5 Reasons Why the Cincinnati Zoo Festival of Lights is the Perfect Holiday Outing

One of our favorite holiday traditions is to go to the Cincinnati Zoo’s Festival of Lights. It’s a wonderful way to kick off the holiday season in Cincinnati. Festival of Lights has something for everyone – from parents to kids to teens and everything in between.

Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo Festival of Lights


It’s Bigger and Brighter Than Ever

This year’s celebration will be bigger and brighter than ever with three million LED lights!

Christmas Tree at the Cincinnati Zoo Festival of Lights

The zoo is covered with lights! From the candy cane forest to fairyland to tunnels of light.

Tunnel of lights at the Cincinnati Zoo Festival of Lights


See Amazing Zoo Animal Lanterns

See some of your favorite zoo animals as lanterns. You’re not likely to see Fiona and Bibi outside but you CAN see them in lights!

Fiona at Festival of Lights
a Lioness Lantern at Cincinnati Zoo's Festival of Lights
Gorilla Lanterns at the Festival of Lights, Cincinnati Zoo


There’s Lots of Fun for Kids of All Ages

The zoo has numerous kid “zones” including a Frozen Woodland, a Holiday Post Office, Gingerbread Houses, live reindeer, and Meet a Creature Animal Encounters. Santa arrives at the zoo each day at 4pm (through Dec. 23).

You can even catch a show or two. Madcap Puppets perform a black light  “Fiona’s Winter Wonders” puppet show every night.

Frozen Wonderland at PNC Festival of Lights
Madcap Puppets at Festival of Lights, Cincinnati Zoo


You Can Take a Tour by Train

The BB&T Visitors Express will be running during the Festival of Lights. Enjoy the lights over Swan Lake and the rest of the zoo as you travel by rail.

Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo


See Some Animals

Some of the animals will be out and ready to greet you. Enjoy seeing the polar bears and live reindeer. You can see the gorillas in their indoor habitat at Gorilla World. And you can make some new friends with the Zoo’s Daily Animal Encounters and Activities.

Reindeer at the Cincinnati Zoo Festival of Lights

Need to warm up a bit? Pay a visit to one of the heated buildings including World of the Insect, Manatee Springs, and/or Night Hunters.

Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo is open November 17, 2018 through January 1, 2019.

Festival of Lights and Cincinnati Zoo hours*:
Visits with Santa begin at 4pm and Festival of Lights activities begin at 5pm; During the Festival of Lights the zoo closes at 9pm (Sundays-Thursdays) and 10pm (Fridays-Saturdays).

Festival of Lights is included in your Cincinnati Zoo admission. Zoo admission and parking fees can be found here.

*PNC Festival of Lights is closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Eve. The Zoo is closed all day on Christmas.

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