The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden will once again be transformed into a “Wild Wonderland” for the 34th annual PNC Festival of Lights! In addition to admiring the beauty of 2.5 million LED lights, visitors can watch a Madcap black-light puppet show, ride the BB&T Toyland Express, search for fairies in Fairyland, marvel at the spectacular Wild Lights show on Swan Lake, or snack at one of two S’mores-n-More stands. PNC Festival of Lights opens nightly November 19 and goes through January 1, 2017 from 5 – 9 p.m. on Sundays through Thursdays and 5-10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. NEW: Santa will be available for visits starting at 4 p.m., an hour before the rest of the festivities begin.

Enjoy an enhanced Wild Lights Show on Swan Lake with new lights, colors, 25-ft tree, floating spheres and synchronized music! Meet the Royal Sisters in the Frozen Wonderland themed area and be sure to peek through the windows in Gingerbread Village to find the mouse hiding in each of the gingerbread houses.

Photo opportunities! Children can visit Santa (starting at 4 p.m.) through December 23rd, when he flies back to the North Pole, and costumed characters are always strolling through the park, ready for pictures and fun with guests of all ages. The breathtaking, 35-foot-tall tree blanketed with more than 20,000 LED lights in the Zoo’s Historic Vine Street Village makes a great family photo backdrop.

Event HighLIGHTs

    • *NEW* Light Wall – Classical Holiday Movie Clips, outside 4D theater
    • *NEW* Lifesize Animal Chinese Lanterns located throughout the Zoo
    • Wild Lights Show on Swan Lake
    • Winter Wonders Show by Madcap, 6:30p,7:30p, 8:30p (additional 9:30p show on Fridays and Saturdays)
    • Meet one of the Royal Sisters in Frozen Wonderland
    • Listen to Lachey’s Holiday Quartet
    • Find the mouse in each Gingerbread House
    • Get your photo with Santa at the North Pole Village
    • See Santa’s Reindeer
    • Ride the BB&T Toyland Express Train Ride
    • Find the hidden fairies in Fairyland
    • Hear a story from Mrs. Claus
    • Write Santa a letter at the Holiday Post Office
    • Roast Smore’s at the Smore’s Stations
    • Enjoy fresh roasted nuts and other holiday treats
    • See animals inside 12 indoor heated buildings
    • Beginning in early December 2017, Wings of the World will close for renovations.


Enjoy delightful seasonal fare such as fresh-baked cookies, caramel apples, funnel cakes, hot pretzels and roasted nuts. Or, choose to warm up with a mug of Starbucks coffee, a glass of hot apple cider or some hot chocolate. Be sure to also visit the popular S’mores-N-More Stations where guests can purchase a S’more kit and roast marshmallows over an open fire. As always, the Zoo’s gift shops, including the Zoo Shop at the Historic Vine Street Village and the Handcrafted Gift Shop Presented by the Zoosters, located in the P & G Discovery Forest, will be open for shopping. Stop in, take a look around, and pick up some memorable and unique gifts—there is something for everyone!

Back by popular demand, the Zoo will be hosting Happy Zoo Year, powered by Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Honda Dealers, on Saturday, December 31, from 5-10 p.m. and kids of all ages are invited! Come out and meet Father Time and Baby Zoo Year during a one-of-a-kind meet and greet. Enjoy an EARLY Zoo Year Countdown starting at 8:55 p.m. and top off the night with party favors and Rozzi’s fireworks.

Half-Priced coupons for select nights are available at participating Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Skyline Chili locations. Coupons are valid November 21, 22, 23, 28, 29, and 30 & December 5, 6 & 7. Discount tickets are also available online at and at any area Kroger, good for $2 off adult and $1 off child admission any night of the event.

Celebrate 34 years of family fun and tradition at the Cincinnati Zoo’s PNC Festival of Lights. The Zoo opens daily at 10 a.m. The PNC Festival of Lights festivities are from 5 – 9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 5 – 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays from November 19 – January 1, 2017, except on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day.


These tips will help you maximize your holiday experience.

  • Make a plan

Visit the “plan your visit” section of this site to decide what to see and to learn when rides and activities are scheduled during the holidays.

Please note: Beginning in early December 2017, Wings of the World will close for renovations. When it reopens in spring 2018, guests will enjoy a new and improved experience and an enhanced opportunity to connect to nature through birds.

During renovation, we’ll refinish the walls and floors, upgrade the ventilation systems and install new lighting. While we’ll maintain habitats for a wide variety of birds from around the world, the signage and interactive elements, designed to engage guests of all ages in learning about birds and how to become better bird neighbors, will be all new. Visit us next spring to see all your favorite birds, from parrots to penguins, in a whole new light! This renovation was made possible in part through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

  • Buy tickets before you arrive 

Skip ticket lines at the zoo by purchasing your tickets in advance.   Print tickets and present them at the admissions gate. Discounted General Admission tickets can be purchased at the Customer Service counter at local Kroger stores.

  • Get Discounted Tickets 

Discounted General Admission tickets can be purchased online, at the Customer Service counter at local Kroger stores and at your local participating Skyline location.  Skyline Chili Half Price Nights – Dates TBD.

  • Visit on Sunday through Thursday

Our busiest days in general are Fridays and Saturdays, especially the weekend after Thanksgiving and Christmas.  The week between Christmas and New Years Day is the busiest week of the season.  If you are able, please try to schedule your visit around these peak days.

  • Arrive early 

Traffic will be much lighter to enter the zoo if you are able to arrive before 5pm.  This way you can take your time inside the zoo and be the first to enjoy the most popular holiday activities like riding the train or visiting Santa.  Santa will be available starting at 4pm each day through 12/23. Admission is the same price whether you arrive before the PNC Festival of Lights activities start or after.

  • Dress for Cold Weather & Bring a Blanket

You can always shed a layer!  You’ll be more comfortable, and warmer, if you sit on a blanket in our amphitheater during the Madcap Puppet shows.

  • Know how to get to the zoo

Our street address is: 3400 Vine Street Cincinnati, OH 45220. Directions >

  • Memberships make great gifts

The holidays are a peak time for membership gifts and renewals.  Although we will be happy to process your membership at Member Services, you can save time by renewing/purchasing it online or over the phone (513) 559-7713.  If purchasing or renewing your membership online, you will receive a confirmation e-mail that you can present at Member Services for your permanent membership cards or a Day Pass (if your cards have already been mailed).  If you are giving a membership as a gift, you will receive a gift certificate by either e-mail or traditional mail to present to your recipient.

follow #PNCFestivalOfLights

Share your PNC Festival of Lights pictures on social media using #cincyzoopic for a chance to be featured in future Zoo marketing material!

PNC Festival of Lights Scavenger Hunt

Looking for another fun way to enjoy #PNCFestivalofLights? Test your knowledge during the new scavenger hunt. Make your way through the Zoo to solve these festive riddles and heat things up with a little friendly competition! Share your scavenger hunt pictures on social media using #cincyzoopic for a chance to be featured in future Zoo marketing material.

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