ZooLights, Powered by Pepco

November 27 – January 2: 5 - 9PM (Except December 24, 25, 31)

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!


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, and an alphabet countryside in the Zoo's Visitors Center.

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. 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.

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 three 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 around the Kids' Farm exhibit that features gorgeous views of the Zoo's holiday light displays. $3 per ride.

Fast Pack Ride Tickets

Hop on the fast track to fun! Grab your Fast Pack Ride Tickets, only $20, and you'll be on your way to fun in no time. Fast Pack Ride Tickets include eight (8) tickets, a $24 value, good for any ZooLights attraction – Speedwell Foundation Conservation Carousel, Zoo Tubing or National Zoo Choo-Choo. Grab yours at any ticket kiosk throughout ZooLights.

FONZ Member Week

FONZ members enjoy a full week of exclusive perks at ZooLights, from December 4 through 10 including a set of coupons for tubing, train, and carousel rides. Plus, FREE parking*, an extra 5% discount on Zoo store purchases, and Bei Bei glow in the dark wristbands.

* Members must present their membership card and matching photo ID to redeem parking, gift shop discounts, coupon pack and wristbands. Coupons and wristbands are available at any guest services information booth. Wrist bands are available while supplies last; up to 4 per membership account. All offers are only applicable December 4-10.

FONZ Members-only Lounge

Every Saturday night of ZooLights (November 28, December 5, 12, 19, 26) the Elephant Community Center will be transformed into The Warm Up and Chill Out Lounge. Inside this exclusive space, FONZ members will enjoy complimentary drinks and themed goodies.

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

BrewLights: Thursday, December 3, 5-9 p.m.

Introducing our hoppiest holiday event yet, BrewLights. BrewLights will take place during ZooLights, Powered by Pepco, as a ticketed microbrew and craft beer event. Guests will enjoy beer tastings from a dozen breweries as well as sample savory foods from top DC restaurants all under the bright lights of DC's favorite holiday tradition. All proceeds support the critical work of the National Zoo and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute – including species preservation and animal care.

This event is for guests 21 and over. No children or babies are permitted into the event areas.

  Eventbrite - BrewLights

Beers on Tap:

  • Adroit Theory Brewing
  • Blue Moon Brewing Company
  • Brothers Craft Brewing
  • Brooklyn Brewery
  • Denizens Brewing Co
  • Great Lakes Brewing Company
  • "Fatti" by Stelzer
  • Hardywood Park Craft Brewery
  • Hellbender Brewing Company
  • Jailbreak Brewing Company
  • Old Bust Head Brewing Co.
  • Starr Hill Brewery


  • Brookland Pint
  • Catering by Seasons: A Division of La Prima Food Group
  • Firefly
  • Matchbox
  • Meridian Pint
  • Rural Society: Argentine Steakhouse
  • Smoke & Barrel
  • Ted's Bulletin

Date Night: Thursday, December 10

Thousands of people have told us that ZooLights offers the most romantic and memorable date night of the year so we developed a special evening of fun with even greater couples-only benefits! Couples will be able to enjoy all that ZooLights has to offer—the spectacular lights, the holiday décor, and the festive atmosphere—with an added layer of exclusivity and Date-Night-only benefits.

Date Night guests will mingle in a private, VIP reception area at the Elephant House, with exclusive elephant viewing. In addition, guests will enjoy a wine, craft beer, hot chocolate, hors d'oeuvres, and a chocolate bar. Zoo interpreters will be onsite to talk about some of the unique animal mating rituals that take place at the Zoo!

Guests will also receive passes to enjoy a spin on the carousel, a ride down the snow tubing tracks, and a complimentary photo in the "Kissing Booth." Tickets will be on sale soon exclusively through LivingSocial.

Thank you to our generous donors:

  • Barefoot Wine
  • Edward Marc Chocolatier
  • Giant Food
  • Heritage Brewing Co.
  • Hot Pink Photo Booth
  • Max Brenner

Military Night: Friday, December 11

Show your valid military ID and military families will receive free hot chocolate, cookies, a special photo op with Panda Claws at the USO Mobile Station (located at the Elephant Community Center), as well as a two free Zoo tubing passes per family. Also, military families will receive 10% off at all Zoo gift shops.

It's a Small, Small Mammal World!

Let your imagination run wild as you design a winter wonderland based on the theme "It's a Small, Small Mammal World." The grand prize is an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of the Small Mammal House.

Panda Claws

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

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.


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.


Thank you to our generous sponsors

Giant Food Logo NBC 4 Logo Washington Post Logo Kids Post Logo