Smithsonian National Zoological Park l Friends of the National Zoo




Thanks to our lead sponsor:


Smithsonian Campaign Goals

This event has passed. Please check back for information about our 2015 event.

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ZooLights, powered by Pepco
Nov 28 - Jan 1 (Except Dec 24, 25, 31) 5 - 9PM
Admission is Free!

ZooLights is brighter than ever!

Join the thousands of visitors who make ZooLights a part of their annual holiday tradition. ZooLights includes live music performances, tasty winter treats, and plenty of opportunities for holiday shopping. More than 500,000 environmentally-friendly LED lights transform the Zoo into a winter wonderland. New this year will be a dazzling light show set to music!

Check this page often for weather related updates.

Events and Activities


Thaw your paws in our exhibit buildings and see our nocturnal critters! The Small Mammal House, Great Ape House, Reptile Discovery Center, Think Tank, and Kids' Farm, sponsored by State Farm®, will be open every night. Free!


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.


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. It is 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.


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.


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

Special Nights

FONZ Members-only Lounge

Every Saturday night of ZooLights (November 29, December 6, 13, 20, 27) the Elephant Community Center will be transformed into The Warm Up and Chill Out Lounge sponsored by Celebrity Cruises. Inside this exclusive space, FONZ members will enjoy complimentary drinks and themed goodies generously provided by Celebrity Cruises. Also, when you join or renew your membership OR visit us inside the Members-only Lounge you can enter for a chance to win a cruise for 2, courtesy of Celebrity Cruises!*

*5 night onboard the Celebrity Constellation to be taken by the end of April 2015. Oceanview cabin for 2. Sails from Ft Lauderdale. The contest is open only to current FONZ members. FONZ members will automatically be entered if they join or renew during the duration of ZooLights or if they enter in the Members-only Lounge. A winner will be selected by random. Chances of winning are dependent upon the number of entries received. Employees or FONZ, the National Zoo, and members of their immediate families are not eligible to win. All federal, state, and local laws and regulations apply. Winner pay taxes and any personal incidentals like airfare, drinks, and shore excursions. Option to upgrade for an additional cost.

Please note: your FONZ member card and matching photo ID are required for admission.

Connect with Flat Panda

flat pandaFriends! We've got a fun winter project for you! Download and create your own Flat Panda! Just like Flat Stanley, you can bring Flat Panda with you anywhere!

Then snap+share with us on social media. Tag us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and use #FlatPanda to show your support for FONZ.

Learn more



Sponsored by Washingtonian Magazine
This year's Gin-GRR-bread Habitat Competition celebrates the National Zoo's most famous animal celebrity - Bao Bao, the giant panda cub! Let your imagination run wild while you design and build a habitat based on the theme "Bao Bao's Blizzard Bash". You may win the grand prize of an exclusive, keeper-led tour for six of the David M. Rubenstein Family Giant Panda Habitat, including behind-the-scenes and front of house experiences! (Please note: there is never direct contact with the giant pandas).

Contest details


Watch out for Panda Claws, the official ZooLights ambassador, from 5:30-8:30 PM each night. Free photo ops!

Pepco – Smart Energy

Pepco will present energy talks in the Think Tank exhibit to illuminate the best ways to save energy. Guests will receive free giveaways and learn how to conserve energy in their homes.

Performing Arts Stage

Sponsored by Capital One Bank®
Enjoy nightly performance on The Meadow (near the Great Ape House) from 25 area music groups.


Food and Drink

Warm up your night with hot chocolate, coffee, eggnog, and mulled cider. Indulge in roasted nuts, kettle corn, s'mores, 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.

Transportation and Parking


Every Saturday night enjoy a complimentary shuttle ride from the Woodley Park metro station to the Zoo, generously provided by Big Bus Tours. Look for the red double decker buses that will be running every 20 minutes.


Parking is limited and rates are $10 for FONZ members and $20 for non-members.

Sponsor this Event

Companies interested in sponsoring the event will receive benefits ranging from logo ID on all event materials to onsite signage and tickets. For more information, contact Jackie Vinick at 202.633.3046 or by email or Pam Bucklinger by email.

Corporate Holiday Parties at ZooLights

Planning your company's holiday party? Large or small, formal or casual, ZooLights provides a magical party setting surrounded by exotic animals. Find out more.

Thanks to our Sponsors