ZooLights at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. is a winter holiday event that is sure to be fun for the whole family. The National Zoo presents a display of thousands of sparkling lights featuring sculptures of many of the Zoo’s most popular animals, including giant pandas, Asian elephants, gibbons, a sea lion, an octopus, and a Komodo dragon. Visitors at ZooLights will enjoy winter-themed activities, a laser light show, musical performances, train rides, tubing and animal exhibits.
Visitors can warm up inside the animal houses and enjoy nocturnal animals. The Small Mammal House, Great Ape House, Reptile Discover Center, Think Tank, and Kid’s Farm will be open every night. Holiday treats will be available for sale including hot chocolate, donuts, and kettle corn. Families can take a photo with costume characters, or do some holiday shopping at one of the eco-friendly gift shops.
ZooLights is FREE! No tickets are required. All proceeds from ZooLights concessions and parking sales will benefit a variety of Zoo wildlife conservation programs and initiatives, from educational opportunities to new and improved animal exhibits, to conservation science research projects. ZooLights is supported by a generous donation from Pepco.
See Photos of ZooLights
2017 Dates and Times
November 24-January 1
Closed Dec. 24, 25 and 31
Hours: 5-9 p.m.
Held Rain or Shine
Getting to the National Zoo
The National Zoo is located at 3001 Connecticut Ave., NW, Washington, D.C.
The main entrance to the Zoo is along Connecticut Avenue. There are also two entrances at the east side of the Zoo, near Rock Creek Park. One is off Rock Creek Parkway, the other is at the intersection of Harvard Street and Adams Mill Road. See a map.
Parking for ZooLights is $11 for Friends of the National Zoo members and $22 for non-members.
The parking lots may fill up, so the best way to get to the Zoo is to take Metro. The closest stations are Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan and Cleveland Park. Every Saturday night, complimentary shuttle rides are provided by Big Bus Tours from the Woodley Park Metro station to the Zoo.
Special Events at ZooLights
This year's special nights include BrewLights on November 30, 2017, 5-9 p.m. A ticketed microbrew and craft beer event, will take place during ZooLights. Guests can enjoy beer tastings from a dozen breweries and sample savory foods from top local restaurants, all under the bright lights of Washington, D.C.'s favorite holiday tradition. All proceeds support the critical work of the Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute—including species preservation and animal care. BrewLights is an adult event. Guests must be at least 21 years old and present a valid photo ID. Tickets are available online.
Gin-Grrr-Bread Habitat Contest
The National Zoo sponsors a contest every year that encourages bakers, artists, animal lovers and holiday enthusiasts to show off their creativity in designing an animal habitat. There is a non-refundable entry fee of $25 and space is limited to 80 participants.
Interested participants must register online. The habits will be on display for the public to view during Zoolights.
For more information about visiting the Zoo, see National Zoo in Washington, D.C. (Parking, Visiting Tips and More)