Cincinnati Zoo’s PNC Festival of Lights Voted #1 in the Nation 6 Years in a Row!

Posted December 8, 2023

Winner of Best Zoo Lights in USA Today’s 2023 10Best poll 

CINCINNATI (December 8, 2023) –  USA TODAY’s 10Best editors announced this morning that Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s PNC Festival of Lights took the top spot in the Best Zoo Lights category in its 2023 Readers’ Choice poll! It is the sixth consecutive year that the readers have voted Cincinnati Zoo #1 in this category.   

PNC Festival of Lights | Festival of Lights 2023 B-roll.mp4 | map

“We start hanging lights in August and keep going until the Zoo shines bright all around,” said Cincinnati Zoo director Thane Maynard. “This is the 41st year that we’ve held one of Cincinnati’s favorite holiday traditions, and it’s important to us to keep things fresh without letting go of the things that keep people coming back.”  

This year the Zoo has added something new to something old.  Festivalgoers can participate in the Wild Lights show on Swan Lake by downloading an app that syncs their phone’s flashlight to the music.  There are also 20 new, lifelike animal lanterns placed around the Zoo, and more photo opps than ever. 

PNC Festival of Lights runs now through January 7.  December 23 is the last chance to visit with Santa, in the all-new Santa’s Village, before he returns to the North Pole.   

The spectacular lights are the main attraction during PNC Festival of Lights. Visitors coming to see animals should come earlier in the day or visit indoor habitats such as World of the Insect, Manatee Springs, and Night Hunters during the evening hours. 

See for yourself why we’re the best!  Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden opens daily at 10 a.m. and closes at 9 p.m. Sunday – Thursdays and 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays during PNC Festival of Lights. The new electric train and carousel start running daily at 2:30 p.m. Santa visits begin at 4pm.   

Save time and money by purchasing tickets online before you visit.  Buy early to get the best rate. Memberships are on sale now and make great gifts!  Click here for other gift ideas that will please the animal lover in your life and support the Zoo! 


hanging jellyfish lanterns at pnc festival of lights