Join the thousands of visitors who make ZooLights, powered by Pepco, 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 two dazzling laser light shows set to music. And don't forget to share your #DCZooLights experience on social media!
Please note: ZooLights remains free and open to the public even during special event nights!
- Event Details
- Food and Drink
- Live Performances
- FONZ Member Information
- Military Appreciation
- Parking & Transportation
This season, ZooLights is bigger and better than ever. Take a peek at this year’s attractions:
New: Gingerbread Village
Follow the twinkling lights to the Gingerbread Village at Elephant Outpost. This magical land is complete with frosted cookies, lollipops and a gingerbread throne that’s perfect for a photo opp. Enjoy food, holiday shopping and live music, too!
New: Reindeer Games Fun Zone, sponsored by GEICO
Head to Lion-Tiger Hill to zip down giant inflatable slides, try a holiday-themed obstacle course and twirl on illuminated rides.
New: Symphony of Lights
Explore an interactive light canopy that responds to music, creating a unique sound and light show as you listen to the festive sounds of holiday performers on the Great Meadow.
Laser Light Shows, sponsored by Pepco
Watch animals come to life in laser lights on the outdoor wall of the Elephant Community Center. Now with two shows!
GRUMP holiday market
Shop at a European-style outdoor market that will double in size this year, featuring more local artisans offering unique gifts for all ages. GRUMP visits the Zoo on Dec. 7, 8 and 9.
Take a merry tour on the Smithsonian's National Zoo Choo-Choo, sponsored by Metro by T-Mobile, which whisks guests around the Kids’ Farm and features gorgeous views of the holiday light displays. Hop on to your choice of 50 animal figurines at the Speedwell Foundation Conservation Carousel, which highlights the Zoo's incredible research and success stories.
Please note that ZooLights does not feature the Zoo’s animals. All indoor animal exhibits will be closed to allow animals to get a full night’s rest. Visitors will be able to warm up indoors in the Zoo’s Visitor Center, Panda Plaza Gift Shop, Mane Grill and Great Cats Gift Shop.
All ZooLights attractions are weather permitting. Attractions may not be open when temperatures are 35 degrees or below.
Seasonal treats include:
- "glowing" cotton candy on an illuminated stick
- kettle corn
- fresh donuts
- holiday cookies
- candy canes
- soft pretzels
- holiday gelato
- hot chocolate
- spiced cider
- mulled wine
It wouldn't be ZooLights without festive holiday music — and this year is no different. Every night, local community or school groups will perform live music or dance beneath the interactive Symphony of Lights.
The Elephant Outpost will also host live music by local school groups on select nights.
- Nov. 25: Boyle School of Irish Dance
- Nov. 27: Lost & Sound
- Nov. 28: Capital Blend
- Nov. 29: Sendy Browns TJMS
- Nov. 30: Island Creek Elementary Chorus
- Dec. 1: GWChorus
- Dec. 2: Pritchard Music
- Dec. 3: Nerds in Harmony
- Dec. 4: Gaithersburg High School Chorus
- Dec. 5: Vox Pop
- Dec. 6: Mosby Woods Elementary School Chorus
- Dec. 7: Lancer Singers
- Dec. 8: American University Jazz
- Dec. 9: Melodious Majors
- Dec. 10: Columbia Elementary's Cougar Choir
- Dec. 11: Tucker Choral Ambassadors
- Dec. 12: Arcola Elementary School Chorus
- Dec. 13: Benjamin Banneker Bobcats
- Dec. 14; Earle B. Wood Middle School Advanced Orchestra
- Dec. 15: Franklin Sherman Elementary Chorus
- Dec. 16: Supreme Chord
- Dec. 17: Columbia Elementary's Cougar Choir
- Dec. 18: Thomas W. Pyle Middle School: Pyle Voices
- Dec. 19: Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School Chamber Singers
- Dec. 20: Persuasion Show Choir
- Dec. 21: World View
- Dec. 22: Pritchard Music
- Dec. 27: Fantasy Players
- Dec. 28: Southern Academy of Irish Dance
- Dec. 29: Sydney Franklin
- Dec. 30: Painted Trillium
- $15 event parking ($10 off the regular rate)
- Additional 10 percent discount on Zoo gift shop purchases when you present your ZooLights program
- $15 ride punch cards — that's $5 (25 percent) off!
Members must present their active membership card or membership verification email with a matching photo ID to receive discounts. Offers are only applicable during ZooLights event hours.
Sunday, Dec. 2, through Sunday, Dec. 9, is Friends of the National Zoo Member Week!
FONZ members will receive:
- FREE event parking all week during ZooLights hours
- FREE gift*
- Punch card redeemable for eight free rides/attractions — a $26 value
- BOGO popcorn
Members must present their membership card or membership verification email with a matching photo ID for their Member Week benefits. Member Week offers are only applicable Dec. 2 through Dec. 9.
*Available while supplies last
Friends of the National Zoo members have exclusive access to Cyber Safari: Passport to Africa, a scavenger hunt that will take you all around the Zoo. During ZooLights, the scavenger hunt will guide you to some fun, new attractions and help you gain more points toward winning that grand prize. Members can show their member ID cards or membership verification email at any membership or information booth in the park to receive the password.
Throughout ZooLights, active military and veterans may receive a discount of 10 percent off a Friends of the National Zoo membership at the Premier level, or 15 percent off a membership at the Premier Plus level. Memberships must be purchased at the Zoo. Remember to bring a valid military ID!
A flat-rate parking fee of $15 for Friends of the National Zoo members and $25 for nonmembers will apply. During Member Week, Dec. 2 through Dec. 9, FONZ members will receive free parking at ZooLights.
The Zoo is accessible via the Red Line to the Woodley Park-Zoo or Cleveland Park metro station. The Zoo entrance lies halfway between these stops, and both are a short walk from the Zoo.
Big Bus Tours Shuttle (Saturdays Only)
Throughout the evening on Saturdays, Big Bus Tours will provide a FREE shuttle for guests from the Woodley Park Metro Station to the Zoo's Panda Plaza Bus Lot on a continuous loop from 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.