ZooLights | FREE Lights Festival at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo

ZooLights at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, DC is a holiday event transforming the zoo into a winter wonderland.  Lights will illuminate the Zoo’s trees, walkways and buildings. Life-sized animal silhouettes, dancing trees and a laser light show make ZooLights unique.  Admission is FREE.

The annual lights festival twinkles for 36 nights—from November 24 through January 1, 2018 (except Dec. 24, 25 and 31) from 5PM to 9PM.

The Small Mammal House, Reptile Discovery Center and Think Tank will be open every night of ZooLights, offering visitors an opportunity to view the animals at night.  A free glow-in-the-dark play zone for children will feature light-up LED games and activities.

Rides and attractions include:

  • The Smithsonian’s National Zoo Choo-Choo: take a tour on a trackless train that whisks guests around the Great Cats exhibit and features gorgeous views of the holiday light displays.
  • Snow-less Tubing: take the plunge down one of the 150-foot-long tracks—no snow necessary!
  • Speedwell Foundation Conservation Carousel: hop on to your choice of 50 animal figurines, as the carousel highlights the Zoo’s incredible research and success stories.

Tickets are $3 per person for each attraction, $1 for Friends of the National Zoo (FONZ) members.  Parking for ZooLights is $11 for FONZ members and $22 for non-members.  Food and beverages, including gingerbread, hot chocolate, coffee, eggnog, mulled cider and more will be available for purchase throughout the park.

For more information about ZooLights, visit the Zoo’s website.

The National Zoo is located at 3001 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20008.  Like all Smithsonian Institution sites, admission is completely FREE.  If you are driving to the zoo, there is a fee to park.  The National Zoo is located on Metro’s Red Line, in between the Cleveland Park metro stop and the Woodley Park/National Zoo metro stop. Get off at the Cleveland Park stop when going to the zoo: head south, on Connecticut Avenue, and the walk will be downhill. When you leave, head south again (also downhill) toward the Woodley Park stop.


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