The 39th Annual Festival of Lights illuminates the Cincinnati Zoo with more than 4 million LED lights

The festival of lightsPhoto: Vincent DiFrancesco

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is transforming itself into a lighted wonderland again this year for the 39th Annual Festival Of Lights, voted America’s # 1 Zoo Light Show USA today three years in a row.

This year’s display will show 4 million LED lights scattered across the park, as well as 27 glowing animal lanterns and the fan-preferred synchronized Wild Lights show at Swan Lake. A new “Under the Sea” area in Cat Canyon offers immersive fun and a new photo opportunity. Other glowing selfie stops include Candy Cane Lane near Gorilla World and the Polar Chair at Wings of the World.

Visit Santa Claus every day from 4:00 p.m. in Santa’s Village or watch the black light puppet theater Madcap. The North Polar Express train departs at 2:30 PM

Holly Jolly Elves with happy singing voices – by Lachey Arts (as in Drew Lachey) – will wander the zoo along with other costumed characters. And special sparkling Fiona fairy statues will be hidden in Hippo Cove for you to find (but not to take).

If you need something to warm up, stop by one of the s’mores stations to roast your own treat or grab a bag of freshly roasted nuts. For an extra boost, add a dash of brandy to your steaming hot chocolate.

If you want to catch the animals, the zoo recommends coming and staying earlier in the day. Indoor exhibitions will also be open.

The Festival Of Lights runs daily from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. daily from November 19th to January. 9, 2022. The Cincinnati Zoo itself still opens at 10 a.m. daily during this time. The Festival of Lights is included in admission to the zoo.

For more information and tickets, visit

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