Join the thousands of visitors who make ZooLights a part of their annual holiday tradition. A free event, 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 complete with a dazzling light show set to music!
- Event Details
- Food & Drink
- Members Only Events
- Gin-GRR-bread Competition
- Parking & Shuttles
Thaw your paws in the animal exhibit buildings and see the nocturnal critters! The Small Mammal House, Great Ape House, Reptile Discovery Center, Think Tank, and Kids' Farm are open every night.
Rides and attractions include:
- Meet Panda Claws Photo Opp
- The Smithsonian's National Zoo Choo-Choo: take a merry tour through the Zoo on a trackless train that whisks guests all around the Great Cats exhibit and features gorgeous views of the Zoo's holiday light displays.
- Snow-less Tubing: take the plunge down one of our 150-foot-long tracks—no snow necessary!
- Speedwell Foundation Conservation Carousel: hop on to your choice of 58 animal figurines, as the carousel highlights the Zoo's incredible research and success stories. As 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.
- Zoo-magination Station: watch toy trains as they journey across the Visitor Center through a land of Legos and an alphabet countryside.
- Pepco - Smart Energy Talks: representatives from Pepco present energy talks to illuminate the best ways to save energy. Guests will receive free giveaways and learn how to conserve energy in their homes.
Warm up your night with hot chocolate, coffee, eggnog, and mulled cider. Indulge in roasted nuts, kettle corn, s'mores, holiday cookies, and gingerbread.
Adults can 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 are 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 Zoo toys and books; while adults will appreciate that their gift supports the Zoo's mission to save species.
Don't forget, FONZ memberships and Adopt a Species packages make great gifts too! Browse the online store.
FONZ Member Week
FONZ members enjoy a full week of exclusive perks at ZooLights, from Dec. 3 through Dec. 10, including a set of coupons for tubing, train, and carousel rides. Plus, FREE parking* all week!
* Members must present their membership card and matching photo ID to redeem parking, coupon pack and member giveaways. Coupons and giveaways are available at any guest services information booth while supplies last. All offers are only applicable Dec. 3 through Dec. 10.
FONZ Members-only Lounge
On the two Saturday evenings during Member Week of ZooLights, Dec 3 and 10, the Elephant Community Center transforms into The Member Lounge. Inside this exclusive space, FONZ members can enjoy complimentary drinks and festive goodies. Please check back for details.
Please note: A FONZ membership card and matching photo ID are required for admission. Location subject to change in the event of inclement weather or animal care needs.
Check back in November to find out this year's theme!
Shuttles: Every Saturday night enjoy a complementary shuttle ride from the Woodley Park Metro station to the Zoo, generously provided by Big Bus Tours. Look for the red double-decker buses running every 20 minutes.
Parking: Parking is limited. Please check back for rates.
PLEASE NOTE: The Beach Drive entrance to the Zoo will be closed as part of the National Park Service's Beach Drive rehabilitation project. Zoo visitors are encouraged to avoid Rock Creek Parkway and use the Harvard Street NW entrance, or the Connecticut Avenue NW entrance. Detailed maps and detour information can be found on the NPS website. Commuters and visitors can also call 202-895-6232 for road closure information