is certainly home to one of the best Bavarian-style Christmas Markets in the United States. It is also one of the most terrific zoo light displays.

In these zoo lights, make sure you bundle up, get an adult drink from the pop-up holiday bar, and enjoy the glow of over a million brilliant LED curtain lights at the Lincoln Park Zoo Lights as festive music fills in the breezy air.

Last year, the zoo was powered by the green, renewable power of eco-friendly LEDs and wind energy. On top of that, the lights at the Lincoln Park Zoo Lights start only before Thanksgiving and run until January 2.

Apart from the beautiful holiday gifts, the Lincoln Park Zoo Lights delivers one of the best sceneries of Downtown Chicago.

Wild Lights Dublin Zoo

Are you heading to the wild lights at Dublin Zoo this year? From the USA to Morocco and India to Spain, you will embark on a breathtaking journey bring in the famous sights from all the continents even without leaving the grounds of Dublin Zoo. How cool is that?

New and exciting music is always on offer each night in the city. Experience the awe at seeing millions of LED lights strung up everywhere, from buildings to trees to purpose-built structures. But take note that space is limited to avoid overcrowding.

Guest numbers are also minimized, so make sure you reserve your tickets beforehand. Wild Lights will run on select weeknights, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

Keep warm by massaging your gloved hands over a fire pit or simply cooking marshmallows from your smores kit. Wild Lights Dublin Zoo will have a glowing garden, a candy crossing a frozen forest, and many other sparkling displays.

La Zoo Lights

Expect to see stunning 3D projections, lasers, and more LED lights than you can count as the entire zoo in this event becomes a sparkling light exhibition equipped with a water and music show.

But what can you expect? Well, expect classic elements from the LADWP Holiday Light Festival, including the Hollywood Bowl, the downtown LA skyline, and the Hollywood sign.

Of course, the old-fashioned lights are cool, but there are many modern techno-wizardry going on, as well. Just remember that sold-outs might take place, particularly on weekends and days near Christmas.

That’s why we recommend getting your tickets beforehand at the Zoo Lights’ official website. You can also print your ticket to the show at the entrance or present them with your mobile ticket.

Take in millions of festive lights at the LA Zoo lights—at eye level by walking the paths. Be serenaded by the music or warm up with hot chocolate.

Zoo Lights Houston

The zoo animals are tucked in for the night, but you can still enjoy a stunning holiday light display that involves the Infinity Tunnel of Light and a color-changing Christmas tree.

Visitors can easily swim through the glowing underwater adventure, finish with illuminated jellyfish, as well as other sea creatures, and walk around under a canopy of flickering flowers and vibrant butterflies in the hanging pollinator garden.

If that is not awesome enough, you could even experience snow in South Texas. That’s because Zoo Lights at the Houston Zoo is open from mid of November through early January.

Take note that the Houston Zoo provides a holiday recycling program, furthering its dedication to safeguarding wild animals. Since 2016, the zoo has already recycled over 24,000 pounds of broken and old lights. It is the approximate weight of two adult male Asian elephants. Cool, right?

Bronx Zoo Holiday Lights

First-time and newbie visitors to NYC can easily lose themselves in the steel and glass, the frenetic pace of a city rushing towards the next big thing. Even pro-New Yorkers find it a maddeningly complicated place to navigate.

Yet, this is exactly why New York City is certainly the greatest city on the planet. Are you planning to visit this city during the holiday season? Then make sure you take a trek up to the Bronx and visit the Bronx Zoo!

At the annual Holiday Lights Festival of the zoo, you can take advantage of a global safari in lights. Come see blinking Christmas lights and lanterns illustrating animals from across the globe. You can also spread through the zoo park. Every display is centered on a different geographic region in Latin America, Africa, and the oceans.

You can also enjoy amusing performances by stilt-walkers doing cool dances in those animal-themed costumes. You see, fairy lights at the Bronx Zoo feature a wildfire theater, ice carving competitions, and of course, festive holiday snacks.

Detroit Zoo Lights

Up North, where Canada lies only across the Detroit River, the front half of the Detroit Zoo is changed into a wonderful winter wonderland with millions of meteor shower lights illuminating sculptures, buildings, and trees.

However, this holiday zoo light extravaganza is more than glittering giraffes and sparkling snowflakes. The Motor City might not come to mind when you consider holiday destinations, but the city’s transformation in the past years has been exceptional.

The Detroit Zoo is somewhat removed from Downtown and is situated alongside I-696 at Woodward Avenue. This year, you can enjoy the magic and wonder on display at Wild Lights. Experience the amazement at seeing millions of LED curtain lights strung up everywhere, from buildings to trees.

Denver Zoo Lights

Some holiday zoo light displays are constrained to only a portion of the park, but two million LED and curtain lights twinkle across over eighty acres at the Denver Zoo Lights. While most of the zoo light experiences do not include animal viewing, expect cold weather-loving critters to be on display.

The best part here is that the Tropical Discovery Building, along with sloths, snakes, frogs, and fishes, is open during the Zoo Lights Festival.

Apart from the Champagne Toast, Blue Lagoon, and Watering Hole exhibits, you should also not miss evening ice carving presentations, which are made by local artists. Denver Zoo Lights starts in late November and runs through the early days of January, and tickets are all high in demand.

Come see the many walkways and paths, all decorated with fun displays and myriad colors. Don’t wait to grab yours until they are gone! Supplies are limited, and many dates in December are sold out. 

Zoo Lights Columbus

Let millions of net lights and twinkle lights trees that dance across the Columbus Zoo amaze you. The majestic animals and trees in this zoo are something all to themselves. There is an aura here found nowhere else in the United States.

Every year, the holidays descend on the zoo. Millions of sparkling LED lights dust the trees throughout the zoo, creating a majestic winter wonderland for the entire family.

The lights festival runs from mid-November to early January. Expect to see the Sparkling Spruce—the giant Christmas tree for the holidays. You can also snap some photos in front of the popular Sparkling Spruce that is located inside the gates and stick around for its exclusive lights show.

If you have children, they will love to have a meet and greet with characters such as Herme the Elf, Abominable Snowman, Yukon Cornelius, and Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Zoo Lights Portland

In a city sought for its Christmas Ships Parade and Winter Light Festival, you can be certain that the zoological park of Portland will join the seasonal festivities.

Under the light of over 1.5 million icicle lights, stroll through a rainbow tunnel, explore the Glowing Grove, and cherish over 200 animated animals swinging through trees, diving into the sea, and grazing on the lawn.

Zoo Lights at the Oregon Zoo in Portland is open on a daily basis from late November to early January, but with the exception of Christmas Day. You can also cruise past the exhibitions in your car on select nights.

If you prefer the drive-through Zoo Lights Portland experience, make sure you pre-order select snacks like kettle corn, hot cocoa, cotton candy, and elephant ears when you get your tickets.

Akron Zoo Lights

It’s time you bundle up and bring your family and friends to Lincoln Park Zoo for the wildest festival of lights. What a fantastic way to experience the zoo, right?

The zoo is covered in different and bright Christmas lights and structures, making the place a magical place to visit. Here, you will see Santa, ice skating, a plethora of costumed characters, live music from carolers, and even have smores by the fire, meet ice carves, and more all season long!

Expect to see more than a million holiday lights featured on the outdoor display decorating the whole zoo virtually. Animals in their habitat, trees along with synchronized music, as well as awesome fun photo-ops, will get everybody in your family into the wild Christmas spirit.

The best part here is that you’ll have a chance to meet Santa Claus. Also, the snow queen, snow princess, snowman, and the Grinch will be making some special appearances. To guarantee a cozy and toasty experience, plenty of hot chocolate and beer will be available for purchase.

Final Thoughts

While cold weather-devoted critters such as Santa’s reindeer, polar bears, and wadding penguins—are often most linked with the holidays, you will certainly find everything from a pollinator’s paradise to a tree of flamingos at this awesome holiday zoo lights experiences from coast to coast.

Just a little reminder. Make sure you get there while the sun is still out. The festivities often start in the late afternoon, but it will help if you are there just before the sunset—which can be a cool time to be in the zoo. The animals are settling in for the night, and the sunset beautifully sets the tone for the entire evening, not to mention it’s the ideal time to miss the crowds.

The zoo lights festival is a must-visit attraction during the holiday season, not to mention there are a lot of cool photo opportunities. There’s the lovely Christmas tree, the snowman, the bright LED lights, and so much more!

Apart from the light display, you will find more holiday activities in these areas. Consider reading about each festival to see some of the most holiday activities anywhere. Make sure you bring your friends, family members, and special someone with you to these festivals, and you are certain to create unforgettable memories together!

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