Who Wants More Zoo Lights?

Wild Winter Lights at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

Five Ohio zoos are bringing the holiday cheer with their light displays 

By Corinne Minard

Can your family not get enough of holiday zoo lights? If you live in or close to Ohio, you’re in luck; the state is home multiple fantastic zoo light events. We found five that the whole family will enjoy. 

PNC Festival of Lights 

Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, 3400 Vine St., Cincinnati 
Through Jan. 8, Su-Th 4-9 p.m., F-Sa 4-10 p.m. 
Included with zoo admission. Ticket prices vary based on day. 

The 40th annual Festival of Lights brings back holiday favorites, like the North Polar Express train and hidden Fiona the hippo fairy statues, with new attractions, like meeting the Grinch and a scavenger hunt, and new snacks like the Hot Hippo Drink. In addition, the zoo will be covered in more than 4 million LED lights as well as 30 larger-than-life animal lanterns. 

PNC Festival of Lights at Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

Toledo Zoo Lights before Christmas 

Toledo Zoo & Aquarium, 2 Hippo Way, Toledo 
Through Dec. 31, M-Th 3-9 p.m., F-Su 3-10 p.m., New Year’s Eve 10 a.m.-10 p.m. 
Non-member Adults $26, Children 2-11 and Seniors 60+ $23. Reservations required. 

With more than 1 million lights, a lit 85-foot-tall Norway spruce tree and 200-plus illuminated animal sculptures, families will have plenty to see and do during this holiday event. Children can meet with Santa through Dec. 23 and everyone can enjoy the ice slide, carousel, ice carving demonstrations and Holly Jolly Express train. 

Wild Lights at the Akron Zoo 

Akron Zoo, 505 Euclid Ave, Akron 
Dec. 16-23, 26-30, 5-9 p.m. 
Non-member Adults $18, Children 2-14 $14, Infants under 2 free. Parking $5. 

Wild Lights brings more than 1 million lights to the Akron Zoo. Visitors can see the lights, take fun photos in a variety of photo-ops, visit with Santa though Dec. 23, view special light displays synchronized to music and more. And those who visit Dec. 16 and 18 are in for a special treat: holiday carols performed by local music groups.  


Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, 4850 Powell Road, Powell 
Through Jan. 1, Su-Th 5-9 p.m., F-Sa 5-10 p.m., closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. 
Non-member Adults $24.99, Seniors 60+ and Children 3-9 $18.99, Children under 3 free. Parking $10. 

Millions of LED Lights and several animated musical light shows take over the Columbus Zoo during this event. New this year is the Sounds of the Season concert series, which brings local musical groups to the zoo. Check the online schedule to see who’s performing and when.  

Wild Winter Lights 

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, 3900 Wildlife Way, Cleveland 
Through Dec. 30, 5:30-10:30 p.m., closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. 
Advanced non-member tickets $22, four-pack $66. Day of $24, four-pack $75. Children under 2 free. 

The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo transforms into a winter wonderland during the holidays, with 1.5 million lights covering themed areas like Candyland, Enchanted Forest, Starry Skies, Future for Wildlife Trail and Santa’s Workshop. Those who make it to the zoo Dec. 12-14 can enjoy the special drive-thru option.