The PNC Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo

This holiday season experience a “Wild Wonderland” at the 36th Annual PNC Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo. Voted #1 Zoo Lights in the country by USA Today, ’tis the season to bundle up and explore the magic with the entire family!

Open now until January 1st, the PNC Festival of Lights is something truly magical. The entire zoo is covered with over 3 million LED lights creating wintery forests, colorful tunnels and bridges, holiday characters and of course and 22 larger than life animal lanterns. 


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But there’s so much more…
  • Rest your feet aboard the BB&T Toyland Express (additional ticket charge) to experience the   best holiday zoo view! 
  • Winter Wonders Show by Madcap Puppets each evening at 6:30pm, 7:30pm & 8:30pm (additional 9:30pm shows on Fridays and Saturdays)
  • Wild Lights Show on Swan Lake
  • Meet one of the Royal Sisters in Frozen Wonderland 
  • Find the mouse in each Gingerbread House 
  • See Santa’s Reindeer 
  • Find the hidden fairies in Fairyland 
  • Write Santa a letter at the Holiday Post Office 
  • Hear a story from Mrs. Claus 
  • See animals inside 12 indoor heated buildings 
  • And enjoy the NEW indoor Gorilla World 

But I saved my family’s favorite activities for last. We traveled to the North Pole Village (an inside venue perfect to keep warm) to visit with Santa. He told us all about Fiona’s wish list (mostly food items).
Since we were all on the good list, Santa also asked each of us for our holiday lists. Then we had our keepsake photos taken with Santa (buy a photo package or take your own photo). Even thought the festival lights begin at 5 pm, your family can visit with Santa starting at 4 pm. 

Finally, we ended our evening with dessert. The zoo offers some amazing holiday treats. We snuggled around the fire with hot cocoa and a family smore’s kit. There’s nothing better than a homemade smore surrounded by friends, family and holiday lights. 

Our group arrived at 8 pm to avoid traffic and found great covered parking. But with littles, it is also suggested to arrive at 4 pm for great parking and less crowds. Zoo parking is $10/car.

The PNC Festival of Lights is free for members and included with Zoo admission. Santa visits start at 4 pm nightly, and the lights are open Sunday-Thursday until 9 pm and Friday and Saturday until 10 pm. For more information, visit the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden website.

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