Holiday Tradition Continues with 35th Annual PNC Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo

Posted November 9, 2017
Santa will kick off PNC Festival of Lights during a special member preview night on November 17

CINCINNATI (November 9, 2017) – The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden will once again be transformed into a “Wild Wonderland” for the 35th annual PNC Festival of Lights, which starts on November 18 and runs through January 1, 2018.  The #1 Zoo Lights display in the country, according to a USA Today poll, is open Sundays through Thursdays from 5 to 9 p.m. and 5 to 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.  Santa will be available for visits and photos starting at 4 p.m. daily, an hour before the rest of the festivities begin.

This year’s celebration will be bigger and brighter than ever with three million LED lights and 19 brand new, larger-than-life animal lanterns placed throughout the Zoo.  Visitors will be mesmerized by the new, 15ft x 17ft digital light wall featuring clips from classic holiday movies and will enjoy making their own designs on a giant Light Bright.

In addition to admiring the beauty of the lights, visitors can ride the BB&T Toyland Express, search for fairies in Fairyland, marvel at the spectacular Wild Lights show on Swan Lake, watch a Madcap black-light puppet show, or snack at one of two S’mores-n-More stands. The Royal Sisters are back and ready to pose for pictures with their fans in the Frozen Wonderland themed area.

PNC Bank has supported the annual holiday festival as title sponsor for more than 20 years. “PNC is proud of our long-standing partnership with the Cincinnati Zoo. The PNC Festival of Lights signifies the beginning of the holiday season each year and allows friends and family to create and celebrate traditions as they enjoy the lights, sights and sounds together,” said Kay Geiger, President, Greater Cincinnati/N. Kentucky.

Photo opportunities! Children can visit Santa (starting at 4 p.m.) through December 23rd, when he flies back to the North Pole, and costumed characters are always strolling through the park, ready for pictures and fun with guests of all ages. The breathtaking, 35-foot-tall tree blanketed with more than 20,000 LED lights in the Zoo’s Historic Vine Street Village makes a great family photo backdrop.

And there’s more! Warm up in the Special FX 4-D Theater while you experience The Polar Express™ 4-D Experience.  Tickets for specific show times can be purchased in advance (recommended).

Click photo to enlarge

Enjoy delightful seasonal fare such as fresh-baked cookies, caramel apples, funnel cakes, hot pretzels and roasted nuts. Or, purchase a S’more kit and roast marshmallows over an open fire. As always, the Zoo’s gift shops, including the Zoo Shop at the Historic Vine Street Village and the Handcrafted Gift Shop Presented by the Zoosters, located in the P&G Discovery Forest, will be open for shopping. Stop in, take a look around, and pick up some memorable and unique gifts—there is something for everyone!

Guests can also warm up and enjoy many of the Zoo’s indoor animal habitats, including World of the Insect, Manatee Springs and Night HuntersNOTE: The Wings of the World bird house will be closed for renovations.

Starting at 6 p.m. on December 5, visitors will be able to see gorillas in their new indoor habitat.  This will be the first time in Zoo history that Gorilla World will be open during PNC Festival of Lights!

Back by popular demand, the Zoo will be hosting Happy Zoo Year, powered by Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Honda Dealers, on Sunday, December 31, from 5-10 p.m. and kids of all ages are invited! Come out and meet Father Time and Baby Zoo Year during a one-of-a-kind meet and greet. Enjoy an EARLY Zoo Year Countdown starting at 8:55 p.m. and top off the night with party favors and Rozzi’s fireworks.

Half-Priced coupons for select nights are available at participating Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Skyline Chili locations.  Coupons are valid November 20, 21, 22, 27, 28, 29 & December 4, 5 & 6. Discount tickets are also available online at and at any area Kroger, good for $2 off adult and $1 off child admission any night of the event.

Celebrate 35 years of family fun and tradition at the Cincinnati Zoo’s PNC Festival of Lights. The Zoo opens daily at 10 a.m.  The PNC Festival of Lights festivities are from 5 – 9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 5 – 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays from November 18 – January 1, 2018, except on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day.

Share your #PNCFestivalOfLights pictures, especially photos suggested in the all new scavenger hunt, on social media using #cincyzoopic for a chance to be featured in future Zoo marketing material!