Smithsonian National Zoological Park l Friends of the National Zoo



Thanks to our lead sponsor:


$62.53 million raised; 78.2% of $80 million goal
ZooLights Logo




ZooLights is brighter than ever! More than 500,000 environmentally-friendly LED lights transform the Zoo into a winter wonderland. Lit animal silhouettes, musical light displays, and a garden scene light sculpture make for truly magical sights!


Welcome to Zoo-magination Station. Trains, trains and more trains journey through a land of Legos, an alphabet countryside, and a magical animal party in the Zoo’s Visitors Center.
Land of Legos portrays life in the present and long ago, in summer and in winter, reality and fantasy. Volunteers, young and old built this scene with over 50,000 Lego bricks.
Thomas the Tank Engine sets off on his tireless journey with Clarabel, Annie, and the Troublesome trucks to explore the alphabet. The 26 members of the alphabet family wander the hills and valleys, through farmland and forest. Can you find all 26?
Fantastical Animals are paper sculptures created especially for ZooLights 2013 by California artist, Andy Byers. Andy crafts each animal from a paper Mâché base overlaid with elaborate paper cuttings. He brings these animals to life using his ability to meld their majestic stature with a magical sense of wonder. Andy's other artworks include theatrical set design and museum exhibitions.

Speedwell Foundation Conservation Carousel

Begin a new tradition during your ZooLights visit: a ride on the Conservation Carousel! Hop on to your choice of 58 animal figurines, as the carousel highlights the Zoo's incredible research and success stories. One of the few carousels in the world powered by solar energy, thanks to a generous donation by Pepco Energy Services. The carousel is a new spin on conservation.
$3 per ride.

Zoo Tubing on Lion/Tiger Hill

Sponsored by GEICO
It doesn’t have to be a white holiday season to enjoy your favorite snow games. Lion/Tiger Hill will be a winter wonderland complete with two 150’ long “snow tubing” tracks! Be sure to take the plunge down this magical snowless track.
$3 per ride.

National Zoo Choo-Choo

Take a merry tour through the Zoo on the National Zoo Choo-Choo. This trackless train whisks guests all over the Zoo and features gorgeous views of the Zoo's holiday light displays.
$3 per ride


Thaw your paws in our exhibit buildings and see our nocturnal critters! The Small Mammal House, Great Ape House, Reptile Discovery Center, and Think Tank will be open every night.


Gin-grr-bread Contest

Sponsored by Washingtonian Magazine
This year's Gin-GRR-bread Habitat Competition celebrates our two new tiger cubs! Let your imagination run wild this winter while you design and build a habitat based on the theme Stalking in a ZooLights Wonderland. Contestants may win a prize of a keeper-led tour! After the contest is over, head to the Visitor's Center Auditorium to enjoy the amazing creations that highlight these exciting cubs. Learn more!

Nightly Raffle

Drawings every night! Visit any National Zoo store

Panda Claws

Head to Panda Plaza to watch Panda Claws, the official ZooLights ambassador, dance inside a giant snow globe from 5:30-8:30 PM each night. Thank you to the SunTrust Foundation for their support.


Member Nights

As a special thank you, all FONZ members are invited to enjoy a week of FONZ Member Nights at ZooLights! FONZ Member nights are 12/2-12/8. Each night, FONZ members will receive a set of coupons including FREE parking at ZooLights, 4 free tubing rides, 4 free carousel rides, an additional 5% off purchases at any Zoo gift shop, plus a panda tote bag! Members will receive their coupons by showing their membership card with matching ID at Lion Information or Panda Information booths. Not yet a member, Join Now or give a Gift Membership!

Food and Drink

Warm up your night with hot chocolate, coffee, eggnog, and mulled cider. Indulge in roasted nuts, kettle corn, pastries, holiday cookies, and gingerbread. Parents get into the holiday spirit with a specialty spiked hot chocolate, a glass of wine, or a cold beer. And everyone will enjoy dinner at the Zoo's restaurants, which will be serving their complete menu plus seasonal specials. Concessions located in the Visitor Center and throughout the park.


Make holiday shopping an eco-friendly affair at the Zoo's gift shops located throughout the park. Find a Zoo-themed present for everyone on your holiday list! Children will love our toys and books; while adults will appreciate that their gift supports the National Zoo’s mission. Don’t forget, FONZ memberships and Adopt a Species packages make great gifts too! Browse the online store.

Strollers and More

Strollers, electric scooters, and wheelchairs are available at the Panda Plaza and Lion/Tiger Information Booths. Limited numbers are available; first come, first served.


Every Friday and Saturday night enjoy a complimentary shuttle ride from the Woodley Park metro station to the Zoo, generously provided by Zipcar and Big Bus Tours.