Celebrating Christmas in Ohio is magical with dazzling light displays and joyful festivities all season long. A fun, family-friendly way to get into the holiday spirit is by visiting a local zoo. Ohio’s zoos go all out during the holiday season with millions of lights, fun animal encounters, festive train rides and more. Bundle up and gather your family and friends to create new memories at one of these best zoo lights in Ohio!
Looking for the holidays lights in Ohio? Check out this list of the Best Christmas Lights Displays in Ohio!
Best Zoo Lights In Ohio
For kids of all ages including adults, you can’t beat the festive zoo lights in Ohio. Experience millions of lights and fun holiday festivities that transform these Ohio zoos into a magical winter wonderland!
Wildlights At The Columbus Zoo And Aquarium
Join the festivities of the holiday season, by checking out the Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. For more than twenty years, the Wildlights event has been known as one of the best zoo lights in Ohio. Millions of LED lights are on display throughout the zoo, turning it into a magical winter wonderland!
You’ll be greeted by a giant Christmas tree – affectionally known as the Sparkling Spruce, and adorned with thousands of twinkling lights. Conservation Lake at the zoo is also decorated with holiday lights and has an animated musical light show every 30 minutes, featuring some of your favorite holiday jingles.
Hop aboard the merry holiday train, the 12 Days of Wildlights Train Ride, for a fun ride through the zoo. Other attractions at the zoo include meeting Santa and his reindeer, Rudolph 4D Experience, Christmas at Character Cottage and getting up close and personal with the sea lions, manatees and other cold-weather animals. The kids can enjoy the carousel, camel rides, and polar bear express train rides. And perhaps my favorite, the S’mores Experience where you can gather around the fire to get warm and roast marshmallows.
When: November 17, 2023 – January 7, 2024; Sunday – Thursday 5-9pm, Friday & Saturday 5-10pm (Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day)
Where: Columbus Zoo & Aquarium – 4850 Powell Road, Powell, OH 43065
Admission: $29.99 Ages 10-59; $25.99 Ages 3-9; Children under 3 are free
Looking for more Christmas lights in Columbus, Ohio? Read The Best Columbus Ohio Christmas Lights Displays.
PNC Festival Of Lights At Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
Another festive holiday lights display in Ohio is at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. Celebrating 41 years, the PNC Festival of Lights shines throughout the zoo, with 4 million beautiful LED Christmas lights!
Along with the dazzling lights, there’s lots of great activities throughout the zoo. Be sure to watch the mesmerizing Wild Lights Show on Swan Lake, where the vibrant lights dance along to your favorite holiday songs. Visit Fiona’s Fairyland and search for the 5 Fiona fairies, attend a unique blacklight puppet show, stop by Vine Street Village Tree for a photo with a holiday character, walk through Candy Cane Lane and ride the carousel.
Train enthusiasts will love to ride the North Polar Express train. Visit Santa’s North Pole Village to see Santa and Mrs. Claus. And roast marshmallows to make Smore’s at the Smore’s Stations. While the lights and other festive events are fun, the zoo animals await to be adored as well! Many of the animals go indoors around 5pm, but the Reptile House, Manatee Springs, World of Insect, Jungle Trails West, Dragons, and Night Hunters are all open during the lights.
When: November 17, 2023 – January 7, 2024; Sunday – Thursday 4-9pm, Friday & Saturday 4-10pm
Where: Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden- 3400 Vine Street, Cincinnati, OH 45220
Admission Cost: Various ticket prices depending on date and time you visit, check website for pricing
Wild Winter Lights At The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
If you’re looking for the one of the best zoo lights in Ohio, we recommend visiting the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo for their Wild Winter Lights festival.
Wild Winter Lights transforms the zoo into a winter wonderland! With more than 1.5 million lights throughout holiday-themed areas of the zoo, including Candyland, Enchanted Forest, Starry Skies, Future for Wildlife Trail and Santa’s Workshop. At Santa’s Workshop, Santa is ready for photos, a 50-foot tree is the star of a dazzling light show, kids can enjoy carousel rides, costumes characters can be found throughout to delight kids of all ages and ice carver’s display their special talents by carving giant ice sculptures. It’s fun for the entire family!
Guests can choose how they view the Wild Winter Lights as it’s both a drive-thru event or walk through event, click on the link below for more information.
When: November 14 – December 30, 2023 from 5:30pm-10:30pm
Where: Cleveland Metroparks Zoo- 3900 Wildlife Way, Cleveland, OH 44109
Admission: Drive-Through tickets are $55 per vehicle and $22 per person for Walk-Through tickets; advanced online ticket purchase is recommended
Looking for more Christmas lights in Cleveland, Ohio? Read Magical Cleveland Christmas Lights Displays.
Wild Lights At The Akron Zoo
Akron Zoo transforms into a vibrant and jolly light display during Wild Lights. The 50-acre zoo is decorated with over 1 million LED lights and there’s several photo-ops to take memorable photos with your family. Be sure to watch the lighted trees at Holly Jolly Hillside dance as the lights are synchronized to festive music. Another fun light show is the Rockin’ Lighted Spectacular with a wall of animated lights set to holiday music.
And once you’re done enjoying all the zoo lights, head over to Mrs. C’s Sweets to taste some yummy sweet treats! Special Christmas characters like the Grinch, Ollie the Elf, and Frosty are on-site to interact with the kids. And last but not least, Elegant Ice carves ice sculptures for a unique experience with the winter ice.
When: November 24-26, December 1-3, 8-10, 15-23 & 26-29, 2023; 5pm-9pm
Where: Akron Zoo- 505 Euclid Avenue, Akron, Ohio 44307
Admission Cost: Online Tickets $15.00 Ages 14+, $11.00 Ages 2-14, children under 2 are free, parking fee $3; Tickets Purchased at Gate $18 Ages 14+, $14 Ages 2-14, children under 2 are free, parking fee $5.
Looking for more Christmas lights in Northeast, Ohio? Read Northeast Ohio Christmas Lights Displays.
Lights Before Christmas At The Toledo Zoo & Aquarium
Toledo Zoo & Aquarium is another contender for the best zoo lights in Ohio with its Lights Before Christmas festival!
Over 1 million dazzling lights transforms the zoo into a festive holiday wonderland! The event features a whopping 85-foot tall Norway Spruce Christmas tree illuminated with thousands of festive lights. The Dancing Lights event, features dozens of lights blinking in synchronization with your favorite Christmas songs. Don’t miss the ice slide at the Winter Village, the African Carousel and the Holly Jolly Express train and photos with Santa at the Arctic Encounter.
Several indoor activities are available at the zoo during the lights festival, including the Natural History Museum, the aquarium and the reptile house if you need to escape the cold and warm yourself up.
When: November 17 – December 31, 2023; Monday – Thursday 3-8pm, Friday – Sunday 3-9pm
Where: Toledo Zoo & Aquarium- 2 Hippo Way, Toledo, OH 43609
Admission Cost: $29.00 Ages 12-59; $26.00 Ages 2-11 and 60+; Reservations are required.
Want to view Christmas lights from the comfort of your vehicle? Read Enchanting Drive Through Christmas Lights In Ohio!