Cincinnati Zoo's Festival of Lights Once Again Named No. 1 Best Zoo Lights in the Nation

For the third year in a row, the Cincinnati Zoo has been named No. 1 in USA Today's 10Best poll in the Best Zoo Lights category.

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click to enlarge Cincinnati Zoo's Festival of Lights Once Again Named No. 1 Best Zoo Lights in the Nation
Photo: Vincent DiFrancesco


For the third year in a row, the Cincinnati Zoo has been named No. 1 in USA Today's 10Best poll in the Best Zoo Lights category.

“We had to make a lot of adjustments this year, for the safety of guests, staff, and animals, so being recognized for still being the best is especially meaningful,” said Cincinnati Zoo Director Thane Maynard. “People are so happy to be here, and I think the beautiful lights and holiday atmosphere really offer a much-needed escape. Thank you to everyone who has visited and to those who took the time to vote!”

[All the Dazzling Photos from the Cincinnati Zoo's PNC Festival of Lights.]

USA Today's 10Best series has experts pick a list of "bests" in a variety of categories (for example, Kings Island's Orion is in the running for Best New Amusement Park Attraction) and then lets readers log on and vote their favorites to the top.

And, like director Maynard said, while this year's Festival of Lights has had to operate differently due to COVID, the park is still decked out with more than 4 million lights and plenty of cheer. 

This year the fest features "socially-distanced outdoor visits with Santa" at 4 p.m. daily (through Dec. 23); three s'more stations; North Polar Express train rides; Fiona fairy statues in Fiona Fairyland; giant animal lanterns; and fun and festive photo ops throughout the park. Visitors ages 6 and up are required to wear masks while inside in the park. And timed reservations are a must.

The zoo is open daily from 1-9 p.m. and they say if you'd like to see the animals during your visit, make reservations between the hours of 1-5 p.m.

The Festival of Lights will continue through Jan. 3, and then will be open for "bonus nights" Jan. 8-10 and Jan. 15-17.

“Pulsing entry times has worked remarkably well from a safety standpoint and has improved the guest experience. For the first time in years, parking hasn’t been an issue,” said Maynard.

Book your ticket and learn more at cincinnatizoo.org.

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