Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo

PNC Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo is back with warm fire pits, four million LED lights, MadCap Winter Wonders puppet show, a new immersive “Under the Sea” area and Fiona Fairy Hunt.

Explore all the new and old fun Santa, Mrs. Claus and the reindeer dropped off from the North Pole. Festival of Lights runs nightly November 17 through January 7, 2024.

Included in your Zoo admission, families are welcomed into Festival of Lights’ twinkling winter wonderland complete with Santa’s village and the North Polar Express train. Polar train rides begin at 2:30 pm when the “larger-than-ever” light tunnel sparkles on.


Santa patiently waits for holiday friends with the most captivating Mrs. Claus this side of the North Pole. Don’t just take it from us – Mrs. Claus has been known around the Zoo for years for providing a safe, nurturing encounter to her favorite little elves.

One of our favorite highlights from Festival of Lights is the nightly performances from MadCap Puppets. Known for engaging children’s theatre productions, the MadCap Winter Wonder show brings out laughter and squeals as snowmen are brought to life. Bouncing marshmallows hope to land in a warm mug of cocoa while snowmen are built from a playful snowball fight. The vibrant colors and larger-than-life acting and songs by the talented puppeteers will keep kiddos and parents giddy with glee.

After the show, take a selfie with the Wings of the World Polar Chair and roast marshmallows at the nearby s’mores station. S’mores kits are available to purchase by the carousel for a warm open-fire-roasting experience. Skip the s’mores and divulge in delicious cinnamon fudge soft pretzels, fresh roasted nuts, funnel cakes and creamy hot cocoa, souvenir cup optional!

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

For the second year, Festival of Lights introduces an immersive ocean area nestled between Cat Alley and the Galapagos turtles wows walkers as ocean sounds and dazzling jellyfish strung high offer an engaging sensory experience. Stimulate your senses as pops of magenta, pink, teal and purple fade in and out of the surrounding blue ocean trees. Make sure you’re looking up!

Finish your night of zoo lights with sloths Moe and Lightning in the (warm!) tropical Education Center. Meet-a-creature stations are set up for hands-on interactions with the Zoo’s smallest residents.

Be a part of the show! Download the free CUE Live app to your mobile phone and help light up the Zoo! This interactive experience syncs your phone’s flashlight to the Zoo’s Wild Lights show on Swan Lake.

There is also a fun selfie cam where guests can swipe through a carousel of filters

Buy your Festival of Lights tickets here today!

Cincinnati Zoo Festival of Lights is located at 3400 Vine Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45220.

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