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Columbus Zoo Wildlights 2023
November 17, 2023 @ 10:00 am - January 7, 2024 @ 10:00 pm
The 35th annual Columbus Zoo Wildlights will be held from November 17th to January 7th at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, 4850 W Powell Rd, Powell, OH 43065. This holiday tradition transforms the zoo into a magical wonderland, featuring millions of dazzling LED lights, captivating animated musical light displays, appearances by Santa Claus and his reindeer, and a host of other delightful holiday activities and festivities that bring the yuletide spirit to life.
Why Should You Attend?
- Holiday Magic: Immerse yourself in the enchanting holiday atmosphere as millions of dazzling LED lights transform the zoo into a winter wonderland. The vibrant displays, animated musical light shows, and themed areas create a magical ambiance that’s perfect for getting into the holiday spirit.
- Meet Character Ambassadors: Throughout the event, Character Ambassadors roam the zoo, adding an extra layer of excitement. Meeting these characters can be a delightful and memorable experience, especially for the little ones.
- Early Access to Winter-Loving Animals: Arriving at the zoo early, even before Wildlights officially begins at 5 p.m., allows you to meet winter-loving animals up close. It’s a fantastic opportunity to see these creatures when they’re most active and engage with their unique behaviors.
- Enjoy Rides: Take a break from strolling through the lights and hop on the North America train or the historic carousel for a whirlwind ride. It’s a fun way to add some thrills to your Wildlights adventure.
- Rudolph 4D Experience: Need to warm up? Head to the movie theater to catch “The Rudolph 4D Experience.” It’s a fantastic option to escape the cold, enjoy a movie, and immerse yourself in the holiday magic in a different way.
- Live Holiday Music: Delight in the sounds of the season with live holiday music provided by local bands and choirs. Join in the festivities every night at Lakeside Theater at 7 p.m. for a musical interlude that complements the dazzling visual displays.
- Family Fun: This event is designed for all ages, making it an ideal outing for families. Children can meet Santa Claus, get up close to real reindeer, and enjoy seasonal treats, while adults can appreciate the festive lights and the opportunity to learn about wildlife conservation.
- Stay Active with OhioHealth: If you’re looking to stay active while enjoying the event, participate in a self-paced brisk walking tour with OhioHealth. It’s a great way to explore the zoo, enjoy the lights, and get some exercise all in one go.
- Conservation Education: Beyond the holiday festivities, Columbus Zoo Wildlights serves as a reminder of the zoo’s vital role in wildlife preservation. By attending, you support their conservation efforts and gain insight into the importance of protecting our planet’s biodiversity.
About Columbus Zoo Wildlights
Columbus Zoo Wildlights, an annual holiday extravaganza in its 35th year, is a tradition that enchants visitors from mid-November through early January. The event is hosted at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, a perfect setting for creating a winter wonderland. As night falls, the zoo comes alive with millions of brilliantly colored LED lights that adorn trees, walkways, and animal exhibits, casting a mesmerizing glow over the entire park. These dazzling displays of light form enchanting scenes, from Candy Cane Lane’s vibrant reds and whites to the Arctic-inspired Polar Frontier, transporting visitors into a realm of holiday magic.
Wildlights has solidified its status as a holiday tradition in Greater Columbus. According to zoo authorities, since its inception in 1988, over 7.5 million visitors have been enchanted by its magic. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, the 2020 edition still drew more than 275,000 guests.
Columbus Zoo Wildlights serves as a reminder of the importance of conservation. While enjoying the festivities, visitors have the unique opportunity to learn about the zoo’s commitment to wildlife preservation and the critical role it plays in the global conservation effort. It’s a magical and educational experience that not only celebrates the holiday season but also highlights the significance of protecting and caring for our planet’s incredible biodiversity.
Sensory-Friendly Light Stroll and Santa Visit
5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
For $10 (refundable deposit), guests can access sensory kits at Guest Relations, containing noise-canceling headphones, sunglasses, and fidget devices. A nearby calming room is available for self-regulation. Reservation details for this event will be available soon. Don’t miss this unique opportunity!
Wildlghts Member Night
5 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Get ready for Wildlights! Join us on Thursday, November 16 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. for an exclusive Wildlights Member Night preview. Be the first to experience our 2023 lights celebration. Grab a complimentary hot chocolate and cookie (while supplies last) at Water’s Edge Events Park.
Sensory-Friendly Santa Experience
12 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Meet Santa Claus in a sensory-friendly setting with reduced noise, minimal visual distractions, and controlled crowds at the Suzie Edwards Conservation Education building outside the Zoo’s entrance. Limited tickets are available, with families admitted every 15 minutes to ensure a comfortable experience.
Culinary and Shopping Experiences
- Dining Options: You’ll find a range of dining options to satisfy your cravings, from warm, soft pretzels to the most delectable fried chicken that will tantalize your taste buds throughout the holiday season. For those seeking a seasonal libation, kiosks scattered across the Zoo offer a selection of seasonal beers and cocktails, adding an extra layer of festivity to your visit. See dining options here.
- Gift Shops: Don’t forget to explore the gift shops, where you can find the perfect souvenir to commemorate your Zoo experience. Pro tip: Zoo members enjoy a 10% discount on all retail items, making it an even more delightful shopping adventure. See gift shops here.
November 17 – Janury 7:
Sunday – Thursday: 5 pm – 9 pm
Friday – Saturday: 5 pm – 10 pm
- Your ticket includes entry to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. Children under 3 enter free.
- $1 from each ticket sale goes toward our wildlife conservation efforts, including protecting endangered species.
Columbus Zoo Admission – Daily
Senior (60+) $27.99
Child (3-9) $25.99
Columbus Zoo Admission – Daily (Franklin County)
Senior (60+) $18.99
Child (3-9) $16.99
Guests are strongly recommended to prepay for parking. Simply show your parking ticket at the toll booth for speedy access to the lot. Cost: $10.
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium Map
Get a head start on your wildlights experience by planning ahead. View the map here.