You might love visiting your local zoo during the summer months to see some amazing animals, and maybe even learn a thing or two. But did you know there’s another reason why you should visit a zoo this winter season?


What is ZooLights exactly? Many zoos around the country embrace the holiday spirit, play live music, cover the zoo in lights and decorations and even serve tasty treats for you to enjoy. You even have the opportunity to see some of the animals up close and personal.

ZooLights generally takes place after dark, when normally the zoo is closed, allowing you to have a really special experience spending a few hours wandering around under millions of twinkling lights.

Even if you don’t usually think of going to a zoo during the winter, ZooLights gives you a reason to!

Ready to experience a little bit of holiday fun with ZooLights this seasons? Here are a few places where you can take it all in.

National Zoo

Since Washington DC is home to one of the best zoo’s in the United States, the National Zoo, it shouldn’t come as a surprise they have an active ZooLights celebration the entire month of December.

Events include a ZooTubing track, a Zoo Choo-Choo and a Zoomagination Station just to name a few of the activities you can take part in.

Oregon Zoo Lights


Oregon Zoo

The Oregon Zoo in Portland also has a ZooLights event, running throughout December and to January 4th. This zoo has been growing their ZooLights participation each year, with even more lights and events in 2014.

Take a trip around the zoo on the Zoo train and enjoy some hot cocoa while taking in the new light experience planned.

Phoenix Zoo

The Phoenix Zoo really goes all out for their ZooLights celebration, featuring almost four million different lights, plus sparkling displays, and live music from some of your favorite holiday movies such as Polar Express.

Additionally, the zoo also will have some touch tanks open, camel and wagon rides for visitors running through early January.

Chicago Zoo Lights


Lincoln Park Zoo

In Chicago, the Lincoln Park Zoo embraces their own North Pole style feel during their ZooLights celebration. Lasting all of December and through early January, Lincoln Park features over two million lights! Zoo guests will enjoy passing the time with ice skating, visiting Santa, musical light shows, and live ice carvings just to name a few of the events!

These are just a handful of the zoos around the country that offer ZooLights, so be sure to check your local zoo and see if they have an event this month.

What about some of your local zoos? Do they have a ZooLights event going on each December? Share some of your favorite Zoo Lights in the comments!