5 Insider Tips for Enjoying the Zoo’s Festival of Lights

The Cincinnati Zoo will still be shining bright as it transforms into a “Wild Wonderland” for the 39th annual PNC Festival of Lights, starting TODAY November, 17! 

However, due to its popularity, parents need to be a bit strategic when visiting this holiday attraction. Here are 5 Insider Tips for Enjoying the Zoo’s Festival of Lights:

1. Show up early — really early

The Festival of Lights activities start at 4 pm, and lines start forming early. For families, your best bet is to come in the afternoon (say, 2 or 3 pm) to avoid crowds and snag a premium parking spot. (The Zoo is open during normal hours during the Festival of Lights (10am – 9pm) , so you can visit all your favorite attractions!).

2. Bundle up – and be strategic

There’s nothing worse than freezing-cold kids. Luckily, there are a variety of indoor exhibits located around the Zoo where families can get some relief from the cold. Check out a Zoo Festival of Lights map here.

3. Know your numbers

Got curious kids? Blow their minds with these snazzy stats:

  • 120,000: number of light strands, displays and shows
  • 284: miles of lights (the same distance from Cincinnati to Chattanooga)
  • 4 million: number of individual LED lights which make up the display
  • 41: years the Festival of Lights has been wowing guests

4. Beat the lines

The regular Zoo entrance (and elevators) can get bottlenecked. Don’t mess around with lines – there is a second entrance located off Erkenbrecher Avenue, so use that if you arrive later than anticipated!

5. Take pictures

The Festival of Lights is a must-visit Cincy attraction, and there are so many wonderful photo opportunities. There’s the beautiful Christmas tree at the entrance, #TeamFiona and the dazzling show on Swan Lake.

The PNC Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo runs nightly through Jan. 7, 2024. It’s open Sunday-Thursday until 9 pm and Friday-Saturday until 10 pm. Festival of Lights activities begin at 4 pm. Please note the Festival of Lights is closed Thanksgiving (open during the day), Christmas Eve (open during the day) and Christmas Day (closed all day). This event is FREE for Zoo members and included in General Admission for non-members.


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