Event HighLIGHTs

    • Families will enjoy searching for Fiona fairy statues in Fiona’s Fairyland
    • Take holiday photos in the Hippo Hut, which will be decorated to provide a festive backdrop!
    • Guests will feel like they’re blanketed by stars in the immersive “Northern Lights” light experience. 
    • 27 larger than life Animal Lanterns located throughout the Zoo
    • Wild Lights Show on Swan Lake
    • Winter Wonders Show by Madcap, 6:30p,7:30p, 8:30p (additional 9:30p show on Fridays and Saturdays)
    • Meet one of the Royal Sisters in Frozen Wonderland
    • Find the mouse in each Gingerbread House
    • Get your photo with Santa at the North Pole Village
    • See Santa’s Reindeer
    • Ride the Toyland Express Train Ride
    • Hear a story from Mrs. Claus
    • Roast Smore’s at the Smore’s Stations
    • Enjoy fresh roasted nuts and other holiday treats
    • See animals inside multiple indoor heated buildings


12224491_431773490352859_1090474428_nFollow #PNCFestivalOfLights

Share your PNC Festival of Lights pictures on social media using #cincyzoopic for a chance to be featured in future Zoo marketing material!

PNC Festival of Lights Scavenger Hunt

Looking for another fun way to enjoy #PNCFestivalofLights? Test your knowledge during the new scavenger hunt. Make your way through the Zoo to solve these festive riddles and heat things up with a little friendly competition! Share your scavenger hunt pictures on social media using #cincyzoopic for a chance to be featured in future Zoo marketing material.

Scavenger Hunt

Scavenger Hunt Answer Key




The PNC Festival of Lights has been a family holiday tradition for over 30 years.  We are proud to be the largest holiday light display in Cincinnati, but we understand that on some days during certain hours the amount of guests visiting the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden can cause delays.  These tips will help you maximize your holiday experience.

Arrive Early

You can arrive anytime after 10am and stay for the lights!  Traffic will be much lighter to enter the zoo if you are able to arrive before 4pm.  This way you can take your time inside the zoo and be the first to enjoy the most popular holiday activities like riding the train or visiting Santa.  Santa will be available starting at 4pm each day through 12/23. Admission is the same price whether you arrive before the PNC Festival of Lights activities start or after.

Make a Plan

Visit the “Plan Your Visit” section of this site to decide what to see and to learn when rides and activities are scheduled during the holidays. 

Buy Tickets Before You Arrive

Plan ahead and save! Skip ticket lines at the zoo by purchasing your tickets in advance. Print tickets and present them at the admissions gate. Discounted General Admission tickets can be purchased at the Customer Service counter at local Kroger stores.

Access for All

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s  Zoo Access for All program is designed to encourage families and individuals of all backgrounds to visit our world-class organization to build lifelong and multi-generational memories.

Here are two guides to help with your experience.

Zoo Access for All Tips for PNC Festival of Lights

Going to PNC Festival of Lights Social Narrative

Get Discounted Tickets

Discounted General Admission tickets can be purchased online & at the Customer Service counter at local Kroger stores.

Visit on Sunday through Thursday

Our busiest days, in general, are Fridays and Saturdays, especially the weekend after Thanksgiving and Christmas. The week between Christmas and New Years Day is the busiest week of the season. If you are able, please try to schedule your visit around these peak days.

Dress for Cold Weather & Bring a Blanket

You can always shed a layer!  You’ll be more comfortable, and warmer if you sit on a blanket in our amphitheater during the Madcap Puppet shows.

Know How to Get to the Zoo

Our street address is: 3400 Vine Street Cincinnati, OH 45220. Directions > 

Memberships make Great Gifts

The holidays are a peak time for membership gifts and renewals.  Although we will be happy to process your membership at Member Services, you can save time by renewing/purchasing it online or over the phone (513) 559-7713.

If purchasing or renewing your membership online, you will receive a confirmation e-mail that you can present at Member Services for your permanent membership cards or a Day Pass (if your cards have already been mailed).  If you are giving a membership as a gift, you will receive a gift certificate by either e-mail or traditional mail to present to your recipient.

Food & Drink

Warm-up with a variety of holiday treats available throughout the park!

Food Options

*New* Hops: Located in the Vine Street Village, near the new Roo Valley.  Sample our delicious new waffle pops with flavors like cookies and cream, cinnamon toast crunch, or funfetti!  Funnel fries with chocolate sauce and cinnamon sugar pretzels are also available to warm up your night.

Sweet Retreat:  Located in The Grove.  Try our new seasonal doughnut flavors: toasted marshmallow with chocolate sauce, apple pie doughnuts with whipped topping and granola or cinnamon sugar doughnuts.   Cinnamon sugar pretzels are also available.

The Coop:  Located in The Grove.  Warm up with our famous smoked chicken grilled cheese with tomato soup!

Taco Caja:  Located in The Grove.  Got a sweet tooth?  Visit Taco Caja to try our delicious dessert nachos, fried cinnamon sugar pita with caramel, whipped cream and crushed M&Ms, fried Oreo’s, or our fried Snickers.  Sure to be a sugar-lover’s favorite!

Wild Burger:  Located in The Grove.  Grab dinner at the Wild Burger with offerings like our Wild Burger, hot dogs, and corn dogs.  Loaded fried are also available here with toppings of bacon, cheddar, ranch, chili cheese or philly cheese!

Outpost: Located near the Gingerbread Village/Safari Camp. Enjoy hot chocolate with “Holiday Cheer”, three different types of domestic and craft beers, soft pretzels, popcorn, caramel corn, cinnamon roasted almonds, and a funnel cake. Counter service and outdoor seating available.

Smores N’ More: Located near the Gingerbread Village/Safari Camp. Feel the warmth over an open fire while roasting marshmallows. Purchase a single smore or a family pack of smores (feeds a family of 4), hot chocolate, and caramel corn. Counter service and outdoor seating available.

LaRosas: Located across from Kroger Lords of the Arctic. Support our local pizzeria and order cheese or pepperoni pizza, garlic & cheese breadsticks, fresh fountain soda, and hot chocolate. Outdoor seating available.

Graeter’s: Located across from Kroger Lords of the Arctic. Feeling too warm? Cool off with a scoop or two of ice cream. Choose from twelve of Graeter’s most popular flavors and plenty of toppings to go along with it. Enjoy hot chocolate, add “Holiday Cheer”, cinnamon roasted almonds, caramel corn, or cookies. Indoor and outdoor seating available.

Roasted Almonds: Roasted Almonds is located next to the Base Came Café. Taste some of the freshest cinnamon almonds straight from the roaster. Also enjoy hot chocolate, add some “Holiday Cheer”, caramel corn, and popcorn.  Outdoor seating available at both locations.

Tuskers: Located across from the Base Camp Café. Enjoy sweet cinnamon sugar pretzels, funnel cake, or hot chocolate, add some “Holiday Cheer”, choose from six different types of domestic and craft beers, and bottled beverages.

Base Camp Café: Appreciate supporting the Greenest restaurant in American, and enjoy gourmet burgers, chicken tenders, chicken sandwiches, fresh french fries and homemade kettle chips, fresh salads, LaRosas pizza, and many more options. Indoor and outdoor seating available.

Snack Shack: Located next to Historic Vine Street Village. Serving Almonds, Churros, Fresh Cinnamon Sugar Doughnuts, Single and Family Smores, Hot Chocolate, Pepsi Drinks

Candy Cane Cottage: Located next to the Base Camp Café. Get refreshed with three gourmet hot chocolates (Pumpkin Spice, Chocolate Covered Strawberry, or Candy Cane), caramel corn and cinnamon roasted almonds. Get warmed up with a hot coffee or latte.