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Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Ohio at night illuminated christmas trees holiday light structures

A Tradition of Lights at Ohio's Zoos

You'll have a beary merry good time at these must-see attractions during the holidays.

Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

A Tradition of Lights at Ohio's Zoos

By Anietra Hamper

Posted On: Nov 14, 2022

The state's five zoos are must-see attractions, especially during the holidays. In fact, three of the zoo displays — Cincinnati, Toledo, and Columbus — consistently rank among the best in the U.S. Read on the learn more about their light displays and how it's penguining to look a lot like Christmas in Ohio. 

Akron Zoo Wild Lights holiday lights at night in ohio

Akron Zoo Wild Lights presented by Akron Children's Hospital

Wild Lights at the Akron Zoo features more than 1 million lights in a variety of stunning displays, including the Holly Jolly Hillside and a wall of animated lights set to music. Through Dec. 23, you can also visit with Santa when you visit the zoo. And don't forget to stop by Mrs. C's Sweets for s'mores and other treats to enjoy this holiday season. 

Dates: Nov. 25 - Dec. 30

Lights Before Christmas at the Toledo Zoo and  Aquarium in Ohio at night

Lights Before Christmas presented by KeyBank at the Toledo Zoo & Aquarium 

The holiday season is energized at the Toledo Zoo's Lights Before Christmas, which features more than 1 million lights and 200 illuminated animal images. In addition to brilliant lights throughout the zoo, you and your family can enjoy various events and activities - like encounters with Santa. With all the zoo has to offer this holiday season, it's no wonder it was voted the second-best zoo lights in the country by USA TODAY's Readers' Choice poll last year. 

Dates: Nov. 18 - Dec. 31

Festival of Lights at Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden in Ohio at night

PNC Festival of Lights at Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

The Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo, now in its 40th year, features more than 4 million LED light, Santa's Village, and North Polar Express Train Tunnel, s'mores stations, blacklight puppet show, and Wild Lights show on Swan Lake. New this year is the 24-foot tall Fiona the Hippo Nutcracker at the zoo's main entrance. There's so much to experience at the Cincinnati Zoo, which has been voted the best zoo lights in the country for four consecutive years in USA TODAY's Readers' Choice poll.

Dates: Nov. 18 - Jan. 8

Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Ohio at night

Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium efficiently powered by AEP Ohio

There are few holiday traditions that can compete with strolling through the Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. This is a winter wonderland of 3 million LED lights whisks you away to a magical place where Christmas comes to life. You can also enjoy several attractions like the 12 Days of Wildlights Train Ride, Reindeer Corral, and the S'mores Experience where you can roast your own giant marshmallow. There's so much fun to have at the Travel Channel's second-best zoo lights in the country. 

Dates: Nov. 18 - Jan. 1

two kids at night at Wild Winter Lights at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo in Ohio

Wild Winter Lights presented by NOPEC at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo transforms into a winter wonderland with hundreds of displays and more than 1 million individual lights during Wild Winter Lights. All throughout the zoo are specific holiday themes areas like Candyland, Enchanted Forest, Starry Skies, Future for Wildlife Trail, and Santa's Workshop. At the latter, you can also grab that Insta-worthy pic with Santa. And depending on which date you go, you can experience this year's event on foot or in your car.

Dates: Nov. 15 - Dec. 30

mom wearing red glitter reindeer ear headband holding young boy up at night with snow falling at Wild Winter Lights at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo in Ohio

There are so many fun things to do when you visit Ohio's zoos. But don't forget to check online before you go -- as hours and activities can vary during the winter. This holiday season, start a winter tradition with your family or find a new way to enjoy the season and make memories.

For more zoos & wildlife this #HolidaysinOhio season, check out #OhioFindItHere at Ohio.org

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