Each winter, the Phoenix Zoo puts up an amazing display of colorful holiday lights for its ZooLights exhibit. It takes five people nearly four months to install the millions of lights.
The Phoenix Zoo is the country's largest private, nonprofit zoological park, and the annual ZooLights is the zoo's largest fundraiser. ZooLights is open November 21, 2018 through January 13, 2019, from 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
In addition to the millions of lights and a 200-foot-long Polar Slide, there are some new additions to the event this year. You'll get to see live reindeer, visit the rays in Stingray Bay, and take in the show at the 4-D Theater. It's all included with admission.
If you'll be in Phoenix during the holidays, be sure to visit this popular attraction. It is one of the most beautiful collections of holiday lights in the Greater Phoenix area.
Tips for Enjoying ZooLights
Arrive early to in the season to avoid crowds. ZooLights attracts 300,000 visitors each holiday season, so viewings can be crowded. Most people get there when it opens at 5:30 p.m. It will already be dark at that time. To avoid the crowds, arrive around 7:30 p.m. The least crowded nights are Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays in early December, and the first week of January.
Dress appropriately for ZooLights. Despite getting the warm rays of the desert sun during the day, Phoenix can get pretty cold in the evenings. Dress for winter—bring gloves, and wear a sweater under your jacket. You can always take off extra layers. If it rains, ZooLights will be open but some activities or special exhibits may not be available.
Bring a small light or glow necklace. Some sections of the zoo are very dark. Flashlights are not permitted, but it isn't a bad idea to bring a small lantern for the little ones, or, at the very least, to get them a glow necklace to wear so you can always see them. Kids' shoes with flashing lights work well, too.
Take your time. You'll have plenty of time to enjoy ZooLights. Walk the paths, stop for a snack and a beverage, and then walk around the other way. You are sure to see something you missed the first time around. Walking at a leisurely pace, the typical visitor will spend up to two hours at ZooLights.
What to Expect
There are nearly four million lights and 700 light sculptures at ZooLights. Of course, there's holiday music along the way, too.
Start on the path to the right when you enter. That will bring you around to the lake, pictured above, as well as other lights and activities, such as the camel rides. When you are done with this section, cross over to the Arizona Trail where there is a higher concentration of beautiful lights.
Don't expect to see many live animals. ZooLights is all about the holiday lights. Most of the live animal exhibits are closed, and the animals are asleep. However, you may be able to see the zebras, flamingos, Komodo dragons, and otters.
Lighted animal sculptures are fun to see. The stars of the show are the lights, particularly the animals created from lights. You'll see bats hanging from trees, deer, swans, bugs, monkeys, butterflies, and more illuminated creatures. The spider and its web are particularly impressive.
More to Do at ZooLights
Jengo the talking giraffe and Tortuga the talking Galapagos tortoise will mesmerize children. The mechanical giraffe and tortoise at ZooLights look so real you'll do a double-take.
The stingrays in Stingray Bay are real, however, and you can even touch them. Other activities include taking a carousel ride and getting photos taken with Santa. The Phoenix Zoo also has one of Arizona's best gift shops.
If you get hungry, the zoo restaurants and concessions will be open.
Tickets and Dates for 2018
ZooLights is open daily November 21, 2018, through January 13, 2019, from 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Tickets for ZooLights may be purchased at the Phoenix Zoo during the day until 4 p.m. or at ZooLights when the gate opens at 5:30 p.m. They can also be bought online for $2 off.
Any Night Ticket: $19.95 ($23.95 with access to Bugs, Big Bugs)
Value Ticket: $14.95 ($18.95 with access to Bugs, Big Bugs)
Zoo members receive a discounted admission. Children two and younger are free. There is a list of Value Nights on the zoo website.
Getting to ZooLights
The entrance to the zoo is off Galvin Parkway in the heart of Papago Park, between McDowell and Van Buren.
For bus transportation, check with the Valley Metro Transit Service for the most current routes and schedules. Enter “Phoenix Zoo” as your destination.
455 North Galvin Parkway
Phoenix, AZ 85008