Holiday Tradition Continues with 37th Annual PNC Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo

Posted November 11, 2019

CINCINNATI (November 11, 2019) – The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden will once again be transformed into a “Wild Wonderland” for the 37th annual PNC Festival of Lights, which opens to the public on November 16 and runs through January 4, 2020.  The #1 Zoo Lights display in the country, according to a 2018 USA Today poll, will be 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.

The Zoo will be three million times brighter than usual, illuminated by eco-friendly LED lights and larger-than-life animal lanterns, including some new ones that fit the soon-to-be-open Roo Valley theme, placed throughout the Zoo.

NEW this year:

Families will enjoy searching for Fiona fairy statues in Fiona’s Fairyland and taking holiday photos in Fiona’s Freeze Frame, which will be decorated to provide a festive, 360-degree backdrop! Guests will feel like they’re blanketed by stars in the new, immersive “Northern Lights” experience and can get holiday-themed snacks and beverages, as well as craft beer, right around the corner at the new “Hops”. AND, getting into the Zoo will be much easier this year with an additional walk-in entrance on Erkenbrecher Ave.

Plan-ahead Pricing allows guests to save by purchasing tickets for select dates online in advance.  Prices for traditionally lower traffic nights, such as Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, will be less (by as much as half!) than those purchased for the most popular nights.  Prices will go up based on demand for certain nights, so buy early to get the best rate. Discount tickets are available at any area Kroger, good for $2 off adult and $1 off child admission any night of the event.

In addition to admiring the beauty of the lights, visitors can ride the Toyland Express, marvel at the spectacular Wild Lights Show featuring new music, watch an updated Madcap black-light puppet show, Fiona’s Winter Wonders, or make s’mores in three different locations. The Royal Sisters are back and ready to pose for pictures with their fans in a 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! In addition to the new Fiona’s Freeze Frame, 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.  Costumed characters are always strolling through the park, ready for pictures and fun with guests of all ages, and children can visit Santa (starting at 4 p.m.) through December 23rd, when he flies back to the North Pole.

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). NOTE: This is the last year for the 4D Theater and Polar Express.  After PNC Festival of Lights ends on January 4, the space will be transformed into a new food and retail space slated to open in 2020.

Sample new menu items at Hops such as delicious waffle pops with flavors like cookies and cream, cinnamon toast crunch, or funfetti!  Funnel fries with chocolate sauce and cinnamon sugar pretzels are also available to warm up your night. 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 see animals in heated buildings including World of the Insect, Manatee Springs, and Night Hunters. The recently-renovated Wings of the World bird house will be open until 5 p.m. daily, so consider making that your first stop!  Gorilla World will be open, and gorillas will be viewable in their indoor habitat.

Back by popular demand, the Zoo will be hosting Happy Zoo Year, powered by Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Honda Dealers, on Monday, December 31, from 5-9 p.m. and kids of all ages are invited! Enjoy an EARLY Zoo Year Countdown starting at 8:55 p.m. and top off the night with party favors and Rozzi’s fireworks.

Celebrate 37 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 16 – January 4, 2020, 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!

*New this year – sensory-friendly visits with Santa can be scheduled in advance!