It’s beginning to look a lot like Wildlights season at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium! One of Central Ohio’s most cherished holiday traditions, Wildlights, efficiently powered by AEP Ohio, will run through January 5.
This year marks the 31st Wildlights season with more holiday cheer than ever before. The entire Zoo will be transformed into a winter wonderland covered in millions of LED lights. Some of this year’s main Wildlights attractions include:
- Animated light shows, including “Holiday Rhythms Around the Watering Hole” featuring three new shows at Conservation Lake, and Jingle Ball located at the Shores Play Park.
- Holiday Dreams Seek-n-Find, brought to you by Disney On Ice presents Dream Big, with new winners and magical prizes each week.
- Santa’s Holiday Home in the North America region at the Battelle Ice Bear Outpost! Guests can spend time with Santa and also enjoy holiday sweets with Mrs. Claus at her kitchen in Conservation Courtyard. Please note that the Claus family will not be available after Dec. 23 due to other obligations.
- Wildlights rides, including the Polar Bear Express, a train ride through the North America winter wonderland; camel rides located in the North America region; and the 1914 Mangels-Illions Carousel, a historic Central Ohio treasure located near the Columbus Dispatch Charities Grand Pavilion. Additional fees may apply.
- Meet and Greets with Rudolph and Friends. Your favorite holiday TV stars join the Wildlights festivities this year. Meet the most famous reindeer of all, Rudolph, Hermey, the lovable abominable snow monster, Bumble, and—new for 2019—Bumble’s pal, Yukon Cornelius. Bring your camera to create magical memories while hanging out with these classic characters. You can also catch Rudolph and his friends on the big screen at the Shores Play Park 4-D Theater in the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer 4-D Theater Experience.
- The Sparkling Spruce, presented by Meyers Jewelers, and its captivating light and sound shows located in the Entry Village.
- And, of course, amazing animals! Many animals will be visible from the comfort of heated, indoor shelters, including Manatee Coast; Discovery Reef; the reptile building; the habitats at Vanishing Giants and the Naomi Coyle Dempsey Quest for Enlightenment Interpretive Center in Asia Quest; and the nocturnal building in the Australia and the Islands region. Others— including Santa’s favorite, the reindeer—will be outside during the festivities. Please note that some animal areas (such as the gorilla and bonobo habitats in Congo Expedition) will close at 4 PM.
Those looking for a more relaxing way to enjoy the splendor of Wildlights can opt to book an after-hours tour and be escorted through the Zoo on VIP golf carts while enjoying a warm blanket and mug of hot chocolate. This experience is perfect for holiday fun with family and friends. Tours book quickly, and reservations must be made at least three days in advance. Times, attractions and other information are subject to change. More information about these tours can be found on the Zoo’s website here.
Other holiday traditions happening concurrently with Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo include:
- Jack Hanna’s Home for the Holidays featuring Santa Paws, when guests can share holiday cheer and the spirit of giving with the animals of the Zoo! Visitors who donate an item from the Zoo’s wish list on the Zoo website event page will receive free admission on Saturday, Dec. 7. Santa Paws will also make a special visit to the animals of the Zoo on this day to give them special presents as animal enrichment! Later that evening, Jack Hanna returns home for the holidays and presents three LIVE shows with his animal friends.
- Zoo with Trans-Siberian Orchestra at Nationwide Arena. Enjoy the festive, familiar sounds of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra on Thursday, December 26 at 3 PM or 8 PM, and a portion of every ticket sold will benefit the Columbus Zoo’s conservation efforts.
- Zoo Night at Disney on Ice Presents Dream Big. Join your Zoo friends at Nationwide Arena as Miguel follows his musical aspirations through the Land of the Dead, Moana and Maui restore the heart of Te Fiti, Anna and Elsa save their kingdom and the Disney Princesses inspire with stories of strength and kindness. Special Columbus Zoo Member Discount: Use code COCO20 to save 20% on select tickets for all performances except opening night.
The Zoo opens daily at 10 AM with Wildlights activities operating Sundays through Thursdays from 5 PM to 9 PM and Fridays and Saturdays from 5 PM to 10 PM. The Zoo will be closed on Thanksgiving Day (November 28) and Christmas Day (December 25), as well as for Wildlights on Christmas Eve (December 24). Wildlights is included with Zoo admission. Regular admission rates apply to all guests, and admission is free for Columbus Zoo and Aquarium members. For more information about Wildlights and other upcoming events, please visit the Zoo’s event calendar.
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Holidays