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Date & Time

November 17, 2023 - January 7, 2024


PNC Festival of Lights Activities begin at 4pm. Cincinnati Zoo opens at 10am daily.

When you’re at the Zoo, find your destination with our interactive mobile app!

PNC Festival of Lights

The Cincinnati Zoo is shining bright for the 41st annual PNC Festival of Lights!  Come early to see more animals and stay for the lights!

In addition to admiring the beauty of 4 million LED lights, visitors can find the 5 Fiona fairies in Fairyland, take in a blacklight puppet show, marvel at the spectacular Wild Lights show on Swan Lake, or snack at one of our S’mores-n-More stands.

zebra and giraffe lanterns light up with pink lights behind
photo of led lights shaped as a globe and a christmas tree with a star on top floating in the zoo's swan lake

Light Up The Zoo

Download the free CUE Live app to your mobile phone and help light up the Zoo! This interactive experience syncs your phone’s flashlight to the Zoo’s Wild Lights show on Swan Lake.

Get the Free App
DetailsWhat to ExpectSanta's VillageMadCapNorth Polar ExpressElfie SelfiesScavenger HuntHappy Zoo Year

November 17, 2023 – January 7, 2024

Zoo Hours during PNC Festival of Lights:

Sunday – Thursday: 10am – 9pm

Friday – Saturday: 10am – 10pm

  • The Zoo is closed on Thanksgiving (November 23rd), Christmas Eve (December 24th), and Christmas Day (December 25th).
  • PNC Festival of Lights is included in Zoo admission. Visit the Zoo early and stay for the lights!
  • North Polar Express train & Conservation Carousel rides begin at 2:30pm
  • Dec. 23rd is the last night to visit with Santa
  • Full costumed characters may not be allowed in the Zoo.
  • The Wild Lights Show at Swan Lake and CUE app will have a strobing light effect. This show could be disruptive to those with sensitivity to light or those who have epilepsy.

  • Wonder at the 4 million LED lights throughout the Zoo
  • Santa & Mrs. Claus & All other character visits begin at 4pm
  • Families will enjoy searching for Fiona fairy statues in Fiona’s Fairyland
  • Guests will enjoy the immersive “Under the Sea” area.
  • 30 larger than life Animal Lanterns located throughout the Zoo
  • Wild Lights Show on Swan Lake
    • The Wild Lights Show at Swan Lake and CUE app will have a strobing light effect. This show could be disruptive to those with sensitivity to light or those who have epilepsy.
  • Meet costume characters beginning at 4pm
    • Please note that adult guests in full character costumes, such as Santa suits, Grinch costumes, etc may not be admitted into the Zoo
  • Ride the North Polar Express Train and Conservation Carousel rides start daily at 2:30pm (additional charges apply)
  • Roast Smore’s at the Smore’s Stations
  • Enjoy freshly roasted nuts and other holiday treats
  • See animals inside multiple indoor heated buildings
  • Meet-A-Creature: meet ambassador animals at Manatee Springs, Discovery Forest, and Club House
  • Happy Zoo Year celebration on Dec 31
  • Share your PNC Festival of Lights pictures on social media using #cincyzoopic for a chance to be featured in future Zoo marketing material!

Santa’s Village

knolly and marco talking to santa clausVisit with Santa in Santa’s Village nightly at 4pm through December 23!

Sponsored by:
cincinnati northern ky honda dealers logo

Sensory Santa – Sold Out

santa talking to small childThis event has sold out. Please fill out our cancellation and waitlist form here.

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.

Sensory-Friendly Santa 2023 Dates, 1-3pm:

  • November 29 – December 1
  • December 3
  • December 7-10
  • December 14 – 17
  • December 21 – 23

Take advantage of the Sensory-Friendly Santa special $25 Photo Package.

PNC Festival of Lights Social Narrative

Sensory Santa Social Narrative

Sensory Santa Sponsored by:

macys logo with star

Don’t miss nightly performances at 6:30pm, 7:30pm, and 8:30pm at the  Amphitheater

Sponsored By:

new green electric zoo train going across swan lakeThe North Polar Express Train will be equipped with a longer-than-ever light tunnel to make your ride extra bright! North Polar Express train ride and begins at 2:30pm. (Additional charges apply for non-members)

Sponsored by:

Huntington bank logo

Pose for Instagram-worthy photos in front of our many photo opp areas.

  • Snowflakes at Eagle Overlook 
  • Ornament People across from black rhino habitat
  • Ornements in Santa’s Village
  • Sleigh in Santa’s Village

Sponsored by:

delta dental logo

otter holding happy new year hornGuests are invited to ring in the New Year at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. “Party Animals” of all ages invited to celebrate the 14th 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.

Event info

Happy Zoo Year Powered By:

cincinnati northern ky honda dealers logo

Bright Tips

These tips will help you maximize your holiday experience!

Zoo Parking

The main Zoo lot is located at 3427 Vine Street. 

2023 PNC Festival Lights Parking Map

Overflow Parking & Electric Vehicle Info

During busy Festival of Lights nights, additional parking lots are opened as needed, so please follow signs and staff directions to one of our overflow options:

  • Vine lot –  3427 Vine St (Open all day)
  • Euclid Lot- 3301 Euclid Ave (Open all day)
  • Dury Lot- 3292 Dury Ave (Overflow)

You can charge your electric vehicle at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden! We have 8 charging ports in our main Vine St. parking lot. The charging stations are provided by Electrada and can be used with FLO or ChargePoint apps, and also appear on Plugshare.

Food Options

Warm-up with a variety of holiday treats available throughout the park including a new Glow cotton Candy found at cotton candy machines in Vine Street Village near the main entrance.

The popular Hot Hippo Drink is back! Hot Hippos will be sold at S’mores N’ More, Hot Hippo Headquarters (located across from the train) and Cup + Cone!

Food Allergens

new hot hippo mug with purple hot chocolate
employee next to cotton candy with a light in the handle