Chicagoland's second zoo—the first being Lincoln Park Zoo—hosts the largest and longest running lights festival in the area, now in its 38th year. Get into the holiday season with decorations of almost one million lights, a laser light show, carolers, storytellers, and more. Many of the indoor exhibits will be open for viewing animals, plus there will be "singing to the animals" and special "zoo chats." New exhibitions include a 41-foot talking tree and polar lights show. In addition, the zoo's restaurants and food stands will be open with full menus and holiday treats, and gift shops will have hundreds of unique items.
The exhibition is included in the admission price to the zoo. Members receive free admission.
Brookfield Zoo Holiday Magic Visitor's Information
The annual Holiday Magic extravaganza takes place on Saturdays and Sundays, November 30—December 1, December 7—8, 14—15 and 21—22, as well as Thursday—Tuesday December 26-31. The zoo is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. each day of the event, and the festivities begin at 4 p.m. Regular zoo admission applies: adults $16.95; seniors 65 and older and children ages three to 11 $11.95.
How to Get There
The Brookfield Zoo is located at 8400 W. 31st St., Brookfield, Ill. The Metra Rail Burlington Northern line runs from Union Station downtown to the "Zoo Stop" (Hollywood) station and from there it is only a 2 block northeast walk to the zoo. If you want to drive, regular zoo parking fees apply: $9 for cars/vans, $12 for buses. Members park free in the north lot.
What to See at Holiday Magic
The Brookfield Zoo really goes all out for the Christmas season, attracting visitors from all over with beautiful sights and music for all ages. Highlights include: almost one million lights; "Dancing Tree Lights," a computer choreographed light show; laser light show; carolers and choirs; storytellers; ice carving demonstrations; magicians; and costumed characters.
More Favorite Chicago Holiday Events
- Caroling at Cloud Gate in Millennium Park, Fridays, Nov. 23 and 30, Dec. 7 and 14 and Wednesday, Dec. 12: Revelers are encouraged to bundle up and get ready to belt out some holiday classics at these festive events that are part concert, part sing-along. Local choral groups lead hundreds of celebrants in song. Santa makes an appearance 5-6 p.m.; Caroling commences 6-7 p.m.
- Chicago Trolley Holiday Lights Tour (Late November through December): This customized, two-and-a-half hour trolley tour of Chicago is a great way to see all the sights in holiday splendor. Hosted by Chicago Trolley and Double Decker Co., the annual event happens throughout the season and takes passengers to various locations, including the Magnificent Mile, historic State Street (home to Block Thirty Seven and the famed holiday windows at Macy's on State), the Loop, Christkindlmarket Chicago and Lincoln Park Zoo's ZooLights.
- Christkindlmarket Chicago in Daley Plaza (Nov.-Dec.): This Christmas holiday market takes place through Christmas Eve and offers unique crafts and gifts for sale, live entertainment, as well as German-focused food and drinks. The largest of its kind in the United States, this German holiday market has unique crafts and gifts for sale, a variety of entertainment, as well as German food and drinks.
- Ice Skating kicks off at Millennium Park in Nov.: The rink draws more than 100,000 skaters annually and is free and open to the public. Located on Michigan Avenue between Washington and Madison Streets, the rink offers skate rental for $12.
- Lincoln Park Zoo's ZooLights (Nov.—Dec): Every year from the day after Thanksgiving until New Year's Day, Lincoln Park Zoo decorates the zoo with strings of lights and bright displays, and extends their hours into the evening in celebration of the holiday season. But it's not just about the lights. The zoo provides other Christmas attractions as well such as Santa's Safari and a Holiday Express train.
- Winter WonderFest at Navy Pier (Dec.-Jan.): Experience Chicago’s biggest indoor winter playground featuring 170,000 square-feet of rides, giant slides, the Chicago Blackhawks Ice Skating Rink and more.