November 18, 2017 – January 1, 2018

Voted #1 Zoo Lights in the Country by USA Today!

Open Sunday – Thursday – 5p – 9p
Friday & Saturday – 5p – 10p

Closed Thanksgiving (open during the day), Christmas Eve (open during the day) and Christmas Day (closed all day).


Get discount tickets at your local Kroger.

Skyline Chili Half Price Nights – Monday through Wednesday until Dec 6. (November 20,21,22, 27, 28, 29 & December 4,5, & 6) Pick up a coupon at your local participating Skyline Chili location.


Special Thanks to: Kingsbury Productions, Lachey Arts, and Madcap

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The Cincinnati Zoo will once again be transformed into a “Wild Wonderland” for the 35th annual PNC Festival of Lights! In addition to admiring the beauty of 3 million LED lights, visitors can watch a Madcap black-light puppet show, ride the BB&T Toyland Express, search for fairies in Fairyland, marvel at the spectacular Wild Lights show on Swan Lake, or snack at one of two S’mores-n-More stands. NEW: Santa will be available for visits starting at 4 p.m., an hour before the rest of the festivities begin. (Except on Members Preview Night, Nov. 17th, Santa will be available starting at 6:30pm.)

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Santa TreeMember Preview Night

Friday, November 17, 5 – 10 p.m.

The Cincinnati Zoo is spreading Christmas cheer and making spirits bright this holiday season with the tri-state’s longest running holiday tradition – the 35th Annual PNC Festival of Lights. The event kicks off with a special preview event on Friday, November 17 when more than three million LED lights will illuminate the Zoo.

Preview Night is only open to Zoo members and invited media on Friday, November 17 from 5 – 10 p.m. The event opens to the public on Saturday, November 18.

Join Q102 and performers from their Jeff & Jenn Christmas Choir Competition as they help Santa light the tree to kick off the PNC Festival of Lights!

Special Preview Night Schedule of Activities:

5pm PNC Festival of Lights Open to Members, Media
6pm Q102 Jeff & Jenn Christmas Choir winner performance
6:15 pm Official Tree Lighting Ceremony with Santa
6:30 pm Santa visits begin

Please note:

  • Only Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden members and their guests will be admitted after 3:00pm on 11/17
  • Members may purchase up to two (2) half-price tickets; no other tickets will be sold for Member Preview

Please keep in mind, a very popular event + a favorable weather forecast = a very busy Zoo. If possible, please arrive early and we will be ready in our Vine Street & Safari Camp parking lots to welcome you and your family!

Event HighLIGHTs

    • *NEW* Light Wall – Classical Holiday Movie Clips, outside 4D theater
    • *NEW* Lifesize 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
    • Listen to Lachey’s Holiday Quartet
    • Find the mouse in each Gingerbread House
    • Get your photo with Santa at the North Pole Village
    • See Santa’s Reindeer
    • Ride the BB&T Toyland Express Train Ride
    • Find the hidden fairies in Fairyland
    • Hear a story from Mrs. Claus
    • Write Santa a letter at the Holiday Post Office
    • Roast Smore’s at the Smore’s Stations
    • Enjoy fresh roasted nuts and other holiday treats
    • See animals inside 12 indoor heated buildings
    • Beginning in early December 2017, Wings of the World will close for renovations.

     

happyzooyearGuests are invited to ring in the New Year at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. “Party Animals” of all ages invited to celebrate the 8th annual Happy ZOO Year powered by Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Honda Dealers. This New Years bash will take place at the Zoo on Sunday, December 31 from 5:00-9:00 p.m.

New Years activities will include shows of Winter Wonders by Madcap Puppets, a meet and greet with Father Time and Baby ZOO Year and the Zoo will cap off all celebrations with an EARLY countdown with fireworks presented by Rozzi Fireworks.

  Schedule of Activities:

5:00 p.m. PNC Festival of Lights Begins
6:30, 7:30 & 8:30 p.m. Madcap Puppets
8:00 p.m. Party Favors & Costume Characters
8:55 p.m. Countdown & Fireworks Begin
2017 Happy Zoo Year Powered By:

 

                                                

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.

  • 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. 

Please note: Beginning in early December 2017, Wings of the World will close for renovations. When it reopens in spring 2018, guests will enjoy a new and improved experience and an enhanced opportunity to connect to nature through birds.

During renovation, we’ll refinish the walls and floors, upgrade the ventilation systems and install new lighting. While we’ll maintain habitats for a wide variety of birds from around the world, the signage and interactive elements, designed to engage guests of all ages in learning about birds and how to become better bird neighbors, will be all new. Visit us next spring to see all your favorite birds, from parrots to penguins, in a whole new light! This renovation was made possible in part through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

  • Buy tickets before you arrive 

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.

  • Get Discounted Tickets 

Discounted General Admission tickets can be purchased online, at the Customer Service counter at local Kroger stores and at your local participating Skyline location.  Skyline Chili Half Price Nights – Dates TBD.

  • 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.

  • Arrive early 

Traffic will be much lighter to enter the zoo if you are able to arrive before 5pm.  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.

  • 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.

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

  • Watering Hole: Located next to Historic Vine Street Village. Indulge in fresh, warm funnel fries, cinnamon roasted almonds, or fried donut holes, popcorn, soft pretzels, caramel corn, and six different domestic and craft beers. Enjoy a steaming hot chocolate with an option to add some “holiday cheer”, Peppermint Schnapps or an Irish Cream. Counter service and outdoor seating available.
  • 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.
  • Rudolph’s Sugar Shack: Located near the Gingerbread Village/Safari Camp. Get refreshed with hot chocolate, add some “Holiday Cheer”, six different types of domestic and craft beers, cinnamon churros, funnel fries, and cinnamon roasted almonds. Counter service and outdoor seating available.
  • Safari Grill:  Located near the Gingerbread Village/Safari Camp. Fulfill your appetite with delicious gourmet burgers, juicy chicken tenders, fresh french fries, veggie burgers, Skyline chili cheese fries, and Skyline cheese coneys. Quench your thirst with a hot chocolate, fountain soda, or bottled beverage. Outdoor seating available.
  • Knotty or Nice: Located near the Gingerbread Village/Safari Camp. Try any of the five salty or sweet soft pretzel options, with three homemade cheeses, cinnamon roasted almonds, fried donut holes, and hot chocolate or apple cider. 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.
  • Funnel Cake: Located near the entrance to Wolf Woods. Fill your sweet tooth needs with a funnel cake, fountain soda, hot chocolate, popcorn and caramel corn.
  • Roasted Almonds: One Roasted Almonds is located next to the Historic Vine Street Village. The second 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 donut holes, caramel corn, soft pretzels, cinnamon roasted almonds, 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. You and your family can purchase a gingerbread cookie pack which includes a large gingerbread cookie, icing, and three tasty toppings to decorate your own cookie. Roast marshmallows over the open fire by purchasing a single or family smore pack. Choose from assorted cupcakes, assorted cookies, cinnamon roasted almonds, caramel corn, popcorn, and churros. Warm up with a delicious and spicy gourmet Mexican hot chocolate, or a regular hot chocolate.
  • 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, cinnamon roasted almonds, and Busken cookies. Get warmed up with a hot coffee or latte.

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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

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