Washington, DC

courtesy Friends of the National Zoo

From Friends of the National Zoo:

“Visit the Smithsonian’s National Zoo for its annual holiday lights festival, ZooLights, powered by Pepco. ZooLights is a free event, and this year half-a-million environmentally friendly LED lights will illuminate the Zoo for 37 nights–from Nov. 23 through Jan. 1, 2019 from 5 to 9 p.m.

Guests can look forward to some new eye candy at Gingerbread Village, a magical area of frosted cookies and lollipops, giant gingerbread people cut-outs and a gingerbread throne perfect for friend-and-family photos. Visitors also can pause outside the Elephant Community Center to see a dazzling laser-light show, sponsored by Pepco, or board the Smithsonian’s National Zoo Choo-Choo, sponsored by Metro by T-Mobile, for a journey around the Kids’ Farm.

At the new Reindeer Games Fun Zone, sponsored by GEICO, try a holiday-themed obstacle course and twirl on illuminated rides. Each night of ZooLights will also boast a live music or dance performance in the Great Meadow beneath a light canopy that responds to sound and melody.

Visitors will be able to enjoy special winter treats, sweets, coffee and a selection of seasonal spirits. The recently completed Conservation Pavilion Patio will feature six fire pits where guests can roast s’mores or grab luminous cotton candy served on glowing sticks.


  • ZooLights is hosting its second-annual GRUMP holiday market–a European-style outdoor market featuring the work of local artisans Dec. 7, 8 and 9 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. In 2018, GRUMP will double in size, featuring more vendors with unique gifts for all ages, from handmade clothing and accessories to artwork, handcrafted toys and sweet treats. GRUMP will start at the Zoo’s Connecticut Avenue entrance.
  • ZooLights will also feature a microbrew and craft beer event, BrewLights, Nov. 29. To purchase tickets for this special event, go to fonz.org/brewlights.
  • During Member Week, Dec. 2 through Dec. 9, FONZ members will receive a full week of free parking at ZooLights, a free gift and a punch card to enjoy eight free rides/attractions and BOGO popcorn when they present their membership card and photo ID.
  • Military Night, presented by Bank of America, is on Dec. 13 and will offer discounts for military members.

ZooLights does not feature the Zoo’s animals–all indoor animal exhibits will be closed to allow animals to get a full night’s rest. Visitors will be able to warm up in the Zoo’s Visitor Center, Panda Plaza Gift Shop, Mane Grill and Great Cats Gift Shop.

Admission to ZooLights is free. A flat-rate parking fee of $15 for Friends of the National Zoo (FONZ) members and $25 for nonmembers will apply. Proceeds from ZooLights concessions and parking sales will benefit animal care and conservation science at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute.

ZooLights will not be held Dec. 24, 25 and 31. For more information about the event, go to fonz.org/zoolights.”


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