November 19 – January 1


Voted #1 Zoo Lights in the country in 2015!

follow #PNCFestivalOfLights

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

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).

store_0064_skylineSkyline Chili Half Price Nights – November 21-23, 28-30, Dec. 5-7. Pick up a coupon at your local participating Skyline Chili location.

2016 Happy Zoo Year Powered By:






Santa TreeMember Preview Night

Friday, November 18, 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 34th Annual PNC Festival of Lights. The event kicks off with a special preview event on Friday, November 18 when more than two million LED lights will illuminate the Zoo.

Preview Night is only open to Zoo members and invited media and sponsors on Friday, November 18 from 5 – 10 p.m.  The event opens to the public on Saturday, November 19.

Join Emcee Jon Jon from Q102 and special guests Drew Lachey and performers from Lachey Arts 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, Sponsors, Media
6pm   Lachey Arts performance
6:15 pm Official Tree Lighting Ceremony with Santa

Event HighLIGHTs

  • NEW Wild Lights Show on Swan Lake
  • 11766785795_3ff47a9b22_kGingerbread Village
  • S’mores-N-More location by the Skyline Stand in Vine Street Village and near the 4-D Theater
  • Madcap Puppets’ Black-Light show
  • Santa (through 12/23)
  • Strolling entertainment
  • Themed areas
  • Toyland Express Train Ride
  • Fairyland – find the 5 hidden fairies
  • Holiday Post Office
  • Visits with Mrs. Claus

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 Saturday, December 31 from 5:00-10:00 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


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. 

  • 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.

  • 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.  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. Enjoy specialty fries, popcorn, carmel corn, six different domestic and premium beers, and hot chocolate. Counter service and outdoor seating.
  • Outpost: Located near Gingerbread Village/Whiting Safari Camp. Get refreshed with hot chocolate, beer, popcorn, cotton candy, carmel corn, and funnel cakes. Counter service and outdoor seating.
  • Rudolph’s Sugar Shack: Located in Gingerbread Village/Whiting Safari Camp. Enjoy hot chocolate, funnel cakes and deep-fried Oreos and more! Outdoor seating.
  • Safari Grill: Located in Gingerbread Village/Whiting Safari Camp. Choose from regular menu items. Outdoor seating.
  • LaRosa’s: Located across from Kroger Lords of the Arctic. Choose from pizza, snacks, beer, and other refreshments. Outdoor seating.
  • Polar Expresso: Located near Kroger Lords of the Arctic. Choose from coffee. lattes, espresso, hot chocolate and indulge in some sweet treats. Outdoor seating.
  • Funnel Cake Factory: Located near the entrance to Wolf Woods. Enjoy fresh funnel cakes, soda, and hot chocolate. Counter service only.
  • The Base Camp Cafe is the “Greenest Restaurant in America.” What’s on the menu?
  • The Cantina: Located across from The Zoo Cafe. Enjoy hot chocolate, beer, jumbo soft pretzels, popcorn, and carmel corn. Counter service only
  • Skyline Chili
  • Cinnamon Roasted Almonds
  • S’mores Galore: purchase a S’mores kit and roast marshmallows over an open fire. (two stations)
  • Candy Cane Cottage