PNC Festival of Lights

Posted November 17, 2022

festival of lights family in a sled posing for photoThe 40th Annual PNC Festival of Lights Kicks Off Tomorrow Night at the Cincinnati Zoo

Enjoy the region’s longest-running holiday tradition for the 1st or 40th time!

CINCINNATI (November 17, 2022) – The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s 40th annual PNC Festival of Lights opens to the public tomorrow night and runs through January 8, 2023!  Bring your family and friends to Cincinnati’s favorite holiday tradition and see why it’s been voted the #1 Zoo Lights display in the country four years in a row*.

Event Photos/Videos | bridge placement video | map

“I was here for the first PNC Festival of Lights and look forward to enjoying the 40th anniversary of one of my favorite Zoo events,” said Cincinnati Zoo director Thane Maynard. “We add something new every year and keep the favorite things that bring back great memories for repeat guests. The events team has done a spectacular job reimagining Santa’s Village and moving it to our new picnic shelter area.  The space is new, but our wonderful Santa hasn’t changed!”
The Zoo is bringing back its popular Under the Sea area, where guests are surrounded by lights and giant, colorful jellyfish. Pose for Instagram-worthy photos here and at Elfie Selfie Stations, sponsored by Delta Dental, set up throughout the Zoo.  Find them using the Zoo’s interactive map app (no download required)!  Share your #PNCFestivalOfLights pictures on your social channels using #cincyzoopic for a chance to be featured in future Zoo marketing materials.

The four million LED lights, hung with care by Zoo employees and volunteer elves, 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, Night Hunters, and Manatee Springs, where they can see the three manatees that arrived earlier this month.

Santa will be available for visits and photos in the all-new Santa’s Village, sponsored by Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky Honda Dealers, starting at 4 p.m. To give more people a chance to ride the popular North Polar Express Train, sponsored by Superior Credit Union, it will start running at 2:30 p.m. daily.  It will chug through a longer-than-ever light tunnel to make your ride extra bright!

Save time and money by purchasing tickets online before you visit.  Prices for traditionally lower traffic nights, such as Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, will be as much as half less 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. Memberships are on sale now and are a great value if you want to enjoy the Zoo year-round or visit PNC Festival of Lights more than once.  A Standard Membership pays for itself in just 2 visits.  All memberships include free parking.

“We’ve added more parking spots and a new bridge across Erkenbrecher Ave to streamline entry, increase safety, and keep traffic moving,” said Maynard.  “We also now have an automated parking system that will make it much easier to exit Zoo parking lots.”

A variety of holiday treats are available, including loaded funnel fries, s’mores, deep-fried Oreos, and the new Hot Hippo Drink!

“PNC values our long-standing relationship with the Cincinnati Zoo,” said Warren Weber, PNC regional president for Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. “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.”

Zoo Hours November 18 – January 8:

  • Sunday – Thursday: 10am – 9pm
  • Friday – Saturday – 10am – 10pm

Schedule at a Glance:

  • Zoo opens daily at 10am
  • Come early to see animals outside, weather permitting
  • Find the 5 Fiona fairies in Fairyland – any time!
  • North Polar Express train ride begins at 2:30pm
  • Activities, including visits with Santa, begin daily at 4pm
  • Dec. 23rd is the last night to visit with Santa
  • PNC Festival of Lights is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas

PNC Festival of Lights is included in Zoo admission. For more event information, visit

*VOTE for PNC Festival of Lights! USA Today readers have voted PNC Festival of Lights #1 in the Best Zoo Lights category for the last 4 years and it is nominated again this year – vote here! Help Cincinnati Zoo top the list 5 years in a row!