The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is transforming into an illuminated wonderland once again this year for the 39th-annual Festival 0f Lights, ranked the No. 1 zoo light show in America by USA Today for three years in a row.
This year's display features 4 million LED lights spread throughout the park, as well as 27 glowing animal lanterns and the fan-favorite synchronized Wild Lights show at Swan Lake. A new "Under the Sea" area at Cat Canyon offers some immersive fun and a new photo op. Other glowing selfie stops include Candy Cane Lane near Gorilla World and the Polar Chair at Wings of the World.
Visit with Santa in Santa's Village starting at 4 p.m. daily or check out the Madcap blacklight puppet show. Rides on the North Polar Express train start at 2:30 p.m.
Holly Jolly Elves with cheery singing voices from Lachey Arts (as in Drew Lachey) wander the zoo along with other costumed characters. And special sparkling Fiona fairy statues are hidden in Hippo Cove to find (but not take).
If you need something to warm you up, stop by one of the s'mores stations to roast your own treat or grab a bag of freshly roasted nuts. For an extra boost, add a shot of schnapps to your steamy hot chocolate.
If you want to catch the animals, the zoo recommends coming earlier in the day and staying. Indoor exhibits will also be open.
The Festival of Lights runs 4-9 p.m. daily Nov. 19-Jan. 9, 2022. The Cincinnati Zoo itself still opens at 10 a.m. daily during that time. The Festival of Lights is included with zoo admission.
For more details and tickets, visit cincinnatizoo.org
Photos by Adam Doty